Occupied Catalonia faces the boot

Talk about putting the shoe on the other foot:

“The word ‘dialogue’ is a lovely word. It creates good feelings,” [Spanish Prime Minister Mariano] Rajoy said. “But dialogue has two enemies: those who abuse, ignore and forget the laws, and those who only want to listen to themselves, who do not want to understand the other party.”

Rajoy urged the Senate to approve Article 155 “to prevent Catalonia from being abused.”[1]

The charge that Catalan secessionists “only want to listen to themselves, . . . do not want to understand the other party” applies equally to those who would deprive Catalonia of independence. Second, the primacy assigned to the constitution and to law forgets that institutions need to serve people, not the other way around. And that, ultimately, seems to me to be a huge problem: As near as I can tell, Rajoy’s argument collapses entirely to a provision in the Spanish constitution, “which refers to ‘the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards.’”[2] There is nothing here of any benefits for Catalans in Spain, just nonsense about how “Spain without Catalonia and vice versa is a mutilated Spain and Catalonia.”[3] The origins of this drive for independence apparently lie in “a financial dispute [in 2012, during the financial crisis] over the tax contribution that wealthy Catalonia should make to poorer regions of Spain.”[4]

It is already apparent from the violence waged against the referendum that Catalonia held on independence,[5] which Rajoy defended as his “principal obligation . . . to enforce the law and ensure it is enforced,”[6] that Rajoy has no compunctions about using violence. Despite his appeals to public opinion surveys (a methodology I now treat as unreliable[7]) showing a majority even within Catalonia opposing independence,[8] it is clear that Rajoy is unconcerned with what the Catalan public may think of his use of violence against the referendum. The violence itself, directed against an election, undermines the remainder of his claim that his “principal obligation” is also to “protect and guarantee democracy,” and to “protect coexistence and harmony.”[9]

Further, it is apparent that Rajoy enjoys international backing[10] from elites who, on various rationalizations, nearly always oppose secession, except when a secession movement in another country might work to their own advantage.

So I see no constraint on Rajoy’s further deployment of violence to achieve his ends. Catalonia is occupied territory. Now I fear it will feel the boot.

  1. [1]William Booth and Pamela Rolfe, “Catalonia finally declared independence — but Spain vows it won’t last long,” Washington Post, October 27, 2017,
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/a-day-of-fireworks-in-catalonia-both-spanish-and-catalan-parliaments-are-scheduled-to-convene/2017/10/27/09685d34-ba90-11e7-9b93-b97043e57a22_story.html
  2. [2]Spanish Constitution, quoted in British Broadcasting Corporation, “Catalan referendum: ‘Hundreds hurt’ as police try to stop voters,” October 1, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41461032
  3. [3]Pedro Sánchez, quoted in William Booth and Pamela Rolfe, “Catalonia finally declared independence — but Spain vows it won’t last long,” Washington Post, October 27, 2017,
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/a-day-of-fireworks-in-catalonia-both-spanish-and-catalan-parliaments-are-scheduled-to-convene/2017/10/27/09685d34-ba90-11e7-9b93-b97043e57a22_story.html
  4. [4]Raphael Minder, “Separatists in Catalonia Win Narrow Majority in Regional Elections,” New York Times, September 27, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/28/world/europe/catalan-vote-seen-as-referendum-on-secession.html
  5. [5]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Catalan referendum: ‘Hundreds hurt’ as police try to stop voters,” October 1, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41461032; Peter Geoghegan, “Catalonia votes amid violent clashes,” Deutschewelle, October 1, 2017, http://www.dw.com/en/catalonia-votes-amid-violent-clashes/a-40770357; Jon Sindreu, Pietro Lombardi, and Marina Force, “Hundreds Hurt as Catalans, Spanish Police Clash Amid Independence Referendum,” Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/voters-turn-out-in-catalonia-for-independence-referendum-1506838287
  6. [6]Jeannette Neumann, Jon Sindreu, and Pietro Lombardi, “Catalans Support Secession From Spain in Vote Boycotted by Opponents,” Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/voters-turn-out-in-catalonia-for-independence-referendum-1506838287
  7. [7]David Benfell, “On a nine percent response rate,” May 28, 2017, https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/journal/2017/05/28/nine-percent-response-rate
  8. [8]Hans von der Burchard, “New Catalan president wants independence within 18 months,” Politico, January 10, 2016, http://www.politico.eu/article/new-catalan-president-carles-puigdemont-spain-independence/; Jeannette Neumann and Giovanni Legorano, “Spain Poised to Strip Catalonia of Powers,” Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/catalan-leader-fails-to-renounce-secession-push-demands-dialogue-with-madrid-1508401099; Jeannette Neumann and Giovanni Legorano, “Spain Moves to Seize Control of Catalan Government, Call Regional Elections,” Wall Street Journal, October 21, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/spain-moves-to-seize-control-of-catalan-government-call-regional-elections-1508587975
  9. [9]Jeannette Neumann, Jon Sindreu, and Pietro Lombardi, “Catalans Support Secession From Spain in Vote Boycotted by Opponents,” Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/voters-turn-out-in-catalonia-for-independence-referendum-1506838287
  10. [10]William Booth and Pamela Rolfe, “Catalonia finally declared independence — but Spain vows it won’t last long,” Washington Post, October 27, 2017,
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/a-day-of-fireworks-in-catalonia-both-spanish-and-catalan-parliaments-are-scheduled-to-convene/2017/10/27/09685d34-ba90-11e7-9b93-b97043e57a22_story.html; Laura Smith-Spark and Claudia Rebaza, “Catalonia government dissolved after declaring independence from Spain,” CNN, October 27, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/27/europe/catalonia-independence-spain/index.html

Author: benfell

David Benfell holds a Ph.D. in Human Science from Saybrook University. He earned a M.A. in Speech Communication from CSU East Bay in 2009 and has studied at California Institute of Integral Studies. He is an anarchist, a vegetarian ecofeminist, a naturist, and a Taoist.

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