26 de juliol 2016

80 anys d'estraperlisme i chadisme (Publicat a l'Ara)

El 13 de maig de 1934 trenta mil persones omplen l’Estadi de Montjuïc per assistir a una espectacular vetllada de boxa entre el púgil basc Paulino Uzcudun i l’alemany Max Schmeling. Presideixen l’acte el president de la Generalitat, Lluís Companys, i el batlle de Barcelona, Carles Pi i Sunyer. L’acte l’havia organitzat l’aventurer jueu alemany nacionalitzat mexicà Daniel Strauss, que juntament amb el seu soci Jules Perel i l’esposa de Strauss, Madame Lowmann, havien inventat un enginy trucat a mig camí entre la ruleta pretesament científica i la màquina recreativa, batejat amb una combinació dels seus tres cognoms: Straperlo.

El combat tenia com a objectiu aproximar-se a les autoritats catalanes per convèncer-les de les bondats de l’invent. Però la prohibició del joc i les prevencions morals dels dirigents d’ERC fan fracassar l’intent. Després d’aquest primer revés, Strauss entra en contacte amb el peculiar magnat i dirigent radical Joan Pich i Pon, amb qui sí que fa bons tractes: a canvi de l’autorització per instal·lar la ruleta a Sant Sebastià, acorden que el president del govern, Alejandro Lerroux, i diversos dirigents del Partit Republicà Radical obtindran part dels guanys, a més de sumes de diners, rellotges i altres regals. Però les promeses governamentals dels radicals no es compliran i, tant a Sant Sebastià com a Formentor, la ruleta és precintada i se’n denega l’autorització. Strauss, enganyat, clama venjança i escriu al president de la República, Niceto Alcalá-Zamora, detallant-li reunions, contactes, sumes de diners, dels seus tractes amb els radicals i el cap de govern.

Serà l’inici d’un escàndol que omplirà la premsa i farà trontollar la jove República Espanyola. El 18 d’octubre de 1935 el cas es trasllada al Tribunal Suprem i les Corts declaren culpables diferents dirigents polítics. El Partit Radical s’enfonsa, el vell Lerroux perd tot el seu prestigi polític, i el febrer de 1936 se celebren unes polaritzades eleccions que guanyen les esquerres del Front Popular, mentre una part de l’exèrcit i dels dirigents dretans conspiren per “salvar Espanya”. El terme estraperlo -i estraperlista - és el nom que pren el mercat negre i abusiu en l’escassetat de la postguerra.

Anys abans, el 1919, preveient les conseqüències de la derrota alemanya, la companyia elèctrica CATE (Compañía Alemana Transatlántica de Electricidad), de capital alemany i que donava servei al gran Buenos Aires, passa a ser espanyola gràcies a una complexa operació financera en la qual participa activament Francesc Cambó. El polític i advocat català es converteix en president i home fort de la nova empresa, la CHADE (Compañía Hispanoamericana de Electricidad) -controlada pel hòlding belga Sofina, del qual també esdevé membre del consell d’administració-, que es troba en l’origen de la seva multimilionària fortuna. La història d’aquesta societat i de la seva relació amb el pròcer catalanista acaba de ser objecte d’un exhaustiu estudi de Borja de Riquer, Cambó en Argentina. Riquer explica com l’any 1936 la CHADE viu dos greus problemes. Un, l’esclat de la Guerra Civil, que porta a l’argentinització de la companyia per tal d’evitar que el govern republicà controli la tercera empresa més important del país. L’altre, la tempestuosa negociació amb l’Ajuntament de Buenos Aires per renovar la concessió, enmig d’una intensa batalla política i periodística. Per satisfer els interessos de la CADE (ara, Compañía Argentina de Electricidad), s’usen tota mena d’estratègies d’acord amb el governamental Partit Radical: pressions, xantatges, manipulacions, suborns, tràfic d’influències, etc. Uns fets que motiven un enorme i sonat escàndol polític que acaba de desprestigiar els governs de “la dècada infame”, associada a la companyia elèctrica, que va donar nom al chadismo o cadismo amb què es coneix, a partir de llavors, aquell temps de corrupció generalitzada i operacions tèrboles. El mateix Cambó, que supervisa a distància l’operació que duen a terme els seus representants a Buenos Aires, escriu, segons revela el seu biògraf, que la renovació de la concessió suposa “ una de las mayores afrentas que ha sufrido Argentina ”.

El republicà radical Alejandro Lerroux i el regionalista Francesc Cambó, antics enemics a la Barcelona del desvetllar del primer catalanisme, tot i no haver participat en la preparació del cop d’estat militar i la conspiració feixista, de l’exili estant, acaben avalant el nou règim franquista, en el qual no se’ls reserva cap mena de paper. Poc abans, els vells adversaris havien quedat implicats clarament en dues operacions de corrupció política en dos països, Espanya i l’Argentina, que exemplifiquen la tesi del cèlebre llibre Why nations fail, de Daron Acemoglu i James Robinson, sobre les elits extractives que fan fracassar els països. Ara que estraperlistes i chadistes compleixen 80 anys en plena reflexió per a un país millor, evocar-los ha de servir per avançar cap a l’exemplaritat política, la virtut cívica i la robustesa democràtica i econòmica.

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