The Catalan protest platform Tsunami Democràtic - Democratic Tsunami - came into being to respond to the verdicts in the trial of Catalan pro-independence leaders. And like a huge wave, last Monday, a few hours after the announcement that nine people had received jail terms of 9 to 13 years, a protest was held in Barcelona's Plaça Catalunya. There the ground was prepared to go to Barcelona's airport, El Prat. At 1pm the action was announced and not only did it block entry to both major terminals, but it created gridlock on the airport access routes.
It was not an improvised action. There were months of preparation for it. There had to have been. Because only with preparation could those 1,200 vehicles have left Barcelona at midday for Madrid from different municipalities around Catalonia, which were recruited a week earlier to take part in one of the day's secondary actions, a "slow drive" to create congestion on the accesses to Madrid-Barjas airport. And only with preparation were the posters which Barcelona protesters carried ready - with the slogan "Everyone to the airport".
The Tsunami is not improvised. It is carefully prepared and thought about, with all the necessary security measures so that the actions carried out have a surprise factor, an impact factor, a guarantee of achieving their objectives and the appropriate security measures for those who organize the logistics, a task which obviously can't happen by itself. In the age of the Internet, everything is easier, but also more unsafe if the appropriate measures are not taken.
The waves of the Democratic Tsunami will break upon us in a programmed way. Meanwhile, now, a Tsunami representive speaks with El Nacional to help us contextualize the movement, its actions and its objectives. This is an interview with a movement which, right now, is unpredictable for many. An interview conducted via a secure digital system to preserve the identity and integrity of the Democratic Tsunami logistics aparatus.
Why the term "tsunami"? Where did it come from?
For many reasons. Because it is understood in many languages, because it is forceful, because you can even use it to make jokes. It's easy to promote and remember.
What are the objectives of the Democratic Tsunami?
Tsunami has repeated its goals in all its statements and actions. There are three key lines: the exercise and recognition of the right to self-determination; freedom for the prisoners, exiles and those suffering reprisals by the state; and full exercise of fundamental rights. With a starting premise that is demanded of the state: Spain, sit down and dialogue.
Many people are wondering these days who is behind Democratic Tsunami. And people have even pointed at meetings of leaders of political parties with Carles Puigdemont as an ideologist of the movement. Without trying to make you reveal who directs the movement, can you say whether behind the Democratic Tsunami, are the people? Is it a movement like the one that made possible the 1st October referendum? A chain of people in collusion?
Yes. Tsunami is a horizontal and variable network. With members in several countries. It has no leaders because it is not structured in this way (it's not effective). It works dynamically in order to define and achieve specific actions.
Spanish interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska has said that Democratic Tsunami is under investigation. Is this seen with concern or was it more of a predictable factor for the organization?
The minister has claimed that "in the end we'll know who is behind Tsunami". The answer is that behind the Tsunami there are the same people that there are in front of it. Talking about "people behind it" is already a mental framework that implies a certain criminalization of people joining in association. We ask ourselves if they are also investigating the rest of the social protest movements. Perhaps the minister should explain if they are also investigating who "is behind" the feminist movement that organizes strikes. Or who is behind Fridays for Future. Or any movement that wants to change how things are. If so, that is very worrying and Spaniards have a serious problem.
Have the arrests on September 23rd, of nine CDR activists accused of terrorism, and their subsequent jailing, caused any change in your plans?
Did you expect the police response that occurred to the protest at the airport?
Tsunami has already condemned the use of rubber bullets by the police. We are a non-violent campaign at all times. The police actions against non-violence have already been surprising for months.
And the response of people these days to the protests and subsequent moments of tension when there have been police charges?
It is not Tsunami's intention to become a new element offering opinions on the news.
Is there a connection between the Democratic Tsunami and the protests going on these days?
That we are in the same society. That maybe a lot of people who went to the airport were also in the streets of Catalonia. Or the Marches for Freedom. Or are there to stop housing evictions. Or at feminist protests or involved with climate action.
Democratic Tsunami's claim is that it is responding to the court sentences, but is it also reacting to the political phase we are going through in Catalonia, the political blockage of Spain and the position of the government of Catalonia?
Tsunami is not just a response to the court sentences. It has its own agenda, as has been explained in the press releases and summarized above.
The Democratic Tsunami app has left everyone disoriented. Those who say they are investigating you and those who try to get into it by any means possible and have been looking for QR codes for days. Is this a deliberate situation as well?
The app is designed to enable new forms of protest. And at the same time to enlarge a more trusted network. Having to search for a QR code is an example. You get it from people in your trusted circle. It creates a network in a dual way: on the app and on the street.
And now what? What will the next wave of the Tsunami be?
The next action will be the one that best fulfills the goals set out at the moment it occurs.