OPINION
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Politicians losing sleep

The dignitary, the governor, cannot be immune to the monitoring of citizens, when instead of serving, he cheats and robs them

The word itself doesn't help. Derived from the lowlife slang of Buenos Aires, the word escrache sounds like spitting, when in fact it means a peaceful protest near the domicile of a politician. However, it is far from a new phenomenon. Years ago, when the sexual rights of many people, such as homosexuals, were still being trampled on, the practice of "outing" came into fashion among radical gay groups, who gathered in front of a secret homosexual's door to publicly proclaim his sexuality and bring him "out of the closet." In Spain, too, some gay activists preached it, but it never caught on. The changes that have taken place over the last couple of decades have made it more or less unnecessary here, but in many parts of Asia and Africa discrimination against women and homosexuals is still very much a problem. A few days ago on German television, a group of topless girls interrupted the official visit of Vladimir Putin, who has a bad record on women's liberties and human rights, and unleashes gangs of hoodlums on dissidents.

One of the aims of the gay groups' outings was to bring out the numerous homophobic homosexuals in the Catholic clergy, the bishops who protected pedophile priests; as well as the politicians and police commissioners who practiced homosexuality in their private lives and then mistreated homosexuals in their public lives. Outing was a radical form of self-defense against injustice, but it was also the forerunner of a position that is fortunately now spreading in society: the dignitary, the governor, cannot be immune to the monitoring of citizens, when instead of serving, he cheats and robs them. Today, the Mortgage Victims Platform (PAH) aims to establish the idea that politicians cannot enjoy unlimited carte blanche in function of a sum of votes, as if this annulled the demands of equity and morality.

I have always repudiated the sort of actions that, in the name of democracy, prevent someone from speaking

Those who find themselves thus harassed accuse the protestors of coercion, and of attempting to force the consciences of public representatives. Do the government spokesmen forget that they themselves have spent a year saying that their cutbacks, their broken promises of employment and so forth, were due to their own unawareness of how empty the state's coffers were? With all the more reason, then, the mortgage victims can claim that they were unaware of what was involved in the fine print of the mortgage they signed, when no crisis was in sight.

When the PP and some other parties proclaim that dation in payment would break down the whole mortgage system as we know it, I, who am not an economist, may believe them. Anyone who recently, when catastrophe was in sight, ventured to sign a mortgage, would not have much right to protest now.

I have always repudiated the sort of actions that, in the name of democracy, prevent someone from speaking, be he a journalist or a politician. Everyone deserves the right to speak. But from what I have seen in the street and in the news, most of the protestors are not anti-system mad dogs, but people who would rather be comfortable at home, if they had a home in which to be comfortable.

Two further questions. I understand how a democrat may be appalled by finding a beret-wearing adherent of ETA at his side in a demo. But to share a good cause with such an individual does not make the peaceful citizen a terrorist - as if Hitler's applause at the opera made a Nazi of Wagner.

Much, too, has been heard of the deputy prime minister's baby. The 300 people who gathered in front of her house only wished to be heard. Nobody likes to be jeered and taunted, but does the well-paid job of a politician not involve this? The people who are yelling only want to deprive the politicians of a little sleep. Politicians who, with their vote, can deprive these anguished people of a roof over their heads.