Recently, the southern Spanish city of Seville hosted a cultural and literary festival which included a series of speeches and panel discussions on the topic of irregular migration. Titled ‘Spain: Europe’s Border,’ the occasion focused on Spain’s migration crisis.
This event was hosted by the prominent journalist Arturo Pérez-Reverte, and featured renegade politician Macarena Olona. A one-time prominent member of VOX, she abandoned her post as the party’s representative in Andalusia following a shoddy campaign that led to electoral underperformance. She has since been attempting to build an alternative brand, accusing her former colleagues of extremism.
The panel in question also included one Roberto Vaquero, the leader of Frente Obrero (‘Worker’s Front,’ or F.O.), a hard-left patriotic group defined by its young membership and mounting notoriety. Among his several books, Vaquero has published a series of recollections from a period he spent incarcerated on account of having gone to Syria to fight against the Islamic State.
The F.O., for its part, made the news cycle not too long ago over raucous confrontations with mainstream leftists politicians, including the mayor of Barcelona and Podemos’ long-time leader, Pablo Iglesias, interrupting one of the latter’s speeches with the cry of vende-obreros, (‘worker-seller,’ accusing him of selling out the working man’s interests). Iglesias himself had long defended the use of such tactics.
Vaquero considers Podemos (no less than the socialist party and its separatist allies) to be a post-modern, intellectually bankrupt agent of bourgeois decadence and elite interests, who benefit from the breakdown of borders, traditional morality, and solidarity, in the place of which they seek to cultivate psychological fragility and consumerism.
During his speech in Seville, he recommended patriotism as one of the correctives to this elite project: “We are a warrior people.” Said Vaquero, “Spaniards have always been warriors. Look at our history. From the Romans to our struggle against Napoleon … Nothing is lost, not so long as even one of us is standing.”
He makes the same point in one of his books, History of Revolutionary Spain, writing that
the 2nd of May [Madrid’s popular uprising against Napoleon] represents the struggle of the popular classes against the Napoleonic invaders, a struggle against an invasion which the aristocracy, for the most part, supported … This fighting spirit is the spirit of the struggle of the people rising up against oppression and foreign domination. Its memory should be used to encourage the masses to fight against the domination of capital today.
During the more conversational segment of the event, Olona asked Vaquero whether he would like to see the country’s security forces deploy “legitimate, proportional force” to clear out some of the no-go neighborhoods in Spanish cities.
He responded by reminding the crowd of his willingness to organize an armed brigade and travel to Syria to fight the Islamic State: “if I was willing to do that over there, imagine what I would be willing to do here.”