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Catalonia: An active and democratic front against the 155

Miguel Salas – 11.19 – Sin Permiso

Two statements by members of the Spanish government characterize some aspects of the situation in Catalonia, and by extension throughout Spain. President Rajoy, in a nod to his right wing and also for everyone to take note, boasted that the dismissal of the Catalan government is something that nobody had dared since the Second World War. And he was perfectly calm! Did not you realize, or yes, that by comparing your decision to the era of fascism you were portraying yourself? Has the skin hardened so much that such statements already seem normal to us? Will the application of article 155 be accepted as natural or proportionate?

The Foreign Minister, Dastis, also showed off in a declaration of broad “democratic” content. He said that “the prison to be sent to Puigdemont has amenities that many would like to enjoy.” Apart from the bad taste, we had not been that justice was independent? How does Minister Dastis know he will go to jail? The democratic degeneration is reaching unbearable limits. The Catalan crisis has made them more visible, more outrageous, but it is a process that comes from far and that the Popular Party has hardened enormously. Because, not only has a government and the leaders of the Catalan independence movement been dissolved and imprisoned, but more than 300 trade unionists have been or will be put on trial for exercising the right to strike, they are judging tirititeros, they ask for 300 years of jail for the defendants of Alsasua for fighting in a bar with civil guards or the Gag Law is imposed as a sword of Damocles over any protest activity. And no, they are not different things. One can argue about supporting or not supporting the defendants’ claims, but the problem affects all those who defend and claim democracy: it is a systematic plan to weaken and attack democratic rights. Professor Javier Pérez Royo has put his finger on the spot when he wrote: “The Spanish State is a democratic State, but its action in these cases (it refers to the Catalan prisoners) are not those of a democracy worthy of such first name. The deviation from the democratic standard is more than remarkable ”

For that reason, the application of the 155 is not only a problem between the Rajoy government and Catalonia, or with the so-called territorial reserve, which to be properly mentioned must be defined as the attempt to exercise the democratic right of self-determination, but a turn of the screw more in the loss of democratic guarantees that, directly or indirectly, affect the whole country.

They are not alone

Few weeks have been enough to show that the application of the 155 will not solve or appease the conflict. On November 11, another impressive demonstration gathered in Barcelona, according to the municipal guard, more than 750,000 people demanding the release of political prisoners, the Jordis and the Consellers of the Generalitat imprisoned by Judge Lamela de la National audience. As lately the exaggeration on citizen participation has become an element of the war of positions between the different political blocs, it can be compared through the image that heads this article: on the left the participation in the demonstration for the unity of Spain October 29 and on the right who participated in the November 11.

The protest for the freedom of political prisoners was the expression of a kind of democratic front, without formalizing, between pro-independence, sovereignty, people of the left or without any affiliation that simply feel outraged and humiliated by the government Rajoy . A kind of democratic front, against the 155 and for the freedom of the prisoners, who will identify in the programs of the parties and in the electoral campaign those who defend a democratic position and those who hide in the Constitution to attack rights. It is known that among the latter, the socialists will be found.

Three days before, on November 8, a call for a general strike or a national strike (a civic strike) mobilized thousands of people throughout the territory, cut off the main roads and highways and even paralyzed the AVE, both in Girona as in Barcelona. Unemployment in businesses and the closure of businesses was lower than on October 3 (when the outrage was expressed after police charges on October 1) but it was a reflection of the mobilization capacity, particularly of the CDRs (Committees of Defense of the Referendum that have been transformed into Defense Committees of the Republic) that coordinate activities throughout the territory.

There is no day when activities to denounce the 155 and demand the release of political prisoners, gatherings before the city councils when the month of the imprisonment of the Jordis, in the meetings of castellers, in the popular festivities, concentrations of the workers of the Generalitat in solidarity with imprisoned consellers, a large concentration is being prepared for December 7 in Brussels … it is a clamor that runs throughout the country. It is an indisputable fact that repression is not succeeding in frightening or demobilizing.

The application of the 155 not only consists of the repressive element, it is also, and not less important, the paralysis of the administration of the Generalitat and of economic and social projects that affect numerous companies and associations, or delays in financing or contributions that the State had committed.

An inquisitorial campaign

The repressive objective of the Rajoy government not only aims to avoid any republican attempt in Catalonia, and by extension also in Spain, but to weaken or break the instruments of self-government. It is very easy to listen to the Catalan leaders of the PP and Citizens threaten the maintenance of the 155 if the electoral results are not of their convenience. Recall that more than 700 mayors are imputed for their collaboration with the referendum on October 1, which has threatened severe penalties to participants in the protest actions of November 8, that there is a miserable but systematic intoxication campaign, especially when it is presented to heartless parents who take their children to the demonstrations.

There are two elements that have a special inquisitorial significance because of their ideological content. One is the campaign against public schools for alleged indoctrination. Eight teachers from a school in La Seo d’Urgell have already been called to court and many teachers feel threatened by the continuous media bombardment. The objective of this campaign is more ambitious because, in addition to intimidating teachers, it seeks to attack the presence of Catalan in school.

The other inquisitorial element refers to the claim that political leaders would have to abjure their independence or sovereignty ideology if they want to avoid prison. That was the meaning of the questions of the judge and the prosecutors to the Bureau of the Parliament, especially to its president Carme Forcadell. That is, justice now does not mean that he must prove the guilt of the facts but that the accused rejects his present and future convictions as a means of avoiding imprisonment. Is that democracy? Were feno cars built on that same base? Have we hardened skin so much that it seems normal?

The 21-D elections will mean changes in the political landscape. If the independence and sovereignty forces win, we will have to find new initiatives to advance towards the Catalan republic; if the proposals of PSC, Ciudadanos and the PP won the uncertainty about the Catalan autonomy itself, it would generate a difficult situation governable. Whatever the electoral decision, it will continue on the table to free political prisoners and lift the application of Article 155 and the need for a front of those who defend the rights and freedoms and sovereignty of the people, and also the right to exercise self-determination . If the current crisis is not only a Catalan issue but is the responsibility of the entire State, that democratic front would have to count on the solidarity of the whole of the peoples of Spain, as has already been expressed in some parts. It is not a thing of those here or those over there, the attack on rights and freedoms affects everyone and everyone.

Miguel Salas is a member of the Editorial Board of Sin Permiso.


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