Otegi has published in The Guardian a more toxic product than he would place in Spain, because not everywhere are antibodies developed for his lies. Otegi’s work for decades was the concealment of terror and persecution under the umbrella of the word “conflict”: the key that matched, as alleged contenders, a democratic rule of law with a terrorist, ultra-nationalist and totalitarian organization. Leaving aside his time as a base terrorist, with a gun, according to the judicially proven facts, for more than thirty years he led the justification of terror with lies and an intense propaganda. He specialized in the harassment of everyone’s freedom.
His occupation to prepare a kind entry in post-terrorism is the international expansion of the conflict trap: eroding Spain’s democratic reputation and pretending to have recognized his guilt. The fine print shows that they have only assumed the condemnation of the victims they consider outside the conflict without condemning the terror. It is also in search of the windows of opportunity for secessionism. And that, right now, happens to stick to the wheel of the Catalan secessionists.
With opportunity and a good disinformation apparatus one can try to destabilize a democratic country and, in rebound, weaken an entire geostrategic area such as the EU. On January 10, 2018, Democratic Senator Ben Cardin revealed Russian interference in separatist misinformation in a report to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said he was still active. A Commission of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom presented another report on misinformation and fake news that indicated Russian interference before the Brexit referendum and also interference in Catalonia.
In digital and globalized times there is no need for tanks, nor terrorism with a brand. The lie, the collective mirages and the manipulation of the masses, with their hint of harassment of the divergent and their point, if necessary, of street violence, have less criminal risk.
The most relevant is what Otegi hides. What Torra hides. Otegi and his people wanted to establish an ultra-nationalist state – and supposedly Leninist Marxist – through totalitarian methods in the Basque Country and Navarra.
The ultra-nationalist part of the formula is similar in Otegi, Putin, Orbán, Kaczynski, Marine Le Pen or the supremacist Quim Torra, among others. Ultranationalists tell us that the only good Basques, Russians, Hungarians, Poles, French or Catalans are those who accept the identity they preach. They have few inhibitions in showing themselves as great victims against outside enemies that function as catalysts for hostile discourse. Nor do they have prejudices in manipulating history to adapt it to their thinking formula. In Otegi and Torra there is an anti-Spanish phobia to inoculate inside and a democratic reputation to stain out. To Otegi and his own, the supposed Leninism Marxism of ETA served for a great publicity stunt: appealing to the left, even with totalitarian formulas, helps to place itself on the side of humanity’s progress. It is easy to strain some international compassion.
Torra’s magic words for casting ultranationalism are “referendum” and “right of self-determination.”
And the media have less staff and less time to verify the sources and their validity. Yes, unscrupulous people can set up misinformation strategies for politicians and opinion makers in half the world. Torra’s magic words for casting ultranationalism are “referendum” and “right of self-determination.”
I was born in the heart of Basque totalitarian ultranationalism. The slogans, social control, hatred and civil death to the divergent, the demonstrations calling for the murder of neighbors almost every day for decades were part of the formula to get boys and girls to become murderers and stalkers of those like me who didn’t want secession. To survive morally I have clung to the work of George Orwell, Albert Camus, Václav Havel, Amin Maalouf, Fernando Savater, Martín Alonso and Joseba Arregi, among others. And I have to say it to make it a little harder to be accused of being a fascist. Because this is the other key word with which the totalitarian drive makes its way into the territories they consider theirs.
I read Orwell and Camus before and after they persecuted me. Before and after they killed my friends and loved ones. Before and after we received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Conscience. Before and after living with police escort to save the life. I am a survivor of the strategy of the ultranationalist Otegi.
The almost pure form of totalitarianism was imposed in the small municipalities where more intense social control was possible. I can affirm that Otegi’s relationship with the truth is exactly like his relationship with the right to life and freedom of the society he terrorized: it is based on his interests.
No law, no dignity, no truth. He has not abandoned the lie, nor the propaganda, nor the rewriting of the past to try to control the future.
Maite Pagazaurtundúa is MEP in the Ciudadanos delegation of the European Parliament.