Wednesday, October 27

History class for the Home Secretary

The Secretary of State for Security, Rafael Pérez Ruiz, affirmed this Monday in Barcelona that the headquarters of the National Police in Via Laietana “has been and is a symbol of public service from which several generations of police have contributed and continue to contribute to strengthening democracy”. The comment can only respond to ignorance or bad faith because, said like this and without mentioning at any time that this building is for several generations, also of policemen, a symbol of Franco’s repression and torture, it is at least clumsy infinite.

The number two of the Ministry of the Interior used the speech of celebration of the Guardian Angels, patron of the National Police, to exalt a building that the Barcelona City Council, with the favorable vote of the PSC, has claimed to transform into a memory center on the Franco’s repression. The Congress of Deputies also approved four years ago (four!) That the headquarters become “a museum-memorial, documentary and archival center of Franco’s repression in Catalonia.”

The colleague Antoni Batista is the one who has best explained what that symbol that Pérez Ruiz refers to was and what it means. If you took a look at any of his books (you can start with The Social Political Brigade, ‘Memòria de la resistència antifranquista’, Pagès Editors) you would discover what that “house of horrors” was like, which is how the Barcelona journalist defines it. He would know how the Social Political Brigade acted in the dungeons or during interrogations. The vocabulary and the forms of torture were varied. There was a ‘circle’ where the detainee was placed in the center and among a few they beat him with sticks with blows of truncheons, with fists or kicks. Batista also explains what the ‘bathtub’ consisted of. It involved putting his head in and out of a bucket, where often there was not only water but they also urinated in it.

It was enough to be anti-Franco to end up in one of the basement dungeons. Gregorio López Raimundo, Miguel Núñez, Jordi Carbonell, Josep Lluís Carod-Rovira, Anna Sallés or Josep Maria Benet i Jornet are just some of the well-known names that passed through there. Batista spent years studying files and files while the Republican Joan Tardà was the one who fought the most in Congress to get the Lower House to support the request of the memorialist entities to turn the police station into a center where to remember so as not to forget such a stage dark. The same thing that has been done in countries around us in spaces with an equally disastrous past.

The new Minister of the Interior, Joan Ignasi Elena, reminded Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska just a few weeks ago, at their first meeting, that Congress demanded that the building be converted into a space of democratic memory. That Marlaska is not in a hurry (making a benevolent reading) was made clear when in April, in a response in the Senate, he stated that the government did not see “operational reasons” for moving the police station. Not only are there but there are plenty, and if not ask those who can tell you in the first person what Via Laietana, 43 was, and how the Creix brothers, two policemen who Manuel Vázquez Montalbán defined in 1974 as “some professionals of humiliation”. Even Manolo fell short to sum up the Creix’s methods.