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My name is Justiniano Martínez, and I really was a political prisoner

“I am not sympathetic to demands for freedom from people who have enjoyed nothing but freedom their entire lives,” writes this former secretary general of the Spanish Communist Party

Paco Frutos
Justiniano Martínez at a party rally in Barcelona in 1983.

At a demonstration in favor of the unity of Spain, which took place in Barcelona on October 29, Paco Frutos – a former secretary general for the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) – became the voice for the political left that opposes Catalan independence. Thanks for that, Paco.

Let me tell you who I am. In 1979 I was a local councilor in Barcelona, a member of the team of then-mayor Pascual Maragall. I was also a deputy in the Catalan parliament, and sat on its Human Rights Committee.

Thanks, Paco, for reminding everyone that Catalonia’s democratic institutions were not the product of a rigged deal, as claimed by deceitful populism and cheap separatism.

We can’t have our grandchildren buying into revolutions sold to them on social media or inside sports arenas

My story goes way back. I was once a guerrilla fighter who used to smuggle the printing plates for the banned publication Mundo Obrero across the border. I was in charge of the Murcia branch of the PCE, which operated underground. I was arrested; I was tortured (as my vertebrae can attest to); I spent six years in jail; I cried amnesty; I forgave my tormentor.

So I am not sympathetic to these demands for freedom from people who have enjoyed nothing but freedom their entire lives.

No matter, they still call me a fascist. But fascism kills; Francoism killed. Those wretches who insult the memory of our dead with their miserable lies should know this. Thanks, Paco, for reminding Catalan men and women about our respected PSUC, a national (but not nationalist party) that spoke for a political left that was committed to the working class.

I was also secretary general of the PCE in Madrid until I had to stop for health reasons; I was a member of its Central Committee. It was a party of militants back then, not a clique like the one now usurping the acronym and functioning like a yellow union catering to personal interests.

Nobody should doubt – and thanks again Paco for reminding us – that nationalism, whether big or small, is a betrayal of the working class. I was Construction secretary for the Catalan branch of the Comisiones Obreras (CC OO) labor union; still, some snobs call me bourgeois and a fascist while they attend strikes funded by employers and governments.

My name is Justiniano Martínez. And I was a real political prisoner

We need to be reminded of these voices, of our history, of the truth, because we can’t have our grandchildren buying into revolutions sold to them on social media or inside sports arenas. We need to remind them about the weeks-long strikes, about the “resistance boxes” to provide financial support to striking workers, about the unpaid wages.

These days, we only see money collections to help not striking workers, but rather the politicians who are responsible for the “three percent” (the amount of the bribes allegedly taken by Catalan officials to award contracts in a series of corruption cases affecting Convergència, now known as PDeCAT and the party of ousted regional premier Carles Puigdemont).

Thanks, Paco, for reminding everyone that democracy is not earned by running away or by stuffing yourself with butifarra sausages in the squares. It is earned by conquering the squares.

The writer Manuel Vázquez Montalbán explained it well in an essay: our goal is The Free Word in The Free City. Thanks, Paco, for reminding us that it is unacceptable to deny the possibility of a solidarity-based project for all of Spain, and to do so in the name of freedom.

Thanks, Paco, for waving the flag of a political left that does not suck up to secessionism, but is instead able to create an autonomous project of its own.

My name is Justiniano Martínez. And I was a real political prisoner.

Justiniano Martínez Medina is the former secretary general of the Spanish Communist Party in Madrid.

English version by Susana Urra.

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