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Catalonia leaders face rebellion charges in Spain
30 October 2017
Spain’s chief prosecutor has filed charges against Catalonia’s leaders over their bid for secession, which Madrid says is illegal.
The region’s deposed President Carles Puigdemont and other cabinet members flew to Brussels, where the Belgian government said Puigdemont could seek asylum.
The charges against the Catalan officials include rebellion, sedition and embezzlement. If convicted, the leaders could face up to 30 years in jail.
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons reports from Barcelona.
By Alejandro López in Spain:
Catalan Premier Puigdemont flees to Belgium as Spain asserts direct rule over Catalonia
30 October 2017
Catalan Premier Carles Puigdemont sought asylum in Belgium on Monday as the Popular Party (PP) government in Madrid activated Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to seize control of the Catalan regional government. The move by Madrid was taken in response to the October 1 Catalan independence referendum.
The government in Madrid is now moving to dissolve the Catalan parliament, seize control of Catalan regional ministries and impose new elections on Catalonia for December 21. In the place of the deposed Catalan government, Spain’s deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, is to become the unelected head of the region.
Spanish Interior Ministry sources confirmed press reports that Puigdemont had arrived in Belgium together with five Catalan regional ministers. These include Administration Minister Meritxell Borràs and Interior Minister Joaquin Forn of Puigdemont’s Democratic European Party of Catalonia (PDeCAT), and Health Minister Antoni Comín, Labor Minister Dolors Bassa and Agriculture Minister Meritxell Serret of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC).
Regional Vice-Premier Oriol Junqueras has for now remained in Catalonia, together with several other members of Puigdemont’s dissolved 12-member cabinet.
The Spanish Interior Ministry told La Vanguardia that Puigdemont’s flight did not “bother” them, since they were “today more interested” in ensuring that Puigdemont was no longer occupying his Catalan government offices.
Yesterday, in a move to secure control of the Catalan police, Madrid sacked the director general of the Catalan police, Pere Soler. Soon after, Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido ordered the removal of the chief of the regional Mossos d’Esquadra police, Josep Lluís Trapero, who is considered too close to the separatists. Trapero is being prosecuted on sedition charges for having allowed the October 1 Catalan independence referendum to go ahead. He issued a statement saying he would comply with his removal.
Madrid is also purging hundreds of Catalan civil servants. Since Friday, the Catalan delegations in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Austria, Italy, Portugal and Denmark have been sacked. Hundreds more are expected to be fired this week.
The Popular Party government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is threatening all 200,000 Catalan civil servants with sacking if they oppose its attempt to seize control of the region. Rajoy has announced plans to discipline workers “without recourse to previous mechanisms regarding disciplinary measures.” …
The Spanish trade unions, while hostile to mobilizing the working class against the threat of a crackdown, are warning the political establishment of broad opposition among workers to Madrid’s threat of military intervention in Catalonia.
Marc Casanova of the IAC trade union said that “we will not recognize the violation of the Catalan institutions’ self-government. … our union will not recognize the legitimacy of these authorities.” The spokesperson of the teachers union USTEC, Ramon Font, said that many teachers would not comply if Madrid attempted to change the Catalan education system.
Resistance is also expected from the firemen, who have opposed Madrid’s police measures since the October 1 referendum, when many, dressed in their uniforms, intervened to protect the ballots. One fireman told AFP, “If [pro-independence protesters] block a road and they [the Spanish authorities] ask us to unblock it, maybe we will not respond.”
On the judicial front, Madrid is preparing repression against the Catalan separatist movement on a scale not seen since the 1939-1978 fascist dictatorship established by General Francisco Franco. The Attorney General’s Office is expected to charge Puigdemont, members of the Catalan government and the parliamentary committee that authorized the vote on independence, including parliamentary spokesperson Carme Forcadell, with rebellion, a crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Other charges will include disobedience, prevarication and embezzlement.
The office is charging “all of those who have participated in the events”—a term vague enough to allow the prosecution of thousands of people and anyone who opposes Article 155. The Attorney General’s Office also said it would charge not only those directly responsible, but also all “cooperators.”
Amid a looming threat of dictatorship in Spain, with the European Union backing Madrid, the only force that can offer a progressive solution to the crisis is the working class. The critical question is the mobilization of the working class in struggle, in Catalonia and the rest of Spain and across Europe, on the basis of a socialist and internationalist perspective against the threat of police and military repression by Madrid.
The defence of the fundamental democratic and social rights of working people requires an end to Madrid’s crackdown and the withdrawal of Spanish government forces from Catalonia. …
The December 21 elections in Catalonia ordered by Madrid are entirely anti-democratic, held under the threat of Spanish military intervention and with hundreds of Catalan politicians expected to be in jail.
Catalan, Spanish workers face grave dangers from Madrid’s repression: here.