In the first of a series, Sian Norris reports on the global network behind the anti-rights platform CitizenGO founded by Spain – friends of the right-wing extremist Vox party
The Spanish People’s Party won an overwhelming victory in the early elections in Madrid, winning 65 seats in the 136-seat assembly. The total falls below the 69-seat majority required for a majority, meaning it will now have to rely on the far-right Vox party to form a new government.
Regional President Isabel Díaz Ayuso’s election campaign was marked by division and polarization, explanatory the May 4th elections were a choice between “communism or freedom”.
In the run-up to the vote, the Christian conservative organization CitizenGO hosted a petition calling on Ayuso and her People’s Party to “commit” to support an anti-LGBTIQ and anti-abortion agenda to raise the voice of CitizenGO supporters to secure. The petition said:
“Sign this campaign and let Isabel Díaz Ayuso know that without a commitment to your values, she will not have your vote … A candidate who does not dare to repeal Madrid’s trans and LGTBI laws.”
The petition reminds readers that right-wing Vox candidate Rocío Monasterio “made a written promise to defend what you believe. In fact, we hope Rocío Monasterio will make Ayuso do the right thing…. If Vox is strong in the Madrid Assembly, Ayuso will be bolder and your values will be better represented. “
But what is CitizenGO? How does she relate to the Vox Party? And how are its international allies helping to spread an anti-rights ideology in democracies around the world?
“Make yourself heard, victim of gender ideology”
CitizenGO is a “community of active citizens working together to defend and promote life, family and freedom” around the world that launches petitions promoting a conservative Christian agenda. She is currently petitioning Pantene shampoo brand for “promoting LGBT ideology” and telemedical abortions in early pregnancy women in the UK.
It was founded by Ignacio Arsuaga, the founder of HazteOír – Victimas de la Ideología de Género (Make Yourself Heard – Victims of Gender Ideology). It was accused of being a “Super-Pac” for Spain’s far-right Vox party in 2019 when Arsuaga told an undercover journalist that CitizenGO would “show bad things said by the leaders of other parties,” for example “For abortion or for LGBT laws.”
“We’ll never ask people to vote for Vox,” Arsuaga reportedly said. “But the campaign will indirectly help Vox.”
Along with Arsuaga, CitizenGO is the who’s who of the global anti-right movement.
This includes CEO Álvaro Zulueta, a former risk manager at IBM and treasurer of HazteOír, whose wife puts him in the middle of high society through the connection with the Spanish royal family.
An IBM manager was exposed as a CitizenGO donor when hackers leaked 15,000 documents on the network. Zulueta is said to be a member of the Mexican religious sect El Yunque, the purpose of which is “to fight the forces of the revolution (the works of Satan) with all available means” and to establish the “Kingdom of God in Mexico”.
In addition to Zulueta, Luca Volontè is CEO of the Italian anti-abortion and anti-LGBTIQ organization Fondazione Novae Terrae and, until recently, chairman of the Catholic think tank Dignitatis Humanae Institute. Volontè was a former member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and was thus at the center of European politics. He was recently sentenced to four years in prison for accepting bribes from Azerbaijani politicians.
Then there is the US connection via Brian Brown. The well-known activist for “family rights” is the founder of the World Family Congress – a conference for human rights activists, previous speakers included Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the Italian politician Matteo Salvini, who called the congress “the Europe we want to see”. “
Board member Alexey Komov is close to Salvini’s Lega party and the Institut Dignitatis Humanae. It is the link to the World Congress of the Family Russia.
CitizenGO and Agenda Europe
Research by Neil Datta from the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development has identified Komov, Brown, Volontè and Arsuaga as “Agenda Europe figures”.
The secret network brought together Vatican proxies, politicians and anti-rights actors from organizations such as ADF International and CitizenGO, as well as many others, to try to change laws or take preventive action against laws in support of LGBTIQ and abortion rights during the 2010s.
For example, in 2016 its member Ordo Iuris drafted a law banning abortion completely in Poland and advocated the latest ban on abortion for fatal fetal defects, while the Coalition for the Family and In The Name Of The Family organized constitutional referendums to try to Prevent equal marriage in Romania or Croatia – successfully in the latter case.
CitizenGO and HazteOír developed the EU-wide One Of Us initiative, which Datta calls an “Agenda Europe Activity” which aimed to “strongly promote the protection of human life before conception in Europe”. It failed, but One Of US is cited by Agenda Europe in its leaked manifesto “as a model for similar petitions at the national level” for its secondary success in building “a dynamic towards a European federation of pro-life organizations”.
Arsuaga claimed: “One of us was the beginning of a far-reaching lobby that wants to influence the European Union.”
The couple also filed a petition against Spain’s liberalized abortion laws. Although the laws were not repealed, the campaign resulted in a change in the law that requires minors to obtain parental consent in order to terminate the contract. Change is a goal of Agenda Europe, which is listed in its manifesto. According to researcher Ellen Rivera, HazteOír “implements Agenda Europe guidelines locally”.
IWD 2021: The global anti-rights networks Behind Madrid’s anti-feminist rally
Cash flow to CitizenGO
CitizenGO is funded primarily through “small online” donations from its supporters – in 2019 its income was £ 2,124,539. The website states: “CitizenGO does not accept financial support from any public or private entity under any circumstances. You won’t find any ads on CitizenGO. “
A 2014 hack revealed that it had received large donations from IBM and Nestle employees, as well as billionaire businesswoman Esther Koplowitz and El Corte Inglés founder Isidoro Álvarez, who donated £ 10,000. Eulens David Álvarez donated 20,000 euros.
Arsuaga told an undercover reporter in 2019 that board member Brian Brown paid Darian Rafie, his partner at the conservative ActRight, to advise CitizenGO “every few months or so” on fundraising and technology. ActRight is said to have also financed an employee of CitizenGO in 2013.
The funding of Agenda Europe is more difficult to track because of its secret nature.
However, research by Neil Datta found that the 2013 summit guest list included some wealthy anti-rightist backers as well as their financial managers. Including the Archduke Imre of Habsburg-Lothringen as well as Vincente Segu, who is connected with the Mexican billionaire Patrick Slim, and Oliver Hylton, the asset manager of the conservative financier Sir Michael Hintze.
The following year Alexey Komov and Luca Volontè took part in the summit. In addition to his connections to CitizenGO and the World Congress of Families, Komov is the program manager for a non-profit foundation in Russia that advocates socially conservative causes, founded by the Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. The latter founded Tsargrad TV, a Putin-backed channel used by right-wing conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones of America’s Infowars.
According to reports, Malofeev said: “Christian Russia can free the West from the new liberal anti-Christian totalitarianism of political correctness, gender ideology, mass media censorship and neo-Marxist dogma.”
Together, Slim, Malofeev, Archduke Imre, his wife Archduchess Katherine, and Sir Michael Hintze are worth nearly $ 8 billion.
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