Catalonia, the crusade of the right against the independence movement. Articolo 21
Article traduït per AnnA (@annuskaodena)
Barcelona – “The ultranationalist coup plotters leave for Madrid. Only a few dozen saddened people came to see them off. Wonderful.” It was around 11 a.m. on February 1st when the tweet that accompanied the images (taken by an officer inside the Guardia Civil transport van) of the transfer to Madrid, for the trial of the nine Catalan politicians arrested for sedition, rebellion and embezzlement after the October 1st 2017 referendum on the independence of Catalonia, was broadcasted online. The tweet is emblematic. It shows a fairly widespread feeling of intolerance in Spain towards the Catalan independence movement. A mood overwhelmingly dominated by the right. That of the Popular Party and Ciudadanos. And the extreme right of Vox. The party founded by Santiago Abascal, which recently won 12 seats in the Andalusian Parliament, has also played an active role in the trial that will begin on February 12th at the Supreme Court by assuming the role of the popular accusation. They chose to use an instrument provided by the Spanish judicial system, as a guarantee against connivance, to turn the courtroom into the scene of their electoral campaign against total autonomy. Vox, in addition to Catalan independence, has two other declared enemies: women and immigrants. They want an ultra-centralist Spain but also anti-feminist (they have called for the abolition of the gender violence law), firmly linked to traditions and firmly closed to the phenomenon of migration.
An electoral campaign spot in which Abascal rides a horse audaciously towards the “reconquest of Spain” is a perfect expression of the idea that part of the country does not want to lose pride in its former colonial power and still longs for its Francoist past. The latest survey on the voting orientation carried out at the end of January by the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (CIS) confirmed, moreover, that Vox is on the rise, with 6.5% of the consensus at national level, and that the Catalan question is decisive, given that today 36.4% of Spaniards would vote for those who adopted radical positions against independence, such as Vox and the Partido Popular. “The truth is that Franco’s regime never died,” says José María Noales Tintorè, an examining magistrate in Badalona, Catalonia’s third largest city by number of inhabitants. “We all woke up one day,” he continues, “discovering that he still around.” He does so in the bureaucratic apparatus of the public administration. But also, according to the Catalans, in a judicial system that is not really independent from the political system: the Prosecutor-General of the Supreme Court is appointed by the Government, the self-governing body of the judiciary is appointed by Parliament.
Madrid’s harsh reaction to the declaration of independence that followed the referendum (a totally political declaration with no legal value) is a proof of this for the independence movement in Catalonia, characterised by a strong republican and pro-European spirit. The same happens with the repression, which continues with the often arbitrary indictments and detentions, such as those of two mayors, of Celrà and Verges, the most recent victims. “The National Police arrested me on the morning of 25th January, without a warrant”, recalls Dani Cornellà, mayor of Celrà, a town of 5,400 inhabitants, and they took me to the barracks in Girona, where the mayor of Verges, Ignaci Sabater, was already in custody. They accused me of interrupting the public service, because on 1st October 2018, to commemorate the referendum, I had taken part in a protest on the railway tracks. In fact, the investigation had already been filed, it was just an excuse to intimidate us. They only released us early in the afternoon, when they decided they had already scared us enough. Now we all feel threatened. The Spanish authorities are also trying to put pressure on us because in May there will be municipal elections in Catalonia: we have to prepare the electoral lists and many candidates could back down out of fear. Dani Cornellà is from the CUP, the left-wing independence party that has lent external support to the government of Catalonia, formed by Junts per Catalunya (moderate centre-right party of Carles Puigdemont, exiled in Belgium) and Esquerra Republicana, centre-left and pro-independence. The region, with 7.5 million inhabitants, seems unwilling to give in: 80% of the population, as polls show, would like a new referendum and do not believe in the timid attempts of the socialists of Pedro Sánchez, the current prime minister, who has also acknowledged the existence of a political problem.
The independence movement is a transversal one. It has been organised in CDRs, citizen committees for the defence of the Republic, a natural continuation of the committees for the referendum. “Inside there are families, old people and young people who fight for independence protesting peacefully, but for Spain we are commandos”, says Pat Vila Armanguè. The case of Tamara Carrasco, a collaborator, shows that CDRs are a bother for the central government. On April 10, 2018, Tamara was arrested by 75 agents of the Guardia Civil who applied the anti-terrorist protocol by order of the National Court. Three days in a cell in Madrid, with the light always on to prevent her from sleeping, accused of having tried to plan an attack against the barracks of the Guardia Civil in Barcelona. “I am part of the CDR that, without any hierarchy, organised the protest on the net”, explains Tamara. “They arrested me for a conversation on the phone in which I was talking about promoting a public demonstration and as evidence they seized a yellow whistle, a mask of Jordi Cuixart (president of Ómnium, who is among the nine architects of the Catalan independence being tried in Madrid, ed.), a poster on the referendum, a Google Maps map and a CUP badge. The accusation system that made her a terrorist collapsed in a few days, but she is still forced to stay in her city, Viladecans. “I’m waiting for the Court to send the file to my lawyer, to ask for the revocation of the measure -continues Tamara-, now I suffer from post-traumatic stress. The whole thing is political, I was arrested and persecuted to scare us all.
The judge in Madrid also told me that my freedom depended on what the CDRs did. But when this story is over, I will sue the State to regain my dignity. Many people in Catalonia now have to defend themselves. Jordì Pesarrodona, councillor of Esquerra Republicana in Sant Joan de Villatorrada, must do so because he mocked the Guardia Civil by posing with a clown’s nose next to an officer and for having defended the referendum operations from the violent police charges. “Serious disobedience is the crime of which I am accused by the justice system of Manresa”, says Pesarrodona- “my gesture has become viral and I have been a victim of insults and death threats on Twitter. But I wouldn’t have become an example if I hadn’t gotten to the Guardia Civil, with its obsession with honour. The mayors who allowed the referendum must defend themselves, for disobedience against the Spanish Constitution, which establishes that only the President of the Government can call it. And the young Joan Mangues, a political science student, militant of Esquerra Republicana, also has to face justice for a tweet over the death of a Senegalese street vendor in mysterious circumstances. Mangues shows me the footage of a neofascist act in Barcelona on January 27th commemorating the day in which Francisco Franco’s troops made Catalonia capitulate. They demonstrated with the symbol of the SS,” he explains.
But the fact is that double standards are being applied. Right-wing extremist demonstrations are allowed, and our demands are often rejected. It’s all part of the Gag Law, the law enacted by former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, which severely restricts freedom of association. The law has been questioned by the socialists, but they have only turned it into an instrument of electoral propaganda: the law is still there and we are still at the starting point. In the conflict between the independence movement and Madrid, Podemos’s left has so far had an ambiguous attitude. A cautiousness questioned by the former secretary of the party in Catalonia, Albano Dante Fachin, who recently, through an open letter, invited all militants to stop the advance of the right. “If Podemos doesn’t take a strong and clear stance, it will be the end of the left”, wrote Fachin, for whom the evidence against the imprisoned politicians “has the same credibility as the program of Ana Rosa Quintana”, a journalist highly questioned by the Catalans. Moreover, according to Judge Noales Tintorè, the prosecution’s accusation against the nine Catalan politicians would crumble before the Court of Strasbourg. “All jurists,” says Noales Tintorè, “are aware that in Strasbourg this would be a clear violation of individual fundamental rights.” The nature of the conflict has, of course, economic roots.
Catalonia, a prosperous region, accounts for 20% of Spain’s GDP and 25% of the country’s total exports. “A secession would increase Spain’s public debt to 130% of its GDP,” explains Catalan economist Josep Reyner Serrà. “It would be a disaster for Spain, also because it could have a domino effect in other regions, such as the Basque Country. But there are two other deeper reasons. The first is identity-based: Spain has a concept of ownership and Catalonia is being treated as the last colony. 8.5% of its GDP goes to the Spanish government, characterised by centrist policies, and very little is given back to the Catalans to invest in education, social services and health. The second reason is entirely political. If Catalonia leaves, a system of power will be broken”.
Font: Articolo 21 @Artventuno
Autora: Natascia Ronchetti @NatasciaRonchet
Data de publicació: 4 de febrer de 2019