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Catalan Parliament Passes Resolution to Abolish Monarchy in Spain

Sputnik – 11.10.2018

The resolution was proposed by the regional branch of the Spanish Podemos party, Catalunya en Comu-Podem, which has 8 mandates out of 135 in the Catalan parliament. A total of 69 lawmakers supported the resolution, while 57 parliamentarians voted against and four abstained. The voting was aired on the parliament’s website.

In particular, the resolution condemns the position of King Felipe VI of Spain during the Catalan independence crisis and his address to the nation on October 3 last year, which “justified violence” at polling stations during the referendum.

The document also calls for adherence to republican values and to “abolition the outdated and anti-democratic institution of monarchy.”

On October 1, 2017, Catalonia held an independence vote, which resulted in over 90 percent of those who voted backing the region’s autonomy. Madrid objected to the referendum and refused to recognize its results.

In late October, Madrid imposed direct rule over Catalonia and dissolved the regional parliament, after the Catalan government proclaimed the region’s independence.

October 12, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | 1 Comment

Former Catalan Education Minister Ponsati Going to Surrender to UK Authorities

© REUTERS/ Russell Cheyne
Sputnik – March 28, 2018

Former Catalan Education Minister Clara Ponsati, who has been hiding from Spanish law enforcement in the United Kingdom, said Wednesday that she was going to surrender to UK authorities.

“Later on this morning I will attend police station with my lawyer @AamerAnwar & will b arrested & taken 2court as Spain tries 2extradite me, I need ur support,” Ponsati wrote on Twitter.

According to Spanish media, a UK judge will decide on the measure of restraint for her later in the day.

On Tuesday, the politician began raising funds online for her legal defense, saying that her goal was to get 40,000 pounds ($56,600). As of now, the campaign managed to raise almost 100,000 pounds.

Charges Against Ponsati

On October 1, Catalonia held an independence referendum, which the central authorities did not recognize. The results showed that the majority of Catalans supported secession, and the regional parliament unilaterally announced independence later in October. In response, Madrid imposed direct rule over the autonomous region, dissolved the Catalan parliament and called a snap election. Several pro-independence leaders were jailed, while others fled to Belgium.

Following the independence vote, Ponsati fled to Belgium with former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and three other regional politicians. In March, Ponsati moved back to Scotland and her position as a professor at St. Andrews University.On Friday, the Spanish Supreme Court activated a European arrest warrant for a number of Catalan politicians, including Puigdemont and Ponsati. Shortly after, Puigdemont was detained in Germany after he crossed the border with Denmark on his way from Finland to Belgium.

According to the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office, Ponsati was responsible for allowing polling places to stay open in schools during the referendum. She is charged with organizing an insurrection — which under Spanish law can mean a prison sentence of up to 30 years — as well as embezzlement of state funds.

READ MORE:

Former Catalan President Puigdemont Detained in Germany

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | Leave a comment

Maduro: Spain’s Persecution of Catalan Leaders ‘Shameful’

teleSUR | March 27, 2018

After five Catalan pro-independence leaders were arrested Saturday, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro slammed the Spanish authorities over persecution of the Catalan leaders and people simply for independence aspirations.

“What’s happening in Spain is shameful, Catalan politicians jailed only for their ideas… whether or not you agree with these elected lawmakers’ ideas, their persecution is an embarrassment,” Maduro warned in a speech during an international meeting on African decendents rights in the region in Caracas Saturday.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has criticized Venezuela’s government on several occasions, calling it a “dictatorship” and played an important role in the European Union’s decision to levy economic sanctions on Venezuela over what Brussels calls Maduro’s “brutal decisions.”

In an interview this January Rajoy even talked about political prisoners in Venezuela, saying all he wants is for them to be able to go to the streets all while his government is cracking down on Catalan leaders and politicions for purely political reasons.

The Venezuelan leader stressed that unlike the U.S., Spain and the EU, his government was not meddling in the internal affairs of Spain but “outraged that they persecute people just for their ideas.”

At least nine pro-independence politicians and members of Catalan’s civil society groups are currently in jail for rebellion, a crime punishable with up to 30 years in prison. In total 25 Catalans will be tried for rebellion, embezzlement or disobedience for their participation in the Oct.1, 2017 independence referendum.

Rebellion charges are controversial because the crime requires the use of violence; last year’s Catalan independence referendum was a peaceful civic action. The Spanish State Attorney’s office had argued violence was exercised by pro-independence activists and politicians on Sept. 20, 2017, when they surrounded several Catalan government buildings to prevent the Spanish Civil Guard from entering.

Pro-independence leaders like Jordi Turull, the new candidate for regional president, former ministers Josep Rull, Raul Romeva and Dolors Bassa and former parliament speaker Carme Forcadell, are the latest prisoners in Madrid’s crackdown against pro-independence forces in Catalonia since the referendum.

Pro-independence sentiments are widespread in Catalonia and have grown after Madrid brutally repressed Catalans who went to the polls to cast their vote last year. The election resulted in Catalonia’s declaration of independence. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy responded by removing Puigdemont and calling for a snap election, which pro-independence parties and politicians won.

In this context the Venezuelan president called on social movements and humanity “to fight against political persecution and political prisoners in Spain, and to accompany the people of Catalonia in their right to democracy and freedom.”

Animosity between Catalonia and Madrid is rooted in Catalan republicanism and rejection of monarchic rule. The Spanish crown was restored by former dictator Francisco Franco (1936-1975) who banned Catalan language and led a brutal persecution against Catalan republicanism.

Today, in Spain writing a song against the crown or burning an image of the royal family can land a person in jail.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Carles Puigdemont Turns the Tables on Rajoy

By Craig Murray | October 10, 2017

Before his speech on Independence to the Catalan parliament, Carles Puigdemont seemed to be in an impossible position. Declare Independence and he would be immediately arrested and direct rule imposed from Madrid. Rajoy appeared to have all the angles covered; the EU had already specifically greenlighted the use of armed force in Commissioner Timmermans’ disgraceful address to the EU Parliament. The intergovernmental side of the EU, the Council, had through its President Donald Tusk called on Puigdemont not to declare Independence but rather to enter dialogue, in terms that accepted the Spanish insistence that the very notion of Independence was inadmissible.

So Puigdemont was placed by the right wing governments of Europe into a position where if he declared Independence he would be portrayed as an unreasonable fanatic refusing dialogue, and his imprisonment would be portrayed as justified. On the other hand, if he did not declare Independence he would appear a traitor to his own supporters, would be breaking the referendum law of his own Catalan parliament and the cause of Independence would be damaged by disillusion.

The entire World was wondering how Puigdemont would deal with this fix. His answer was peculiarly brilliant. He started off by speaking at length of the history of Catalonia’s attempts to enter dialogue on more devolution, and their constant rebuttal by Madrid. This was so reasonable and effective that the live blog of the rabidly Unionist Guardian plain refused to translate or summarise any of it (see 18.31 here).

Puigdemont effectively turned the tables on Rajoy by both declaring Independence and not declaring Independence. He proclaimed the result of the referendum and said as a consequence the parliament would declare Independence, but in the next breath announced they would seek dialogue on the way forward with Spain. All media sources are saying that he stated Independence would be declared but suspended for two weeks pending dialogue. Unless the DW interpreter missed it, this did not come across as I listened live and I wonder if there was a last minute change to the circulated text. But the effect of what he said was much the same.

It is Rajoy who is now in the impossible position. The World has seen a very mild and moderate Puigdemont positively pleading for dialogue and mediation. It is going to be very difficult for Rajoy to arrest him for that. More importantly, Puigdemont appears to have acceded to the request of Donald Tusk and the European Council. But he has done so safe in the knowledge that Rajoy will not enter dialogue and never had any intention of doing so.

There are only two possible outcomes of a dialogue or mediation. One is greatly enhanced powers for Catalonia in a new devolution settlement. The second is an an agreed and binding Independence referendum. But Rajoy has taken a line of absolutist opposition to either of these ways forward, which opposition is fundamental to his centralising, Francoist world view. Rajoy, having whipped up Spanish nationalism to violent fever pitch, cannot give any ground to Catalonia without substantially alienating his own Francoist core support.

Puigdemont, in short, has acceded to EU calls for dialogue and negotiation which he knows Rajoy will refuse. As it becomes ever more evident that Rajoy has no plan at all except violence, the popular revulsion across Europe against the Francoists will gather momentum.

Puigdemont appeared boxed in, but he has skipped past Rajoy and left him sitting on his arse in the mud.

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I continue urgently to need contributions to my defence in the libel action against me by Jake Wallis Simons, Associate Editor of Daily Mail online. You can see the court documents outlining the case here. I am threatened with bankruptcy and the end of this blog (not to mention a terrible effect on my young family). Support is greatly appreciated. An astonishing 4,000 people have now contributed a total of over £75,000. But that is still only halfway towards the £140,000 target. I realise it is astonishing that so much money can be needed, but that is the pernicious effect of England’s draconian libel laws, as explained here.

October 11, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Catalonia: Rajoy Moves Towards Extreme Measures

By Craig Murray | October 4, 2017

Things have taken a much more sinister turn in Catalonia, without sufficient notice being paid internationally. The leader of the Catalan regional police force has been formally arraigned for sedition by the Spanish attorney general, for refusal to comply enthusiastically with the beating up of old women. That carries a minimum jail sentence of four years. It is the first step towards major imprisonment of Catalan leaders. It is also extremely significant that this first step is aimed at decapitating the only disciplined and armed force under some measure of Catalan government control. What does that tell you about Rajoy’s next move?

This extreme action against Major Trapero is precisely in line with last night’s ultra hardline address by a man with the comic opera name of Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia. It is hard to take seriously anyone named after a whiskey, but we live in such a strange world that this unelected, far right and immensely corrupt, inbred buffoon could spout about democracy and accuse anyone who did not bow the knee to him of disloyalty and sedition. That precisely prefigures the legal action taken against Major Trapero. It can only be a precursor to a Spanish attempt to impose physical control on Catalonia and imprison its leaders. Having rejected both dialogue and mediation, I see no other direction Rajoy will take.

The Catalan government has said it will declare Independence within days. I am not, and have never been, a pacifist. A vital duty of any state is the defence of its citizens. Once Catalonia declares Independence it will be in a different position as a state than as a movement for Independence within Spain. The highly impressive and disciplined non-violence of the Independence movement will no longer be appropriate. But physically, I am not aware of any capacity to defend itself against the Spanish forces which there is every sign Rajoy will unleash immediately after any Declaration of Independence. Catalonia will also need to move instantly to dismantle any parts of the state fabric, and particularly the judiciary and prosecutorial service, which may remain loyal to Madrid,

The EU failed to draw a line in the sand when Rajoy’s Francoist paramilitary thugs beat up old ladies, en masse, before the eyes of the whole world. Rajoy will be certain to calculate that if he now invokes article 155, seizes Catalonia by force, and imprisons all the Catalan leadership for 30 years for rebellion, that the EU will continue to back him. Following the “royal” address yesterday and the extreme charges against Major Trapero today, the Francoist solution seems to me to be where we are heading, with nobody in any position of authority in Europe making the slightest effort to stop it.

October 4, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Five Things to Remember About Catalonia

By Vicent Partal | CounterPunch | September 8, 2017

Given the transcendent nature of this moment, we thought it would be a good time to summarize how we arrived at this point and to explain the special nature of the decision that Catalan Parliament took on Wednesday, September 6th.

1) Spain broke its own rules when the Constitutional Court nullified the 2006 statute of Autonomy.

The origins of all that that we have experienced over the last several years can be found in the Spanish Constitutional Court’s decision to strike down key elements of the 2006 Catalan statute of autonomy. Today it is widely recognized that this amounted to a de facto coup against the constitution that broke the judicial balance established at the end of the Francoist era. The relation of power between Spanish centralism and the Catalan Autnomist Government was based on the so-called “two keys”. Should a Catalan desire to alter its regime of autonomy arise, Madrid held the “first key” of being able to demand that the new law pass through Madrid’s legal filters where it would be subject to alteration. Catalonia’s “second key” was the right, should changes be made in Madrid, to reject the altered statute through a referendum. The process was clear, transparent and balanced. One key furnished guarantees to Spain, the other to Catalonia. Each side had a voice in the process. However, the forced entry into the process of a “third key” that had never existed and that was invented by the Popular Party destroyed this constitutional balance and broke the existing conditions of coexistence. The responsibility for bringing us to where we are today lies squarely with the Spanish state which, through its unilateral actions, abolished the pact forged in the transition to democracy.

2) Spain has refused to engage in dialogue with Catalonia about independence or, for that matter, anything else.

Catalonia does not have the right to impose secession upon Spain. Nor does Spain have the right to impose unity upon Catalonia. Should a conflict such as the one that is now being played out in the Principality of Catalonia arise, the only solution is negotiation, as the Supreme Court of Canada made clear in its opinion on the now widely celebrated referendum on the question of independence for Quebec.

Such a negotiation could have taken many forms and could have centered on many different aspects of the impasse. After the first September 11th (Catalan National Day) protests in 2012, the Catalan government proposed that the two sides engage in a renewed dialogue about fiscal matters and cultural rights. This proposal was not only rejected, but treated with open disdain. Catalan political forces have appealed on nearly twenty occasions for a negotiated solution to the celebration a referendum designed to clarify the true political will of the Catalan people. As is the case today, the party that has always refused to negotiate in the recent past has been Madrid. The Spanish state has consistently disdained the core democratic principle that disagreements should be resolved through good faith negotiations that respect the democratic expression of all political projects. This consistent pattern of disdain delegitimates the arguments of the Spanish government.

3) The people of Catalonia gave the Parliament of Catalonia a clear democratic mandate for a Proclamation of Independence.

In elections held on the 27th of September 2015, the citizens of Catalonia awarded the proponents of a program to pursue a proclamation of independence an absolute majority of the seats in the Catalan Parliament. The fact that this result fell just short of 50% of the popular vote has led the members of the winning coalition to the conclusion that they should seek validate their program through that most democratic of methods: a referendum. It has always been hoped that this referendum would be sanctioned through negotiations with the Spanish state. However, this has been impossible to do. It is precisely this refusal on the part of the Spanish Government to negotiate anything that justifies, and imbues with legal force, the unilateral vote that the Catalan Parliament will hold tomorrow. There is currently no other way that the representatives in Parliament can give voice to the political desires the people of Catalonia.

4) International law provides a legal basis for both self-determination and unilateral secession

The right to self-determination of all peoples is an essential element of international legal doctrine. It is an absolute right that trumps national legislation, as is spelled out in the two 1966 UN conventions on human rights which the Spanish constitution recognizes as the supreme law of the land. The Parliament of Catalonia is thus able to legitimately invoke this general principle as the basis for the referendum. In addition, there is the decision of the International Court of Justice regarding Kosovo that definitively resolved two important matters. The first is that there is no provision in international law that invalidates the unilateral proclamation of independence of a territory. The second is that the principle of the inviolability of borders only applies to conflicts between states and thus cannot in any way be used to impede the secession of a part of a state.

5) Recent international practice has given explicit support to processes of national self-determination thus creating a norm characterized by the acceptance of new states within the international community.

A few figures are worth bearing in mind. Since 1991, 53 sub-state entities, like Catalonia, have held referendums on self-determination. Of this total, 27 referendums were carried out in agreement with the states of which the entity seeking self-determination was then part. The other 26 were convened unilaterally. The Spanish state has recognized 26 of the 27 new states constituted in the world since 1991, the majority of which were proclaimed unilaterally. In fact, 7 states that today are part of the European Union were, in 1991, parts of other states and thus in situations quite similar to that of Catalonia today. These 7 European Union member states that were not independent in 1991 (Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic) were all created through unilateral mobilizations, and in 5 of those cases, through the specific modality of a unilateral referendum. All of them are recognized by Spain and are part of the European Union.

While the European Union has no provision spelling out what is to be done in the case of the secession of a part of a member state, there is a consistent practice when it comes to recognizing the results of referendums on self-determination. For example the EU took important decisions in response to the referendums of the Saar (1955), Greenland (1982) and Brexit (2016), and did not block the referendum in Scotland (2014). All of these referendums were held within the territory of the Union. And as we have seen, it accepted as member 7 states born of unilateral processes while also giving support to the practice of self-determination in cases such as that of Kosovo. This, in clear contradiction to Spain’s current posture in regard to Catalonia.

Summing up: If we have come to this point it is basically because of the legitimacy that the Catalan people bestowed on the Parliament of Catalonia in the September 27th, 2015 elections, and also, the legitimacy that the international community has bestowed upon the right of self-determination. But we have also arrived at this point as the result of the persistent delegitmation of the Spanish position, which flies in the face of international rules and practices as well as the provisions of its own constitution.

Now is the moment to take the next step, conscious both of the civic strength built up over the last decade, and the fact that the international community will react as it always has: by resolving a political problem that cannot be wished away through the deployment of legalistic maneuvering.

Vicent Partal is founder and director of the influential Vilaweb on-line newspaper in Spain.

Translated by Thomas Harrington.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Podemos Threatens Spain’s Unity By Backing Catalan Independence Referendum

Sputnik — 25.06.2016

MADRID — Spain’s left-wing Podemos party threatens the country’s unity by supporting an independence referendum to be held in the Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia, Jose Ramon Garcia-Hernandez, the head of international relations of Spain’s ruling People’s Party (PP), told Sputnik on Saturday.

Unidos Podemos, an electoral alliance between Podemos and several other left-wing parties, has backed allowing Catalonia to hold a binding independence referendum, a move which has garnered significant support for the party in the region.

“The main opponent in these elections [Podemos] puts at risk the unity of Spain… Those who want to separate Catalonia from Spain should know that they are not going to achieve this because they are going against the majority of the Catalans and the Spanish,” Garcia-Hernandez said.

All public authorities, especially the government, have a duty to protect national unity, he added, stressing that the PP will uphold Spain’s laws and prevent secession.

Spain is due to hold a snap general election on Sunday, with the PP and Podemos running alongside the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) after failing to form a coalition government. In last year’s election, the PP won 123 seats in the lower house of parliament, 64 less than in the previous election. The PSOE won 90, and Podemos came third, securing 69 seats. At least 176 seats are required for a parliamentary majority, necessary to form a government.

Catalonia held a non-binding referendum on independence from Spain in 2014. Over 80 percent voted in favor of the autonomous community becoming an independent state.

June 25, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Catalonia head charged with of abuse of power over independence referendum

RT | September 29, 2015

The head of the regional government in Catalonia has been indicted for unconstitutionally calling a referendum on independence from Spain last year. This comes just two days after his party and other secessionist forces won a regional election.

Recently, Artur Mas has promised his fellow Catalans that if pro-independence parties secured the majority in the regional parliament, independence from Spain would be a done deal. And so, on Sunday, the foundation of that promise was attained: absolute majority was secured, although, the parties only won 48 percent of the vote.

Despite the gains, Mas now has been summoned by Catalonia’s Supreme Court (TSJC) for pushing through a non-binding referendum last November, even after Spain’s Constitutional Court explicitly forbade him doing so.

He faces preliminary charges of disobedience, abuse of authority and usurping authority and will have to appear in court in October.

As it becomes more evident that Catalonia wants independence, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has once again repeated that he will not discuss “the unity of Spain.” With a general election coming up in December, he has ruled out any possibility of a referendum on the issue.

Meanwhile, Rajoy’s own People’s Party is getting historically low numbers in the Catalan election – the lowest in 20 years. Experts believe this to be directly related to the continued blocking of Barcelona’s independence referendum.

The Catalan Government said in a statement that it hasn’t “done anything illegal,” according to the Catalan News Agency. It further labeled the court’s decision to indict Mas as “a democratic anomaly” and “a political judgment.”

The left-wing leader Oriol Junqueras called Madrid’s tactics “the best example” of why Catalonia must secede. “As long as we belong to the Spanish State, normal things such as asking the citizens’ opinion will turn into lawsuits and summonses,” he said in a radio interview.

Various Catalan institutions and departments joined in the criticism against Madrid, although some in the region, such as the Conservatives, are diametrically opposed to Mas, believing that Catalonia can’t have a leader who is summoned for disobedience.


READ MORE: Madrid says it will not discuss Spain’s unity after Catalan separatists claim victory 

September 29, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Catalan leader urges early independence election

RT | November 26, 2014

Catalonian President Artur Mas has called for a “plebiscite election” involving lists of pro-independence parties and civil society members. The poll is viewed as the region’s final battle for separation from Spain, if Madrid does not carry out reform.

Speaking to a crowd of 3,000 people on Tuesday, Mas said he will “act accordingly” if the majority of Catalans are in favor of creating an autonomous state. The leader stressed that any future independence election is entirely up to the region – not Madrid.

The president once again criticized Spanish authorities while meeting with regional political parties and social movements at a conference of some 3,000 participants, titled ‘After November 9: Time to decide, time to draw conclusions.’

Stating that the Spanish government “keeps acting against” Catalonia, Mas said that Madrid acts as a power structure and lacks equal treatment towards the region.

Mas announced that if the central government fails to authorize a full-scale referendum on the region’s independence or does not carry out a constitutional reform, he will call a “plebiscite election,” which would be – essentially – a vote on Catalonia’s independence.

Mas said the election would be the “only” way to allow Catalans to voice their opinion, and would involve a joint list of candidates of all parties, as well as civil society members and experts in favor of a Catalan state.

The president explained that such an election would prompt political parties to question the sovereignty issue, and a list of social activists supporting the plan would be formed. The issue would then be passed on to the region’s parliament.

The leader previously said that this will require “direct and open confrontation” with the Spanish government, but now adds that “it’s now time to use the final instrument to make the poll happen.”

Stating that now is “the most difficult and crucial” period, Mas urged Catalans to stay committed to independence, stressing that the journey should not be abandoned.

Eighty percent of Catalans said “yes” to independence and secession from the central Spanish government in Madrid earlier this month, with over two million Catalans reportedly turning out for the unofficial referendum. The symbolic vote was informal and non-binding, but Spanish prosecutors later said they would file criminal charges against Catalan President Artur Mas in response to the poll.

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | Leave a comment

We press ahead with independence efforts: Catalonia president

Press TV – November 10, 2014

Catalonia’s government has pledged to increase its secession efforts after more than two million people voted in a symbolic independence referendum despite opposition from Spain’s central government.

Artur Mas, the president of the nationalist government of Catalonia, on Sunday hailed the vote “a total success” and noted that the referendum “made it very clear that we want to govern ourselves.”

He further said that his government would make efforts to hold an official referendum and would seek international support to help persuade the Spanish government to let it happen.

“We deserve to vote in a legal and binding referendum and this is what we are going to try to do,” Mas added.

Catalan Vice President Joana Ortega said early on Monday that with approximately all votes counted, 80.72 percent of the Catalans have said yes-yes to two questions about the region’s independence.

Voters were asked to respond to two questions. “Do you want Catalonia to become a state?” and “If so, do you want Catalonia to be an independent state?”

Over 10 percent of the voters said Yes to the statehood and No to its independence, and 4.55 percent voted neither for the statehood of the region nor for its independence.

The “Yes” in the non-binding vote will not automatically lead to the secession of the region, but only gives the Catalan president the mandate to negotiate independence with the Spanish administration.

Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala, meanwhile, denounced the vote as “fruitless and useless.

“The government considers this to be a day of political propaganda organized by pro-independence forces and devoid of any kind of democratic validity,” he added in a statement in the Spanish government’s first reaction to the polls held on Sunday.

November 10, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | | 1 Comment

Catalonians hold rally against Spanish monarchy

Press TV – June 27, 2014

Pro-independence Spaniards have staged a protest rally against the Spanish monarchy as the new king urges collaboration in the region.

On Thursday, thousands of Catalonians took to the streets of Girona to voice their anger against the royal family’s involvement in a series of corruption scandals.

The fresh protest came hours after Spain’s newly-appointed King Felipe VI reached out to Catalonians earlier in the day, urging their collaboration to help defuse tensions with Madrid.

“Sincere and generous collaboration is the best way to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of each person and achieve great collective goals for the common good,” the king said in a speech on his first visit to Catalonia since ascending to the throne.

The majority of 7.5 million inhabitants of Catalonia have expressed resentment for the redistribution of their taxes to other regions of Spain.

Catalan leaders plan to hold an independence referendum in November. The government has condemned the move as illegal.

Catalonia has been seeking independence and autonomy from Spain since the end of the 19th century. In recent years, massive rallies have been held to claim the self-determination right for the region.

The latest protest comes as the image of the royal family has been tarnished by a series of scandals. Juan Carlos’s daughter, Princess Cristina, and her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, are under investigation for possible tax fraud and money laundering.

Spain has been the scene of anti-monarchy protests in recent weeks after Juan Carlos announced he would step down in favor of his son Philippe. The 46-year-old monarch was officially sworn in before parliament on June 19.

According to a survey conducted earlier this month, the majority of the Spanish people are in favor of a referendum on the future of monarchy in their country.

June 27, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

Spain ‘won’t have enough tanks’: Catalonia to vote on independence, defy Madrid

RT | December 13, 2013

The Catalan regional parliament has set November next year for a referendum on the Spanish province’s independence. The government in Madrid blandly said the vote won’t happen, but activists wonder how it might be stopped.

Catalonia’s four pro-independence parties, which hold a majority in the regional parliament, announced Thursday that the rich industrial Spanish province will hold a referendum on whether to gain greater autonomy or even total independence from the country’s central government.

The vote’s preliminary date is November 9, Catalan regional government head Artur Mas said. The people will be asked two questions: “Do you want Catalonia to be a state?” and “Do you want that state to be independent?”

The former question was added for those Catalans who seek to change Spain into a federation, with Catalonia forming part of it. According to a Metroscopia poll in newspaper El Pais last month, 46 percent of Catalans favor separatism versus 42 percent who wish to remain within Spain. The support for greater autonomy, however, is very strong.

Just minutes after the announcement Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon rejected the idea, saying it would be unconstitutional.

“The vote will not be held,” he said.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy spoke out later in the day, saying his government will not allow the Catalan referendum to happen.

“As prime minister I have sworn to uphold the constitution and the law and, because of this, I guarantee that this referendum will not happen,” he stressed. “Any discussion or debate on this is out of the question.”

But in Catalonia pro-independence moods are not withered by Madrid’s rebuke. They say the central government would have few options, if it does want to stop the referendum.

“They will have to show how they are going to prevent a vote from happening,” Elisenda Paluzie, professor of economics at the University of Barcelona, told RT. “What are they going to do? Will they send the police to the polling stations? It’s up to them to show what kind of democracy they support.”

Catalonia, a land with strong cultural roots and its own language, has had strong pro-independence sentiment for decades and shares a painful history with the rest of Spain. It was oppressed during the rule of military dictator Francisco Franco (1939-75), who stripped it of autonomous powers and issued a ban on Catalan language to fight separatist tendencies.

The situation now is different however, and Catalans don’t believe that Madrid would use force to block their independence aspirations.

“If Spanish tanks rumbled into Barcelona, like they did in 1939, there wouldn’t be enough tanks to go around. There wouldn’t be enough soldiers to go around. Spain, being a modern country, has drastically reduced its armed forces,” Miquel Strubell, member of a pro-independence grassroots organization, the Catalan National Assembly, said to RT.

In modern Spain, Catalonia renewed autonomy and currently governs itself in areas like health and education. It has a regional parliament and maintains its own police force. But the calls for independence from Madrid have gained stronger support in the last few years, as Catalans complained that it is being drained of tax money, which is spent in other Spanish regions.

The situation is aggravated by the economic crisis, which forces the Rajoy government to adopt painful austerity policies. But financial considerations are not the prime reason why Catalans seek independence, says Strubell.

“I think most of my colleagues would agree that this isn’t about money. It’s about a much more basic issue of running our own things,” he assured “It’s all been on the cards for years. It all started before 2003, which is well before the economic crisis.”

The referendum in Catalonia will be held less than a month after a similar vote in Scotland, which will hold it on September 18. Joan Maria Pique, a top aide and spokesman for Catalan President Mas, criticized the Spanish government, saying that London agreed to the Scottish vote on self-determination, while Madrid is reluctant to do the same for Catalonia.

“We expect to open negotiations with Madrid. The Spanish state can’t be blind about it,” he said.

December 14, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment