It is impossible that any journalist who accumulates a few three years dedicated to political information in Catalonia has not met Xavier Vendrell and David Madí. From leading ideological poles, Vendrell, on the left, and Madí, on the right (although he defines himself as liberal), both are names without which it is difficult to understand the Catalan political ecosystem. Vendrell (Sant Joan Despí, 1966) is now a businessman but before he was a young militant of Terra Lliure, a terrorist organization born in the transition and that advocated an independence movement based on Marxism. He was one of those who channeled it through the peaceful path and convinced many of its members that it was not necessary to follow in the footsteps of Basque secessionism. If there was no ETA in Catalonia, it is because he and others fought so that their fight did not include more assassinations or bombs. Not all his colleagues saw it that way, although as some later confess, the Hipercor attack ended up opening the eyes of more than one.
Vendrell, like other of his colleagues, joined ERC in the early 90s. He was never its leader but in the two decades that he held both organic and institutional positions, he commanded and commanded a lot. Six years after entering he already became the secretary of organization and finances. Shortly after, in 1999, he was elected a deputy in the Parliament and held a seat until 2010. In one of the most complicated decisions for ERC, it was clear to him that the Republicans had to break with the Pujolist hegemony and bet on the configuration of a left tripartite . He succeeded and became Minister of Government after the remodeling of the Executive of Pasqual Maragall. He stayed for a year and his election was preceded by the controversy caused by his decision to send letters to ERC militants who worked in the Generalitat asking for a quota for the party, under the threat of losing his job.
Outside the Government, he began his business career, linked to the biomedical sector and founds a consultancy based in Barcelona and Bogotá. Without political office, Vendrell has never left politics. Respected by the ERC membership and its leaders, he ended up being called upon to help with the logistics of the referendum. He has never recognized it in public. Nor does he deny it. Together with other former political leaders, they design the General Staff, the paragovernmental body that ended up setting a good part of the strategy that allowed the 1-O to have ballots and ballot boxes. It is in that Sanhedrin where David Madí was also, another fundamental name to understand the most recent history of Catalonia.
Vendrell and Madí are almost antagonistic styles. The former is rougher in form and less given to displaying expensive tastes. The second comes from one of the families of the Catalan bourgeoisie. His grandfather was a businessman, patron and manufacturer of the well-known Floïd facial massage. Madí (Barcelona, 1971) studied at the French Lyceum and at university he joined the FNAC, the nationalist student union. At the age of 22 he was already a member of Convergència and at only 25 he already became the chief of staff of Artur Mas when he was Minister of Economy.
Mas and Madí became a tandem and after going through the direction of the Government Spokesperson Office, Madí was appointed Secretary of Communication of the last Executive of Jordi Pujol. It was a time when two politicians, Madi, and the socialist José Zaragoza, today a deputy in Congress and then at the head of the machinery of the PSC, accumulated a power and a capacity for influence that frightened. They both liked the polls but in the case of the convergent they ended up becoming a problem to the point that they caused his dismissal.
Accused of manipulating polls and although he has always denied it, the controversy ended up costing him the position. It was 2003, he took refuge in the party and there he assumed the party’s communication strategy. The so-called ‘pinyol’ of Mas, a reduced nucleus of leaders assumed power. He became the head of the successive campaigns of the then CDC leader and after what Mas himself defined as the crossing of the desert, he managed to reach the presidency. His friend and strategist ended his work and went to the private sector.
Madí, like Vendrell, continued to have a great agenda and influence. This helped him to promote various companies, also dedicate himself to consulting and advising large companies, including Deloitte. He was also on the salary of Telefónica and was appointed chairman of the advisory council of Endesa in Catalonia until in 2017, at the height of the process, the company chose not to continue in the position. Ten years before, he had published the book ‘A democraàcia freda’, the cover of which is characterized General George Patton and in its pages he confessed “a political vicious”. That vice was the one that also led him to get involved in the preparations for the referendum. As Vendrell, he does not publicly acknowledge it but neither does he deny it.
Oriol Soler (Ripollet, 1969) is president of the SOM publishing group and has often been pointed out as the communicative brain of 1-O. He has publicly acknowledged that he carried out “story-creating tasks” and his name jumped on many covers due to the image of the meeting he had with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He explained that one of his companies is based in the English capital and took advantage of the visit to meet Assange. He does not hide his proximity to the pro-independence parties, especially ERC, but he has never held organic positions or in any institution.
Despite dedicating himself to communication, Soler is little given to granting interviews and prefers to move on the stage. He defines himself as a person on the left and is one of those who defends that the independence movement has to expand its base and win support before returning to raise new issues. Like Madí y Vendrell, he accumulates a lot of information and more influence than many active politicians. The three were arrested this Wednesday first thing in a police operation That has caused surprise and not only in pro-independence circles.