Oct. 1: the Massive Police Brutalization of Catalan Independence Referendum Voters


“In 1713-14, it took the troops of Spain’s Borbon monarchy 14 months of siege before taking Barcelona and ending Catalan self-rule. In September 2017, Catalonia is again under siege, this time from the central Spanish People’s Party (PP) government.

Under prime minister Mariano Rajoy the Spanish state is concentrating all its firepower on stopping the Catalan government’s October 1 independence referendum. On that day, if this siege is successfully resisted, Catalan citizens will vote on whether “Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic”.

Since September 6, the day its parliament adopted its referendum law, Catalonia has experienced a “shock and awe” offensive aimed at forcing the pro-independence government of premier Carles Puigdemont to submit to the central Spanish administration. The adoption of the law by the parliamentary majority of 62 Together For The Yes (JxSí) and 10 People’s Unity List (CUP) MPs was the culmination of an eight-year process that has seen over one million people mobilise every Catalan National Day since 2012.

The stakes could not be higher. If the referendum takes place, the PP minority government in Madrid will suffer a lethal blow to its credibility, opening the way to a change of government in the Spanish state. It would also bring into view the prospect of finally overturning the sub-democratic regime that has been in place in Spain since the late 1970s, when the heirs of the dictatorship of Francisco Franco negotiated a flawed “transition to democracy” with the anti-dictatorship resistance.

By the same token, if the Rajoy government manages to stop October 1, it will be a setback not only for Catalan aspirations to sovereignty but also for all forces in Spain fighting for democratic rights and against austerity. The partial weakening of the “1978 regime” represented by the rise of anti-austerity party Podemos and its allies would be contained: the “constitutionalist” parties—the PP, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the hipster neoliberal outfit Citizens—would be strengthened.”  (Originally published: The Green Left Weekly by Dick Nichols if you cant get into Monthly Review)

‘“The Rule of Law Such As Ours” (And as Imposed in Catalonia)’ by Daniel Raventós & Julie Wark, counterpunch.org

“The Spanish government is playing hardball. Whatever post-Franco party has been in power, Madrid has always done everything possible to suppress Catalonia’s attempts to claim the right to self-determination but, this time, as October 1 looms, the response against a peaceful citizen movement has been much rougher than anyone imagined, including measures like police and Guardia Civil ships in the harbor, water-cannon trucks roaring along the highways, helicopters clattering overhead, taking control of Catalan finances, raiding the offices of the government’s IT center, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Catalan government offices, detaining fourteen officials, impounding close to ten million ballot papers (so activists took printers into the streets to make off new ones), shutting down websites about the election (swiftly restored with mirror sites), and placing the Catalan police (Mossos) under the command of a colonel from the Guardia Civil (who, from a long lineage of Franco supporters, was charged with torture in 1992).”  [long snip]

“The Catalans are a feisty (“tumultuous” according to the present Minister for the Interior) people and no lovers of authoritarian regimes, as evidenced as long ago as 1285 with the Berenguer Oller plebian revolt against the clergy and upper class. The Spanish soldier Baldomero Espartero said in 1842 that Barcelona should be bombarded every 50 years, while Antonio Guerola, Civil Governor in Barcelona, pronounced in 1864 that, “The rebellious personality of Catalans has often required military strength to suppress it, and long periods of time under siege.”

(much more of history and explanation of the independence movement is here.)

‘When Fascism Won’t Die: Why We Need to Support Catalonia’, by Anna M. Hennessey, counterpunch.org

“Thousands of the people who were tortured or sent to the camps were Catalans. During the years of Franco’s dictatorship, Catalonia was one of Spain’s strongholds of resistance, and the Catalan people suffered enormously for it. Following a military trial in 1940 that lasted less than an hour, Lluís Companys (1882-1940), the president of Catalonia’s Generalitat, or its system of governance, was tortured and then executed by the Guardia Civil. Companys is a symbol for what the Catalans endured during and after the Civil War. Many were murdered, disappeared, imprisoned, sent to concentration camps, had their children stolen, or were economically disenfranchised during these periods. Catalan people were also banned from speaking their language and saw other aspects of their culture suppressed by the fascist regime. Teaching and speaking of the language became legal only after Spain’s restoration to a democracy in 1978.”  (again, more is here.)

‘Catalan secession crisis: Alongside Rajoy, Trump calls for a united Spain’, Paul Mitchell, wsws.org  (self-explanatory dickiness)

freaking google strikes again:

21 responses to “Oct. 1: the Massive Police Brutalization of Catalan Independence Referendum Voters

  1. to say the truth, i’d thought to leave my puerto rico diary up with no other diaries after it (above it) until hell almost froze over. yes, a foot-stomping hissy-fit, but no one except your host had commented on the thread. but…needs must; this issue is important to all lovers of sovereign self-determination all over the world. bless those who fight back against fascism.

  2. I didn’t know any of this history.

    you should put a warning on that 3rd WikiLeaks twitter video. a policia puerco jumping down the stairs to drop kick someone unseen on the floor was shocking.

    • hell, the po-po beat folks in wheelchairs, senior citizens: ‘this is what democracy in spain looks like!’ yeah, i was wowed by how little catalonian history i’d never known. thanks for commenting, j in oly. looks like Si won; what will happen next, i wonder?

  3. ‘There was no independence referendum in Catalonia today’ – Spain PM’, via RT

    “Claiming that the majority of people in Catalonia did not want to participate in the independence poll, the prime minister said those citizens had obeyed the law. He also defended the actions of Spanish law enforcement officers, saying police “performed their duty” in Catalonia. Rajoy said the voting has damaged the “coexistence” of people in the country and has “only served to sow division.

    on edit: jeezum crow, really? ‘For working class unity! No to separatism in Spain!
    Statement of the International Committee of the Fourth International, 30 September 2017, wsws.org

    “The reactionary role of Catalan separatism and its pseudo-left supporters: The Catalan separatists represent the interest not of left-wing forces struggling against Spain’s financial aristocracy, but of factions of the ruling class advancing their interests against both the working class and the central government in Madrid.

    They would not have been able to capitalize on social discontent, much of it created by their own policies, and to profit from hostility to the EU and Madrid had it not been for the myriad petty-bourgeois “left” groupings. These parties, which in post-Transition Spain adapted to the PSOE and the Stalinist forces in the PCE and Podemos, have promoted nationalism for decades as an alternative to the class struggle.

    Time and again, these pseudo-left groups have proclaimed support for “self-determination” to justify alliances with right-wing bourgeois movements and to suppress independent struggle by the working class—even using this to justify supporting imperialist proxy wars in Libya and Syria.

    comments were all in agreement; my.stars. it seems the socialists at monthly review weren’t radical enough.

    Julian Assange is rallying behind Catalan separatists ahead of a historic referendum — and Russia has taken notice’, business insider

    “Assange, for all intents and purposes, has become the independence movement’s chief international spokesman. The vast majority of his tweets this month, in many cases written in Spanish and Catalan, have centered around promoting Catalan secessionism and “self-determination” as a bulwark against Madrid’s “repression.”
    Russian news agency Sputnik has helped, too — and has taken notice of Assange’s tweets.
    The outlet posted 220 stories about the Catalan independence movement between September 11 and 27, according to The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, most with false or misleading headlines and a clear pro-independence bias. The outlet’s headlines gave “more prominence to Assange” than either Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont or Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

    Mark Kramer, the program director of the Project on Cold War Studies at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, said that WikiLeaks has become “a convenient propaganda tool for the Russian government” in its effort to wreak havoc among NATO states and the European Union.”

  4. i don’t know. mixed feelings about this. as does b at MoA. and b says the majority of Catalans are not interested so the independence vote does not represent Catalonia. ?

    • each to his own, of course, and there’s a hella lot of monday morning quarter-backing afoot. but that poll (pdf) b linked to is weird as hell, starting w/ ‘data collection computer aided __ something or other. 37 questions, party, regions, etc. beats me. a poll is more worthy than votes? wsws says:

      “The Referendum Law states that under these conditions, Catalonia will declare independence and secede from Spain, even though only a minority of the total population voted “yes.” 2.26 million people voted yesterday, or 42 percent of the 5.34 million voters in Catalonia. Of these, 2.02 million voted “yes”, and 176,000 voted “no.” well, yeah, the federal pigs have been merciless toward anyone advocating for the referendum, ballots stolen, websites shut down, arrests, etc. small wonder more didn’t vote, eh?

      but as far as b’s ‘oh, they have lots of autonomy’, this is from from reventos and wark concerning the roll-back of catalonia ‘autonomy’ since 2000 PP rule:

      “One example of the way Spanish “Constitutional Patriotism” functions is the decision of the Constitutional Court in June 2010 on the reforms to the 2005 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, which had been passed by the Spanish parliament (after being “brushed up” a little, in the mocking words of the “socialist” Alfonso Guerra), when it annulled fourteen articles and subjected twenty-seven items to its own interpretation. A month and a half later the PP brought an action of unconstitutionality against this statute which had impeccably observed all the democratic procedures, claiming that 128 of the 223 articles were “unconstitutional” (although some of these selfsame articles, copied from it and enshrined in the Statute of Andalusia, are still in force in this other part of Spain). The PP thus used the Constitutional Court to bring about a maneuver described by the jurist Javier Pérez Royo as “a political operation resembling a coup d’état”, which also made reforms of the Constitution impossible.”

      i was glad to see plenty of pushback to b’s contentions, esp. on the legality v. morality, and economic issues. of course there are reports now that catalonia wants closer ties w/ israel and nato, lol. general strike tomorrow? we’ll see…

      on edit: and thierry meyssan says the referendum was a soros sponsored color revolution, though the money he cites…is chicken feed, imo.

  5. justin raimondo at antiwar.com on ‘what’s next?’:

    “In the Catalonian events there is a lesson to be learned and it is this: government is brute force. It isn’t “the rule of law,” it isn’t the People’s Will, it isn’t “democracy” or some such floating abstraction: government is coercion, pure and simple. And when the will of a government is defied, what happens is what we saw today [Sunday] in Catalonia. The only question now is: will the Spanish state use enough force to keep the Catalans under their thumb? Madrid could unleash the army: Rajoy could send tanks into the streets of Barcelonia. The Guardia Civil could use real bullets instead of rubber bullets.
    If not, then they will discover that there are no halfway measures in the struggle for power. If not, then they will ultimately lose – and this is what the Catalans are counting on, the unwillingness of the Spanish central authorities to isolate themselves from the rest of the civilized world. It is, in my view, a fairly safe assumption – although, you never know.”

    • yes, but here’s the problem: as the Kurdish issue illustrates, independence movements are political footballs for the “great” powers. as a disruption possibly leading to future disruptions to the bourgeois Spanish state, expression of desire for autonomy/independence, etc., of course that all sounds good. but it does also sound good to the Soros/V Nuland types, and US disruption of the economy & political stability of the rival EU is on the US agenda.

      I don’t know.

      • i can’t say you’re wrong, j. and mayhaps the catalan gov will just be the new boss capitalists, although they’re allied with an anticapitalist party. but the youth sure did turn out, esp. w/ youth unemployment at 37% or so, so…there’s that. now the basque separatist movement settled for a larger piece of the economic pie, as i remember it, plus mabye some extra considerations. and catalonia may indeed end up like syriza in greece, hard to tell from here. and maybe you’re down w/ the fourth international advising wait for a true socialist movement’s in power.

        (king felipe is the commander-in-chief of both the military and the guardia civil.)

        now as i remember it, he hasn’t envisioned what gvt in catalonia will look like, but craig murray: ‘I Am Obliged to Reconsider My Support for the European Union‘, craig murray

  6. How can a government even TRY to justify itself when it is preventing people from democratic action, a basic human right? It’s like they are asking for an insurgency!

    • Madrid just waves its ugly stick and calls it macaroni…i mean ‘illegal’. the other horror has been the complete silence from brussels, as in: ‘oh, it’s an internal matter’. a few wags on the referendum twitter .hashtag have been putting it like this:

      “If Spain were outside NATO / EU AND held independent policy serving its interests, the west would be talking about “the regime in Madrid”. but yes, madrid/rajoy kinda did just guarantee that catalonia is history…if of course, the tanks don’t come rolling in, and more of the leaders’ financial accounts aren’t frozen. and..and…and.

      welcome to the café, hd; nice to have you here, not to mention to add a comment on this sparsely commented thread, as was my last one on puerto rico. guess there’s no tellin’ what stuff folks have zero interest in, is there? thanks for caring, srsly.

      • Agreed. I find it quite disgusting that major news outlets described the brutality as “clashes”…

        In Kurdistan they had a referendum last week that resulted in something similar. Not any coverage I can remember there…

        • i do remember some graphics showing the bbc’s coverage wags had taken on, using slashes as strikeouts changing the verbiage from clashes to something else, as well as a second ‘change’. but ugh, yes, it’s always ‘riots’ not demos, etc., especially in amerika.

          i can’t begin to speak w/ any awareness as to how baghdad responded to the kurdish referendum, but hideously if i catch your drift. telesur reports that at least the kurds are open to negotiations, not as hardline as the catalonians. (they’re also reporting that police sexually abused women). but…isn’t the kurdish region the home of most of iraq’s oil? what i did read about their independence vote was that declaring independence officially would be dangerous if not foolhardy, but again, i’m in no position to even have an opinion.

          now here’s an exception to the EU blind support for madrid: (scottish) ‘“NICOLA Sturgeon yesterday became the first European head of government to back the Catalan independence vote.’

          The First Minister refused to go along with a consensus emerging among leaders agreeing with the Spanish authorities’ view that the vote was not legal.
          In contrast, Sturgeon said the “strength of feeling” among voters in Catalonia could not be ignored and she recognised that they had “overwhelmingly” voted for independence.”

          and its true; there was great solidarity and parallel actions in scotland for the catalonians. now the guardian, natch, claims that it’s only breakaway groups from the Official Trade Unions who are involved, but yes, toay’s general strike day. the guardian also claims, perhaps like b at moon of alabama, that past the 42% who voted, the rest of the catalonians don’t want independence.

          hope you stick around, hd. and your site is nice, and i’m envious that you can stick thoughts together in ways i no longer can in my…holey memory dotage. ;-)

          (@Alfreddezayas @UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a #Democratic & Equitable #International Order: http://bit.ly/11Q2e6j )

          • Sorry wendy e, your site seems compromised on my son’s phone, or perhaps you have changed the format? I got a German entry with no attributed author, did a couple of comments. Sorry, I don’t think I should proceed, limited as I be, but best wishes – you are doing great and I’ll keep reading.

            • same format, but davidly in berlin’s diary from the 1970 (iirc) unification day featuring his poetry and a friend’s film honoring it…is above this one; below this is puerto rico. and love to you, and may i say that prayers just may do some good. but your message: “you are not alone, wendye” was a blessing, and may be one of the most comforting messages to anyone…anywhere. for me, among other chores, it’s big bread day.

  7. yeah, it’s jacobin, still noteworthy: “Amid a general strike in Catalonia, we speak to Lluc Salellas of anticapitalist party CUP about the next steps for the independence movement.”

    RB: One of the most common criticisms made by the Left in Spain about Catalan independence is that the movement has been based in part on separatism for one of the country’s wealthiest regions, that many who support it are motivated by not wanting to contribute as much revenue to Madrid. As a left-wing independentist, how do you respond to that argument?

    LS:
    LS: “This argument is part of the logic of the right-wing independence movement. It was prominent a number of years ago along with the slogan “Spain robs us.” But it is not one of the most important points today. If any left-wing Spaniard came to Catalonia and listened to what people say at meetings, they wouldn’t hear those points. They would hear about democratic and civil rights. They would hear people arguing that the Spanish state cannot represent them anymore, not just as workers but as Catalans.

    The last fifteen laws we have passed in the Catalan parliament have been banned by the Spanish state. But these are not independentist laws — many of them are social laws: for example, a law about sanctuary for those fleeing persecution, a law banning energy companies from turning off people’s electricity, and a law for a higher minimum wage. We want to use our autonomy to improve people’s lives and we are forbidden.

    People see this and respond. They want to decide the future of Catalonia and that is not possible in the current arrangement.
    But specifically on this question of remittances, the CUP has said for a number of years that an independent Catalonia should pay money to poorer parts of Spain in the transition. It doesn’t have to be a short time, it could be twenty or thirty years. We don’t want these regions to suddenly lose money. We are internationalists and we are in solidarity with workers and the poor in Spain.”

    wsws: “The hypocrisy of the New York Times [roger cohen] 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…”

    from a different piece at wsws about troops being sent to barcelona: “The stage is now being set for a violent provocation that can be used to justify intervention. Xavier García Albiol, the leader of the PP in Catalonia, has called for a “massive” demonstration this Sunday in Barcelona, declaring, “We call on the mobilization of the Catalans who feel Spanish… A democratic exercise to go out to defend democracy, institutions and dignity.”

    puigdemont then made an appeal for the EU to negotiate… “But according to one parliamentarian from Puigdemont’s PDeCat who is opposed to secession, “Puigdemont is desperately seeking international mediation… to be able to stop the declaration of independence.” i call bullshit, myownself. unless P srsly is looking for more remittance to catalonia.

  8. wsws: “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.

    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.

    This requires a conscious break with Podemos and the Catalan nationalists, who have worked over the entire past period to confuse and disarm working class opposition, despite explosive social discontent. While masses of youth and workers participated in a one-day protest strike on Tuesday in Catalonia, the CCOO and UGT, close to Podemos and the PSOE respectively, were careful not to mobilize any Spanish workers outside of Catalonia.”

    • quite a game of chicken, isn’t it, greyson? and the EU leadership fully supports it, of course. but wait: ‘it’s not that i’m suspending the parliament, it’s just that i’m willing/plnning to jail all of them and charge the rest of them with sedition! they made me do it!!!’

      i forget what colorful words the basque leader used, but close to “lighting a bridge on fire”? “snap elections” = “within six months”. wonder if puigedemont will really call for his own new independence referendum? meanwhile, alexis tsipris: pffffft.

      (partially by way of buying some fighter jets from amerika, upgreading their fleet._

  9. gonna get supremely ugly, greyson smythe. madrid shutting down catalonian media, etc. police state seems to be coming quickly.

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