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Intolerance network: How right-wing ultras are built up with the support of big companies
by Ralf Streck
Tuesday Aug 24th, 2021 2:52 AM
CitizenGo is intended to build nothing more and nothing less than "the most influential international Christian-inspired mobilization website," according to the published documents. For years, the radical anti-feminist network has been campaigning against women's rights, such as abortion rights, among other things, but also, above all, opposes gay marriage and LGBTIQ rights overall.
Intolerance network: How right-wing ultras are built up with the support of big companies
By Ralf Streck
[This article published on 8/10/2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Intoleranz-Netzwerk-Wie-rechte-Ultras-mit-Unterstuetzung-grosser-Firmen-aufgebaut-werden-6159314.html?seite=all.]

Ignacio Arsuaga, founder and president of HazteOir and CitizenGo. Photo: Contando Estrelas/CC BY-SA 2.0
Wikileaks reveals how the international right-wing, radical anti-feminist network "CitizenGO" was built through an ultra-Catholic formation in Spain

Wikileaks last week published 17,000 internal and confidential documents from ultra-Catholic organizations that the disclosure platform calls "The Intolerance Network." It refers to CitizenGo, a foundation that now has permanent offices in 15 cities, which, among other things, conducts campaigns under the "guise of family values."

It is "clear from the documents that their values are rooted in an extreme ultra-conservative Christian context," Wikileaks writes. The documents in question are "documents from the organizations' computer systems." Among them are "donor and membership lists, as well as strategy and planning documents, letters, financial spreadsheets, and legal and training documents."
CitizenGo is intended to build nothing more and nothing less than "the most influential international Christian-inspired mobilization website," according to the published documents. For years, the radical anti-feminist network has been campaigning against women's rights, such as abortion rights, among other things, but also, above all, opposes gay marriage and LGBTIQ rights overall.

Goal: "A generation of conservative leaders"
The goal is: "To build a generation of conservative leaders" against left-wing secularists, and this is to be done nationally and internationally. In Germany, the organization says it is working with the "Initiative Familienschutz," among others. This was founded in 2005 by Beatrix von Storch, the deputy federal spokeswoman of the AfD.

In advance, four different newspapers have seen, processed and checked the data. These were Il Fatto Quotidiano (Italy), Público (Spain), Contralínea (Mexico) and the Berlin-based taz (Germany), which reported extensively on the research last weekend.

Among other things, the article reviewed the launch and modus operandi of CitizenGo, a foundation operating in Spain since 2013 that emerged from the right-wing and Catholic fundamentalist organization "HazteOir" (Make Your Voice Heard).

Spanish background
HazteOir was initially an Internet blog run in Spain by Igancio Arsuaga Rato starting in 2001. The ultra-right and ultra-Catholic Arsuaga Rato continues to be the leading figure behind the organizations HazteOir and CitizenGo, which emerged from it on an international level. Arsuaga Rato is the nephew of the former Spanish vice president and former head of the International Monetary Fund, Rodrigo Rato.

The latter, like his ultra-conservative Popular Party (PP), was indicted for its "efficient system of institutional corruption." The PP was convicted of this in court, and Rato ended up in prison for corruption. In a new trial, he now faces a 70-year sentence for money laundering and corruption, among other charges.

The taz quotes from the Wikileaks documents how his nephew Arsuaga Rato had approached the Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev in 2013 after the first "World Congress of Families" (WCF), to which Christian fundamentalists from all over the world had flocked to Madrid, with a request for start-up funding.

The WCF, which has been held annually in alternating cities since 2012, brings together organizations to also organize opposition to those who advocate for the rights of gay, lesbian, queer, trans and inter (LGBTIQ) people.

Orbán
In 2017, the WCF was held in Budapest. It is hardly surprising that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán gave the welcoming speech in Budapest. After all, that's the kind of "conservative leader" CitizenGo wants to position. It's also no coincidence that Orbán's campaign against sexual minority rights has picked up steam since then.

Right now, Hungary is banning children's books that the government believes promote homosexuality or gender reassignment or contain offensive images of sexuality.

A "hate group"
Wikileaks cites the civil rights and anti-racism organization Southern Poverty Law Center to describe the WCF. The foundation, based in the U.S. state of Alabama, calls the WCF a "hate group." The Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society is the lead organizer of the conventions. It is "one of the most influential organizations" in the U.S. "that exports hate," Wikileaks quotes the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. This is one of the largest organizations in the U.S. that advocates for LGBTIQ rights.

That Arsuaga turned to the Russian oligarch is truly no coincidence: "Malofeyev maintains close contacts with the Russian Orthodox Church and President Vladimir Putin. He organizes congresses for abortion opponents and equates homosexuality with bestiality. He rejects democracy and has the best contacts in Europe's right-wing parties," writes the taz about the Russian oligarch.

Campaign politics
That is why he is the best financial backer for Arsuaga to build up the "international campaign platform" CitizenGo, "which fights against abortion, against the equality of homosexuals and against marriage for all". Its goal, the taz quotes from the Wikileaks documents, is not only to become the most influential Christian-inspired mobilization website, but to "effectively influence" "national governments, parliaments and international institutions."
The taz also describes how CitizenGo has been pursuing a partly successful campaign policy for many years, including in the European Parliament. For example, through their petitions, the fundamentalists also succeeded in 2013/2014 in preventing the EU Parliament from clearly backing the demand that all people in the EU should have access to abortion and sex education.
Since the detailed taz article is freely available and can be read in German, we will not go into more detail about these processes here.

The Vox Party
We want to focus more on the origins in Spain and the fact that, with the help of HazteOir, the ultra-right Vox party has now also been positioned there. It is already the third strongest party in the Spanish parliament. This is a model, as can be seen from the strategy papers, that is being and will be implemented in other countries as well.

Vox is an ultra-right splinter group led by former PP parliamentarian Santiago Abascal, who in turn is a bosom buddy of Arsuaga. For this reason alone, it is wrong to say that Vox is the first ultra-right party to have entered Spanish parliaments. The extent to which the ultras in Spain have previously played a decisive role in determining the country's politics, both inside and outside the PP, can be read here in the interview with proven expert Jordi Borràs: "If they get me, they'll kill me."

To understand how far to the right Vox is, it should be noted here that the party has not distanced itself from high-ranking military officials who were preparing a new coup and want to "shoot 26 million sons of bitches." From a German perspective, the CDU's sister party PP must already be located on the right-wing fringe, from which Vox has split off to the right.

The PP was founded by ministers of the Franco dictatorship such as Manuel Fraga Iribarne. This party has also never distanced itself from the coup against the Republic and the decades of dictatorship. The PP therefore has no fear of contact with Vox. The PP regional president in Madrid, Isabel Ayuso, even offered Vox participation in the government before the regional elections in May.

As in Madrid, the right-wing governing coalition in the large and important region of Andalusia is also dependent on Vox. In Murcia, a breakaway Vox candidate already sits as a minister in the PP government. In both the Spanish parliament and the Madrid regional parliament, party supporters of the openly fascist Vox were elevated to the presidency of parliament.

And the right fringe in the PP also played a very significant role in the rise of HazteOir, CitizenGo and Vox. It was ultra-Catholic fundamentalist and former Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz who created a runway for them.

The member of the Vatican sect Opus Dei, who among other things now faces charges of breach of official duty, betrayal of secrets, embezzlement, bribery and undue influence in the framework itself, had ensured that HazteOir and CitizenGo received non-profit status in Spain in 2013. It was from his ministry that the "cesspools" were steered, which Telepolis has reported on more often.

From a modest 3,000 euros, which HazteOir had accounted for at the beginning, incoming donations were soon used to launch campaigns that cost millions. 18 million has been spent on campaigns by the "ultra-right lobby" in Spain so far, Público reports.

"Big major donors"
Centrally responsible for this was the non-profit status. Because this meant that donations to the Ultras could be deducted from taxes. Thus, a good part of the hate propaganda was paid for by the taxpayer. CitizenGo even attacked Sesame Street. According to the followers of Francoist National Catholicism, the children's show was trying to "indoctrinate" children with "regressive and toxic views on sexuality."

Why HazteOir hid its donors in Spain - one of the reasons why the foundation's charitable status was eventually revoked again in 2019 under the new social-democratic government - has now become clear via the Wikileaks documents.

Unlike in Germany, where mainly rather unknown small donors have supported the ultra-platform, in Spain it was, among others, bosses of large companies, as Público makes clear on published lists.

An Exel table lists a total of 209 donors to the right-wing Ultra Catholics as "major large donors." Among them are names such as Isidoro Álvarez, longtime president of Europe's largest department store chain, El Corte Inglés. It also includes Juan Miguel Villar-Mir. The billionaire and head of the construction group OHL also played a role in the PP's corruption scandals.
Esther Koplowitz, head of the construction group FCC, also appears on the illustrious list, as do leaders of other companies such as Bernard Meunier of Nestlé.

For Público, after analyzing the Wikileaks documents, it is clear that the ultra-right Vox, whose foundation and first election campaign was financed by the Iranian exile organization called the People's Mujahideen or Mujahideen e-Khalq (MEK), "took off" after initial electoral flops thanks to millions in support from right-wing ultra-Catholics.

CitizenGo, it says, has been an "international engine for far-right parties and organizations" and has contributed to their rapid spread and consolidation in 50 countries.

However, the newspaper also points out that relations between Vox and HazteOir, that is, between Abascal and Arsuaga, have recently been very strained and there has even been a rupture, as Vox has entered into alliances with the PP and the supposedly "liberal" Ciudadanos (Cs).

In Murcia, for example, it was possible to enforce that schoolchildren be greeted with the national anthem. There, parents can also decide in schools whether their children take part in sex education or ethics classes. For this, too, is supposed to be "indoctrination" according to the Ultras.

Officially, meanwhile, HazteOir has broken sog with Vox for backing down on the formation in Madrid and Murcia and not pushing for the repeal of LGBTIQ laws: "They sold themselves short."

For its part, HazteOir is trying to publicly distance itself from the paramilitary integrist Mexican secret organization "El Yunque" after more and more evidence emerged that Arsuaga had taken a leading role there as well, writes Público.

El Yunque is ready to "shed blood for God."
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