Monday, December 04, 2006

Video Games

The use by political parties of videos to make their case on an issue has quite suddenly become a popular practice in Spain. These videos are subsequently spread by Internet and with a bit of publicity can soon be seen by hundreds of thousands of people.

A few weeks ago the Partido Popular (PP) decided to use this method to spread their “message” on crime and immigration, two separate issues which are unfortunately linked together by too many people here. Seeking to take advantage of opinion polls which place these issues amongst those that cause most concern to many people, the PP video presented Zapatero’s Spain as a nightmarish place bedevilled by crime and horrific street violence; mixed together with images of African immigrants who of course have no relation to any of the other events portrayed.

Shortly after the video was released came the first signs that perhaps it was not the most accurate representation of the real situation in the country. It emerged that two of the scenes portrayed in the film were actually of events that took place when the PP was in power, including one that occurred when their leader, Mariano Rajoy, was Minister of the Interior. The PP attempted to brush aside the charges of manipulation, and shifted the blame onto the external company they had contracted to produce the video. Then things got worse; another of the more dramatic scenes from the video was identified as being film of a shootout involving drug traffickers in Medellin, Colombia. Now Zapatero gets routinely blamed by the PP for most things that are wrong with Spain and the world, but making him responsible for 50 years of violence in Colombia seems to be going just a bit too far. Or maybe not, given that they already insinuate the involvement of him and his party in helping to organise the Madrid train bombings.

Well now Zapatero’s party, the PSOE, has produced its own video, and an interesting one it is too. The video, entitled “La Otra Tregua” (The Other Truce) deals with the negotiations in 1998 between the PP government led by Jose Maria Aznar, and ETA. What makes this video so interesting is that it leaves very clear that Aznar’s government was prepared to make significant concessions to ETA in order to achieve an end to their armed activity, and this is reflected both in their actions and in the words that the video reproduces. ETA prisoners were moved closer to the Basque country as a gesture for the negotiations, Aznar and other ministers spoke of government generosity, and had no misgivings at the time in talking about a “peace process”; a description they insist now can only be applied to a situation where a war exists.

The concessions made at the time by Aznar’s government went further than anything that the current government has done as part of the ongoing peace process, yet the PP has made complete opposition to this process one of the key planks of its strategy. They have reacted furiously to the issuing of this video, not surprisingly given that it exposes the extent of their change of direction. Aznar himself has passed through a Greta Garbo moment, and has declared that he should be left in peace; something that he would find easier to achieve if he could just resist the temptation to publicly criticise the current government at every opportunity.

The PSOE’s video is certainly not going to improve the chances of the PP supporting the peace process, but that possibility is so remote anyway that it really makes no difference. It is now widely accepted that the PP will never support an effort by the current government to negotiate the end of ETA. Whilst you have to take into account that the video is produced by a political party, I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the issue who understands Spanish. It is probably available in many different places on the Web, but I found it on the blog of El rey de la baraja


Evaristo said...

Well, I can just say that, once again, the PP got what they deserve. They started with a couple of videos from FAES about March 11's attacks (a continuation of the bunch of lies they told us during those days). An recently, as you mention, the video about crime and immigration.

The difference is that they use the video to tell more lies and the video from the PSOE is just a summary of facts. One could argue that it is incomplete. Or that it doesn't mean much now. But there are no lies.

And thanks for mentioning my modest blog...

spanishben said...

I think your title, video 'games' really sums it up perfectly. By the way, I sent you an email recently, may have got lost in hotmail's junk folder. If you fancy a blogger's coffee some day in Madrid, drop me a line. Ben, Notes from Spain