Spanish police brutality, its supporters and opponents


This ReelNews video says about itself:

Powerful end to general strike in Barcelona as dockers join huge demonstration

3 October 2017

General strike, Barcelona: Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better …. 1,000 dockers march up the Ramblas to join the main demonstration of the day, led by women – as are all the mobilisations here.

The dockers have refused to service the ships housing the Spanish police from the moment they got there, and have been at the heart of working class resistance to state oppression and police violence. As to the demo itself, you’d need a helicopter to work out how many people were there – every road around Placa Catalunya was so full that you couldn’t even move, let alone march. This is a very angry, very confident, very well organised movement that’s getting stronger and stronger.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Hundreds of thousands protest Madrid’s repression in Catalonia

4 October 2017

After Sunday’s brutal crackdown on the Catalan independence referendum by Spanish police and paramilitary civil guards left over 900 people injured, hundreds of thousands demonstrated in cities across Catalonia amidst a “national work stoppage.” The protest was called by Catalan separatist parties, trade unions and business groups, with the backing of the Catalan regional government.

Youth, shopkeepers, and workers in various industries stayed away from work or marched, including in mass rallies of tens of thousands of people in Barcelona. It made clear yet again that the police’s failure to shut down the referendum last Sunday, amid a mass mobilization of the Catalan population, reflected broad popular opposition to authoritarian forms of rule.

Tens of thousands protested in Barcelona throughout the day in front of the headquarters in the region of the ruling Popular Party, the National Police and the civil guards with chants of “The streets will always be ours.” Outside Barcelona, thousands filled the main squares of towns and cities throughout Catalonia.

Pickets blocked 57 roads, and many small businesses closed. Almost all schools were closed, as students stayed away. Seventy-five percent of public health workers did not go to work, according to the Catalan Health Ministry. Dockworkers closed down the ports of Barcelona and Tarragona. The agricultural sector was inactive during the day, and the rice farmers of the Ebro Delta interrupted the harvest.

Catalonia’s main cultural institutions—the National Theater of Catalonia, the National Art Museum of Catalonia, or the Ateneu Barcelonès—were closed. Barcelona’s main monuments, including the Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and the Museum of F.C. Barcelona, also closed.

Workers at Mercabarna, Barcelona’s main food-trading estate overseeing wholesale markets supplying over 10 million people, also went on strike. At the Nissan car factory, 70 percent of the autoworkers went on strike, forcing the factory to shut down.

These protests have shown the deep-rooted opposition in broad layers of the population against mass repression and authoritarianism. … This requires the mobilization of the working class throughout all of Spain and across Europe in struggle against the danger of police-state rule.

The entire Spanish political establishment has closed ranks behind the savage actions of the police on Sunday, while 16,000 civil guards and police are still in Catalonia. Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido has denounced mounting protests outside hotels in Catalonia lodging the Spanish police as “intolerable harassment.”

The Union of Civil Guard Officers, an association of the paramilitary force, posted a statement claiming that they have been “abandoned to their fate, betrayed by disloyal Mossos d’Esquadra [Catalan regional police], incited by treacherous politicians.”

It calls on the leaders of the PP, the PSOE and of the Citizens to “act, to let us loose.” It concludes stating in a fascistic rant: “The Civil Guard dies, but they never give up. The Civil Guard is to serve with honor to its State, with loyalty, with abnegation, with firmness, with prudence, being calm before the danger … Civil guards do not pour gasoline into the fire, like some politicians who are craving for the state’s fracture, anarchy, revolution, nonsense.”

The endorsement of police violence is accompanied by intense discussions of the implementation of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which would pave the way for the Spanish army and police to take over the Catalan regional government and put the region under their rule.

The minority PP government is waiting for the backing of the Socialist Party. Although the PP could apply Article 155 alone, PP parliamentary spokesperson Rafael Hernando considered that “such a measure must have the greatest possible support.”

Yesterday, the PSOE adopted a position of studied equivocation as to whether it will endorse a military-police onslaught against Catalonia. In a press conference after a PSOE Executive meeting, Secretary for Federal Policy Patxi López was repeatedly asked about the party’s position on Article 155. He said, “First we will see if the [Catalan] Parliament makes a unilateral declaration of independence, then we will see what are the state’s mechanisms to avoid and stop such madness.”

Citizens, which first emerged as a Catalan anti-secessionist party before jumping into national politics, is demanding Rajoy invoke Article 155 to stop a unilateral declaration on independence, over which the secessionists are still divided. Citizens’ leader Albert Rivera said, “If anybody has a proposal, let them say so now, because there’s 72 hours left before [the Catalan government] declares independence, and that’s something that cannot be stopped with a registered fax from the Constitutional Court.”

Sections of Spain’s right-wing press are baying for blood, arguing for invoking Article 155 to proceed with mass repression, arrests, and layoffs of workers deemed disloyal to the state. In an opinion piece in conservative daily ABC, Manuel Marín argued against any negotiations with the Catalan nationalists, advocating instead the use of Article 155.

He wrote that invoking this clause “would lead to violence in the streets … And millions of supporters and detractors throughout Spain should prepare themselves mentally to attend arrests, suspensions, disqualifications from public office and an aggressive street insurrection that shall be stifled. Hatred would cease to be controllable even by the instigators of the [secessionist] farce.”

There is deep opposition in the working class in Spain and across Europe to these wild, fascistic threats.

This video says about itself:

Rajoy wins Trump support over Catalonia

26 September 2017

US President Donald Trump and Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy have both voiced opposition to an independence referendum in Spain’s Catalonia which the separatist region has scheduled this weekend.

Rajoy arrived in the United States Monday (Sept 25) for a visit aimed at deepening ties with a country that is “a friend and an ally” of Spain.

By Chris Marsden:

Defenders of imperialist “human rights” hail Spanish government’s crackdown in Catalonia

4 October 2017

The brutal crackdown on Sunday’s Catalan independence referendum by the Spanish state has deeply shocked millions of people all over the world.

The government of one of the world’s leading “democracies” has sent in armed police, hailed by fascist demonstrators, to savagely beat and arrest anyone who dared to exercise their fundamental right to vote. Barcelona, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, has been transformed overnight into a war zone.

In the midst of this bloodbath, the United States and the European Union have leapt to the defence of the Spanish government. The columnists of the leading newspapers, who specialize in crying rivers over human rights abuses by governments the US seeks to overturn, have praised the Spanish government as a model of democracy and constitutional rule.

Typical is a column entitled “Damage to Catalonia” published Tuesday in the New York Times by Roger Cohen, who has for decades made it his business to sell wars to the American population.

Cohen declares that the government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy “was right on the basics. The Catalan referendum was a reckless sham.” He adds, “The referendum was illegitimate, having been suspended by Spain’s constitutional court.”

Cohen concludes with an idiotic and pompous ode to the European Union worthy of Polonius: “In European sovereignty, not in more national flags, lies the bright future of every European of good will.”

Catalans are depicted as supporters of a “disruption-at-any-cost” upheaval, directed against “the postwar liberal order in Europe… embodied in the European Union and by the presence of the United States as an offsetting power in Europe,” which “over the past four decades has ushered Spain, and Catalonia within it, to a degree of prosperity and democratic stability unimaginable at Franco’s death.”

Such, no doubt, is the view from Cohen’s five-star hotel room, from which he makes his grand pronouncements about democracy and human rights.

But Spain is a country where unemployment now stands at 17.8 percent and at 38.6 percent for those under 25, and where half of all households have incomes below the official poverty level after years of austerity measures dictated jointly by Brussels and the International Monetary Fund.

The hypocrisy of the New York Times is supplemented by outright lying on the part of the Washington Post, which portrays the Catalan referendum result as the product of Russian scheming against the European Union.

Images of “Spanish riot police firing rubber bullets and swinging truncheons at would-be voters in Catalonia on Sunday handed the region’s leaders the perfect story line,” the Post complains, when the political crisis in Spain is in fact the product of “a reckless and irresponsible drive by Catalan nationalists to create an independent republic in violation of the law…”

The Post goes on to cite both the European Commission and President Trump as authoritative voices opposing separatism, as against “separatist-ruled Scotland, the pariah government of Venezuela and Russia’s intelligence and propaganda apparatus,” which, it claims, has “mobilised its media outlets and social media bots in support of the separatists” to divide and weaken “the democratic West.”

The US media is, as always, a vehicle for crude pro-imperialist propaganda. But the same essential line is repeated by the British Financial Times. Rajoy’s repression is unfortunate, it editorialises, because it “risks giving credence to the separatists’ arguments that modern Spain has not shaken off its authoritarian past.” But any declaration of independence would be “an irresponsible action devoid of legal validity and political legitimacy” that would deservedly “encounter a frosty response from Spain’s European and US allies.”

One must suffer from acute political amnesia before accepting such debased moralising about respect for sovereignty and the rule of law. The only thing determining the line taken by the gentlemen of the press is the interests of their own ruling elites.

Time and time again, the same publications, the same journalists, have proclaimed the absolute right of separatist forces to break away from their parent state whenever this has advanced the predatory aims of the major powers.

Self-determination for minorities of every description, religious or ethnic, provided the ideological justification for the carve-up of Yugoslavia, the wars against Iraq, Libya and Syria, and every effort to encroach on the territories of the former Soviet Union since the recognition of Georgia in 1991.

Throughout the 1990s, Cohen wrote innumerable articles denouncing NATO for not acting more aggressively against Serbia and the Yugoslav central government in Belgrade in defence of the separatist movements in Bosnia and Kosovo, declaring in 2008 that “Milosevic’s quashing of Kosovo’s autonomy was central to his conversion of Yugoslavia into ‘Serboslavia’…”

Cohen’s columns helped promote the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, leading to the deaths of countless thousands of people. In his typically stupid and dishonest fashion, Cohen makes no effort to reconcile his support for Kosavar separatists and Islamist “rebels” in Syria, in the name of defending “human rights” against Slobodan Milošević and Bashar Al-Assad, with his fervent praise of Rajoy’s crackdown.

Such efforts to justify Madrid’s repression have the gravest implications.

The New York Times, Washington Post, et al are declaring illegitimate not only Catalan separatism, but all opposition to the existing capitalist order. And the unspoken target of the defence of the “rule of law” is the working class—not just in Catalonia and Spain, but throughout the continent.

And if the states and institutions that have imposed this savage assault are declared to be sacrosanct, then all forms of social and political opposition must be dealt with as ruthlessly as the Catalan referendum—including by military repression.

The embrace of Rajoy’s crackdown on the part of the EU and the Trump administration is entirely in line with the drive toward authoritarianism, state violence and the suppression of democratic rights by governments around the world.

This threat is very real in Spain.

On Monday, Justice Minister Rafael Catala warned that the government would invoke Article 155 if the Catalan parliament declared independence. “The Article 155 is there. We will use the entire force of the law,” he warned.

Article 155 suspends regional government if “an autonomous community were not to fulfil the duties imposed upon it under the Constitution or other laws…” Its imposition would only be made possible by sending in the army.

The threat was underscored by yesterday’s extraordinary intervention by King Felipe VI, who delivered a speech denouncing the Catalan government for having “placed themselves outside the law and democracy” and proclaiming the “responsibility of the legitimate powers of the state to ensure the constitutional order.”

The International Committee of the Fourth International opposes the politics of Catalan nationalism from the left. But the struggle against nationalism, including national separatism, is a political struggle that requires convincing the working class of the need to fight for international unity, and to rally the youth and progressive sections of the middle class around it.

That fight must unfold on the basis of uncompromising opposition to the violence unleashed by the government in Madrid and sanctioned by the imperialist European Union.

Meanwhile the site Naciódigital in Catalonia mentions criticisms in foreign media of Spanish police brutality; and of King Felipe VI of Spain supporting that brutality.

The Times on Catalonia

This picture shows the headline of an article in London daily The Times, which is rather critical of the police brutality and King Felipe VI’s whitewashing of it.

A bit surprising, as The Times is part of the Rupert Murdoch empire, which usually supports right-wingers like Rajoy and oppression all over the world. Maybe the conflict between the British and Spanish right-wing governments on Gibraltar, to which King Felipe contributed as well, plays a role in this?

The Times notes:

He [the king] did not mention the more than 800 people who were injured when riot police raided polling stations to stop last Sunday’s independence referendum.

The Wall Street Journal, also part of the Murdoch empire, reported s=rsprisingly objectively on the Barcelona anti-police brutality march of 3 October:

Marches Tuesday were led by Catalan firefighters in orange jackets and yellow helmets. Others were guided by leftist theater troupes and union longshoremen from the Port of Barcelona. There were anarchists and families with children in strollers. Some demonstrators covered themselves in makeup that mimicked ashes. The demonstrations were peaceful, by turns somber and festive.

Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, also not really a revolutionary paper, reacted:

Spain needs international mediation – not monarchy intervention which looks like a mistaken last throw of the dice on Catalonia.

Daily The Guardian in Britain wrote:

The king made no mention of the violence that marred the referendum when Spanish police officers raided polling stations, beat would-be voters and fired rubber bullets at crowds.

Belgium and Catalonia

This picture is about the Belgian Minister of the Interior supporting Catalan independence.

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports:

Sympathy for Catalan independence grows in Madrid

For months now the media in Madrid have taken a hardline course against the Catalan independence referendum. The Spanish government’s response to the vote on Sunday inspired a change of heart.

The Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB-PVDA) condemns the brutal violence of the Spanish police in Catalonia and calls for dialogue. “We condemn the brutal violence by the Spanish State and plead for a negotiated solution”, says PTB-PVDA chairman Peter Mertens: here.

The actions of the Spanish police in Catalonia today must be condemned by the Dutch government and the European Union, insists SP [Dutch Socialist party] Member of Parliament Renske Leijten. “The pictures of unarmed people, with their hands up, being pulled over and thrown to the ground by the Spanish military police, are a bombshell. This violent attack against one’s own people has no place in a democracy”: here.

11 thoughts on “Spanish police brutality, its supporters and opponents

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