I do not intend to provoke anyone with the title of this text. I just want to make everyone aware of something very sad that is happening in a member state of the European Union. It is no longer a question of whether Spain is one of the 4 worst economies in Europe or the diversification of its political class. Today I want to talk to you about the events that took place in Catalonia on October 1, 2017. As many of you know, there was a referendum of self-determination in Catalonia which was unilaterally convened by the Parliament of Catalonia. Although the Spanish Constitutional Court declared this referendum illegal, the Catalan Government decided to move forward with this process. So the President of the Government of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, tried to paralyze the whole process. However, citizens clung to the idea of voting to the point that many civilians slept the night prior the votation day inside the schools to try to avoid the savagery that would obviously bring the Civil Guard and to maintain the polling stations opened. A few weeks earlier, the Spanish government had mobilized to Catalonia one third of the total of members of the Civil Guard and more than 18,000 members of the National Guard.
Also, equipment and anti-riot units were mobilized to Catalonia. At 6am in Catalonia, the Mossos d’Esquadra, the police forces of the Catalan Government, began to visit – in a peaceful way – the schools and to pass minutes of those who were in those schools. The Major of the Mossos, Josep Lluís Trapero, had previously given orders that if there were children and elderly people or acts of peaceful resistance, they were not allowed proceed and use the force. It should be noted that although the Major of the Mossos sought to abide by the decisions of the courts, his position in favor of not using force led the Spanish government to assume the Mossos d’Esquadra competitions.
So the Major of the Mossos decided not to attend several of the meetings that the Department of the Interior handled for the referendum, even though he kept saying that he was going was to implement all judicial decisions issued by the courts. However, the Spanish government was not satisfied with the fact that the Major did not wanted to use force against its own citizens. This is why at 2pm, both the Civil Guard and the National Police were not only already attacking people in Barcelona and in the rest of Catalonia which before the presence of these two “security” entities began to protest peacefully, but initiated a barbarous and atrocious process of entering several polling stations throughout Catalonia in order to remove the urns and the ballots.
Thereby, they injured and bruised more than 800 citizens. They even closed 319 polling stations. Although the Spanish government denies it, this electoral process happened and without doubt this referendum is a sign that the Catalan people desires to vote in order to determine their future. A desire that is shared, before the referendum, by more than 80% of the population. So one of the latest estimates of the October’s 1 referendum suggests that nearly 2.3 million people out of 5.3 million people called for this referendum voted. And of those who voted, 90% supported independence. And this is without counting the potential votes of the almost 800,000 citizens whose voting sites were intervened by the state’s security forces.
However, the images in which children, the elderly and young people were injured or videos in which the Civil Guard was seen attacking civilians that were peacefully protesting, are a clear example of why Spain is no longer a democracy. These actions were more like the actions of the “civic-military” police of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela than to the security forces of an European democratic political entity. It should be noted that these cases were not only limited to physical aggression, but there were some cases in which women were grabbed by their breasts and another female got her fingers broken on purpose by a Civil Guard.
So the question is, it is this what Catalonian people and the rest of the Spanish set deserve? Although most political parties in Spain have supported the acts that were perpetrated today in Catalonia, the reality is that it is degrading to see what happened there. The situation in Catalonia is a political clash. Actions such as those led by the High Court of Justice of Catalonia banning TV3, for example, from not “promoting” the referendum is an example of authoritarianism and press censorship. The reality is that the Spanish government is disconnected from the political reality of Catalonia, so it does not seem that they do not understand that this will only going to be resolved in the urns. Now what are they going to do, are they going to arrest the President of the Generalitat, disqualify him as they did with Mr. Artur Mas, are they going keep suppressing the Catalonian institutions, are they going to put into effect article 155 of the Spanish Constitution? Threatening to give fines from $42,000 to $350,000 to citizens who participated in polling stations and closing the airspace of Barcelona so that the pro-independence movement wouldn’t take pictures of the huge mobilizations that took place yesterday does not seem to be the solution. In contrast, I think these moves are deepening the pantheon of the tomb of Spanish democracy.
Even before the referendum, more than 11 million ballots were seized, the Generalitat’s financial reins were taken, public servants were arrested for pushing the referendum and even websites giving information about the referendum (public and private) were closed. I believe that all this, along with the motto of “Go for them” in Andalusia, makes it clear that Spanish government crossed a non-return red line. I have no doubt that the actions that Spanish government putted in practice in Catalonia on October 1, 2017 were very similar to those that were practiced by the antisemitic and fascist regime of Francisco Franco. A dictatorship that killed and disappeared more than 150,000 people and which delivered 40,000 Jews to the Gestapo between 1939 and 1942. Nevertheless, which can be expected from a government which is led by the party of Francisco Franco. So it seems to me that applying the law cannot mean violating a nation’s will for its right to self-determination.
I understand that because Catalonia generates 20% of Spain’s GDP, and because Catalans pay 19% but only receive 9% of the total of collected taxes, the government of the Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy Brey, see independence as a threat to Spain. And it is logical that since 26% of all Spain’s exports leave from Catalonia and that the economy of this autonomous region has the same size of the Portuguese economy, this is a concern for Mr. Rajoy Brey. Despite this, what happened on October 1, 2017 is an embarrassment. Even the European Union is to blame for not paying attention to this conflict.
In conclusion, if in 1979 King Juan Carlos ratified and endorsed the content of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizing the right to self-determination, then why the referendum of today has no validity and must adhere to the decisions of a fully politicized Constitutional Court? Yes, I know that many appeal to their chimera that Catalans are not a nation, but history clearly proves otherwise. The definition of what a nation is, based on the fact that Catalans share a common culture, language and territory, fully applies to the Catalans. So I hope that the spirit of Article 39 of the Organic Law of Franco, which is still present in the Spanish constitution and gives the military the open door to deploy their tanks on Catalonia, is not the path that Spain will take.
Already sending the Civil Guard was enough. I believe that the presence of this body of “security” had its special symbolism since after Spain’s Civil War, this body which was created in the nineteenth century by the Spanish crown, was then plenty controlled by Francoists who were just dedicated to repress Catalan and Basque dissidents. I think that the Spanish people deserves more than judicial decisions and a president who does not even know how to speak English. Enough of the abuse against the Catalans. Because dear reader, the Government of Catalonia and its people seems to be clear of what is their final goal. And that goal is to reach their independence.
I know that the last wish that Franco had before he died was to maintain the “Spanish territorial unit”. However, in the 21st century, it is time for the urns and ballots for the ones who gives us the final verdict of a people’s destiny and not the dreams of a dictator. Repression, violation of human rights agreements in both the international and European spheres and persecution have to be eradicated from this conflict. Peace and respect for democracy has to be an indisputable priority. That is why I want to dedicate this blog entry to all those who were physically injured during the referendum, and those brave people who attended this referendum in favor of the most powerful weapon in the world: universal suffrage.