Before deciding to focus on Morocco, we did research about some other countries, and lived some enriching experiences in some of their consulates in Barcelona. Within our initial options we chose countries such as Togo, Senegal, and Chad. In this section, we relate the process of work from the beginning until we definitely established Morocco as the country on which we would focus the portfolio.
To begin with, we did a little research about Togo because it was the country that we wanted to focus on. When we went to the consulate, they were highly surprised, as they asked us if we already knew that Togo was a French colony, not an English one. After that, the secretary explained Togo was a small country and unfortunately there were not many native people living in Barcelona. Thus, we decided to try in Chad’s consulate. In that case, although there are few Chad citizens living in Barcelona as well, when we explained our project to the secretary she immediately thought that the representative console could be a potential candidate for us to interview: Javier Nart. Thus, having agreed to keep in touch, we decided to do some research about the console so as to prepare a consistent interview.
We mainly wanted to focus on his experience living in Chad, since the years he lived there were highly remarkable from a historical point of view. At the same time, we were intrigued by the dichotomies that surrounded his public image; that is, for instance he erroneously received 31,000€ from Fèlix Millet versus the fact that Chad is one of the most corrupted countries in the world, and he has publicly claimed that this situation needs to get better. We spent a lot of time trying to think how to ask him about these problematic issues without making him feel uncomfortable. However, the first time we got in touch with him we were really motivated to fix a date for the interview, so that when the secretary gave us his number Sandra called him. He rapidly agreed to collaborate with us, telling her which days he was going to be in Barcelona so that we could meet, as well as a little bit about his background in relation to the country, that is, among other things, that he lived there until 1975. Although Javier Nart was born in Cantabria, he spent all his childhood living in Bilbao. As he grew up, he started being a war correspondent in places such as Nicaragua, South Yemen, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Palestine, Camboy, Laos, Iran, Iraq or Chad, among others. Later on, he assessed the Spanish Government about international political issues from 1984 until 1988. Since the late eighties, he has been appearing in television as a fellow member in TV programs such as Crónicas Marcianas (Telecinco) or currently Espejo Público (Antena3). He is now a member of the European Parliament representing the Ciutadans party’s interests. Since we realized that he was in fact the person we got in touch with, we started investigating about his career, reading his book Sálvese quien pueda! Mis historias e histerias de guerra (2003) and we also discovered that he played a crucial part in the so-called Zoé’s Ark controversy. Indeed, he helped to liberate the crew members that were arrested in Chad.
However, after having sent more than three e-mails to Mr Nart, and having phoned Mr Nart’s secretary to confirm the meeting, she kept coming up with the same excuses “Nart is busy working now in Brussels and has no time for interviews”, “Please write to his e-mail address given that I can’t do anything else”.
Before concluding that in fact the interview was not going to be carried out because we never got a concrete answer, we went to Senegal’s embassy in order to get a further subject to interview in addition to Mr Nart. A 33 year-old man called Fode contacted us wanting to collaborate. We thought then, –since we did not completely know for sure about Mr Nart’s interview– that the two interviews could have been linked by the important fact that the former dictator of Chad Hissiène Habré is currently living in Senegal. As far as we investigated, the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) requested Senegal to give Habré his due, because under his rule he created a secret police force called the Documentation and Security Directorate, through which Habré’s opponents were tortured and executed. ICJ estimates that more than 40,000 persons have been killed during his regime.
Thus, we wanted to combine and contrast both experiences –one being more citizen-like and another being more govern-like– in the interview. The interview that we prepared for Mr Nart is presented below.
We have been told that you arrived to the Republic of Chad in charge of the Partido Socialista Popular’s international relations. You decided to join FRONILAT, a Chadian Popular Struggle Front, which truly represented Chadian society’s reality after Tombalbaye’s death. What was exactly that “reality” at the moment of your arrival? How were the rebel factions organized?
In relation to journalism
Which are the main mass media journals and how are they managed? Are they sponsored by the Government? –i.e. being non-objective and politicized, if so, to what extent?– Does international press help the population to understand better the current situation of their country? And also, to what extent it is word-of-mouth determining in order to spread information about politics in the country?
The American photographer Susan Sontag has theorised about the use of war photography with politic purposes. Do you think that image spreading through social networking services must be necessary in order to raise awareness about the reality of Chad?
What is the difference between Tombalbaye’s autocratic mandate and a dictatorship in the country? Taking into account Chad’s political history, is ‘autocratic mandate’ only an euphemism to refer to a dictatorship?
In relation to tribes
During Hissiènee Habré’s regime, what were the advantages of being a member of the daza tribe? To what extent are there remains of that so-called beneficial system nowadays?
Is there any identity feeling that takes precedence within the country, bearing in mind the differences between tribes? Do you believe that reconciliation among them can occur?
As far as we know, according to an interview carried out in 2009, in the official web page Solidaridad en el Chad, you visited Moussoro, Gouro, and Badai and you felt that they treated you “like a comrade”. Which were the tribes you spent more time with? How did you deal with communication? Do you remember any tradition that amazed you to discover?
In relation to the current government
What do you think of Déby’s reform that took place in 2006? Is Chad closer now to reaching a sociopolitical stability than it was during the seventies? Could you please explain to us what are the main problems that block the path to progress in the country?
The non-governmental organization Transparency International (TI) qualifies Chad as one of the highest corrupted countries of the world. As the English web page Irinnews explains, a great part of the impoverished population complains about the unauthorized use of oil production funds. Their reasons are that a much more isolated president is investing those funds in armament to assure his own security. What is your opinion about this issue? Do you imagine that these specific circumstances are probably one of the main causes that lead the country to be in the 5th position among poorest countries in the world?
You spent a lot of time in Chad during the seventies. Nowadays, in 2014, as a Member of the European Parliament and your tight political schedule, how do you combine both activities?
From 2003 to 2010 approximately, Chad has been directly confronted with Sudan. Do you believe that the Chadian population is aware about the real state of the country?
As your personal Facebook account and periodistadigital.com explain, your participation in the Zoé’s Ark case was crucial to liberate the crew members arrested in Chad. Could you please briefly talk about that experience?
Finally, we decided to ask to a childhood friend of Gabriela’s to help us with the interview, since time was running out and it was already November. His roots being found in Morocco, Ismaïl pleasantly accepted to collaborate and explained to us his own migratory experience. After finishing this interview, we considered that having a female point of view on the same questions could be of interest as well, since in his interview Ismaïl had drawn upon concepts related to feminism and the role of Muslim women in society. Thus, we got in touch with L’Associació d’Estudiants Marroquins de Barcelona (AEMB). The secretary contacted us because someone who was willing to collaborate as well. Her name was Karima.