Spanish right-wing minority government abolishes democracy in Catalonia

This video says about itself:

Franco’s back! Rajoy, Spain, and press freedom

27 July 2015

Franco would be proud. Spain has introduced a new public order law restricting journalists at public demonstrations. Press can be fined 30,000 euros for “disturbance of public safety.” Protestors – a title which can include journalists reporting the protest – can be fined 600,000 euros. This is Europe, the Union which awards the Sakharov Prize for freedom of expression.

Get more details about this show here.

Interviewees and featured guests:
Mark Demesmaeker, MEP, European Conservatives, ECR
Ramon Tremosa, MEP, Liberals, ALDE
– Eugen Freund, MEP, Centre-Left, S&D
Marietje Schaake, MEP, Liberals, ALDE
Miguel Urbán Crespo, MEP, European United Left, GUE/NGL
Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, MEP, Liberals, ALDE
– Ernest Maragall, MEP, Greens, Greens/EFA
– Nathalie Vandystadt, Spokesperson, European Commission

-Brian Maguire, Euranet Plus News Agency

By Alex Lantier and Alejandro López:

Spain imposes military rule in Catalonia to preempt independence bid

28 October 2017

The Spanish Senate formally voted 214-47 on Friday to authorize the implementation of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, suspending parliamentary rule in Catalonia. It handed Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy full powers to suspend the Catalan regional government, proceed with punitive measures outlined in Rajoy’s October 21 speech, and impose an unelected Catalan government answerable only to Madrid.

As Article 155 was being debated in the Senate, where Rajoy’s right-wing Popular Party (PP) has an absolute majority, the Catalan parliament anticipated the outcome of the debate and voted to declare independence. Thousands of protesters surrounded Catalan government buildings in Barcelona Friday night amid calls to defend the newly-declared republic.

Yesterday’s events mark a historic collapse of democratic forms of rule in Western Europe and a return to authoritarianism with far-reaching implications. The Spanish political set-up created 39 years ago, in the so-called Transition from the 1939-1978 fascist regime established by General Francisco Franco, has burst asunder. With the full support of the European Union and Washington, Madrid aims to police 7 million Catalans through unilateral decrees, backed by the police and army, while holding in reserve the invocation of Article 116 to impose a nationwide state of emergency.

The defense of the basic interests of the working class requires determined political opposition to repression in Catalonia. The danger of a bloodbath is looming, as Madrid moves to enforce the diktat of the European financial aristocracy on the workers in Catalonia and across Spain.

EU Council President Donald Tusk reiterated the European powers’ support for the implementation of Article 155 yesterday, writing on Twitter: “For [the] EU nothing changes. Spain remains our only interlocutor.” Tusk cynically added that he hoped Madrid would use “force of argument, not argument of force.”

In a speech urging the Senate to adopt Article 155, Rajoy declared that now “there is no alternative.” He continued: “The only thing that can and therefore must be done in such a situation is to use the law to enforce the law.” He said his government had four goals: to “return to legality” in Catalonia, “win back the people’s confidence,” “maintain the high levels of economic growth and job creation of recent times,” and “organize elections in a situation of institutional normality.”

“What we must protect the Catalans from is not Spanish imperialism, as they claim, but from a minority that in an intolerant fashion is acting as if it owned Catalonia,” Rajoy declared.

Rajoy’s brief for dictatorship in Catalonia is a pack of lies. His claim that there is no alternative to invoking Article 155, which only a few weeks ago was widely described as the “nuclear option” in the Spanish press, is absurd. Scotland held an independence referendum in Britain in 2014, and Quebec held an independence referendum in Canada in 1980 and 1995. But neither London nor Ottawa sent tens of thousands of paramilitary police to assault peaceful voters, as did Rajoy during the October 1 Catalan independence referendum. Nor did they forcibly preempt moves towards secession.

Responsibility for the crisis lies squarely with Madrid, which, after its brutal crackdown on the October 1 referendum, has consistently sought to inflame the conflict. On October 19, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont confirmed that he had suspended moves toward independence and appealed to Madrid for dialogue. With its unilateral rejection of this appeal, its arbitrary imprisonment of Catalan nationalist politicians Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, and its moves to invoke Article 155, Madrid forced the Catalan nationalists in Barcelona on the path to a declaration of independence.

Rajoy’s calls for “legality,” “elections” and “institutional normality” are a cynical ruse, presenting the drive to dictatorship as the defense of democracy and constitutional rule. Madrid is well aware that it can impose its agenda only by means of state terror and repression. According to Rajoy’s October 21 speech, he aims to seize control of the Catalan budget, government, education system, police force and public media.

These measures will provoke deep opposition among millions of people, and Madrid is preparing to forcibly repress it. The paramilitary Guardia Civil, the Arapiles motorized infantry regiment and other army units stationed in neighboring regions are all preparing to intervene in Catalonia.

As protests and calls for civil disobedience spread, Madrid is preparing “express” mass sackings of Catalan public sector workers. Yesterday, the Spanish Senate approved measures allowing Madrid to discipline workers “without recourse to previous mechanisms regarding disciplinary measures.”

At a press conference Friday night, after a meeting of his ministerial cabinet to discuss the Senate vote, Rajoy announced the suspension of the Catalan government and the holding of elections on December 21. Madrid also confirmed that it would bring charges of “rebellion,” a crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison, against current Catalan government and parliament members.

These announcements expose Rajoy’s claim that Madrid will organize elections in Catalonia as an Orwellian fraud. If his plans go forward, most of the Catalan political opposition to the PP will be in prison as these elections are held. Moreover, whoever was elected on December 21 would be seated in a legislature stripped of all power to legislate or name a regional government. It could only impotently look on as Madrid imposed its will.

The key concern of Madrid and the new Catalan government will be to continue imposing harsh austerity measures against the workers. Yesterday, the EU sent Madrid a letter demanding further cuts to Spanish public spending to reach a public deficit target of 2.2 percent of gross domestic product. Economy Minister Luis de Guindos and Treasury Minister Cristobal Montoro replied with a statement that they would take “all necessary measures to guarantee the fulfillment of budgetary stability objectives.”

The turn to authoritarian rule in Spain is an urgent warning to the working class. Decades of deep austerity, imperialist war and the promotion of law-and-order measures across Europe since the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and particularly since the 2008 Wall Street crash, have produced a mortal crisis of capitalist rule. With tens of millions of workers unemployed across Europe, the ruling class is aware of explosive social anger. Its response when it encounters opposition is a rapid resort to dictatorial measures.

The critical question today is the mobilization of workers in Catalonia, in Spain and across Europe in struggle against a return to authoritarian forms of rule. Workers must reject all attempts to justify a turn toward dictatorship and military repression of the population based on calls for the defense of Spanish territorial integrity. The only progressive way to establish the unity of the Iberian Peninsula and Europe as a whole is the mobilization of the working class in a revolutionary and internationalist struggle against dictatorship and war, and for socialism.

As thousands of pro-secessionist protesters gathered outside, the regional parliament of Catalonia on Friday voted for a resolution on independence from Spain and the start of a “constituent process” to draft a new constitution for the Catalan Republic: here.


Spanish opposition to Rajoy’s violence, not only in Catalonia

This video says about itself:

1 October 2017

People in two Spanish cities, Valencia and Bilbao, flooded the streets to voice their support for today’s referendum in Catalonia.

This video says about itself:

Spain: ‘Madrilenians for the Right to Decide’ show solidarity with Catalan referendum

30 September 2017

A group of Madrilenians held a rally in support of the Catalan independence referendum, in the Spanish capital, on Saturday, during which they spread a giant Catalan flag across a square.

This 1 October 2017 video from the Plaza del Sol in Madrid shows a big demonstration against Spanish police violence against voters in Catalonia.

This October 2017 video from Zaragoza in Aragon shows a big demonstration against Spanish police violence against voters in Catalonia.

By Alex Lantier:

Spain annuls Catalan self-government, prepares military rule from Madrid

23 October 2017

On Saturday, three weeks after the savage police crackdown on the October 1 Catalan independence referendum, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy formally announced the invocation of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to strip Catalonia’s regional government of its powers. In its place, Madrid is to install an unelected government in Barcelona backed by the Spanish army, Guardia Civil paramilitary police and other police units.

The implementation of Article 155 will inevitably involve the Spanish regime in a violent confrontation with broad masses of the Catalan population, where there is deep opposition to Madrid’s turn to dictatorship. As Rajoy’s Council of Ministers formulated the measures on Saturday, a half million people marched in Barcelona against Madrid’s arbitrary arrest of two Catalan nationalist politicians, Jordi Sànchez of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Jordi Cuixart of Omnium Cultural.

The measures laid out by the Council of Ministers entail the suspension of democratic forms of rule in Catalonia and the installation of what is a government of military occupation in all but name. They include:

* Removing Catalan Premier Carles Puigdemont and all Catalan regional ministers and replacing them with “organs or authorities created for this purpose or designated by the [Spanish] government.”

* Transferring their authority to call regional elections to the Spanish government.

* Granting full powers for Madrid to control the Catalan regional police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, to deploy police or Guardia Civil units to the region, and to take other security measures.

* Assigning control of “economic, financial, tax and budgetary” powers in Catalonia to the Spanish Treasury.

* Stripping the Catalan parliament of power to name a government or exercise oversight of the authorities set up by Madrid in Catalonia.

* Transferring control of Catalan public media to Madrid, which will control them so as to guarantee “respect for the values and principles contained in the Spanish constitution.”

These measures are to be approved at the end of the week by the Spanish Senate, where Rajoy’s right-wing Popular Party (PP) has an absolute majority.

Madrid’s move to suspend Catalan autonomy marks a historic collapse of democratic forms of rule in Western Europe. It is 40 years ago today that Catalan nationalist politician Josep Taradellas returned to Barcelona from exile in France to lead the Catalan government, as the fascist regime installed by Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War collapsed amid mass struggles of the working class. The granting of language rights and self-government to Catalonia was seen as key to overcoming the fascist heritage of Franco, who had banned the public use of the Catalan language.

Now Madrid is moving with the support of the European Union to repudiate the concessions in terms of social and democratic rights of the post-Franco period. At last week’s EU summit in Brussels, held after Rajoy pledged to invoke Article 155, EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron, all explicitly endorsed Rajoy’s onslaught against Catalonia.

Not only Guardia Civil, but also Spanish army units, including the Arapiles motorized infantry regiment in Catalonia, are being prepared for action.

An explosive conflict with revolutionary implications is being set into motion. Madrid’s imposition of an unelected dictatorship, after the October 1 referendum produced a 90 percent vote by over 2 million people for Catalan independence, will provoke mass resistance. The PP, which received a mere 8 percent of the vote in Catalonia’s last regional elections, has virtually no support or electoral presence there.

In Barcelona, La Vanguardia warned of the deep-rooted opposition Madrid’s power grab will unleash. Among Catalans, it wrote, “many are those who, without being secessionists, will cry bitter tears at the imminent collapse of the self-government obtained in 1977.” It continued: “Politics in the Iberian peninsula does not admit nuance. The message written in the sand is this: Catalonia is to be punished.”

On Saturday, buses and trains were packed as people came from across Catalonia to Barcelona for the 450,000-strong protest against the jailing of Sànchez and Cuixart. Puigdemont joined the protest, as did representatives of Catalonia’s main political parties, trade unions and associations. Protesters whistled and booed at Guardia Civil helicopters that flew overhead and shouted the anti-Franco slogan of the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War, “No pasarán” (“They will not pass”).

Workers at Catalan public television and radio are making clear they do not intend to obey Madrid’s diktat. TV3 workers issued a statement denouncing Article 155 as a “direct, unworthy and impudent attack on freedom of expression, of information and of the press and on the professionalism of the workers.” They said they would remain loyal to the Catalan parliament, “democratically elected on September 27, 2015.”

The works committee at Catalunya Ràdio issued a statement with the heading: “Without public media there is no democracy.” The statement pledged to defy the PP. It warned that if the central government chose a new director for the radio station, “we will have no other choice than to refuse to recognize his authority.”

It is vital for workers across Spain and Europe to oppose Madrid’s plans for more bloody repression in Catalonia. The political goal of the onslaught being prepared by Rajoy and the EU against the workers and masses of Catalonia is ever clearer: it is to stabilize a crisis-ridden EU by terrorizing the workers with the example of police-military dictatorship over an entire province.

The assault on Catalonia is exposing the class content of the vast attacks on democratic rights launched around the world since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Attempts by US and EU authorities to justify the massive build-up of police units, electronic spying capabilities and domestic military deployments like the French state of emergency by referring to a so-called “war on terror” are a political fraud. The main target is not Al Qaeda-linked Islamists, many of whom are financed by allies of the EU and the United States in wars for regime change in Syria and beyond. In Catalonia, the EU powers all support Madrid’s use of these powers to target peaceful political opposition because they are preparing to do the same.

Madrid’s claim, supported explicitly by the EU, that military rule is the only possible response to the Catalan independence referendum is an absurd lie, drenched in imperialist hypocrisy. Scotland held a referendum on independence from Great Britain in 2014, and Quebec held referendums on independence from Canada in 1980 and 1995. Neither London nor Ottawa marched tens of thousands of paramilitary police and army units to assault peaceful voters and forcibly preempt moves by these areas from seceding.

On the other hand, the NATO imperialist powers repeatedly invoked their supposedly sacred duty to defend secessionist movements—in Kosovo in 1999 and in Benghazi, Libya in 2011—to justify attacking countries such as Yugoslavia and Libya they were targeting for conquest.

It requires no great imagination to see how advocates of “humanitarian” imperialism like the Green politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the [French] New Anti-capitalist Party’s Olivier Besancenot would have reacted had videos emerged in 2011 of Libyan security forces assaulting peaceful voters and beating elderly women, as the Guardia Civil did on October 1. Denouncing Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi for attacking “his own people”, they would have demanded that NATO accelerate its timetable for bombing Libya and assassinating Gaddafi.

Cohn-Bendit is not, however, calling for bombing Madrid or murdering Rajoy. He is holding friendly meetings with Macron as Paris gives a green light for Rajoy to launch a neo-Francoite assault on Catalonia while preparing a further police-state build-up under cover of the French anti-terror law.

US State Dept backs Spanish govt’s measures to keep country united: here.

Peace for Catalonia demonstration in London today

This video from Britain says about itself:

2 October 2017

Footage has emerged from London, UK, of people gathering in Picadilly Circus to protest the Spanish government’s repressive measures implemented during the Catalonian referendum.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Thousands to stage peace for Catalonia demo in London

Saturday 21st October 2017

PRO-DEMOCRACY campaigners will march in solidarity with Catalonia and against Spanish repression and authoritarianism in London today.

Organisers of the demonstration are calling for the British government to condemn the violence by the Spanish state against “peaceful civilians” and demand the immediate release of political prisoners.

Leading separatist activists Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, who head the Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultura respectively, were denied bail on Monday after being arrested on charges of sedition in the run-up to the independence referendum two weeks ago.

They are both accused of using mass mobilisations to prevent police officers from following a judge’s orders to stop the referendum, which had been ruled illegal by Spain’s constitutional court.

Under Spanish law, sedition is classified as using “force or illegal means to prevent the application of the law, the legitimate exercise of the functions of public authorities or the observance of administrative or judicial decisions” and carries a maximum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment.

There were violent clashes across Catalonia on October 1, with Spain’s Civil Guard police using force as they tried to close polling stations across the region. Despite their attempts to stop the vote, more than two million people took part, of whom 92 per cent voted for independence.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said after the poll: “Spain is a close ally and a good friend, whose strength and unity matters to the UK.” …

European institutions, including the European Union … sided with the Spanish government and branded the referendum unconstitutional. …

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has urged Theresa May to press for a political solution to the crisis and “to end police violence in Catalonia.”

The organisers of the march said: “We demand the immediate release of the political prisoners Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez and the end of the repression and start of dialogue to accept the electoral mandate of the Catalan referendum.

“We call on the UK government to condemn the violence towards undefended peaceful civilians during the referendum vote in Catalonia and support the democratic solution.”

The marchers will gather from 11am at Piccadilly Circus in central London.

Catalonia, a Spanish leftist’s view

This video says about itself:

17 October 2017

Catalans are holding a candlelit march in downtown Barcelona in support of jailed pro-independence leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart. The two men are being investigated on possible sedition charges for organizing protests before Catalonia’s independence vote.

By Alexandre Anfruns:

Monedero: “Spanish democracy is facing its most serious crossroads since the death of Franco

19 Oct 2017

The contention between Rajoy’s government and the Generalitat de Catalunya has been deepening with each passing day. There is no solution in sight, and instead we have witnessed the police response and judicial persecution. Beyond this dialogue of the deaf between Spanish and Catalan right-wings, what is really at stake with the Catalan question? To broaden our perspectives and analysis, and avoid the trappings of false debates that are dead ends for the social majorities, we have interviewed Juan Carlos Monedero, professor and co-founder of Podemos, and one of the most lucid analysts of the crisis of the 1978 regime.

What is your take on the recent events in Catalonia?

In Catalonia there has been a great popular mobilisation that follows the popular protests of 15M (1), when a new phase of Spanish politics was born. But the political leadership of this movement is in the hands of the old guard, especially the old party of Jordi Pujol, today called PDeCat, full or urgency due to its own cases of corruption and because it embraced the independence route. This caused them to accelerate the process, and the lack of democratic commitment from the Popular Party also was of great help.

Has this worked to unite or divide the lower classes?

This so-called “collision of trains” is in reality a collision between a large train and a smaller one. It has worked to polarise Catalan society in two halves. Things have not been done properly…

What role have the different actors played in this institutional crisis?

The king has sided with the most corrupt party in Europe, the Popular Party (PP); the Socialist Party (PSOE) has embraced the PP’s policies of repression and refusing dialogue; and the PP has been guided by its most right-wing sectors, even promoting the arrest of politicians, not to mention all the repression on October 1st.

They can also count on Ciudadanos, the party of the bankers. So the demand for a referendum in Catalonia is still alive.

There is still no prospect of dialogue between Rajoy and Puigdemont. What are the immediate consequences of this?

There are 85% of Catalans in favour of a referendum. On one hand, we have both the PP and the PSOE turned to residual forces in Catalonia, so they prefer to win votes in the rest of Spain with an anti-Catalan discourse.

On the other hand, there is a need for a constitutional change that will somehow address the demands of Catalonia.

Could the Catalan question boost the role of forces for change at a state level?

Historically, the Catalan question has been a black hole for the Left. That was the case in the 1st Republic, with the Canovist Restoration, and the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera.

This was also the case with the 2nd Republic, with Franco’s coup d’etat and the 40-year military dictatorship (with the support from European countries). We will see what will happen now.

What are the opportunities and obstacles at hand?

Following the trend of European social democracy, the PSOE is in clear decline. If it embraces a grand coalition with the PP, then only Podemos remains to try and rescue democracy during times of neoliberal policies. It will be more difficult to form a government, but it will allow it to consolidate as the only opposition party.

Social issues have been relegated to the background. What does the Unidos Podemos coalition propose to open up debate and bring it back to the foreground?

Podemos proposes that a referendum is held, to open a constituent process from below and incorporate social issues. Otherwise the parties of the regime will simply draw up a constitutional agreement from above, in which they will minimally address the issues and restore economic peace of mind to the dominant sectors.

Spanish democracy is facing its most serious crossroads since the death of Franco.

(1) Translator’s note: the so-called Indignados movement was formed after major demonstrations on May 15, 2011

EU heads of state applauded Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy’s moves to impose dictatorial rule in Catalonia because they are preparing similar attacks on the working class across Europe: here.

‘Spanish police violated human rights in Catalonia’

This 1 October 2017 video is called POLICE VIOLENCE IN CATALONIA.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The Spanish police used excessive violence during the Catalan independence referendum on October 1. Demonstrators [rather: voters] who were not threatening were beaten with batons, Human Rights Watch (HRW) writes in a report. …

Broken wrist

70-year-old Magdalena Clarena was thrown to the ground by two policemen in the province of Barcelona after refusing to go away. Someone fell on top of her, so she broke her wrist. “I was so angry,” she says in the report. …

Another testimony comes from a 42-year-old mechanic arrested by four policemen, he fell to the ground, got blows and kicks to his head.

At a primary school in Girona, which was used as a polling station, the police beat protesters [rather: voters] with batons. They got blows all over their bodies, witnesses told HRW. The police is said not to have warned and scared children.

Catalan farmers trick Spanish police and trap them in field to stop them disrupting general strike. Local media claims the police were stranded for several hours: here.

The Spanish army and ruling elite used Spain’s National Day and the Day of the Armed Forces yesterday to whip up nationalism and reaffirm their plans to intervene militarily in Catalonia in response to the October 1 Catalan independence referendum: here.

Deadline looms for Catalonia to confirm or deny independence declaration: here.

The jailing this week of the leaders of the largest separatist organisations in Catalonia—Jordi Sànchez of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Jordi Cuixart of Òmnium Cultural—was met with demonstrations throughout Catalonia culminating in a 200,000-strong protest in Barcelona on Tuesday night: here.

Spanish military invasion of Catalonia?

This 1 October 2017 video is about Spanish police brutality against Catalan voters.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Madrid prepares to deploy troops in Catalonia

7 October 2017

There are numerous unconfirmed reports of troops being sent to Catalonia and nearby regions ahead of a possible unilateral declaration on independence early next week.

Spain’s political establishment is openly talking of invoking Article 116 of the Spanish constitution, laying the basis for the imposition of martial law.

According to military sources cited in the right-wing newspaper OkDiario, troops are being mobilised to Aragón and Valencia, regions adjacent to Catalonia. It explains that the Spanish government estimates that it is necessary to deploy around 30,000 security forces to take control of the region and to “establish constitutional order against the insurrection.” The newspaper says this is a “number which cannot be presently met by the 8,000 police and civil guards currently deployed in Catalonia.”

According to OkDiario, the divisions mobilized include the Division Castillejos (formerly the Rapid Action Force), consisting of three brigades totalling 3,000 troops (the airborne, the parachute and the legion brigades), along with the Armored Infantry Alcázar of Toledo, consisting of 300 troops and 44 tanks. In addition, Madrid is reported to be mobilising the Group of Special Operations of the Navy, the Spanish equivalent of the Navy Seals.

The number of troops being cited in other sources ranges between 12,000 and 16,000.

La Tribuna de Cartagena explains that the Navarra Frigate, escorted by two anti-mine frigates, is going to depart to Barcelona fully equipped with troops, arriving at Barcelona’s port on October 8—a day before the previously announced declaration of independence is supposed to be made in the Catalan parliament. According to a statement of the Ministry of Defence, the frigates are participating in the Barcelona International Boat Show.

At the same time, NATO has organised a training exercise under the title “Angel Guard”, involving the 600 military police, Spanish and from another nine NATO member countries. According to the website of the Spanish army, these exercises aim to train military police in the management of a command post during operations and raids, escort and protection of authorities, neutralization of hostile armed personnel inside a military compound and crowd control.

Article 116 involves the deployment of the military and allows the suspension of numerous democratic rights including freedom of expression and the right to strike. It also allows for preventive arrests. Suspending these rights would arm the state with vast police powers that the military could use to terrorise the entire working class, as the Franco regime did from 1939 to 1977.

The Association of the Spanish Army (AME) posted a statement defending King Felipe VI’s speech, in which the monarch denounced the Catalan independence referendum and demanded that the Spanish state seize control of the region. The statement describes the speech as “impeccable” because Felipe conveyed “clearly, concisely and emphatically what the line to follow amid these difficult and complex times.”

AME demanded Popular Party Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy move “to defend without delay the unity of Spain, its territorial integrity and its national sovereignty.”

The European Union has declared its support for the military clampdown now being prepared. During Wednesday’s debate in the European Parliament, Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans declared that it is “a duty for any government to uphold the law, and this sometimes does require the proportionate use of force.”

He was backed by leading representatives of the Conservative, Social Democratic and Liberal parties.

The implications of such statements were made clear by German EU Commissioner Gunter Oettinger, who warned yesterday that “There is a civil war imaginable now in the middle of Europe”, before making the pious wish that “One can only hope that a thread of conversation will soon be recorded between Madrid and Barcelona.”

Spain’s media is playing its part in paving the way for the military intervention through a campaign aimed at dehumanizing the Catalan nationalists and, in some cases, the whole Catalan population. Not one day passes where the press does not describe developments in Catalonia as an “insurrection,” a “coup d’état,” “rebellion” or as “treason” which needs to be crushed.

Catalan nationalists are accused of brainwashing children and putting them at the front line of protests to be attacked by police. The national police and civil guards, who savagely injured 800 peaceful protestors last Sunday, are portrayed as defenseless and persecuted by people protesting in front of their hotels and temporary residences. The regional police, the Mossos, are presented as treacherous and disloyal. The separatist Catalan Republican Left and the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) are constantly attacked, with articles describing them as “the cancer of Catalonia” ( ABC ), or calling for these parties to be “beheaded …. and put in the dustbin of history” ( El Español ).

Such fascistic language precedes a provocative demonstration called for Sunday by the Popular Party and the anti-secessionist Catalan Civil Society, an organization with ties to the far-right. Backed by Citizens and the Socialist Party, and widely promoted by the Madrid-based media, right-wing anti-Catalan nationalists from throughout Spain are being bussed into Barcelona.

The far-right character of the demonstration is acknowledged by its organisers.

In an interview to El Confidencial, Javier Megino, vice-president of From Spain and Catalonia, accepted that there will be neo-fascists and far-rightists present, as they were during a demonstration against separation in Barcelona two weeks ago. Asked if they might cause violence, Megino replied, “when you put together so many people, it is impossible to control them all.”

The demonstration clearly aims, not to represent the “silent majority” within the Catalan population who oppose separatism as asserted by the media, but rather to provoke a violent confrontation between Catalan separatist and fascist forces which the government will seek to exploit to justify a crackdown.

The grave political danger is that the working class in Spain and internationally is not being mobilized against the repressive measures being prepared by Madrid.

At this critical juncture, Catalan and Spanish workers must assess the political forces that claim to supposedly defend them.

Catalan regional premier, Carles Puigdemont, continues to call for dialogue, an option rejected by Rajoy who declares him to be a criminal. Catalan vice-premier, Oriol Junqueras, is mainly concerned at the announcements made by major banks and companies like Banco Sabadell, CaixaBank, energy giant Gas Natural, Abertis, biotech firm Oryzon and the telecommunications corporation Eurona that they are moving out of Catalonia—fearing the future of the region amid the separatist drive.

CUP parliamentarian Eulàlia Reguant told the Catalan daily Nació Digital that her party is working on a plan of how they will take control of Catalan territory, including ports and airports, by approving a law that will mean that 17,000 regional police, the Mossos, “will stop being part of Spain’s justice system.”

Podemos continues its call for dialogue, while promoting illusions in a PSOE-Podemos government as an alternative to the PP, even as the PSOE is participating in Sunday’s far-right protest and working directly with Rajoy in preparing a violent intervention.

Spain’s Constitutional Court outlawed Monday’s session of the Catalan regional parliament, at which it was expected that the separatist parties would make their unilateral declaration of independence—based on a complaint brought by the Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC), the Catalan wing of the PSOE.

All these political forces are demonstrating their political bankruptcy in the face of a military-police state threat. They are disarming the working class, despite the broad opposition that exists to a return to police-state forms of rule.

The broadly-felt opposition to the brutal attacks on democratic rights in Catalonia and throughout Spain can only find expression on the basis of politically independent, revolutionary and socialist perspective independent of all factions of Spain’s ruling elites and their parties.

Catalonia’s Referendum Unmasks Authoritarianism in Spain. Friday, October 06, 2017. By Monica Clua Losada.

This 1 October 2017 video is called Woman claims police broke her fingers during Catalonia referendum.

The German government has backed Madrid’s suppression of the Catalonian independence referendum because it, too, is preparing to crack down on social and political opposition at home: here.

The Popular Party (PP) government has stepped up its threats of carrying out brutal repression in Catalonia on the eve of today’s potential unilateral declaration on independence by the Catalan parliament: here.

Speaking Tuesday evening before the Catalan parliament in Barcelona, regional premier Carles Puigdemont announced that Catalonia would secede from Spain, in line with the result of the October 1 Catalan independence referendum. However, he put off a formal declaration of independence for now and requested negotiations with the central government in Madrid. The Popular Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has declared the referendum illegal and treasonous and ruled out talks with Puigdemont: here.

Military tyranny in Catalonia, Spain?

This video says about itself:

Spanish police brutality against Catalan voters

4 October 2017

Compilation of Spanish police brutality stopping voters from getting to the polling stations to cast their votes.

By Alex Lantier:

Spain prepares military crackdown in Catalonia

6 October 2017

With Spanish military and police units already being deployed, Madrid has signaled that it is preparing a brutal crackdown in Catalonia.

Spain’s Constitutional Court yesterday said that Monday’s planned session of the Catalan regional parliament, at which it was expected that the separatist parties would make a unilateral declaration of independence, must not take place. Coming after failing in a brutal attempt to halt the October 1 Catalan independence referendum, and with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rejecting calls for mediation led by the Podemos party and the union bureaucracy, the move lays the basis for bringing in the army against what is now declared an unconstitutional meeting.

The Constitutional Court acted based on a complaint brought by the Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC)—the Catalan wing of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), which is now working openly with the PP to prepare a military clampdown. Calling the PSC’s complaint “relevant and of general social and economic interest,” the Court ruled that any act decided by the Catalan parliament would infringe the rights of PSC MPs and be “totally void, without the least value or effect. It warned that defying this order could mean arrests and criminal prosecutions.

On Sunday, the world was shocked and stunned as videos filled the Internet of 16,000 police assaulting polling places and peaceful voters, including women and the elderly, across Catalonia. Furious that its initial crackdown failed, Madrid is now preparing an even bloodier assault, using the military. As the Spanish press debates imposing a state of emergency, as in neighboring France, it is clear that this is bound up with well-advanced plans for military rule and the abrogation of basic democratic rights across Europe.

Rajoy’s minority Popular Party (PP) government is relying on the support of the major European imperialist powers. After official German, UK, and French sources signaled their support for Madrid following Sunday’s crackdown, the European Union (EU) again formally endorsed the Spanish crackdown on Wednesday.

Opening debate on the Catalan crisis at the European Parliament, Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the EU Commission, unequivocally endorsed Madrid’s use of force against the population of Catalonia. “The regional government of Catalonia has chosen to ignore the law in organizing the referendum of last Sunday,” Timmermans declared, adding: “it is the duty for any government to uphold the law, and this sometimes does require the proportionate use of force.”

Yesterday, Spanish Defense Minister María Dolores de Cospedal made clear that Madrid views an army intervention to be a legitimate response in Catalonia. At a meeting at the School for Higher Defense Studies, she insisted that Spain’s army is tasked with “defending its territorial integrity and constitutional order.” After King Felipe VI declared in a bellicose speech Tuesday that Catalan nationalists had placed themselves outside the law and democracy, Cospedal added, “Everything that is located outside of democracy is a threat to our nation.”

Spanish army units are already providing logistical support to police deployed in Catalonia. And after Catalan regional premier Carles Puigdemont indicated after Sunday’s crackdown that he could declare independence on Monday, a measure that Madrid has stated for months is illegal, political maneuvers by Madrid to seize the Catalan government are underway.

There are also moves underway by the Spanish judiciary to prosecute Catalan judges and Catalan police, the Mossos dEsquadra, for failing to crack down on voters and demonstrating sympathy for separatists. The head of the Mossos, Josep Lluis Trapero, is to appear today before a court on the unprecedented charge of sedition, facing a 15-year prison sentence.

The courts are also removing legal restrictions to decisions by banks and corporations to move their headquarters away from Catalonia, amid reports that CaixaBank could soon move to Mallorca.

On Thursday, Rajoy also rejected appeals for mediation from Podemos General Secretary Pablo Iglesias and Puigdemont, supported by the … Workers Commissions (CCOO) and social-democratic General Union of Labor (UGT) union bureaucracies. When Iglesias phoned Rajoy to discuss the plan, Rajoy thanked Iglesias but declared he had no intention of negotiating with anyone who “is blackmailing the state so brutally.”

This was a direct repudiation of the Podemos leader’s comments the previous evening. Iglesias had told reporters, “A group of trusted people should sit down at a table to discuss as a team for dialog. This is what I told the premier of Catalonia and the prime minister of Spain. I spoke to Puigdemont and Rajoy, and they didn’t say no.” …

While the leader of Podemos held “cordial” talks with Spain’s right-wing prime minister, far-right forces are organizing anti-Catalan protests across Spain and singing hymns of the 1939-1978 fascist regime of Generalissimo Francisco Franco.

Well aware that a new crackdown could provoke explosive social opposition among workers in the entire country, the Spanish press is agitating for moving to a police-state dictatorship. They are discussing the application not only of Article 155 of Spain’s Constitution, a so-called “nuclear option” that suspends Catalan self-government, but Article 116. This suspends basic democratic rights—including freedom of thought and expression, the right to strike, and elections—and allows for press censorship.

After a quarter century of imperialist war and EU austerity since the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union, European democracy is at the breaking point. A decade of deep austerity since the 2008 Wall Street crash, which brought Spanish unemployment to 20 percent, has shattered Spain’s economy and discredited its ruling elite. Amid a deep crisis of the post-Francoite regime in Spain, and as the ruling class savagely attacks democratic rights across Europe, the Spanish bourgeoisie is using the Catalan crisis to return to an authoritarian regime.

Madrid’s plans for a bloodbath in Catalonia must be opposed. The critical question is the politically independent, revolutionary mobilization of the working class, not only in Catalonia but in all of Spain and across Europe, in struggle against the threat of civil war and police-state dictatorship and for socialism.

Faced with the prospect of a military crackdown, panic is reportedly spreading among Puigdemont’s supporters. Among Catalan nationalists in Barcelona, the city’s daily La Vanguardia wrote, “A strong feeling of vertigo runs through everyone—undermining militant enthusiasms, revolutionary visions, indignation in capital letters, patriotic ardors.” It added that King Felipe VI’s speech “has accentuated this feeling of vertigo. There is fear that the current escalation will end in catastrophe.”

Incapable of and hostile to mobilizing broader opposition to Madrid’s crackdown in the Spanish working class, the Catalan nationalists’ pro-capitalist politics only serves to divide the workers while a bloody onslaught from Madrid looms.

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By Alejandro López in Spain:

Amid Catalan crisis, Madrid prepares military rule across Spain

6 October 2017

The Spanish political establishment is now openly debating its options for how to crack down on the secessionist movement in Catalonia and install military rule across the entire country.

Two weeks ago, the debate was whether the Spanish minority Popular Party (PP) government under Mariano Rajoy should implement drastic measures that would suspend Catalan regional autonomy. Now, the question is when and how the military will be deployed and police presence escalated. These discussions must be taken as a serious warning to the Spanish and international working class.

The Madrid-based media is unanimous in denouncing Rajoy for not moving more rapidly with military force against the separatists. Yesterday, editorials attacked the “inexplicable paralysis of the government” (El Mundo), the “Government’s delay in making decisions” (ABC), that the “insurrectionary plan of the secessionists advances … without the governmental side considering any initiative to stop it” (El País); and “the paralysis of the Government … [which] has weakened the constitutionalist bloc and emboldened secessionists” (El Español).

El Confidencial reports, “In the PP leadership, they admit that their members and bases are anxious for drastic measures to stop the coup in Catalonia, and still more after hearing the message of the King. For the moment, internal discipline has been imposed between deputies and senators, with the official message that ‘the president knows what he has to do and when he has to do it.’”

This “discipline” has been broken, in fact, by former PP Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. Yesterday, Aznar called on Rajoy “to act” and “use all the constitutional instruments within reach.” He added that if Rajoy cannot find “the spirit or the courage,” he should call elections “to give Spaniards the possibility of deciding which government” can face the separatists.

The main mechanism being discussed is Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which can be invoked if a regional government “acts in a way seriously prejudicing the general interests of Spain.” This clause, which has never been invoked, allows the central government in Madrid to take control of a regional government.

Since 16,000 police deployed in Catalonia failed to close down last Sunday’s referendum—the Interior Ministry said that police closed down only 79 of the 2,315 polling stations—such a measure could not be implemented without a turn to the military and bloody repression.

If such a measure was not contemplated previously for fear that it would set off a social explosion in Catalonia and across Spain, now the right-wing press is provocatively calling for such an outcome. As one opinion writer for the conservative ABC noted, it “would lead to violence in the streets … and millions of supporters and detractors throughout Spain should prepare themselves mentally to expect arrests, suspensions, disqualifications from public office and an aggressive street insurrection that shall be stifled.”

Days after this piece was posted, ABC sees it is too late to invoke Article 155. “This article is only effective if applied on time,” ABC wrote yesterday. Now, it added, the government has to invoke “the Constitutional clauses that foresee the state of emergency, established in its Article 116.” ABC, which sided with the fascist coup of General Francisco Franco in 1936, is calling for de facto military rule once again in Spain.

Article 116 spells out different scenarios for states of alarm, emergency and siege (martial law). It involves the deployment of the military and allows the suspension of the following democratic rights: prohibition of preventive arrest; the right to privacy; the right to free correspondence; free elections and freedom of movement across the national territory; the right to free expression and thought; the right to communicate information or receive true information; prohibition on the seizure of publications and other types of information without judicial process; the right to strike; and the right to adopt methods of collective struggle.

In addition, it stipulates that the government may intervene against “industries or businesses that can upset the public order,” suspend civil servants from their positions and “Order the provisional imprisonment of the accused to be maintained, according to [judges’] discretion, during this period.”

In other words, the ruling class is openly discussing imposing a military dictatorship and suspending rights granted to the working class as a result of its struggles against fascist dictatorships in the 20th century. Suspending these rights would mean arming the state with vast police powers that the military could use to terrorise the working masses, as the Franco regime did from 1939 to 1977.

The other measure being considered is the National Security Law passed in 2015 by the PP and PSOE after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France. This law empowers Rajoy to declare a “situation of interest for national security,” define the geographical area affected and assume power in that territory “with the appointment, where appropriate, of a functional authority,” in coordination with the National Security Council composed of the defence and interior ministers, the head of the Spanish intelligence services, and the heads of the army.

The law resembles one introduced by Franco in 1969, which directly targeted the working class. As the WSWS warned, “It is an indictment of the Spanish ruling class that the precedent for this law was one passed and used by the fascist regime to suppress the rise in working class militancy. Between 1970 and 1979, it was used against striking workers on the Madrid and Barcelona metros, railways and buses and in the shipyards, postal and fire services and the electricity system.”

The discussions taking place in Spain have vast repercussions for the international working class. It is not surprising that former vice-prime minister and longstanding Socialist Party deputy, Alfonso Guerra, declared in favour of sending the army to Catalonia, adding that “in France the Army has been protecting the streets for two years, and no one is discussing it,” that is, whether France is a democracy or not.

There should be no illusions that the European Union will seek to stop the drive to a military dictatorship in Spain. On Wednesday, Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans said it was the “duty for any government to uphold the law, and this sometimes does require the proportionate use of force,” referring to the 800 injured by police violence last Sunday.

Eighty years after Franco’s military coup, the working class must organise itself throughout Spain to prevent the drive to military dictatorship.

This requires complete political independence from the impotent cries of Podemos imploring the PP to negotiate with Barcelona, a proposal repudiated by Rajoy, and the separatists’ hopes that a major crackdown would simply increase their political appeal. Ignoring the threat of military dictatorship, they are acting to disarm the working class while sowing dangerous illusions in the PP and the military.

On Monday, Spain’s Popular Party (PP) government rejected Catalan Premier Carles Puigdemont’s call for a two-month period of negotiations with Madrid after the “yes” vote in the October 1 Catalan independence referendum. With Spanish armored forces and thousands of police preparing for action, Spain is on the brink of martial law and a military crackdown in Catalonia: here.

The Spanish government’s declaration yesterday that it plans to invoke Article 155 of the Spanish constitution tomorrow, suspending Catalan regional autonomy, is a political watershed and an urgent warning to workers not only in Spain, but across Europe and internationally: here.