Catalonia and Spain, a British view

This 27 October 2017 video from Barcelona is called Live from Pro Independence Demonstration Outside Parliament of Catalonia.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Rajoy fans the flames

Saturday 28th October 2017

SPAIN’S conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy urged all Spanish citizens to remain calm yesterday following the Catalan parliament’s vote for independence, but it is his government that has fuelled mass disquiet.

Whatever the percentage of Catalans committed to secession from Spain, that figure has certainly risen in the wake of brutality meted out by paramilitary police to prevent people voting in this month’s unapproved independence referendum.

Catalonia has a history of backing autonomy within Spain rather than seeking national independence.

However, the region’s autonomy was first abolished in the 1930s by the fascist forces that held all of Spain in chains until the mid-1970s and more recently watered down by Rajoy’s Popular Party (PP), which has its roots in fascist dictator Franco’s Falange party.

This doesn’t mean that Rajoy or his government is fascist today — although small numbers of their supporters are pictured on demonstrations giving stiff-arm salutes — but it emphasises the importance of historical grievances and imagery.

Spanish anti-Catalan independence demonstrators do fascist salute

This recent photo shows Spanish anti-Catalan independence demonstrators do fascist salutes.

Catalans, like every other nationality, have a right to self-determination and an obligation to express that right in a positive way.

If restrictions are placed by central government on a people’s ability to express their language, culture and identity, demands will grow for that people to strike out on their own.

Independence movements often arise also out of complaints that minority nationalities and regions are exploited or starved of investment by central government, but that is not the case in Spain.

Catalonia is the richest region, with a quarter of Spain’s exports and a fifth of its national income, and one complaint voiced loudly by Catalan nationalists, though recently muted, was that they have to subsidise poorer areas of Spain.

That reality doesn’t fit well with the image of a downtrodden and exploited national minority.

But that is not to downplay the deep-held grievances that Catalans express about Madrid’s dilution of autonomous rights enjoyed previously during Spain’s post-fascist existence.

One problem is the constitutional clause that rules out the possibility of any part of Spain separating itself from the country — not because splintering Spanish unity is advisable but because the PP tends to refuse to discuss further devolution and relies on the constitution to authorise its stance.

The current crisis has not arisen in a vacuum. It could have been foreseen.

The Catalan government organised a previous independence referendum three years ago, which was boycotted by its opponents but showed a clear majority in favour of those voting.

Rather than initiate bilateral discussions, Rajoy ran to the constitutional court to quash the vote.

That remains the PP stance now, backed by the equally neoliberal [PSOE] Socialist Party and Citizens party but opposed by left parties united in the Podemos Unidos (United We Can) coalition.

The Senate has authorised the government to impose Madrid’s authority, but it is impossible to foretell how this could be done and what resistance there might be.

Certainly the worst scenario would be that floated by Attorney General Jose Manuel Maza whose suggestion of laying sedition charges against as yet undetermined numbers of Catalan leaders would herald disaster.

Neither the Catalan government of Carles Puigdemont nor Rajoy’s counterpart has as its priority the interests of working people in Catalonia or the rest of Spain.

The organised labour movement and left parties should mobilise a unified working-class alternative to the dead-end alternatives of these mutually reinforcing bourgeois politicians to prevent further discord and probably more serious violence.

Catalonia independence: Grassroots movement vows to oppose direct rule from Madrid. ‘Welcome to the first edition of la Festa Catalana under the auspices of the new Catalan republic’: here.

Spanish army threatens to intervene in Catalonia as ministers are jailed: here.

2 thoughts on “Catalonia and Spain, a British view

  1. Saturday, 28 October 2017


    CROWDS outside the Catalan parliament erupted in celebration, letting off fireworks as Catalonia declared its independence from Spain yesterday afternoon, after a vote of 70 ‘SI’ (Yes) to ten ‘NO’, defying both the Spanish state and the EU.

    The Catalan parliament required 68 votes to declare its independence. Before the vote, Carme Forcadell, president of the Catalan parliament read out the following declaration for an independent Republic of Catalonia: ‘We asked the European Union to intervene to stop violence against our population.

    ‘We want a European project which defends the democratic rights of citizens; this is the reading of the proposal ahead of this vote. Following the referendum, we declare that Catalonia is an independent sovereign state!’

    The referendum, carried out at the beginning of this month, was declared illegal by the Spanish state which attempted to use brute force to stop it taking place. On October 1st, 92% of those who managed to vote, voted ‘YES’ for independence. Despite the Spanish state, police injuring 1066 civilians, 46% of Catalans managed to vote.

    Footage was seen of women being dragged out of the polling booths by their hair by the Spanish state police. The Mossos d’Esquadra, the 17,000-strong police force of Catalonia refused to carry out orders to break up the referendum and take part in the violence.

    After yesterday’s historic vote declaring Catalan independence, the Spanish parliament retaliated by voting to disband the Catalan parliament and impose direct rule on the area.

    Spain’s Senate voted to enact Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which empowers the government to take ‘all measures necessary to compel’ a region in ‘case of a crisis’.

    Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy earlier told senators that direct rule was needed to return ‘law, democracy and stability’ to Catalonia.

    This means the dissolution of the Catalan parliament, the stripping of all of the Catalan MPs of their roles and the possible arrest of Catalonia’s leaders. It also means bringing in the Spanish state National Guard and national police force who will then be in direct conflict with Catalonia’s own police force, and the masses of the people, raising the prospect of open civil war.


  2. Pingback: Spain, Franco and Catalonia | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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