Catalunya’s Struggle for Independence: Does Catalunya already have sufficient autonomy rights?

 

 

 

Some argue that Catalunya already has sufficient national rights. But let’s examine the reality. The Catalans approved a new Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia by referendum, with a ¾ majority, in June 2006. This new law, among others, accepted the existence of Catalunya as a nation. However, the Castillian-dominated Constitutional Court of Spain effectively smashed this law in 2010 which provoked the regular mass mobilizations of more than one million people which we have witnessed in the region since then. These mobilizations took place under the apt slogan “Som una nació. Nosaltres decidim“ ("We are a nation. We decide").

 

Catalunya’s subordinated position is even clearer in the present situation. Just take the brutal assault of the paramilitary Guardia Civil against the independence referendum on 1 October which resulted, according to the Catalan health department, in 1,066 people injured (23 of them older than 79 years of age and two under 11)! [1] What was the crime of the Catalan people? Exercising their right to vote peacefully in a referendum! And there are numerous other examples like the imprisonment of the ANC leader (Jordi Sànchez) and Òmnium Cultural’s (Jordi Cuixart) for purely political reasons and the closure of 140 pro-independence websites. [2] The hatred of Castillian chauvinists for the Catalans even takes such bizarre proportions as the opening of disciplinary proceedings against the Catalan club Reus by the Spanish Football Federation for displaying a large senyera (official Catalan flag) at a football match, on the grounds that this could provoke "violence, racism, xenophobia or intolerance"! [3]

 

How can a people be free if the central government has the power, under Article 155 of Spain’s constitution, to dissolve, with one stroke, the regional government and parliament, to transfer the regional treasury to the finance ministry in Madrid, to pressurize companies to leave the region [4], etc.?! [5]

 

Finally, take the Spanish constitution, which legitimizes all these rabid chauvinist forms of oppression against the Catalan people as well as against the Basque people. It explicitly states “the Spanish Nation” (a formulation which explicitly denies the fact that the Catalans and the Basques are separate nations) constitutes an “indissoluble unity”. It states in Section 2:

 

The Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards.[6]

 

This formulation means nothing less than the rejection of any nationality within the Spanish state to exercise its right of national self-determination which, by definition, includes the right to secede from the state. In short, Catalunya is not free – neither in legal nor in practical terms.

 



[1] On this see the excellent and highly informative blog of Dick Nichols, the European correspondent of the Australian left-wing paper Green Left Weekly, who is stationed in Barcelona: “Live Blog: Catalonia independence struggle”, https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/live-blog-catalonia-independence-struggle. We rote, as an aside, that the massive scale of the brutal attack by the Guardia Civil against the Catalan referendum does not stop the ex-Trotskyist “League for the 5 International” to belittle this horrific events of 1 October, claiming that the police made no serious effort to stop the referendum: “That explains the fact that the police operation on Sunday, whilst incontestably brutal, was more about making a demonstration than actually suppressing the vote. The vast majority of the police remained confined to quarters, and the Spanish state made no serious effort to actually stop the vote going ahead.” This is consistent with the idea of this organization, which is opposed to Catalunya’s independence, that the Catalan people in their majority are opposed to independence: “Had a legal and democratic referendum taken place, it would likely have gone against the separatists and settled the question.” (L5I: Defend democracy in Spain and Catalonia, 04/10/2017, http://www.fifthinternational.org/content/defend-democracy-spain-and-catalonia)

[2] ANC is the Catalan acronym for Assemblea Nacional Catalana (Catalan National Assembly).

[3] See Live Blog: Catalonia independence struggle

[4] Even the car manufacturer SEAT, based in the Catalan city of Martorell, denounces the Spanish government and its "monarchical" pressure to relocate its headquarters out of Catalonia! See on this Dick Nichols Live Blog

[5] On Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, see: Creede Newton: What is Article 155 of the 1978 Spanish Constitution? Al Jazeera, 19.10.2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/article-155-spanish-constitution-171019100117592.html