NOTE TO READERS
This live blog will end on Sunday, January 21. It will be replaced from Monday, January 22 by a new live blog covering the Catalan national struggle and its impact on Spanish and European polítics.
The new blog will provisionally be called “Catalonia in Spain: Europe’s key struggle for democracy”.
It will focus less on hour-by-hour updating of the Catalan political situation and more on providing for English-speakers useful information, interviews, comment and opinion not available elsewhere, translated from Catalan, Spanish and other sources.
At the same time, the new blog will link to the increasing number of Catalan and Spanish news sources that now provide English-language material. Readers who want to keep up with the day-by-day unfolding of the Catalan and Spanish political scene will still be able to do so in a convenient way.
The new blog will be updated weekly or more frequently if needed.
European correspondent, Green Left Weekly
CATALONIA SOLIDARITY NEWS AND UPDATES
Please send all news of solidarity work with Catalonia to email@example.com
Detail of the results of the international solidarity meeting, held in Barcelona on December 16-17 and organised by WithCatalonia, will soon appear on its web site. Some initial photos here. Messages of solidarity, appreciation and more graphics and videos here.
ANALYSIS OF THE DECEMBER 21 CATALAN ELECTION
- Read our analysis in Green Left Weekly here.
- Read El Nacional's analysis of the December 21 election result (in English) here.
- 1. Where did votes of September 27, 2015 election go on December 21, 2017?
Ferreres, El Periódico, January 8
- 2. Which parties were most favoured and disfavoured by the electoral system?
[NOTE: The horizontal brown line represents the average vote needed to win an MP in a province. The vertical bars show the number of votes actually needed by the individual parties to win a seat. The data gives the lie to Citizens' (C's) claim that it was prejudiced by the electoral system.]
- 3. (First line) Votes for and against October 27 Unilateral Declaration of Independence (DUI) and (second line) article 155 intervention. Third line shows increase in pro-independence and anti- and non-independence vote since 2015
- 4. Analysis of movement of vote between pro-independence and unionist blocs in the December 21 Catalan elections (source: el.diario, December 28).
[NOTE: Yellow arrows indicate an increased pro-independence vote, while blue arrows show an increased unionist vote. The centres shown as experiencing an increased pro-independence vote remain unionist (with Citizens replacing the PSC as leading party), while pro-independence strongholds like Sant Cugat de Valles and Girona experience an increased vote for unionism.]
STATEMENTS OF POSITION ON CATALONIA
- November 26, SPANISH BASQUE COUNTRY: Article by Gorka Elejabarrieta, Sortu international department head, "The left must support Catalonia" here.
- November 8, LATIN AMERICA: Joint declaration of left organisations here.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 19
95 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periodico, January 19
TV broadcast of opening session of new Catalan parliament: "In this parliament of Catalonia everything will be able to be discussed..."
Rajoy (with interior minister Zoido to his right and deputy Soraya Saenz de Santamaria to his left: "Bad start..."
THURSDAY, JANUARY 18
94 nights with political prisoners
Fontdevila, el.diario, January 17
PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez to Rajoy and Citizens' leader Albert Rivera: "What do we do when we get back to the starting point?
- The Rajoy government bought the silence of Latvia over Catalonia with a troop contingent that cost €63 million and was not authorised by the Spanish parliament (Público).
- Zoido refuses to answer questions in Senate as to who issued order for police charges on October 1.
- The five Catalan MPs exiled in Brussels apply for the right to vote by substitute (as happened yesterday for the three jailed MPs).
- PSC leader Miquel Iceta and CatECP leader Xavier Domènech indicate to speaker Torrent their opposition to investiture by video link.
- Human Rights Watch annual report scores excessive use of force by Spanish police forces on October 1.
- Spanish interior minister Juan Ignacio Zoido defends the police and Civil Guard action on October 1 before the Spanish senate: "We would do the same thing again."
- Interviewed on radio RAC1, Catalan parliamentary speaker Roger Torrent does not rule out visiting Carles Puigdemont in Brussels.
- The CUP issues legal challenge to the Spanish Supreme Court's competence to hear charges against its MPs allegedly involved in the preparatrion of the October 1 referendum.
Front page of the day
" A Catalan parliament captive to Puigdemont"
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 17
93 nights with political prisoners
Roger Torrent (ERC), joint candidate of his party and JxCat for the speakership of the incoming Catalan parliament.
- Xavier Domènech, CatECP spokeperson, welcomes sentiments of Torrent's acceptance speech, but will wait to see how the new speaker turns out in practice.
- The CUP critisies the acceptance speech of new speaker Roger Torrent for not containing any reference to the October 1 referendum.
- Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar calls on Spanish government to open negotiations with Catalan government.
- Elisenda Alemany (CatECP) denounces that only one of the seven-person speakership panel is a woman: "This panel does not repesent the plurality of the country".
- Citizens leader Inés Arrimades acuses CatECP of supporting the pro-independence parties and the PP of having had one of its MPs abstain in the vote for the Citizens' candidate for speaker. She also say that she does not think Torrent will be an impartial speaker.
- CUP offered a position on the speakership panel by JxCat, but insists on public commitment to "unfold the Republic" as precondition.
- Four secretaries elected (one ERC, one JxCat, one PSC and one Citizens).
- Two deputy speakers, one JxCat and one Citizens, elected.
- Roger Torrent (ERC) elected speaker of the parliament by 65 votes (ERC, JxCat and the CUP) to 56 (Citizens, PP and PSC), with nine abstentions (eight CEC-Podem and one from either Citizens, PP or PSC).
- Applause for Oriol Junqueras when his vote is handed to the "table of age" by ERC national coordinator Marta Rovira.
Today's opening session of the Catalan parliament, with no-one of the government benches (first row) and yellow bows marking the seats of the jailed and exiled MPs.
- The "table of age", made up of the oldest and two youngest MPs, opens the new session of the Catalan parliament and conducts the election of the incoming speaker and seven-person speakership panel (speaker plus two deputy speakers plus four secretaries). Oldest MP Ernest Maragall (ERC) reaffirms the validity of the October 1 referendum result and interprets the December 21 election vote as "confirmation" of that result. The table recognises the right to vote of the three imprisoned MPs (Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn and Jordi Sànchez), overruling the requests of the PP and Citizens. The five exiled MPs do not ask to be able to vote.
- ANC poster for today's opening of the Catalan parliament
"Let's recover parliament: follow the first session of the republican majority"
Today's front page
"Separatism defies the law and agrees to elect Puigdemont"
Now non-violence is violent
If Gandhi's Salt March is the paradigm of non-violence, then the 1-O referendum was also non-violent
MIQUEL PUIG (Economist )
Ara, December 15
Non-violence became popular in the West following the Salt March, which took place in 1930. The British Empire declared the production of salt a public monopoly, making homemade production, a common practice on the coast at the time, illegal. As a result, Gandhi publicly announced that he would walk the 390 kilometres separating his ashram from the coast and that, once there, he would produce salt. When Gandhi arrived, he was accompanied by thousands of his compatriots and a swarm of journalists from around the world. Starting on April 6, Gandhi and his followers began to produce salt symbolically, with the police powerless to intervene.
A month later, Gandhi sent a letter to the viceroy announcing that the next action would take place in the Dharasana saltworks. He was immediately arrested by the police, although thousands of people marched on the saltworks, breaking down the fence and entering the premises, whereupon the police used violence to stop them. The demonstrators —with extensive media coverage— put up a dogged resistance. Hundreds were hospitalized and at least two people died. In the following weeks there were numerous resistance movements protesting laws throughout India, including several episodes of violence.
This form of political struggle, consisting of breaking the law and resisting police violence, made an enormous impact on the West. Time magazine declared Gandhi Man of the Year and ever since he has been associated with nonviolence.
Now let us consider the previous information in light of the Supreme Court’s interlocutory judgement against the release of Oriol Junqueras from prison. The SC has decided that there is evidence that Junqueras committed a crime of rebellion and, therefore, of violence. In respect of this matter, the court's reasoning is based on two arguments. The first, that "the appellant [...] in order to unilaterally declare the independence of Catalonia [...] has carried out the execution of a plan" that included an illegal act: specifically, ”holding a referendum that the Constitutional Court had declared lay outside the Constitution and the Law ". The second argument: "It is true that the appellant does not appear to have participated personally in conducting specific violent acts. Nor does it appear that he gave direct orders to that effect. However, [...] both the appellant and the others knew that the state could not and cannot consent to such acts [...] and that it would act through the means at its disposal, including the legitimate, and as such, proportional and justified, use of force. It was foreseeable, given the situation, that, with a high probability, there would be confrontations in which violence occurred".
Such reasoning is perfectly applicable to the Salt March: it was part of a plan to achieve independence, it was illegal and, although neither Gandhi personally executed any violent act nor ordered it to happen, it was clear that the rule of law could not consent to it and that it would act "with every means at its disposal, including the legitimate use of force". There are clear parallels and I fail to see what significant difference exists between the Salt March and the 1-O (or 20-S and 21-S) with regard to violence (except that in the former there was a great deal more).
Both Junqueras and Gandhi may be accused of promoting illegal acts, but the actions of the former cannot be described as violent without entering into practices straight out of 1984, where those in charge were dedicated to distorting the meaning of words in order to manipulate the population. If Gandhi's Salt March is the paradigm of non-violence, then the 1-O referendum was also non-violent, and the SC's reasoning is vulgar sophistry.
A final note intended for those who are impatient. Gandhi was not put on trial, though he remained in custody for ten months, and India did not gain independence until seventeen years after the Salt March. When the Indian congressmen chose the word agraha (persistence), they knew what they were dealing with.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 16
92 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, January 16
TV: "Four year's jail for the treasurer of Convergence..."
[Democratic Convergence of Catalonia, former Catalan right-nationalist ruling party rebooted last year as PDeCAT ]
Maid: "The hardest thing will be for them to give the money back..."
[Yesterday's sentence in the Palace of Music corruption case requires Convergence to return €6.6 million milked from developers in exchange for public works contracts]
Marta Ferrusola: [wife of former Convergence leader and Catalan premier Jordi Pujol, who has confessed to tax evasion via an Andorra family account and is reading the paper beside her]
"How I miss the times when the servants only used to sing ditties."
- Frans Timmerman (first vice-president of the European Commission, social democrat): "Puigdemont has broken the law, he must face the consequences."
- ERC and JxCat agree to propose Carles Puigdemont as Catalan president.
- Group of German businesspeople call on Mariano Rajoy to allow the investiture of Careles Puigdemont by video link.
- Photos from tonight's demonstrations in support of the Catalan political prisoners.
- ERC proposes Roger Torrent, mayor of Sarrià del Ter (Gironès), as its candidate for speaker of the incoming Catalan parliament.
- Former Spanish PSOE prime minister Felipe González says he does not believe jailed Catalan MPs and movement leaders committed an act of "rebellion".
- Spanish government delegate in Catalonia, Enric Millo, says that the Rajoy government will immediately appeal to the Constitutional Court if the Catalan parliament ignores the opinion of the parliamentary counsel.
- The CUP calls on Carles Puigdemont to make a public statement on the court sentences in the Palace of Music case.
- Citizens refuses to lend an MP to the PP so that it can form a parliamentary group (requiring a minimum of 5 MPs).
- Constitutional Court agrees to hear the complaint of the Spanish government against the Catalan government commission investigating the violence of October 1 and suspends it while the complaint is being heard.
- JxCat downplays the value of the opinion of the parliamentary counsel on investiture by video link.
- Council of Cervelló (Baix Llobregat), run by the PSC, imposed fines of €400 for putting up yellow ribbons in public space.
- Miquel Iceta (PSC) warns against ignoring the advice of the parliamentary counsel against investiture by video link.
- United Civil Guard Association (AUCG) says that 30% of its members assigned to Tarragona want to be re-assigned out of Catalonia because of abuse their children receive at school.
Front page of the day
"The party of Puigdemont and Mas received illegal commissions"
MONDAY, JANUARY 15
91 nights with political prisoners
El Jueves, January 10
Puigdemont to return to Spain as a neo-Nazi to avoid prison
The lack of action against them guarantees his immunity
- Left nationalist youth organisation Arran, affiliated to the Constituent Call, renames "King's Square" in Tarragona "Republic Square".
- 300 lawyers and jurists sign a statement saying that, according to univeral charters of democratic rights, the rights of representatives of the voters cannot be curtailed, and that this applies in the case of the jailed and exiled Catalan MPs.
- The Catalan parliamentary counsel advise that in their view Puigdemont cannot be invested by video link. As for the participation of the imprisoned and exiled MPs, it is up to the initial parliamentary speakership panel (the so-called "age panel" made up of the oldest and two youngest MPs) to decide if and how their vote can be recorded. The counsel notes that the parliamentary regulation is unclear on this point, because it does not cover voting in absentia due to imprisonment and exile, but only due to sickness, maternity and paternity.
- Mural (below) on house of the family of imprisoned Òmnium Cultural president Jordi Cuixart: "The cell is small but the dream is immense."
- Ximo Puig, premier of the Valencian Country, awards the unionist Catalan Civil Society the 26th Professor Manual Broseta Institute prize for social harmony. In his addrress Puig says: "No-one should use separatism to look down upon the languages, cultures and sentiments that coexist in Spain."
- Mariano Rajoy: "Any attempt at investiture by video linke will mean continuation of article 155 intervention."
- Former Spanish labour minister Celestino Corbacho resigns from the PSC.
- Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria: "An investiture by video link is illegal and impossible."
- Leading figures in Catalan Palace of Music case, involving constuction firms making payments the now-defunct Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) in exchange for public contracts, receive sentences of up to ten years jail.
- GAD 3 poll has Citizens winning more votes than the PP if a Spanish election were held today.
- ANC and Omnium Cultural call demonstrations for 8pm tomorrow in front of town halls, on occasion of the "two Jordis" being in jail for three months (below).
SUNDAY, JANUARY 14
90 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, January 14
- Interview with former judge Elpidio Silva on the legal situation of Puigdemont, the other exiled ministers and the Catalan political prisoners.
- ANC launches its draft road map for 2018 (adopted by its secretariat yesterday) for amendment by members: "Organised civil society is once again obliged to become the spearhead of the process."
- Josep Rull (outgoing infrastructure minister): "We shall invest Puigdemont because it is perfectly legal."
- Manchester City trainer Pep Guardiola explains why he is wearing the yellow ribbon.
ORIOL JUNQUERAS (Vice President of the Catalan government)
Let's recover the institutions
'Not to implement the result of the December 21 election is to give up on reversing article 155 and a reckless leap into the unknown'
Ara, January 14
The Catalan institutions are still in the hands of the People's Party (PP). The priority, therefore, must necessarily be to implement the result of the December 21 election and restore and recover democratic control of the institutions. Not to do so is to give up on reversing article 155 and a reckless flight into the unknown. We need to get to work and the first step is to constitute the Parliament and the speakership panel, an essential step in not wasting a clear result that has left the 155 bloc as a minority and the PP as the smallest party in the chamber.
Who would a parliamentary deadlock favor? Going to new elections is a scenario that perpetuates article 155, solves nothing and weakens us as a country and as a society. The priority of democrats must be, in the first instance, precisely this--to regain democratic control of the institutions, beginning with the parliament's speakership panel, creating broad agreements and projecting the widest possible consensus. For me, that's the most sensible, responsible and effective course.
The second step, in reality the most important, will be to constitute a government, a government based on the majority emerging from the ballot box and one that has the widest possible parliamentary backing. At the same time, I would like to think that we all agree on the need to create a strong and stable government, from as broad a spectrum as possible. Or, at the very least, one with the broadest possible parliamentary support.
This legislative session will not be easy because everything points to a formal withdrawal of article 155 being combined with the maintenance of accelerating intervention by the PP and its allies: they will not hesitate to continue strangling the finances of the government and to continue shortcircuiting all the policies we want to implement. The State will continue to place the government under seige and will not hesitate to carry on torpedoing consensus and harming society with its decisions.
We need to be very aware of that, keep our feet on the ground and confront difficulties with the exercise of indispensable realism, in the knowledge that we are in a fight over civil and political rights. Either we make ourselves stronger by seeking out broader alliances and expanding our perimeter or we may find ourselves stuck in the politics of counterposed blocs that the State is very interested in perpetuating and strengthening. The PP has public health, finances and now, with special virulence, the education system, the public media and the Mossos [Catalan police] in its sights. They have no interest in restoring normality. They will continue to act belligerently, brandishing the flag to justify all their excesses and cover up all their disgraces and miseries.
Love of freedom has to be a more powerful sentiment than revulsion towards those who have taken this freedom away. Nothing has ever been built on the basis of hatred. That is why the PP seems so interested in feeding hatred and persists in fomenting aggression and contempt. We must strive to undo this dynamic and not be afraid to say loud and clear that more than rapid advance we need a safe and solid advance. We should not be afraid or reluctant to adopt a medium and long term perspective. We are in a long distance race. Just a while ago there were only 10 pro-independence, republican MPs. If we have waited for so many years to become a majority in parliament and have often worked alone, we shall also be able to surpass 50 per cent of the popular vote, bringing new allies and supporters to the cause of democracy, freedom and social justice and overcoming the identity-based message which is the only banner the PP and its allies have.
Our banner is and should be thirst for justice and hunger for freedom, excellence, honesty, rigour and ability. To persist until we succeed. I see no shortcuts, no magic solutions, just work and continual building of support until we win.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 13
89 nights with political prisoners
Fer, El Punt Avui, January 13
Rajoy: "All yours, Montoro"
Montoro (Spanish treasurer): "Heh, heh. This way, TV3 and Catalonia Radio."
NOTE: After declaring that the Spanish state's September takeover of Catalan government finances was just part of its intervention under article 155 of the Spanish constitution, the Rajoy government yesterday declared that they were separate operations. In this way, if the State is forced to declare an end to article 155 once a new Catalan government is formed, the Spanish government will still exercise a stranglehold over its finances.
- ANC and Omnium call for demonstartions next Tuesday in solidarity with Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, in jail for three months on that day.
- The Catalan National Assembly (ANC) to adopt a new road map to independence.
- The CUP Political Council agrees to participate in the speakership panel provided it has a majority in favour of the Catalan Republic.
- The CUP Political Council rejects the offer of ERC to lend it an MP so that it can have a parliaemntary group beacuse this would come with "unacceptable political conditions" like guaranteeing the stability of the government.
- Podemos general coordinator Pablo Iglesias makes a a self-criticism of the organisation's performance in the Catalan election. Its support for a negotiated referendum in catalonia was interpreted by millions, in Spain and Catalonia, as diversion for their concerns ... we were not capable of stopping social concerns from disappearing from the political agenda."
- El País attacks Barcelona judge's decision requiring it to apologise for an article on Catalan TV3 ("A week watching only TV3") with a printed retraction of the same size and on the same page as the original article. The newpaper has appealed against the judge's decision.
- The latest Metroscopia poll for El País has Citizens as lead party in voting intentions (below).
FRIDAY, JANUARY 12
88 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, January 12
Spanish justice system (a la the Holy Inquisition)
Prisoner: "I am a man of peace. I've never robbed or mistreated anyone."
Prosecutor: "You've done something much worse: you've convinced innocent citizens that the divine order of the world can be changed."
Judge: "Put him on the rack!"
- Spanish electoral commission to consider fining the Madrid right-wing paper ABC for carrying a front-page-featured interview with Citizens' leader Inés Arrimades on December 20, the "reflection day" for the December 21 Catalan elections.
- Former ANC president and JxCat MP Jordi Sànchez submits a written statement to Supreme Court judge Llarena rejecting a unilateral road to Catalan independence.
- People who suffered from the police attacks of October 1 begin to identify the police who attacked them on the basis of images tendered to the Barcelona judge investigating violence on the day.
- The Spanish Supreme Court rules that elected MPs Junqueras, Forn and Sànchez cannot attend the investiture session of the Catalan parliament.
- Spanish government spokesperson Iñigo Méndez de Vigo says that the Rajoy government will appeal to the Constitutional Court any attempt to invest Carles Puigdemont in absentia.
- Maria Sirvent (incoming CUP MP): "It's seem to us ridiculous that we're talking about positions when we don't know what Puigdemont's plan for unfolding the Republic is."
- Retiring parliamentary speaker Carme Forcadell says she hopes that CatECP will form part of the parliamentary speakership panel.
- Joan Tardà (ERC MP in Madrid) tells Catalan public TV that the ERC wants Puigdemont as president but "no-one is indispensable".
- PSC demands that the outgoing speakership panel ask the Catalan parliament's counsel to provide a report on the legality of a president being invested in absentia. PSC leader Iceta tells radio RAC1 that if such a scenario eventuates the PSC will boycott the session.
Front page of the day
"The leaders of the `process' renege and leave Puigdemont isolated"
THURSDAY, JANUARY 11
87 nights with political prisoners
Fer, El Punt Avui, January 11
NOTE: "Catalans, now I am here" [Catalans, ja soc aquí"] was the famous greeting of president Josep Taradellas to the crowd outside the Catalan government building in Barcelona when he returned from 38 years of exile in 1977. President Puigdemont, presently in exile in Brussels, wants to avoid arrest by the Spanish authorities by being invested as president by video link to the Catalan parliament.
- Imprisoned Catalan minister Joaquim Forn and former ANC leader Jordi Sànchez commit to renouncing the unilateral path to independence before Supreme Court judge Llarena.
- PP spokesperson Rafael Hernando says there is "neither the climate, nor the elements, nor sufficient consensus" for constitutional reform.
- PSC formally asks Catalan parliament's legal counsel for position on constitutionality of investing a candidate for president by video link or via a surrogate MP.
- Spanish Supreme Court cites further past and present Catalan ministers as witnesses in its investigation into the preparation of the Octopber 1 referendum.
- Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell, presently facing charges of "rebellion, sedition and misappropriation" and on bail, announces she will not be continuing in the position,
- Enric Millo (Spanish government official delegate in Catalonia): "The State will do everything possible to stop the law being distorted" [in order to invest Puigdemont as president].
- Carles Puigdemont impersonators decapitated for "violating article 155 of the Spanish constitution and humanity" in this chirigota--traditional theatrical and singing contest that is part of the Carnaval of Cadiz--by the group Executioner Family (see from minute 16 in this video).
[TWEET] Jordi Turull (Catalan minister of state): "One of the things that happened while I was in jail was that the Constitutional Court upheld the reform of the parliamentary procedure [to enable rapid adoption of the referendum law on September 6] that the parliamentary legal counsel had opposed and the opposition said was illegal. The same holds for those who without being judges "bring down sentences" on how the procedure should be interpreted [in the case of investiture by video link, as sought by Carles Puigdemont]."
January 8: Corsica
Ara, January 9
The nationalists, pro-independence parties standing on the same ticket, have just won an absolute majority in the two rounds of elections for the new Unique Corsican Collectivity. They opened parliament and formed a government on Tuesday, both headed by the nationalists. The President of the Assembly, who openly supports independence, and the President presented a program that does not fit within the current French Constitution. The same week, Thursday, they were both received in Paris by the French government to begin talks and negotiations. During the first meeting, the door was left open to constitutional reforms that recognize the Corsicans’ aspirations. The French government declared that the Constitution must be able to adapt to the political needs of every territory.
I say this because sometimes it is claimed that the Spanish government’s attitude in relation to Catalan demands is exactly the same as any Western democratic government. Well no, it’s not. Neither in Canada nor in Great Britain or in highly centralised France.
Front page of the day
"Puigdemont demands breaking of the law again so as to be invested"
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10
86 nights with political prisoners
Fer, El Punt Avui, December 8
NOTE: Mariano Rajoy operating the Spanish legal system by remote control.
- The Spanish prosecutor's office advises ERC leader Marta Rovira, PDECat national coordinator Marta Pascal and former CUP MPs Anna Gabriel and Mireia Boya that they are under investigation for their role in the preparation of October 1.
- The Spanish interior ministry to decorate 12,500 police for their services against the October 1 referendum. The special medals will cost €272,000 in all.
- Barcelona mayoress Ada Colau, at ceremony commemorating the 1938 bombing by the Italian air force of the Seaside School in Barcelona: "The Catalan education system is not to be touched."
- The Constitutional Court agrees to hear Podemos's case against the application of article 155 in Catalonia.
- Oriol Junqueras demands to be transferred to a Catalan jail, and to be released so as to be able to vote in parliament.
- Puigdemont article in Brussels political daily Público (below).
Catalonia won’t be silenced
The Spanish government’s attempt to repress the voice of the Catalan people has failed.
In last month’s Catalonian parliamentary election, pro-independence parties won the greatest support in their history. There were 113,000 more pro-independence votes than in the previous parliamentary election, in 2015, and 35,000 more votes than in the October 1 referendum on independence. It was, moreover, a record turnout for an election to the parliament of Catalonia.
The final count shows support for independence at 2,079,340 votes (almost 180,000 more votes than those won by the constitutionalist bloc). Not only has the threshold of 2 million votes been surpassed, but independence sentiment has been consolidated and continues to grow.
These figures serve as a ratification of the results of the October 1 referendum, which was held in highly adverse conditions. On that occasion, the Spanish government’s propaganda disparaged the results, arguing that there had not been sufficient guarantees. Madrid claimed that the census was not official, that the electoral authority was not independent, that the parties opposed to independence refused to take part and that the count hid fraudulent practices.
In spite of the extreme violence deployed by the government to try to prevent us from voting, the results of the referendum that I later conveyed to the parliament of Catalonia reflected a true, rigorous and valid opinion. The election on December 21 was called by Madrid, with its census, with its electoral authority, its ballot count and its rules of the game. What was the result? More votes for independence than on October 1.
I want to highlight these figures because it is on them, and not on propaganda, that one needs to base one’s opinion and make decisions. The results are a total rebuttal of the thesis that the Spanish state has been maintaining and disseminating: that pro-independence sentiment is declining (false) and is in a minority (false).
The desire to be free from Madrid is rising, it is in the majority and it is lasting over time, despite the huge difficulties it faces.
The election results are even more significant when we recall that the independence movement has had its leaders and main candidates out of play, in jail and in exile, and that it is being treated as a dangerous ideology by a state apparatus that has no qualms about bringing in for questioning teachers who encouraged political debates in secondary schools, about censuring the language used by journalists, about banning banners with the word “democracy,” and about preventing the proliferation of yellow ribbons symbolizing the demand for the release of the political prisoners.
It is worth recalling the large economic and material resources that the three unionist parties had in these elections. To that must be added the shameful bias of the vast majority of Spanish media, which swept aside any semblance of neutrality and devoted its efforts — without compunction — to the promotion of the candidates of Ciudadanos, the Socialist Party and the Popular Party.
Under such conditions — having to take part in election rallies from Brussels and to send letters from behind bars — the pro-independence victory is far more than just an electoral success. It is the confirmation that this is a very powerful movement capable of withstanding dire hardships.
That calls for attention and respect — neither of which have been offered by the Spanish government and the European Union. The desire for Catalan independence is a real phenomenon, featuring European citizens and expressed in an impeccably democratic and peaceful way.
Respect means acknowledging reality as it is and not as Madrid would like it to be. If we start with that, huge advances can be made. But the strategy of harassment, humiliation and propaganda must be jettisoned. And scrupulous respect for the citizens’ decisions must be shown.
Since December 21, Prime Minister Rajoy has been thinking and acting just the same as before, as if he couldn’t care less about the results, because they were not what he had planned for.
Nearly three weeks after the election, the Spanish government is reluctant to acknowledge the results and to accept the defeat of its repressive strategy. It is keeping in force the suspension of autonomy, the sacking of the Catalan government and the measures of absolute intervention in our self-government.
It is incapable of explaining to the world why there is a need to imprison and persecute politicians who have done exactly what they committed themselves to do before voters and the parliament. It has not opened a single channel of dialogue with the parliamentary majority that supports the current Government of the Generalitat, and it has given no signs of having understood the serious corrective of the ballot boxes.
Some of Europe’s leaders may continue to remain silent in the face of a government that does not apparently accept the results of an election. We are no longer surprised, but we are disappointed. Siding unconditionally with the Spanish government does not help to solve a problem that is real, that is escalating and that will not go away with baton charges, imprisonments, exiles and prohibitions.
Negotiating is not a sign of weakness or cowardice, but rather a great strength of democracy. In Spanish political culture, force and imposition have dominated too much, and this probably still confuses the minds of its elite (politicians and media).
But it is high time someone told them that this is not the way, that they will merely poison the situation and make a democratic solution more complicated. Madrid must be made to understand that what is needed is dialogue, negotiation and agreement on the future relationship we Catalans want to have with Spain — one based on respect, recognition, cooperation and equality.
Carles Puigdemont is former president of the Catalonian government. He faces charges of sedition and rebellion in Spain and is currently residing in Belgium.
- CUP: "We will vote in favour of a republican president".
- The documentary 1-O [October 1] attracts over 1.1 million viewers at its initial showing on Catalan public TV's Channel 3.
- JxCat and ERC reach agreement on method to invest Carles Puigdemont as president, either by video link or via a substitute MP reading his investiture speech, and on the composition of the speakership panel (with a pro-independence majority).
TUESDAY, JANUARY 9
85 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Peridico, January 9
NOBODY IS ABOVE THE LAW
Except those of us who are above 2000 metres in the Swiss Alps
NOTE: Former Spanish king Juan Carlos's son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarin, found gulity in February on five counts of fraud, influence-peddling and misappropriation of public moneys, has been free to live his life in Switzerland without any bail conditions while his appeal against his sentence of seven years jail in being heard. Contrast to the January 4 Spanish Supreme Court decision to keep Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras in prison.
- Puigdemont: "The threats of the State make it impossible to return to Catalonia."
- Lluís Arcarazo, director of the documentary October 1, on the October 1 referendum: "We have not had time to absorb the greatness of October 1."
- Former Catalan premier Artur Mas announces his resignation as chair of PDECat: "There is no message to anyone, least of all president Puigdemont."
- Citizens blames CatECP for not supporting them as most voted party for the position of speaker in the Catalan parliament.
- Former Catalan attorney-general Carles Mundó (ERC) announces that he will not be taking up his position as MP.
- Former PSC mayor of Terrassa Jordi Ballart calls on the party not to support Citizens for the position of speaker in the Catalan parliament.
- Rajoy: "After the Catalan elections we hope a government will soon be formed that abides by the constitutional order and the rule of law, and that politics returns to normal."
- Latest Celeste-Tel poll for el.diario shows PSOE and Citizens closing in on PP in Spanish election.
- Catalan parliament's legal advisers to issue opinion on feasibility of investment of president by video link.
MONDAY, JANUARY 8
84 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, January 8
"Case of the alleged seditious rebels", "Palau Case", "Gürtel Case"
NOTE: The Gürtel Case, involving corruption by senior PP figures, has been dragging through the Spanish legal system since 2009. The Palau Case, involving senior members of right-nationalist Catalan ruling party Covergence and Union (CiU), has been in the Catalan legal system since 2010.
- CUP discussing whether to take part in the Catalan parliament's speakership panel.
- The unionist parties--PP, Citizens and PSC--say they will appeal any attempt to invest Puigdemont from Brussels to the courts.
- Puigdemont proposes that he be invested president by video link, and then return to Catalonia.
- Local police in Salou fine eight members of the local Committee in Defence of the Republic (CDR) €100 each for tieing ribbons in support of the Catalan political prisoners to a fence (below).
SUNDAY, JANUARY 7
83 nights with political prisoners
Fontdevila, el.diario, December 6
NOTE: After Spanish Supreme Court decision to maintain Oriol Junqueras in jail.
Prime minister Rajoy to judiciary: "Keep going!... Keep digging!..."
The pressure over the budget or the Treasury’s scam
The system by which most Spanish regions are funded works in a most peculiar way
Ara, January 5 [see January 4 entries for more detail]
The system by which most Spanish regions are funded (1) works in a most peculiar way: it is known as the system of advance payments. In July every year, Spain’s Treasury forecasts the tax revenue for the following year and notifies the regional governments of the sum which they will be receiving as an advance payment. Since Spain’s autonomous regions do not have a Treasury Office of their own, all tax revenue is collected by the Spanish Treasury, which then transfers a lump sum to every region so that it may fund the basic services provided by the regional government. In the case of a few regions, Madrid retains some of that revenue until the accounts are settled two years later, when it often becomes apparent that the Treasury had erred in Madrid’s favour by grossly underestimating the amount that the regional government was due. During the last few years of the recession, Catalonia contributed an excess of €4.233bn to the central government’s coffers precisely that way.
Last July, Spain’s Treasury Minister Cristóbal Montoro informed the Catalan authorities that Catalonia would be receiving €17.618bn towards its funding for 2018. Yesterday he went back on his word and announced that the actual sum will be lower: €16.838bn. That is €780m lower than initially expected. Other regional government have also seen their cash payments trimmed after many of them had worked out their budget based on the sum that was announced in the summer.
Mr Montoro’s reasoning is that Spain has not been able to pass a new budget and, therefore, last year’s must be extended, which means that advance payments to regions must be cut back accordingly. However, Monotoro’s subterfuge does not hold water: his July forecast was based on projected tax revenues that won’t be affected by extending the budget another year. If anything, revenue should increase thanks to a positive economic outlook. To make matters worse, with Mr Montoro’s revised advance payment Catalonia will be shortchanged by €125m. If the budget is the same as the previous year, so should be the sum transferred to Catalonia, at the very least.
In fact, minister Montoro’s sleight of hand conceals an attempt to put pressure on lawmakers to approve his budget, now that he cannot count on the support of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNB) in the Spanish parliament. As ever, it is the general public that stand to lose, at least until Catalonia is able to handle all her own taxation affairs.
(1) Unlike all other Spanish regions, the Basque Country and Navarre actually collect all tax revenue and then contribute a percentage to Spain’s coffers in exchange for services rendered by Madrid. This is very much a sore point for many Catalans.
[TWEET] Carles Puigdemont: "Of the things that have to be corrected in Europe, refugee policy would have to be the first. The Mediterranean should be a sea of hope, not of death. The states should provide an example, but things are not like that: Spain has only accepted 1980 refugees of the 17,337 that it promised. Shameful."
- Czech Republic and Slovakia offer themselves as an example of how Spain-Catalonia relation can be solved.
- One in three Spaniards, in favour of recognising the right to self-determination.
- SocioMétrica poll for El Español shows Citizens eating into the PP vote, a triple tie between PSOE, Citizens and the PSOE and the neo-fascist force Vox entering the Spanish parliament. ERC becomes the most voted Catalan force.
NOTE: Sample, 1000; Error margin, +/- 3% for votes, +/- 2 for MPs; Date, December 22-29.
Evolution of vote in SocioMétrica polls:
Front page of the day
"Felipe VI extols the reign of his father"
SATURDAY, JANUARY 6
82 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periodico, January 5
Barcelona pensioner 1: "They say that during these nights of full moon Puigdemont has been seen strolling on the Rambla."
Barcelona pensioner 2: "It'll be a way of stimulating tourism. Look at how well it's gone for them in Scotland with the mysterious Loch Ness monster."
[TWEET] Carme Forcadell (speaker, Catalan parliament, replying to Cospedal, under 1300 hours): "Let's hope that doesn't mean more violence against peaceful, democratic and defenceless people."
- On the occasion of the annual January 6 armed forces day (Pascua Militar) lieutenant-general Fernando Aznar Ladrón, inspector-general of the Spanish armed forces in Catalonia (pictured below), expresses "confidence that legality will be respected" and "harmony and social cohesion recovered" . In Madrid King Felipe thanks his corrupt and dissolute father, King Juan Carlos, removed as an embarrassment by the Rajoy government, for his services to the Spanish state. Felipe makes no mention of Catalonia.
- Defence minister Dolores de Cospedal says the army is "prepared" for intervention in the Catalan conflict if necessary.
- Group of Spanish-patriotic youth interrupt end of the Kings' cavalcade in Badalona with cries of "Long live Spain and "Long live the Civil Guard."
FRIDAY, JANUARY 5
81 nights with political prisoners
Fer, El Punt Avui, December 5
Spanish judge: "Very funny! You're going to get it, rubbish kings!"
NOTE: Epiphany (January 6) is celebrated in the Spanish state with processions of the three Kings through towns and villages on the evening of January 5. On January 6, children find the presents that the Kings have brought them. In this sketch the eastern star has the form of the yellow ribbon demanding the release of the Catalan political prisoners.
- Spanish right-wing media goes apoplectic over call of ANC and Òmnium Cultural (including poster below) for the three kings during their annual televised cavalcade (this year at Manresa) to wear yellow ribbons in solidarity with the Catalan political prisoners (OKDiario: "A narrative in support of the coup-plotters.")
[TWEET] Carles Puigdemont: "There's a conflict between Spain and Catalonia that needs resolving. We have always been committed to the path of peace and dialogue. The ballot box has spoken unequivocally three times, Despite that, Junqueras is detained in Estremera. And the Jordis. And Quim. They are no longer political prisoners. They are hostages.
- Omnium Cultural calls for the pro-independence parties to reach an agreement for government and rule out the possibility of early elections.
- Ada Parellada, owner of the famous Barcelona restaurant, the Semproniana, reveals that it has been the subject of false reservations and abusive critiques on Trip Advisor since she announced a solidarity dinner in support of the jailed Catalan political prisoners.
- Supreme Court judges reject ERC leader Junqueras's appeal for release.
- JxCat issues document demanding the immediate suspension of article 155, recognition by the Spanish state of the victory of pro-independence forces and announcing the beginning of negotiations with the other pro-sovereignty and pro-independence forces of discussions over the formation of the new speakership panel of the Catalan parliament.
- Since its president Jordi Cuixart entered prison 81 days ago Catalan language and culture organisation Omnium Cultural has joined up 24,000 new members, taking its membership to over 95,000.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 4
80 nights with political prisoners
Anthony Garner, Ara, January 4
NOTE: Spanish treasurer Cristóbal Montoro as vampire bat. Yesterday, the Spanish treasurer announced that, because the 2017 Spanish budget had to be rolled over because of continuing refusal of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) to vote in its favour given the situation in Catalonia, agreed funding to Spain's autonomous communities (states) would have to be cut: by €780 million in the case of Catalonia, €353 million in the case of the Valencian Country and €67 million in the case of the Balearic Islands.
- Supreme Court judges still considering appeal for release by vice-president Oriol Junqueras. Demonstrations in support of Junqueras and other prisoners today in Tarragona and his home town of Sant Vincenç dels Horts.
- Latest six-monthly Barometer of public opinion by Barcelona Council gives following results:
- ERC would be most voted in new election, by 16.5% ahead of the ruling party Barcelona en Comú of mayoress Ada Colau, at 16.3%.
- Ada Colau is most-valued politician, at 5.3 to 5.2 for ERC leader Alfred Bosch.
- 52.5% think performance of Council is very good or good, followed by 14.1% who think it normal or average (30.5% bad or very bad, 2.8% don't know).
- In favour of Catalan independence; 33.6%. In favour of a federal Spain; 27.6%. In favour of status quo, 19%.
- 60.2% oppose UDI (32% in favour), 58.8% support calling of December 21 election (35.9% against), 74.9% oppose application of article 155 (18.9% in favour) and 80.5% oppose preventive jailing of political representatives and activists (13.3% in favour).
- Six high school teachers declare before the Spanish prosecutors office concerning a debate held concerning October 1 referendum (they face possible charges of "instilling hatred").
- CatECP rejects deal over speakership of Catalan parliament offered by Citizens.
- Judge emeritus José Antonio Martín Pallín: "Blocking a Puigdemont presidency would be unconstitutional".
- José Antonio Pérez Tapias, one-time leader of the PSOE's Socialist Left current who scored 15% in the 2014 election for federal secretary won by Pedro Sánchez, resigns for the PSOE over its refusal to support a negotiated referendum for Catalonia. Dean of the faculty of philosophy at the University of Granada, Pérez Tapias stated in an interview in CTXT this week: "Only a constituent process can get us out of the mess we're in, and the PSOE isn't up for that."
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 3
79 nights with political prisoners
Fer, El Punt Avui, January 3
Spanish treasurer Cristóbal Montoro: "We'll be putting up gas, water and electricity because of the drought..."
Rajoy: "Drought that's the fault of the Catalan nationalists..."
- The Commission of Democratic Guarantees [the control commission] of Podemos Catalonia accepts that two appeals against the legitimacy of the procedure that led to the creation of an interim management committee for Podemos Catalonia after the resignation of the previous leadership of former general secretary Albano Dante Fachin should be heard. The decision opens up a conflict with the leadership of Podemos at the level of the Spanish state, which assumes that the Podemos Catalonia Commission of Democratic Guarantees ceased to exist once the interim management committee was set in place.
- US high school debating competition involving 3000 high schools chooses "Should Spain allow Catalonia to become independent?" as the topic for its 2018 competition.
[TWEET] Carles Puigdemont: "What can be explained and debated in the United States in Spain is called indoctrination and leads you to making declarations to the Civil Guard and going to jail."
- Spanish culture minister and acting Catalan culture minister Iñigo Méndez de Vigo allows the Catalan government to put in an appeal to the Spanish Supreme Court against the transfer of the Sixena artworks.
- Group of States Against Corruption of the Council of Europe notes that Spain has introduced none of the anti-corruption measures agreed to in 2013.
- Prime minister Rajoy points to "instability" in Catalonia as the only factor possibly preventing continuing growth of the Spanish economy.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 2
78 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, January 2
One Catalan ceremonial guard to another, outside remains of Catalan Government Palace: "I reckon this New Year is going to be pretty much like the last one."
[TWEET] Jordi Sànchez (former president, ANC, from Soto de Real jail): "We've got disqualifications, we've got sanctions, we've got prison and exile, but the man with the problem is Mariano Rajoy because this 2018 freedom for Catalonia will be unstoppable."
- CUP affiliate Endavant (OSAN) [Forward, Socialist Organisation of National Liberation], issues its assessment of the December 21 elections. Main points:
- The social forces do not yet exist to transform the pro-independence victory of December 21 into an independent Catalan Republic.
- It is up to Carles Puigdemont, winner of December 21 within the pro-independence camp, to explain what steps he plans to take towards that goal by acting to change the balance of forces in favour of pro-independence forces.
- He cannot revert to administering Catalonia as a regional government of Spain, nor can he ask for "blind confidence".
- The vote of D21 cannot be interpreted as full endorsement for the programs of the parties running, neither on the pro-independence nor unionist sides.
- Given the rise of Citizens--"similar to processes experienced in other European countries"--Catalan Republicanism cannot advance without a program aimed at clearly improving the living conditions of the masses.
- The election results of the CUP are bad because "our determinant position in creating parliamentary majorities has lost strength" and "we were unable to reach new parts of the electorate outside the pro-independence bloc".
- The objective situation, where many CUP voters in 2015 this time chose a "useful vote" for JxCat or ERC, overwhelmingly explains the decline in the CUP vote.
- The CUP's errors were four: not being able to convince a majority that a vote for the CUP was necessary to realise the Republic; over-identification with the rest of the pro-independence bloc; too much emphasis on the attacks of the Spanish state on democratic rights of Catalans and not enough on its attacks on social conditions, and; failure to take the fight up to Citizens over a sector of young voters.
- Four main tasks: Reverse the stagnation of social self-organisation; overcome the tendency for the chief arena of action of the CUP to be institutional and open up channels connecting social struggle to institutional work; overcome a tendency to fetishise the "constituent process" as the answer to all social protest and struggle, and; reverse the tendency to too little open criticism of the proposals of the JxSí government.
- Despite the poor result obtained, it should not be forgotten that the pressure from the CUP was critical to the October 1 referendum taking place. That result should guide the work of its MPs in the future.
- British NGO Democracy Volunteers issues its interim report on the December 21 Catalan elections, in which it criticises the role of the Spanish media.
- ERC asks JxCat how it thinks to bring about the return from Belgium of Carles Puigdemont (ERC has said it will not support Puigdemont as a president in absentia. In that case it will propose jailed ERC leader Oriol Junqueras as president.
- Vicent Sanchis (head of Catalan public TV3): "If we weren't the audience leader, they wouldn't be saying we are the worst thing in the world."
- Overnight defacing of CUP headquarters (below).
MONDAY, JANUARY 1
77 nights with political prisoners
[TWEET] Albano Dante Fachin (former leader, Podemos Catalonia): "They will want to have us believe that it's already over, that it didn't happen, that it's in the past [the October 1 referendum]. That things have got back to normal. Our job: to make sure that every future path is worthy of what we did together on October 1. Three months ago today. 2018, here we are!"
[TWEET] Jordi Turull (Catalan minister of state): "It would be good if that stuff about 'mutual respect' apart from being proclaimed were actually practiced. Beginning with respect for the decision of the Catalans at the ballot box."
- New Year's messages of PSOE regional premiers all have something to say about Catalonia:
- Javier Lambán (Aragón--speech delivered surrounded by the returned Sixena artworks, see below): "The Catalan question is Spain's biggest problem and, because of closeness, Aragon is the community most affected. In getting involved in the solution defence of our interests is obligatory."
- Emiliano García-Page (Castilla-La Mancha): "I will not view what is happening in Catalonia as something foreign. Our rights, our health system, our education system and our financing are at stake. Let no-one fool themselves, the debate on the national question affects all of us."
- Javier Fernández (Asturias): "I reject the privileges that some territories are claiming".
- Guillermo Fernández Vara (Extremadura), thanks the Civil Guard and the Spanish National Police for their work in a complex year for Spain, marked by "the sedition of a number of politicians in Catalonia".
- Susana Díaz (Andalusia): " I send a clear and unambiguous message of affection to all Catalans."
- Latest Simply Logic poll for Europa Press shows all-Spanish politics as a three-way contest between PP, PSOE and Citizens, with Unidos Podemos (UP) trailing (see below)
- Disastrous December 21 result (from 11 seats to 4) puts the PP in Catalonia on the road to bankruptcy (because state funding to parties is on the basis of votes received).
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31
76 nights with political prisoners
Cover of the Year, Ara, October 1, referendum day
"In Our Own Hands"
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30
75 nights with political prisoners
La Punxa d'en Jap, El Punt Avui, December 30
"That's all, folks! For now!"
NOTE: the last of the 20,000 extra Spanish National Police and Civil Guards brought into Catalonia to stop the October 1 referendum, leave over the next days. They were known as the Tweety Pies, because lodged in Barcelona Port on the Warner Brothers Loony Tunes cruiser.
- Catalan president Carles Puigdemont delivers his traditional New Year's greetings, broadcast on Catalan public media, from exile. Translation below:
- Barcelona cyberactivist Matthias (Initiating Group for Technological Sovereignty) explains to 900-strong German cybersecurity congress, the Chaos Communication Congress, how the Spanish authorities tried to destroy the internet infrastructure of the October 1 referendum and how they were thwarted, often via the work of anonymous "hacktivists" (photo below).
- Roberto Bermúdez de Castro, the Secretary of State for Territorial Administration, admits on Aragon's Radio Huesca that the removal of the Sixena artworks from Lleida museum [see under November 29 for background note] could have been done after the December 21 election, but was speeded up "to win four more votes."
- In his end-of-year TV address Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy wishes everyone "a happy 2016" and the building of "bridges that unite and do not separate".
- Citizens' leader Inés Arrimadas claims the speakership of the Catalan parliament "so it won't be in the hands of the separatists".
- JxS spokesperson Elsa Artadi rules out supporting jailed ERC leader Oriol Junqueras as Catalan president: "It would be to accept the mental framework of 155."
- Günther Oettinger (German CDU), European commissioner for financial planning and budgetting, suggests that the Catalan issue could be solved if the country were given its own constitution, delineating its powers within the Spanish state.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29
74 nights with political prisoners
Bernardo Vergara, el.diario, December 28
"[Citizens' leader Albert] Rivera and Rajoy meet in the Moncloa [Spanish PM's residence] to talk about the Catalan situation"
- Definitive results of the December 21 election published in Catalan government's official bulletin.
- Ricard Gonzalez writes in Foreign Affairs that "the Catalan crisis is only just getting started".
- José Luís Ábalos, PSOE organisation secretary, accuses Rajoy government of being "incapable of solving the disaffection in Catalonia produced by its own policies".
- Former Catalan business minister Santi Vila appears before disciplinary committee of his party PDECat, where he faces possible charges of disloyalty to the Puigdemont government, from which he resigned on October 26, the day before the declaration of independence.
- Third CUP councilor in Reus refuses to appear before magistrate.
- Citizens' leaders Rivera tells Spanish congress that Puigdemont and Catalan parliament speaker carme Forcadell "are politically disqualified" from occupying positions in Catalan politics.
- Basque Country premier Iñigo Urkullu tells Carles Puigdemont that it is impossible for him to be invested as Catalan premier by video link from Brussels and impossible for him to act as premier from outside the country (one of the options being considered by JxCat to avoid Puigdemont being arrested on return to Spain).
- el.diario publishes analysis of movement of vote between pro-independence and unionist blocs in the December 21 Catalan elections. It highlights the growth of pro-independence sentiment in predominantly Spanish-speaking working-class neighbourhoods around Barcelona, known as the "Rufián effect" after young ERC MP Gabrial Rufián, from a non-Catalan family background and active in Súmate, the pro-independence association for Spanish speakers. See section at beginning of blog analysing the election for detail.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28
73 nights with political prisoners
Anthony Garner, Ara, December 28
"High Tabarnia", "Low Tabarnia", [Citizens' HQ] "Very, very low Tabarnia"
NOTE: Citizens has resuscitated the idea of excising from Catalonia the area where there is not majority support for independence, a mythical entity called "Ta[rragona]bar[celona]nia"
- Miquel Iceta to PSC national council: "We will not abandon our Catalanism and federalism for a handful of votes."
- The Spanish government freezes the Catalan 2017 budget in place for another year, making it impossible for the incoming Catalan government to change it.
- Pablo Casado, PP under-secretary for comunications, urges Citizens in Catalonia to take advantage of the fact that JxCat and ERC have MPs in exile, in prison, on bail and potentially facing charges to try to form a unionist government.
- Barcelona Council to restore banner to town hall calling for the release of the Catalan political prisoners.
- Jesús Cañas, the PP president for Osona shire, resigns, saying that PP Catalonia leader Xavier García Albiol should also have resigned because of the party's disastrous result on December 21.
- Spanish interior minister Juan Ignacio Zoido admits to COPE radio that organisers of Ocxtober 1 referendum "made a fool of" all police controls.
- Two CUP councilors in Reus released after refusing to answer any questions from proescution or magistrate (below).
- Latest poll done for Público after the Catalan elections: large jump in the vote for Citizens at expense of PP (below).
- ERC proposes that it "lend" one of its MPs to the CUP so that they can have a parliamentary group (the minimum is five members and the CUP has four). In this way the CUP would also avoid being part of the "mixed group" with the PP.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27
72 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, December 27
Spanish treasurer Cristóbal Montoro (holding chest of Catalan government finances, under control from Madrid since September, but due to end with formation of new Catalan administration): "Taking advantage of these loving times I'll show you the Catalan government finances that we'll only restore to a trustworthy government. Very careful, because the boss is not letting you out of sight."
- 500 demonstrate in central Reus against the imprisonment of the two CUP councilors (below).
- In separate reports the Bank of Spain and the Independent Fiscal Responsibility Authority (AIREF) conclude that there is as yet no clear statistical evidence that the Catalan political crisis caused a downturn in economic activity.
- The PDECat, ERC and Democrat members of Barcelona Council call on mayoress Ada Colau to restore the "Freedom for Political Prisoners" banner taken down before the December 21 election on order of the Spanish electoral commission.
- PP, PSOE and Citizens vote in the Spanish prliament's Mixed Commission on Relations with the Court of Accounts to have the spending of the dissolved Catalan diplomatic body Diplocat accounted for to the Court of Accounts. At the same time the Catalan Association of Municipalities and Shires (ACM) decides to issue a legal challenge against the basis of the dissolution of Diplocat, an entity of which it was formally part.
- Development of National Labour, the main Catalan employer organisation, calls on Citizens to try to form government.
- PP secretary of party education, Juan Arza, resigns over party's intervention in Catalonia ("a disaster").
- The permament delegation of the Catalan parliament votes to take a case of unconstitutionality against the Spanish government's application of article 155 to remove Catalan government. In favour: JxCat, ERC, CSQEP: Against: Citizens, PP, PSC. Abstaining: CUP.
- Reus CUP councilors who refused to answer court order arrested.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26
71 nights with political prisoners
Manel Fontdevila, el.diario, December 25
Woman (reading Madrid press): "The King's Christmas speech was moderate, very appropriate for a modern, democratic monarchy."
Catalan opinion (stifled by legal orders): "Grrfs! bltz! grpks! blgghs! krrsfh! grmp! grfs!"
- Judge in Reus (Baix Camp) orders the arrest of two CUP councilors for refusing to answer warrants requiring them to answer to possible charges of "inciting hatred" for signing a declaration against police violence on October 1.
- "Barcelona is not Catalonia".websiteCitizens' spokespeople float the idea of dividing Catalonia in two, between the ·"productive" unionist coastal region "Tarbània" [Barcelona and Tarragona], and the "improductive" pro-independence interior, referring to the
- PSOE spokepserson José Luís Ábalos says that PSC's leader Miquel Iceta's proposal during the Catalan election campaign for a pardon of arrested Catalan political prisoners "generated distrust".
- PP spokeperson Fernando Martínez-Maillo attacks Citizens for not trying to form a government in Catalonia and leaving the initiative to pro-independence forces.
- Former Spanish minister for foreign affairs José Manuel García Margallo says that the PP must change "or be overtaken by other parties".
- Spanish interior ministry announces the withdrawal of all extra police and Civil Guard forces sent to Catalonia to prevent--unsuccessfully--the October 1 referendum.
- Spanish prosecutor orders Civil Guard, in its function as judicial police, to take statements from 13 teachers at a high school in Sant Andreu de la Barca (Baix Llobregat) in relation to comments they may have made with regard to police violence on October 1 and which may have "incited hatred". (Sant Andreu de la Barca is the site of a large Civil Guard barracks.)
- Spanish National Police demand indentity cars of "ringleaders" of a demonstration in Palma (Mallorca), singing Christmas carols in support of the Catalan political prisoners, below.
[TWEET] Beatriz Talegón (former secretary of the International Union of Socialist Youth, resigned from the PSOE): "I'd like to make a proposal: try to inform yourself about what is happening in Catalonia without using the usual means of communication. The image that they have wanted to implant is false and biased. Why? Because they [the Catalans] are prepared to fight for the Republic."
MONDAY, DECEMBER 25
70 nights with political prisoners
"This year, to avoid risky conversations, we'll be celebrating Christmas by watching the complete series of Star Wars." ["I am your father"]
- Ceremony to commemorate the 84th anniversary of the death of Francesc Macià, Catalonia's first premier of modern times. Carles Puigdemont sends letter via ministers Jordi Turull and Josep Rull (pictured): "We are those who continue the long chain of efforts and sacrifices to restore, maintain and defend our institutions."
[TWEET] Joan Tardà (ERC MP in the Spanish parliament): "Few people have been more exposed for ever than [PSC leader and arch-unionist] Josep Borell. Today he writes in El Periódico about the need to "avoid division becoming entrenched" when a few days ago he was instilling hatred, affirming that Catalonia and independentists had to be disinfected."
- Gerardo Pisarello (deputy-mayor, Barcelona), on the King's speech: "Every time I hear him I think the modern way of governing, up to the challenge of the times, is the republic."
[TWEET] Gabriel Rufián (ERC MP in the Spanish parliament), on King Felipe's Christmas message: "He convinced me, next time I'll vote for him."
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 24
69 nights with political prisoners
Anthony Garner, Ara, December 24
King Felipe gagged by the yellow scarf of solidarity with Catalonia's political prisoners
- In his Christmas message King Felipe avoids any mention of the Catalan election result, but states that persisting with unconstitutional action must generate "disharmony, uncertainty, depression and inpoverishment", first "worsening" the social climate and then making it "unviable".
- Read El Nacional's analysis of the December 21 election result (in English) here.
- Hundreds sing Christmas carols for the political prisoners.
- Where did the votes of the last Catalan election (September 27, 2015) end up on December 21? (See graphic below, from the web site NacioDigital.)
- PP wins a seat from Citizens in Tarragona as the overseas vote is counted. Citizens now 36, PP 4.
[TWEET] Mireia Boya (former CUP MP): "And if Citizens won some neighbourhoods, it's also perhaps because the lilacs [colour of CatECP] were very worried about stopping the Republic and very little concerned about building pro-republican social alliances from below."
- Letter from jailed Omnium Cultural president Jordi Cuixart, published in today's La Vanguardia.
I just learned the result of the elections. My first thought is for the Catalan school model [threatened by a victory of the unionist parties]. Let's congratulate ourselves once again. Every time that we are called to act, even in absolutely illegitimate circumstances, the people of Catalonia never fail. With record participation, the overwhelming majority won by the pro-sovereignty forces demands generosity and a sense of state more than ever before.
Let's not fail to strengthen of the broad consensus of the country; a country united in its diversity. This 2018 we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Pompeu Fabra, organising genius of the Catalan language; the language of welcome for thousands of Catalans from all over the world. Here no-one has ever been asked to give up anything: quite the reverse, every new contribution enriches us, makes us freer.
We are living through hard, very hard, times, but let's look at the values that make us stronger as a society: the model of the Catalan school, democracy and culture.
Friends, despite the fact that some of us are in exceptional situations, I ask you to take advantage of these days to be with the family, with the least possible sadness and maximum of hope. We will overcome this adversity as we have overcome everything: together, with the strength of tenderness and hope.
Allow me to especially remember the families of Oriol [Junqueras], Quim [Forn] and Jordi [Sànchez]: all my love to you, and to those who are in exile too, far from their loved ones. We feel you to be closer than ever.
Thanks again to everyone for their love. For Christmas and for the whole year--peace, dialogue, justice and freedom.
Love to you all! Long live free Catalonia!
President of Òmnium Cultural
Soto del Real prison, December 21, 2017
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23
68 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, December 23
Wife to Mariano Rajoy: "Is it still there? Then you'll just have to get used to it."
Pro-independence parties still rule the waves in Catalonia
With the highest turnout in history (over 80 per cent) the pro-independence bloc has won again, renewing its overall majority but falling short of attaining 50 per cent of the popular vote
Catalonia’s pro-independence parties have secured a more than remarkable victory, especially when you consider the exceedingly adverse conditions in which they campaigned. Their merit is not merely down to meeting the exceptional challenge of the last few months, with their main leaders in prison or exiled, but also to the fact that the exceedingly high turnout affords them an unprecedented legitimacy. Puigdemont’s newly-minted political group got the lion’s share of the vote within the separatist bloc, closely followed by ERC, who was everyone’s favourite initially, with the CUP trailing far behind. The parties that support independence are ideologically diverse, which is their greatest asset when it comes to luring voters, but their worst handicap when the time comes to govern and agree on a shared roadmap for independence. Once again, managing the victory will be no walk in the park. Without giving up any long-term goals, they will need to pragmatically take onboard the recent lessons and prioritise the objective of regaining Catalonia’s government institutions and the release of the prisoners. Likewise, they will also need to accept the need to govern in order to broaden the Catalan people’s support for independence.
Truth be told, even though they fell short of their expectations, Catalonia’s unionist parties have achieved a remarkable result, with Ciudadanos taking the first place where all other non-Catalanist parties had previously failed. They were aided in this by the split in the pro-independence bloc, with JxCat and ERC obtaining a fairly similar result. Undoubtedly Ciudadanos wooed many unionist voters away from the PP, which took a nosedive in what constitutes a truly severe punishment for Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy. Faced with its inability to build a political alternative to Catalan separatism, now the Spanish government must also accept the outcome of the Catalan elections and understand that political dialogue is necessary, that a persistent democratic majority cannot be sidelined and ballots cannot be fought with the judiciary arm. The time for dialogue and politics has come, a time to turn a new leaf after the direct rule imposed by Article 155, a path that has been defeated at the polls. The other main Spanish party, the PSOE, should also take this lesson to heart, as their great leap forward in Catalonia has failed to materialise. Some deep reflection by everyone is very much called for.
- ERC poses the possibility of Oriol Junqueras being president if Puigdemont cannot return from Brussels.
- Puigdemont says he will stay in Brussels to "defend the verdict of the ballot box", something which is impossible from jail.
- PP launches case against the daily ABC for running a long interview, complete with front cover picture, of Citizens' leader Inés Arrimades on the "day of reflection" (December 20).
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 22
67 nights with political prisoners
DETAILED RESULTS OF DECEMBER 21 CATALAN ELECTION AVAILABLE HERE
Fer, El Punt Avui, December 22
Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria to prime minister Mariano Rajoy: "Company ready, sir! Operation 155, Stage 2 ready..."
Ferreres, El Periodico, December 22
Rajoy: "We're going to have to refine the 155 formula; it has side effects"
- Pedro Sánchez (PSOE): "The PP cannot be a great party if it is a mere anecdote in Catalonia".
- Declaration of CUP affiliate Poble Lliure: "The CUP and left independentism will have to make a self-criticism as to reasons for its failure to advance along the road of building a hegemony for transformation within the republican space." Poble Lliuire proposes a five-point program for an all-party republican government:
- End to repression of the Spanish state and return of the exiles;
- Implementation of the laws suspended by Spanish courts;
- Launching of a constituent process;
- Build up the structures of the republic in alliance with the mobilised people and in anticipation of fresh repression from the Spanish state; and
- Seek international recognition of the Catalan Republic on the basis of mutual respect and cooperation with other nations.
- Marta Pascal (PDECat): "We are a winning policial space."
- Sabadell council restores "Freedom political prisoners" banner to town hall (below).
- Albert Rivera (Citizens): "Rajoy has no project for Spain."
- Xavier Domènech /CatECP) says he will not support the investiture of Carles Puigdemont in any way because "he represents the continuation of the closed loop".
- Carles Puigdemont demands a meeting without preconditions with Mariano Rajoy.
- Carles Riera (CUP): "We are prepared to take part in a new Catalan government on condition that it develops the Republic and social policies."
- Pedro J. Ramirez (editor, El Español): "Rajoy has lost the moral authority to confront the separatist challenge. General elections now!"
Front page of the day
"Arrimadas achieves an historic but insufficient victory"
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21 (ELECTION DAY, CATALONIA)
66 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periodico, December 21
RESULT OF THE CATALAN ELECTION: INDEPENDENCE BLOC MAINTAINS MAJORITY
- European Commission decides to start Christmas break one day early, probably so as to avoid having to comment on the Catalan election result.
- Participation rate explodes by 6pm--68.32% compared to 63.12% at the September 2015 poll. Figures by province: Barcelona: 68.%; Girona: 68.2%; Tarragona: 66.9% i Lleida 66.6%
- PP and Citizens bringing in scrutineers from the rest of the Spanish state.
- CDRs issue warning for people to check that ballot envelope is empty before they put their own choice of party into it. Envelopes have been found with the Citizens' ballot paper already inside.
- EH Bildu MPs wearing the yellow ribbon in the Basque parliament, in solidarity with Catalonia.
- Participation at 34.7% at 1300 hours, 0.4% less than in 2015.
- Civil Guard submission to Spanish prosecutor describes this year's Catalan National Day (September 11) demonstration as "rebellion" and names Manchester City trainer Pep Guardiola as possibly suspect of sedition. The September 20 demonstration outside the economics ministry building against the Civil Guard raids on it and other buildings leads the Civil Guard to name those in the document below as potentially guilty of designing a plan for Catalan independence:
- TWEET (Carles Riera, CUP, voting): "We've already voted. In Poblenou [Barcelona suburb]. With the indispensable people. For the Republic, Social Rights and the Constituent Assembly."
- TWEET (Xavier Domènech, CatECP, voting): "Today the citizens hold the key to overcoming a dificult situation in the country, breaking up the blocs and finding a positive outcome. Catalonia needs a new stage with social rights at the centre. We'll be working to ensure that."
- First-time voter Laura Sancho, voting on behalf of president Carles Puigdemont, after he accepted her offer to register his vote.
- TWEET (Albano Dante Fachin, former leader of Podemos Catalonia, below): "Just voted. Either us or the king. Bye-bye Borbons. LONG LIVE THE REPUBLIC!"
- Larges queues waiting for polling stations to open at 9am.
The voting system in Catalonia explained
1. There is no separate Catalan electoral law, because the Catalan parties have never been able to reach agreement on one. The 135-seat Catalan parliament is elected according to the Spanish electoral law.
2. Voting is not compulsory, so that the participation rate can have a big impact on the final result. The September 27, 2015 election had the highest participation rate ever for a Catalan poll (74.95%), with all opinion polls indicating an even higher participation rate at this election.
3. The threshold for having representation in parliament is 3% of the Catalonia-wide valid vote.
4. The electoral law assigns a fixed number ot seats to the four Catalan provinces (Barcelona has 85, Tarragona 18, Girona 17 and Lleida 15). This represents a rural gerrymander that in the past favoured the right-wing nationalist ruling coalition Convergence and Union (CiU). Here are the number of inhabitants represented by an MP in each of Catalonia's four provinces:
5. At present Barcelona province elects 85 MPs (37,954 votes per seat), Tarragona province 18 MPs (23,912 votes per seat), Girona province 17 MPs (23,758 votes per seat) and Lleida province 15 MPs (16,070 votes per seat).
If the system were proportional Barcelona province would elect 101 MPs, Tarragona province 14 MPs, Girona province 12 MPs and Lleida province 8 MPs. Equivalently, if Catalonia were one electorate, the result of the 2015 "plebiscitary" election (27S), won by the pro-independence bloc with 47.8% of the vote giving it 53% of the seats, would have been as below (see right-side graphic which assumes no 3% threshold). In addition to the parties actually elected, the christian democrat Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC) would have won 3 seats and the Pro-Animalist Party Against the Mistreatment of Animals (PACMA) 1 seat.
6. The system tends to produce a battle among the smaller parties for the last seat in the four provinces. Going by the opinion polls, this could see the PP losing the seats it presently has in Lleida, Tarragona and Girona.
7. The provincial distribution of seats from the September 29, 2015 election was:
PROVINCE VOTES SEATS
|Together For The Yes (JxSí)||1.112.922||32|
|Party of Socialists of Catalonia (PSC-PSOE)||421.487||12|
|Catalonia Indeed We Can (CSQEP)||312.527||9|
|People's Party (PP)||272.804||8|
|People's Unity List (CUP)||255.328||7|
|Together For The Yes (JxSí)||172.537||9|
|Party of Socialists of Catalonia (PSC-PSOE)||49.016||2|
|People's Party (PP)||36.968||1|
|People's Unity List (CUP)||30.613||1|
|Catalonia Indeed We Can (CSQEP)||26.808||1|
|Together For The Yes (JxSí)||216.333||11|
|Party of Socialists of Catalonia (PSC-PSOE)||33.416||1|
|People's Unity List (CUP)||33.117||1|
|People's Party (PP)||22.660||1|
|Catalonia Indeed We Can (CSQEP)||18.399||1|
|Together For The Yes (JxSí)||126.922||10|
|Party of Socialists of Catalonia (PSC-PSOE)||19.364||1|
|People's Unity List (CUP)||18.736||1|
|People's Party (PP)||16.761||1|
|Catalonia Indeed We Can (CSQEP)||9.879||0|
Everything you need to know about the Catalan election
Q&A on the December 21 vote, including main parties, key times, figures, expected results, and what led up to the vote
What parties are running in the election?
There are seven parties expected to get seats in the Catalan parliament. Three are pro-independence, three are unionist, and one sits squarely in between blocs. The three pro-independence parties are Together for Catalonia (JxCat) headed by deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, Esquerra Republicana (ERC) led by incarcerated vice president Oriol Junqueras, and CUP with Carles Riera number one on the ticket. ERC and the party that Together for Catalonia is based on have been ruling the Catalan government with CUP’s support.
Meanwhile, the three unionist parties are the People’s Party (PP) led by Xavier García Albiol, Ciutadans (Cs) headed by Inés Arrimadas, and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) with Miquel Iceta at the helm. These three parties not only support the unity of Spain, they also all voted to implement Article 155 to seize Catalonia’s self-government.
The one party which has refused to stand with either bloc, Catalonia in Common (CeC), is in favour of an agreed referendum but against both unilateral independence and Spain’s measures to stop it.
How does voting in Catalonia work?
5,554,394 Catalan citizens are called to the ballot boxes in the December 21 election. That day, they choose 135 MPs that will represent them in the Catalan Parliament. After the election, the elected MPs will vote for the candidate that they choose as president.
Thus, citizens don’t vote directly for their preferred president of the Catalan government, it’s instead up to the MPs to do so.
How many people can vote?
More than five million and a half citizens have the right to vote in the December 21 election. Of those, 5,328,013 live in Catalonia and 226,381 are outside the country. A total of 39,521 people have voted from abroad, including both temporary and permanent residents living outside Catalonia, an increase of 41.4% compared to two years ago.
Meanwhile, the number of registered residents voting by post from within Spain has fallen by 30%. One of the reasons for this decline might be that the voting is taking place on a weekday, and people are more likely to be in the country.
Key times in the Election Day
There are 2,680 polling stations all around Catalonia. They open at 9 in the morning until 8 at night, during which time citizens can cast their ballots. Voter turnout is released twice before the polling stations close. The first turnout rate is released at 1pm, and the second at 6pm, two hours before the polling stations close.
From 8pm, the results of the exit polls are released. But this year, Catalan and Spanish public broadcasting, as well as other private channels have rejected paying for an exit poll due to the their high cost. In fact, the exit poll outcome has proven far from being the final electoral results, lately. Thus, citizens will have to wait until around 10pm to have more precise knowledge about the final election results.
What do the polls suggest?
Dozens of polls on the December 21 Catalan election have been published in the past few weeks. Each poll shows a different possible outcome. However, some trends can be observed.
- The left-wing pro-independence Esquerra Republicana party is on its way to win the election. Almost all the polls put the candidacy in the 'pole position,' with 30-35 seats.
- Ciutadans is once again expected to be the main unionist party. While it achieved an unprecedented result of 25 seats out of 135 in 2015, this time it may approach 30 seats, and be one of the contesters for the first spot.
- Together for Catalonia would get up to 30 seats. Thus, it will almost have doubled its prospective compared to when the elections were first called by Mariano Rajoy.
- No poll has predicted that unionist parties will get more seats than pro-independence candidacies, but it’s not clear whether pro-independence parties will achieve the majority in Parliament. Still, Esquerra and Together for Catalonia are expected to add up to 60 seats, while the far-left CUP is expected to get around the 8 needed to make up a majority.
What will be the outcome of the election?
It is very uncertain. Polls are not estimating a clear result, but if the pro-independence parties reach 68 seats (and thus, the majority in the chamber), it is very likely that Puigdemont and Junqueras' tickets repeat a government for the Catalan state. However, in this event it is very likely that they need the CUP to keep the majority. The far-left party has stated that it will only back a government committed to implement the independence.
However, it is not clear who the president would be in this event. It will depend not only on whether which party gets more seats, but also on whether who will be effectively able to become president. Together for Catalonia's candidate, Carles Puigdemont, is in Brussels, while Esquerra's leader, Oriol Junqueras, is in prison. Both of them claim that they would be able to take office.
But what if the pro-independence parties do not reach majority? Unionists might try to form a government, but it is very likely that they also need the support of Catalonia in Common, which is in between two blocs. Indeed, Catalonia in Common is willing to make a left-wing coalition with parties on both blocs, but it looks like they would be the only ones supporting this option.
Why were these elections called?
Catalan elections usually take place every four years. With the last voting held in 2015, the country was not due for new ones until 2019. This all changed, however, with Catalonia’s push for sovereignty.
The independence roadmap had been on course for some time, but things switched into high gear following the October 1 referendum and the police violence from the Spanish law enforcement forces to stop it. Then, came the precautionary jailing of two pro-independence civil society leaders, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, accused of sedition for organizing the largest protests for the cause. As a declaration of independence looked more and more likely, Spanish president Mariano Rajoy threatened both the possibility of implementing Article 155 of the Spanish constitution to seize Catalonia’s self-rule, as well as of filing charges of rebellion against the Catalan government.
Then, on October 27, the Catalan Parliament declared unilateral independence. The Spanish government responded by immediately implementing the so-called “nuclear option,” Article 155, which included the immediate dissolution of the Catalan government and calling snap elections for December 21.
What happened after the elections were called?
In the aftermath that followed, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and half of his ousted government traveled to Brussels, allegedly not to “evade” justice but instead for lack of faith in due process and a fair treatment in Spain. Indeed, the Spanish Attorney General announced it would be filing a lawsuit against the Catalan executive, as well as the Catalan parliament president and bureau members who allowed the vote in the chamber to take place.
Eight government members who remained in Catalonia were sent to prison without bail on November 2. Meanwhile, the members of Catalan parliament were released on bond, but not after parliament president Carme Forcadell spent a night in prison. Then, after 32 days, on December 4, six of the incarcerated members of the Catalan government were released. Yet, vice president Oriol Junqueras and Home Affairs minister Joaquim Forn, along with grassroots leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart still remain in jail.
The Catalan officials who went to Brussels are still there, including Puigdemont. They were facing an international arrest warrant for around one month. However, just some days before a Belgian judge had to announce whether the ministers were extradited, Spain's Supreme Court withdrew the arrest warrant. Puigdemont said that the withdrawal was due to "fear" that the Belgian judge would decide not to execute the extradition.
One of the most contended issues in this election has been some candidate’s telling absence from the campaign trail. Some joined after having spent time in prison, but others still—notably, Puigdemont, Junqueras, and Sànchez—remain behind bars, or exiled abroad.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20
65 nights with political prisoners
Anthony Garner, Ara, December 20
Manel Fontdevila, Ara, December 20 (Number 17 in his "Diary of a non-normal election campaign")
Day of Reflection
King Philip and the ghost of Franco enjoy the prospect of a win in tomorrow's Catalan poll
- Sixth and last Feedback poll for the Scottish pro-independence paper, The National.
NOTE: Sample, 1000; Date; 4pm, Wednesday, December 20.
- Rajoy: "The Catalan crisis has left lessons that will be here for the future and for ever."
- Fourth "illegal" poll (GESOP) after the December 15 legal deadline for polling in the Spanish state, published in the Andorran edition of El Periódico on December 20
NOTE. Sample, 800; error margin +-3.5% at the 95% confidence level; date, December 1-18. Estimated participation: 80%-82%.
- Catalans overseas denounce difficulties in voting because ballot papers are not available at Spanish consulates or arrive after the voting deadline.
- Fifth Feedback poll for the Scottish pro-independence paper, The National.
NOTE: Sample, 1000; Date; 4pm, Monday, December 19.
- Paris CDR banner
"We Do Not Turn Our Back On Freedom--Catalan Republic"
- Over 100 MPs from various European parliaments sign up to call for democracy in Catalonia (below)
- Primavera Sound launches its publicity for the 2018 edition of the music festival with a massive yellow "This Is Not A Poster" (below).
- Well-known Catalan economists Andreu Mas-Colell (former treasuerer), Salvador Alemany, Carles A. Gasòliba, Joan Hortalà, Guillem López-Casasnovas and Antoni Serra Ramoneda counter scare campaign against Catalan economy with statement and data demonstrating its solidity.
- The Spanish electoral commission orders the removal of banners in support of the political prisoners (Granollers) and of Romanic-style portraits of Catalan politicians in an art exhibition in the town hall of Balaguer (below).
Today's front page
Ines Arrimades: "We have an historic opportunity to defeat separatism"
Santamaría boasts of having "decapitated" ERC and PDECat, rallies PP voters to "continue liquidating separatism"
Spain’s Deputy PM says the PP not only know how to "make speeches", they also know how to govern
Ara, December 20
The Deputy Prime Minister of the Spanish government, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, has defended the decisions taken by Mariano Rajoy with an angry, even cocky tone at a rally in the Catalan city of Girona. “Who has left ERC and the PDECat leaderless after decapitating both parties? Mariano Rajoy and the PP. Who put an end to the law being flouted? Mariano Rajoy and the PP. Who closed the Catalan embassies? Do you know what Diplocat is called now? It’s called “Diplocat in liquidation”. So, who deserves the votes to continue liquidating separatism? Mariano Rajoy and the PP", Sáenz de Santamaría declared.
Indeed, the Deputy PM began her talk with a quip about the application of Article 155. "We haven’t come to lunch in Girona until now, since, as we’re running the vice presidency of the government and also the Catalan government, we don’t have much time to eat", she declared, to howls of laughter from those attending the event. Rajoy’s second-in-command boasted of having "put a stop" to the independence movement’s ambitions thanks to the application of the Constitution. "Did they think that the rule of law wouldn’t work?", she asked.
Santamaría also assured those present that the independence movement’s electoral program was “in Josep Maria Jové’s Moleskine notebook". In reference to the PP, Santamaria declared that her party doesn’t take decisions based on "electoral considerations". Instead, "our only consideration is Spain’s best interests and of the Catalans. Catalonia, its freedom and its rights are the number one priority for the PP," she said.
While insisting that the PP are the ones who took all the decisions to stop the pro-independence parties, the Partido Popular also claim to be the party of government ahead of Ciutadans, who they often criticize for lack of experience. Santamaría took a sideways swipe at them when she stated that "the PP not only knows how to make speeches, but also how to act. The PP knows exactly how to govern".
Stop the CUP from taking the PP’s seats
With the elections a few days away, and with opinion polls currently suggesting that the PP won’t do so well, Santamaría also called for people to vote for her party because "those who vote for the PP know that their vote goes to the PP". "Anyone who doesn’t put the PP voting slip in the envelope won’t know if in the end it means the seat goes to the CUP", she declared. The PP repeated this same message on multiple occasions this Saturday in Girona. "Our vote is worth double in Girona: once so the PP win and twice so the CUP lose. That’s a great incentive", said the vice president.
In their speeches, the PP’s candidate for 21-D, Xavier García Albiol, and the representative of the Spanish government in Catalonia, Enric Millo, both continued in the same vein. Albiol declared that "the PP is the party that can best represent Girona, the land of Puigdemont" while Millo went further, asking for an end to the pro-independence parties, stating that "one more PP MP means one less ERC or CUP MP". Millo also accused Carles de Puigdemont’s government of being the government of "tyranny and dictatorship" for trying to "impose its ideas". A "nightmare" that can come to an end, he declared, if there is "a strong PP" in the Catalan parliament.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 19
64 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, December 19
The Festival of Democracy
NOTE: Leaders of the PP, Citizens (first frame) and PSC (second frame) dance and guzzle champagne while Omnium Cultural president Jordi Cuixart, ANC former president and JxCat candidate Jordi Sànchez (third frame) and Joaquim Forn, Catalan interior minister and JxCat candidate and Catalan vice-president and ERC lead candidate Oriol Junqeras (last frame) rot in jail.
Manel Fontdevila, Ara, December 19 (Number 16 in his "Diary of a non-normal election campaign")
DANCING TO IT
NOTE: PSC leader Miquel Iceta, known for his addiction to dancing, has called for the Catalan political prisoners to be "pardoned".
"Clapper" García Albiol (PP leader): "That pardoning business...it'll be around for some time...for a long time..."
"Clapper" Josep Borrell (former PSC speaker of the European parliament, who after Iceta had said that "wounds should be stitched up" commented that "they have to be disinfected first"): "Disinfection...Disinfection...Europe's talking a lot about you..."
Iceta: "Uff..I don't know...I reckon Queen was more catchy!"
- Xosé Manuel Beiras, historic leader of the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG) and then the Galician Left Alternative (AGE): "The most lucid and logical message coming from Podemos in Catalonia is that of Albano Dante Fachin."
- Former leader of Podemos Catalonia, Albano Dante Fachin, speaking to closing meeting of the Platform for the Republic (CUP plus We Are Alternative plus Constituent Process): "My comrades are not Iglesias, Monedero...or the leadership of Initiative for Catalonia, my comrades, although I don't yet know them, are the people with whom I defended the ballot boxes in my town [on October 1]."
- Podemos leader Juan Carlos Monedero tells HuffPost reporter Marta Flich that the application of article 155 was probably inevitable.
2200 HOURS--Photos of final campaign meetings
- CUP (1000, special guest--José Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, mayor of Andalusian cooperative-based town Marinaleda, fourth from left).
- CatECP (600, most of Podemos leadership in the Spanish state in attendance).
- PSC (700 in attendance)
- ERC (3000 in attendance in Oriol Junqueras's home town of Sant Vincenç dels Horts)
- JxCat (1000 in attendance in Barcelona, but event was simultaneously broadcast to one hundred other centres across Catalonia)
- Citizens (2500 in attendance)
- PP (800 in attendance)
- Natàlia Sànchez (CUP, Girona province): "We are the useful vote for left people".
- Emails calling for a vote for Citizens sent to addresses that had never asked to be put on mailing lists for Citizens' material.
- PSC releases "simpatico" video "Only Iceta Can Fix This", set to Catalan rhumba rhythms.
- ANC denounces to Barcelona magistrate the September 25 closure of its web site by the Civil Guard, of which it is still to receive official notification and an explanation.
- Fourth Feedback poll for the Scottish pro-independence paper, The National.
NOTE: Sample, 1000; Date; 4pm, Monday, December 18; Unecided, 1.288 million (23.2%); participation, 82.99%.
- Mariano Rajoy booed ("Out, Out!") by neighbours outside the Toy Museum of Catalonia in Figueres.
- Third "illegal" poll (GESOP) after the December 15 legal deadline for polling in the Spanish state, published in the Andorran edition of El Periódico on December 19.
NOTE. Sample, 800; error margin +-3.5% at the 95% confidence level; date, December 17-18. Estimated participation: 80%-82%.
- ERC final rally begins outside Estremera jail, where leader Oriol Junqueras is being held. Ultra group holds counter rally with banner "Spain Does Not Surrender" (below).
- Ingenious banner on Mora d'Ebre (Ribera d'Ebre) town hall, put up after Spanish electoral commission banned yellow and displays of support for the Catalan political prisoners on public buildings. It reads "Llibreta Pèsols Prolífics" (nonsense, it means "Notebook Peas Prolific") but echoes "Llibertat Presos Polítics" ("Freedom for Political Prisoners"). Instead of yellow, the colour of the solidarity campaign with the prisoners, the banner is in green, and signed by its creator Ferran Roca ("dislexic and colourblind").
- Spanish prime minister Rajoy's tweet: "It's daybreak in Barcelona and daybreak in Spain. Good morning to all."
- Puigdemont tells Catalonia Radio: "Things will remain as in 2015 and will show that the Rajoy recipe of refusing dialogue won't work."
Front cover of the day
"The constitutionalist bloc needs 4000 votes more per MP"
NOTE: La Razón, close to the Rajoy government, discovers the Catalan gerrymander, which favours the rural provinces and the pro-independence bloc. The Spanish right has never uttered a peep about the even worse gerrymandering of the Spanish electoral system, which prejudices smaller all-Spanish parties and was expressly designed to marginalise the Communist Party after the end of the Franco dictatorship against which it was the main force of organised resistance.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 18
63 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Peiódico, December 18
Image: the Francoist mausoleum "The Valley of the Fallen"
"There are things that never die, they only mutate."
Manel Fontdevila, Ara, December 18 (Number 15 in his "Diary of a non-normal election campaign")
I CAME, I SAW, I CONQUERED
Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya de Santamaria, in charge of operations in Catalonia, to Spanish legal system: "Giddy-up, Impartial! Let's get back to Madrid!"
- Second candidates´ debate starts ón Catalan public television (TV3). It reaches 26.3% audience share.
- The sound track to the CUP's campaign now available here.
- Once members of the now-defunct christian democrat Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC), former speaker Joan Rigol, former minister Joana Ortega and former head of the Association of Municipalities for Independence Josep Maria Vila d'Abadal, speak out in support of Carles Puigdemont's JxCat ticket. Former UDC leaders are now supporting ERC, JxCat and the PSC at this election. The main organised current with roots in the UDC, Democrats, is standing on the ERC ticket.
ANC spot ("Either Republic or Republic")
- The CUP launches its income tax proposal involving an increase in rates on incomes above €60,000 a year and a reduction in rates on incomes below €15,000 a year.
- Town Hall of Cerdenyola (Vallès Oriental): "Banner censured by the electoral commission"
- Puigdemont warns that changing the Catalan government would validate the action of Mariano Rajoy in applying article 155.
- Third Feedback poll for the Scottish pro-independence paper, The National.
- Borrell (PSC): "Any break from Europe is a death sentence for our economy."
- Catalan foreign minister Raül Romeva warns an ERC meeting at Caldes de Montbui that many Spanish people realy see the Catalan situation as it is portrayed on the Spanish media.
- Further reprisals against jailed mass movement leader Jordi Sànchez: after sending message to JxCat rally, he is now unable to speak to his family.
- Carles Puigdemont: "The only way to restore our institutions is through a specific commitment of the Spanish state to abide by the decision of the December 21 election."
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 17
62 nights with political prisoners
Manel Fontdevila, Ara, December 17 (Number 14 in his "Diary of a non-normal election campaign")
An Idea [for replenishing the Spanish state's depleted pension fund]
Cristóbal Montoro (Spanish treasurer): "No need to rummage, Mariano, there's nothing left there."
Mariano Rajoy (Spanish prime minister): "Aaaagh, and what about if we filled it up again by slapping fines on independence supporters? There are two million of them!"
- First candidates debate, on the Spanish Sixth Channel. Result of NacioDigital viewers poll : "Who won the debate?"
- Thousand-plus CUP meeting in Girona applauds video clip remembering the successful defence of the referendum on October 1.
- Anti-fascist demonstration outside town hall of Pont de Vilomara (Bages), to denounce aggression against two CUP members who were assalted by ultras while pasting up.
- Second "illegal" poll (GESOP) after the December 15 legal deadline for polling in the Spanish state, published in the Andorra edition of El Periódico on December 17.
NOTE. Sample, 800; error margin +-3.5% at the 95% confidence level; date, December 14-16. Estimated participation: 79%-81%.
- Second Feedback poll for the Scottish pro-independence paper, The National.
- Iceta (PSC): "More independence from Thursday [polling day] means less business, less work, less Europe, more division and more mess. We can't let it happen."
- Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy to PP meeting in Salou that "article 155 has ceased to be a legal spectre and has become a reality".
- Former Spanish prime minister Rodriguez Zapatero (PSOE) says the only way to get institutional reform for Catalonia is by having socialist governments in Catalonia and the Spanish state.
- Josep Borrell (PSC, former speaker of the European parliament), addressing supporters of independence: "You are evil with a capital E."
- Alejandro Fernández (PP lead candidate, Tarragona province): "While other Catalan cities bleed to death because of their divisions, Tarragona is a paragon of stability because of the pact between the socialists and PP."
- Alberto Garzón (United Left), at CatECP rally: "The pro-independence forces declared independence in a hypocritical and irresponsible way, because they were deceiving the Catalan people." Also: "I don't understand the interest for an independence project. Seeking independence from sister peoples is a mistake."
- Paris mayoress Anne Hidalgo (Socialist Party) addresses PSC rally by videolink, calling for a vote for PSC leader Iceta.
- Marta Ribas (ICV), the number four candidate for CatECP tells a Blanes meeting: "There is no [Catalan] Republic, no advance in real republican values. Catalonia is not more free, more fraternal, nor is there more equality."
- Former CUP MP Anna Gabriel to Barcelona rally: "These are not days for idleness, for resignation, for thinking there's nothing that can be done. Because, if we let ourselves be conquered by that what will happen is that the 155 gang will come and idleness will be a joke."
- Arrimades addresses 5000 in working-class outer Barcelona L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, saying that "the flag of Andalusia has a place in my heart" and that "we don't want our parents, nephews and nieces, cousins and friends to become strangers...we do not deny our origin because we feel ourselves to be Catalans, but are also proud of our forbears buried in other places in Spain." Also: "Some people want to break our heart, a heart where a thousand flags belong."
- ANC clarifies its statement on recognising only Puigdemont as legitimate president, saying it calls for a vote for any of the three pro-independence tickets.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16
61 nights with political prisoners
Bernardo Vergara, El Diario, December 12
The Supreme Court prevents [imprisoned ANC leader] Jordi Sànchez from leaving jail to campaign in the Catalan election given the risk that he might promote "disturbances"
Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena: "Did you see how many people there were yesterday at [Citizens' leader Inés] Arrimadas's disturbance?"
Clerk of the court: "Meeting, you say meeting, judge Llarena."
- Lead CUP candidate Carles Riera tells Poblenou (Barcelona) meeting that "now the Constitutional Court has said it will include the CDRs [Committees for the Defence of the Referendum/Republic] on its charge sheet, it is giving itself a lot for work, because the CDRs are all of us."
- Lawyer for Jordi Sànchez says he has been punished by being moved to a different cell after he sent recorded mesage to a JxCat meeting.
- Catalan National Assembly says it will recognise only Carles Puigdemont as Catalonia's legitimate president.
- Archbishop of Barcelona calls on the faithful "not to vote fro parties that go against religion".
- First Feedback poll for the Scottish pro-independence paper, The National.
- First "illegal" poll (GESOP) after the December 15 legal deadline for polling in the Spanish state, published in the Andorra edition of El Periódico.
NOTE. Sample, 800; error margin +-3.5% at the 95% confidence level; date, December 13-15. Estimated participation: 79%-81%.
- PP lead candidate Xavier García Albiol warns that the "useful vote" tendency which is seeing support for Citizens grow at the expense of the PP could lose the PP its seat in Girona province. Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria celebrates that the Catalan diplomatic service Diplocat has been "wound up" by the central government.
- Citizens' meeting on "The Future of Europe" with former French MP manuel Valls, Nobel literature prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, Inés Arrimades and Albert Rivera starts in Barcelona.
- CatECP meeting starts in working-class Barcelona suburb of Nou Barris. More than 2000 in attendance. Candidate Elisenda Alamany: "We are not resigned to choosing between Puigdemont and Arrimadas, between 155 and the false prophets."
- 2000-strong Barcelona meeting of ERC begins outside the Born memorial and history centre. National secretary Marta Rovira: "ERC is the guarantee that Catalonia will continue to move forward as a people and not end up as just one more province [of Spain].
- Workers in the Catalan government offices in Girona cover their office Christmas tree in black plastic to prevent the policde removing its yellow ribbons (see below).
- Former French Socialist Party prime minister Manuel Valls appears with PP leaders to say "Spain is not a dictatorship".
- Over half a million visit the You Tube message [in Spanish] of former Podemos Catalonia leader Albano Dante Fachin calling on the 650,000 Catalan voters identified by the polls as undecided to vote for a pro-independence candidate on December 21, as "the only way to defeat Mariano Rajoy".
Front page of the day
Inés Arrimades (Citizens): "I hope to have Iceta [PSC] by my side in a constitutional government"
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15
60 nights with political prisoners
Manel Fontdevila, Ara, December 10 (Number 12 in his "Diary of a non-normal election campaign")
Inés Arrimades (Leader, Citizens): "We are a party without cases of corruption, influence-peddling or town-planning scandals...
Business chiefs (holding invoice for campaign, under their breath): "Hee hee, for the time being..."
See today's Catalan News here.
- Education minister and JxCat candidate Clara Ponsatí says it is impossible to develop the Republic without first stopping the repression.
- The CUP warns ERC and JxCat: "If necessary we will go to elections again to guarantee the popular will expressed on October 1."
- CatECP ends its meeting with a singing of the Marseillaise
- Former ANC leader Jordi Sànchez sends message for prison to JxCat rally, saying "we can never turn our back on Puigdemont".
- Xavier Domènech claims at Badalona rally that CatECP is the "Catalogne Insoumise"
- France Insoumise leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon at Badalona meeting of CatECP
- Workers removing yellow ribbons from the Amposta suspension bridge, on order from the Spanish electoral commission (below).
- ANC and "Let's Paste Up" organising a massive community paste-up for this week-end.
- Central government eliminates power of Catalan government to act as agent raising Spanish state taxes (done in other regional administrations).
- The Constitutional Court provisionally suspends the Catalan law of trading.
- The council of Fuliola (Urgell), ordered to remove a banner supporting the political prisoners, replaces it with one saying "You already understand me" (below).
- Spanish culture minister Méndez de Vigo reverses his reversal of the decision not to appeal the transfer of the artworks of Sixena monastery from Lleida museum to Sixena because "they were transferred in response to a legal order".
- Puigdemont promises to "unfold the Republic" if JxCat wins on December 21
- Latest JxCat poster below.
- Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, Spanish culture minister and acting Catalan culture minister under the article 155 intervention, changes his position and calls for the artworks of the Sixena monastery to be returned to Lleida museum. The artworks were last week removed from Lleida museum by the Civil Guard and returned to Sixena after Méndez de Vigo originally decided not to appeal the court decision ordering their removal. He has now decided to appeal, probably because of the negative impact of the original decision on the unionist vote in the Lleida province.
- Miquel Iceta on his suggestion for a pardon for the imprisoned Catalan ministers and mass movement activists: "Without doubt it was a premature call."
- Marta Rovira (ERC) rules out any post-electoral alliance with the PSC.
- Pablo Iglesias (Podemos): "Without a democratisation of Spain, a referendum in Catalonia is impossible."
- Puigdemont: "Everyone must come out to vote to stop Madrid from turning Catalonia into the province which it has been dreaming of imposing for years."
- Feedback poll for El Nacional gives a triple dead-heat in seats, with pro-independence bloc just holding majority
[NOTE: Sample 1000; Error margin; +-3.16% at the 95.5% confidence level; date December 7-14.]
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14
59 nights with political prisoners
La Punxa d'en Jap, El Punt, December 13
The effect of too much 155
- Podemos "number two" Irene Montoro: "Only Xavier Domènech [CatECP] neither lies nor make false promises."
- Civil Guard releases the director of Unipost.
- Latest Metroscopia poll, published in El País, has Citizens winning the December 1 election, the pro-independence bloc falling short of a majority and CatECP holding the balance of power.
[NOTE: Sample 3300; Error margin, +-1.7% at the 95.5% confidence level; Date: December 4-13]
Xavier Domènech: "CatECP has put the social question at the centre of the political debate when the other parties don't even talk about it."
- Former Spanish foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo, reveals to a Spanish Senate commission that he had demanded support for the Spanish position on Catalonia from the Baltic states in exchange for Spain's having given them military support against the Russian "threat" and for having voted to condemn the Russian takeover of Crimea.
- Marta Ribas, CatECP number four candidate for Barcelona and ICV leader asks meeting at El Prat de Llobregat: "What has this government done to guarantee our rights? Cut, cut, cut, maintain the cuts of [former Catalan premier] Artur Mas and fail to carry out with the citizens the guarantee of their rights."
- Anonymous attacks the web sit of Indra, the firm chosen by the Spanish electoral commission to count the vote on December 21.
- Spanish government announces that it will oversee social networks to control the emission of "fake news".
- PP leader Albiol Garcia accuses the Puigdemont government of "totalitarianism", including using the Catalan police to spy on political opponents.
- Supreme Court rejects Jordi Sànchez's request to be able to participate in the election campaign.
- Former Podemos Catalonia leader Albano Dante Fachin: "Every vote for CatECP helps defeat the project that most worries Mariano Rajoy, what the people did on October 1."
- CUP lead candidate Carles Riera tells media conference that he hopes for collaboration with CatECP, but says they need a "reality bath" first.
- Puigdemont: "With 155 you have to swear on the constitution to buy a stethoscope".
- Spanish armed forces exercises begin outside Tarragona.
- Marisa Xandri, PP candidate for Lleida, sticks the estalada in the waste paper bin (below).
- TV3 breakfast presenter Monica Terribas tells the Spanish electoral commission, which has begun proceedings against her for comment pieces on the December 21 election, to get lost, citing these lines from Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac:
Seek a protector, choose a patron,
And like the crawling ivy round a tree
That licks the bark to gain the trunk's support,
Climb high by creeping ruse instead of force?
No, thank you! What! I, like all the rest
Dedicate verse to bankers?--play buffoon
In cringing hope to see, at last, a smile
Not disapproving, on a patron's lips?
No thank you! What! learn to swallow toads?
- Civil Guard arrest the manager of private mailing firm Unipost for his alleged role in the October 1 referendum.
- ERC announces that it will hold its final campaign rally outside Estremera prison, where its leader, vice-president Oriol Junqueras, is being held.
Today's front page
"The police safeguard the border in case Puigdemont returns"
WEDESDAY, DECEMBER 13
58 nights with political prisoners
Anthony Garner, Ara, December 13
Lessons in social harmony, with Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria
Number 155: OBEDIENCE
- "Let's Paste Up", the web site set up to allow people to download referendum posters when the official posters were seized by the Civil Guard, announces that it has a new project.
- "They'll represent for ever more the 155": Puigdemont on the PSC, addressing Girona meeting by video link.
- Xavier Domènech (CatECP): "Citizens' attacks on the Catalan education system show that it's Rajoy's candidate."
- Citizens' leader Carlos Carrizosa attacks Iceta's proposal to pardon jailed Catalan leaders: "They're preparing a new tripartite government [like 2010 PSC-ERC-ICV administration].
- Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy launches PP "campaign" to stop alleged boycotts of Catalan products in the rest of Spain at the winery of champagne producer Frexienet. Attacks PSC leader Iceta for asking for pardon for jailed Cataln leaders instead of "attending to the basic needs of the Catalans".
- The PSOE disowns as a personal opinion PSC leader Miquel Iceta's call for the imprisoned Catalan ministers and mass movement leaders to be pardoned.
Catalan ombudsman Rafael Ribó denounces the Spanish electoral commission for not guaranteeing equality of conditions for all candidates in the December 21 election and for beginning disciplinary proceedings against Catalonia Radio breakfast show host Monica Terribas for two comment pieces.
- Spanish interior ministry setting up special unit to capture Carles Puigdemont if he tries to enter Spanish territory.
- Grandparents for Freedom (Reus, Baix Camp) begin petitioning campaign against the electoral commission ban on their demonstrating solidarity with the Catalan political prisoners.
Forced by the electoral commission to remove a placard supporting the Catalan political prisoners, the council of Vic replaced it with one supporting freedom of expression (see below).
- Retired Spanish army colonel Amadeo Martínez Inglés: "The Spanish army is in no condition to control a country like Catalonia."
- Puigdemont: "The best welfare policy is a state of our own."
- The CUP, along with We Are Alternative, led by former Podemos Catalonia leader Albando Dante Fachin, and Constituent Process launches "Platform For The Republic", a shared post December 21 road map (photo below, from left to right Albano Dante Fachin (We Are Alternative) Maria Sirvent (CUP), Carles Riera (CUP) and Ângels Castells (We Are Alternative).
Carles Puigdemont: "The PSC is the tenant farmer of the 155 bloc: when he sees the landlord he stands back to let him through."
- Exiled Catalan agriculture minister Meritxell Serret (ERC) says that the presidency of Catalonia should go to someone "who can really exercise it".
- The Spanish Civil Guard to take over providing security for nuclear power plants in Catalonia from next year.
The true reason why Spain dropped the European arrest warrant
Javier Pérez Royo (professor of constitutional law, University of Seville)
Ara, December 9
The true reason why the Spanish authorities withdrew the European arrest warrant issued for Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and the members of his government who are in Brussels is simply the fact that any country that wishes to call itself a democracy cannot argue before any judge, reasonably and objectively, that the Catalan leaders have committed a crime of rebellion. This and only this can explain the decision by judge Pablo Llarena to drop the warrant issued by Madrid’s Audiencia Nacional judge Carmen Lamela so that Belgium’s justice would hand over the Catalan president and the four ministers who had moved to Brussels.
Judge Llarena understood that he and his colleague Carmen Lamena were about to get slapped in the face and, therefore, he opted to make a U-turn. With his decision, Pablo Llarena has acknowledged his inability to persuade an independent judge that there are legal grounds to prosecute Puigdemont and his ministers for rebellion. I would like to emphasise that in no civilised country could the actions of the Catalan government have possibly led to a prosecution for rebellion. In none whatsoever.
Neither in Spain. In a joint statement a few days ago, one hundred criminal law professors from law schools across Spain wrote that the actions of the Catalan authorities could, under no circumstances, be construed as a crime of sedition, let alone rebellion. This opinion is practically unanimous in Spain’s criminal, constitutional and procedural doctrine.
I find it hard to believe that this view isn’t widely shared by most judges and magistrates working in Spain’s judicial system. It is not possible for Spanish judges to regard as a crime of rebellion something which would not stand as such before their colleagues in other European countries.
Spain is a democratic country where the rule of law prevails, but the way in which the Attorney General and Spain’s top two judicial organs —the Audiencia Nacional and the Supreme Court— are tackling Catalan nationalism is unbecoming of any democratic country.
This is not merely about bending the law, but about ignoring it altogether. I would like to highlight this point because, in a true democracy, the law that defines the crime of rebellion could never be the law that the Supreme Court and the Audiencia Nacional have invoked. If Spain is a democracy, then the law that regulates the crime of rebellion cannot be, in any case, the same law that the Audiencia Nacional and the Supreme Court are invoking. That is why judge Pablo Llarena has had to drop the European arrest warrant. Otherwise, there was a risk that Belgium’s justice might have questioned the democratic nature of Spain, not in general, but in this particular case.
Now that the warrant has been withdrawn, the decision by judge Llarena two days ago to keep Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart in remand should be reconsidered without delay. If the judge cannot argue in front of a colleague of a democratic nation that the charges against the Catalan government are justified, how can he use the same charges to keep others in remand?
None of the members of the Catalan government, the Parliamentary Bureau and the leaders of the pro-independence grassroots groups (ANC and Òmnium) should have ever been kept in custody, pending trial without bail. The withdrawal of the European arrest warrant is definitive proof of this.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12
57 nights with political prisoners
Anthony Garner, Ara, December 12
Rajoy 155 Removals off to Aragon
Manel Fontdevila, Ara, December 10 (Number 9 in his "Diary of a non-normal election campaign")
PP leader García Albiol: " If I win the elections, I'll clean up TV3, and put the education system and the institutions through an hispanifying sieve....
Reporter: "And if you lose?"
García Albiol: "Then we'll apply article 155, we'll clean up TV3, and we'll put the education system and the institutions through an hispanifying sieve. What else would you want us to do?
- Arcadi Oliveres (Constituent Process) to the CUP: "We rushed ahead too much. We have to talk more to the other peoples of the Spanish state."
- Electoral commission allows Jordi Sànchez and Joaquim Forn, imprisoned candidates for JxCat, to intervene in election campaign with messages from prison.
- Fachin: "If the pro-independence forces don't win, Rajoy, the King and the Tweety Pies win." [reference to the Loony Tunes cruiser that housed Spanish police in Barcelona Port]
- Former Podemos Catalonia leader Albano Dante Fachin appears in ERC rally.
- The electoral commission finds TV3 coverage of the December 7 Brussels demonstration "excessive". TV3 to appeal.
- The Spanish Accounts Court places an embargo on the house of former Catalan premier Artur Mas, so as to guarantee payment of €2.4 million bond.
- Spanish public TV (TVE) obliged by Spanish electoral commission to play the CUP's TV ad in support of the Catalan political prisoners, originally censored by TVE.
- The CUP launches its publication "The Minotaur of 78", a documentation of Spanish state violence against Catalonia. The CUP will present the document to the UN's Human Rights Council.
- Núria Parlon says: "The Catalonia we dream of can only be built by Miquel Iceta."
- Carles Puigdemont promises to return to Catalonia if pro-independence forces win on December 21.
- Xavier Domènech to radio RAC1: "I would like to create a government where the sensibilities of the good and the best of the country are represented, from [PSC mayoress of Santa Coloma de Gramenet] Núria Parlon to [former CUP MP] David Fernàndez to [ERC MP in the Spanish Congress] Joan Tardà."
- The Spanish electoral commission continues to hunt down councils display yellow in support of political prisoners. Latest to receives instructions to remove yellow ribbons or stop yellow illuminations are Terrassa, Olot and Sabadell.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 11
56 nights with political prisoners
La Punxa d'en Jap, El Punt d'Avui, December 11
NOTE: Civil Guards began removing the artworks of Sixena from Lleida museum this morning (see under Wednesday, November 29 for background note)
- Celeste-Tel poll for el.diario shows ERC winning, but independence bloc falling short of majority.
[NOTE: Sample, 800; margin of error, +-3.5% at a 95.45% confidence level; Date, November 30-December 7.]
- Former CUP MP David Fernández addressing meeting in l'Hospitalet de Llobregat.
- Iglesias calls for a "government of reconciliation".
- Xavier Domènech (below, addressing tonight's Tarragona meeting): "We need an agreement that enables us to change Catalonia so as to then change Spain and throw out Mariano Rajoy."
- Pablo Iglesias in Tarragona meeting of CatECP: "It's impossible to become independent of Mariano Rajoy. You have to throw out Mariano Rajoy" and "flags don't fill the fridge".
- The PP denounces Catalan public channel TV3 to the electoral commission for its coverage of the Dember 7 Brussels demonstration in support of the political prisoners and ministers in exile.
- Private citizen takes case against Sabadell mayor Maties Serracant (CUP) for making schools available for October 1 referendum.
- Museum workers at Lleida Museum applaud the demonstration protesting the removal of Sixena artworks here.
- Citizens remains the only Catalan party supporting the removal of the Sixena artworks to Aragon.
- Former French Socialist Party prime minister Manuel Valls visits Miquel Iceta, even as he supports Citizens in the Catalan election campaign.
- Prime minister Mariano Rajoy threatens to apply article 155 again in the event that a pro-independence government is elected on December 21.
- PSC leader Miquel Iceta describes the CatECP proposal for a CatECP-PSC-ERC left coalition government as "unreal".
- Xavier Domènech (CatECP) presents five points for a left government:
1. Safeguard social rights and reactivate the economy
2. A fairer tax system
3. A new political status for Catalonia and more self-government
4. A negotiated referendum
5. Unity of progressive Catalanism.
- Mireia Boya (CUP lead candidate for Lleida): "The pirates of the Spanish state have come to the Museum of Lleida to seize their war booty."
At night time and using a militarised police, as always, taking advantage of the coup d'etat to pillage Catalonia with absolute impunity. Such is the model of country that Citizens, the PP and PSC defend. https://t.co/z7gUPr6yy2— Carles Puigdemont
- Spanish Supreme Court announces that it will charge other pro-independence leaders after the December 21 election.
- Civil Guards enter Lleida museum to remove Sixena artworks while protest gathers outside.
- Photos from last night's CUP election campaign launch here.
Front page of the day--No comment
"Puigdemont's guardian in Belgium protects defenders of the Jewish genocide"
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10
55 nights with political prisoners
Anthony Garner, Ara, December 10
Iceta (PSC): "A glass of champagne, sir?"
García Albiol (PP): "Perfect"
Manel Fontdevila, Ara, December 10 (Number 7 in his "Diary of a non-normal election campaign")
(We want the vote of NORMAL PEOPLE) + (We want to wake up silent Catalonia) = Normal people are silent Catalonia
Ines Arrimades (Citizens): "We want people who don't get involved to vote for us"
Xavier García Albiol (PP): "But don't worry. It would only be for a day. They wouldn't have to do anything more until we advise them again."
- Carme Forcadell, speaker of the Catalan parliament and presently on bail of €150,000, calls in Badalona for a vote for ERC as "the only force that can stop the 155 gang".
Antoni Castellà (Democrats, running with ERC): "To the comrades of the CUP: if, after winning, the Spanish state refuses to negotiate, we shall return to the unilateral path."
Ines Arrimades in Tarragona: "Those who have lost sales or are on waiting lists cannot afford the trip to Brussels to see the opera."
Natàlia Sànchez (CUP lead candidate, Girona): "We will only vote for those forces committed to building the Republic."
Rajoy did threaten "deaths in the streets" says former Spanish army colonel
El Nacional, December 9
A former Spanish army officer has suggested that Catalan politician [ERC national secretary] Marta Rovira was right: the Spanish government did threaten the Catalan authorities with "deaths" if the independence movement went ahead and implemented the Catalan Republic in October. Amadeo Martínez Inglés, an army colonel who was expelled from the forces in 1990 and subsequently linked to left-wing and republican movements, gives credibility to the threats that Rovira revealed, when she claimed that the Spanish Government assured that there would be “deaths in the street” if independence was proclaimed. Martínez Inglés points to Spanish president Mariano Rajoy and his deputy Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría as the ones responsible for this.
In a blog article entitled ‘The Catalan Gordian Knot’, the former army figure affirms that the Spanish government employed psychological warfare techniques with the goal of avoiding the referendum of 1st October and that, after the obvious failure to stop the vote, it elevated the level of its threats, with military intervention being more than possible.
Martínez Inglés recalls that on 17th November, Marta Rovira referred for the first time to death threats made by Spain, and assures that she “did not lie”, but he adds that the threats by the Rajoy executive “were part of a secret operation”, put into action “long before the referendum” which included the option of intensifying to a level of “maximum virulence” if the Catalan authorities had tried to implement independence “at national and international level, with massive mobilizations in the streets and occupation of key points all over Catalonia, in the hands of the Catalan Mossos police or active picketing teams from the left-wing CUP party”.
Planned in full detail
The colonel assures that the threats that Rovira referred to “existed and were planned in full detail in Spanish vice-presidential circles, with the appropriate help and advice from specialists in psychological warfare”, who deployed a “secret operation to destroy the morale of Catalan politicians”.
This deployment included troop movements prior to 1st October and, in particular, the posting of thousands of Spanish police, in a “ridiculous and badly-planned transfer operation”, as well as persistent declarations about the role of the army in Catalonia.
The campaign entered into its second phase, says Martinez Inglés, after Deputy PM Sáenz de Santamaría "lost her cool" when she "realized the independence movement had been successful in the cat-and-mouse pursuit of ballot boxes and voting papers”, provoking “institutional panic” among Mariano Rajoy's executive.
Once this point had been reached, according to the fomer colonel, the threats and warnings grew “to incredible dimensions”. “You threatened to do everything you wanted and more, Mr. Rajoy,” continues Martinez Inglés, to conclude that if “the strategy worked for them” it was because their “opponents”, the pro-independence forces, “were not willing to fight and die for their ideals”.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9
55 nights with political prisoners
Manel Fontdevila, Ara, December 9 (Number 6 in his "Diary of a non-normal election campaign")
The Heart of the Question
Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria (who said that the only reason Catalans could demonstrate in Brussels was because they have a Spanish ID card): "If you can ask not to have a Spanish ID card...it's thanks to the Spanish ID card that you've got...ingrates!"
- Read El Nacional's portrait of CUP lead candidate Carles Riera here.
- The CUP calls on the ERC to join it in rebuilding the Republic on the basis of the "decrees of dignity" guaranteeing social justice and a war on poverty.
- Speaking in Lleida, Xavier Domènech (CatECP) states what a "disaster" it would be for Catalonia if the PSC-Citizens council in the city were repeated at the level of Catalonia.
- Puigdemont commits to returning to government with the existing ministerial team.
- Infrastructure minister Josep Rull (JxCat) says, in a vield polemic with ERC, that "the votes of December 21 have to serve so that president Puigdemont can re-enter the Palace of the Generalitat [the Catalan government] with dignity intact."
- PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez accuses Citizens' leader Albert Rivera of lacking in respect for voters because of his claim that "a vote for the PSC is a vote thrown away". This reflects the competition between Citizens and the PSOE for seats in the unionist-voting areas of Tarragona and Barcelona.
- Xavier Domènech (CatECP) challenges the pro-independence parties to state what their strategy now is after the "defeat" of the unilateral approach.
- Raul Romeva (ERC), replying to Pablo Iglesias's comment that the independence movement had reawoken fascism in the Spanish state: "We have reawoken it to defeat it, to finish with it, because it was always there.". Romeva recalls the work done by the Puigdemont government in annulling all the Francoist court judgments in Catalonia and in begining the work of opening the mass graves of the 1936-39 Civil War and identifying the victims with DNA testing.
Two new polls showing contradictory results
1. Feedback, in El Nacional
[NOTE: Sample, 1000; Error margin; +-3.16% at the 95.5% confidence interval. Date; December 8]
2. GAD 3, in La Vanguardia
[NOTE: Taken between December 4 and 7. No other details available]
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8
53 nights with political prisoners
Brussels, December 7
See also here for video with titles in English and Catalan News coverage below under December 7.
Anthony Garner, Ara, December 8
The European Union sheep come up against the Catalan donkey
- "Republic, Now What?" is the theme of a debate in St Boi de Llobregat between speakers from the CUP, We Are Alternative (the split from Podemos Catalonia led by former general secretary Albano Dante Fachin) and the ERC (see below).
- Mireia Boya, lead CUP candidate for Lleida, says that it is necesary to defend the treasures of Sixena in Lleida museum against their return to Sixena with the same methods that guaranteed the October 1 referendum (see background note under Wednesday, November 29).
- Ruben Wagensberg (ERC), organiser of the massive "Our House, Your House" rally for refugees tells meeting that "we should never deceive ourselves with the idea that the single election ticket is the solution" given that it is necessary to express "the plurality and diversity of the country". He adds: "It is the responsibility of all parties to contemplate all scenarios" and that "maybe there will be people who unfortunately won't again be invested. "
- Meeting of European Union attorneys-general rejects Spanish request to add further alleged crimes to the list for which extradition within the EU is automatic. The request was presented after the Spanish Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena withdrew the extradition warrant for Puigdemont and the four Catalan ministers in Brussels rather than risk its rejection by a Belgian court.
- Catalans in Australia demonstrate in solidarity with Brussels rally demanding release of political prisoners.
- PP leader Garcia Albiol describes Catalan firemen lining up in their uniforms to give blood at Brussel's Red Cross Hospital as "the best example of how we mix ideology and the public administration we all pay for. They are deplorable."
- Albert Rivera (Citizens) links Carles Puigdemont with an ETA terrorist attack in Sabadell 27 years ago via this photo of Puigdemont with Basque left pro-independence leader Arnaldo Otegi.
Today marks the 27th anniversary of the ETA attack in Sabadell, when six policemen were murdered. For us the heroes aren't the terrorists, but our public servants and their families. My thoughts and affection for all of them. pic.twitter.com/xh83u4GcY3— Albert Rivera (@Albert_Rivera) 8 December 2017
- CUP video of its campaign projected onto side of church in Sabadell.
- JxCat demand of the electoral commission that its imprisoned candidates, Jordi Sànchez and Joaquim Forn, be able to participate in the election campaign.
- Xavier Domènech (CatECP, at industrial show in Amposta, Montsià): "The PSOE is a specialist in supporting the PP at key moments instead of looking for solutions." He promises a plan to revive the Ebro River delta, based on a comprehensive desalination project (salinisation of the Ebro mouth is caused by reduced flows in the river from upstream, basically due to over-irrigation).
- PSC leader Iceta: "If the independence forces win the election, the ruin of Catalonia will be complete and total. The CUP will be back to rule, we'll be back to abandoning the rule of law and we'll have another four years talking about 155 and the news from the law courts."
- Adriana Lastra, the deputy federal secretary of the PSOE, promises that 2018 will be the year the PSOE takes on the challenge of reforming the constitution.
- Carles Puigdemont proposes that Catalonia become "the first natural digital republic in the world" as a way of passing from "the state, that's me" to "the state, that's us".
- Catalan attorney-general Carles Mundó suggests that JuntsxCat will have to nominate an alternative to Carles Puigdemont as president if they win the election.
Front cover of the day
(Top right corner): "Separatism parades its hatred of Spain through the streets of Brussels"
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7 (demonstration for Catalan rights in Brussels)
52 nights with political prisoners
Manel Fontdevila, Ara, December 7 (Number 4 in his "Diary of a non-normal election campaign")
"For twenty hours we've been trying to understand how he [Puigdemont] could lead the government [from Brussels] if he wins the elections...
We're warning him: if the idea it to make an 'I accept the presidency and I cleverly suspend it so as to allow presdential dialogue etc etc etc' there'll be blood!
[NOTE: a reference to the disappointment of independence supporters after the October 1 Catalan referendum led to an October 10 suspended declaration of independence and a final declaration by the parliament only by October 27.]
This short clip conveys the spirit of the Brussels demonstration...
...and the complete demonstration and final rally is available here.
- Firefighters line up to give blood at Brussels Red Cross Hospital. The communiqué of the group of Firefighters for Independence said the decision was taken as a signal of gratitude "to the people of Belgium for its respect for our lawful government" and "to show the desire of the people of Catalonia to carry out its struggle according to the strictest non-violence and in a spirit of fraternity towards all the peoples of Europe."
- First candidates debate, on Spanish TV.
- CatECP calls on ERC to abandon its alliance with PDECat and "join the left".
- PP launches its election platform three days late. Most notable proposal: ban all public display of pro-independence insignia, including the pro-independence flag, the estelada.
- Juan Carlos Girauta (Citizens) accuses the PSC of not wanting to punish pro-independence leaders: "If murder is punishable, isn't a coup d'etat and sedition punishable?"
- Social democrat Frans Timmerman, deputy-president of the European Commission in charge of the basic rights of the EU, says after Catalan demonstration: "One of the foundations of the rule of law is if you do not agree with the law, to be able to protest and organise to change it in a democratic way, but what cannot be allowed is simply to ignore the law."
- Yellow ribbon removed from Granollers town hall on order of the Spanish electoral commission.
- Spanish deputy prime minister Saenz de Santamaria: "The reason they can demonstrate in Brussels is because they have a Spanish identity card."
- Firefighter contingent at Brussels demonstration
- Brussels police forced to change the route of the march because of the unexpected increase in attendance (official police figure 45,000).
- PP leader Garcia Albiol describes "pilgrimage of people to visit a gentleman who tried a coup d'etat" as "grotesque".
- Off to Brussels (early flight from Barcelona airport)
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 6 (Day of the Constitution in the Spanish State)
51 nights with political prisoners
Manel Fontdevila, Ara, December 6 (Number 3 in his "Diary of a non-normal election campaign")
PUTTING YOUR FOOT IN IT IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Belgian judge to Spanish judge: "In the end the law is like an omelette. If you put potatoes in an omelette, it's a Spanish omelette. If you add made-up charges to the law, it's Spanish law. You people don't understand! Annul the whole thing!"
Judges who press the "Send Eurowarrant" button too quickly
Front cover, El Jueves, December 6
The Constitution, the new bible
Elder Mariano Rajoy, holding a copy of The Sacred Constitution, and accompanied by Elder Albert Rivera: "Good afternoon, have you heard about the holy 1978 regime"?
Woman who opened the door: "Bloody fanatics."
- New GESOP poll for El Periódico:
Main features: Independence forces (66-69 seats) could lose absolute majority (68 seats); JxCat catching up with ERC; PSC and Citizens neck-and-neck.
NOTE: Sample, 800. Margin of error, 3.5% at the 95% confidence interval. Date, November 29 to December 2.
- Elisenda Alamany (number two on the CatECP ticket): "Citizens are wolves in sheep's clothing. The only project they have is that of Aznar and Rajoy."
- Republican Dialogue (ERC substitute ticket in case the ERC is declared illegal) issues video clip of Spanish national anthem as sound track to police bashings on October 1. Punch line: "For Spain, this is dialogue: Vote Republic."
- Xavier Domènech to CanECP meeting in Mataró: "A vote for Iceta is a vote for Arrimades."
- Former Catalan premier Artur Mas calls for the pro-independence vote to be concentrated on JxCat.
- An internal survey done for the PP and leaked to web-based daily El independiente, shows the ERC winning the Catalan election, with the pro-independence parties one seat short of an absolute majority.
- Belgian police tell the European Parliament that they are expecting 20,000-30,000 at tomorrow's demonstration.
- CUP lead candidate Carlos Riera: "A vote for the CUP is one that gives a clear guarantee of independence that does not yield." The CUP will take part in a government that commits to unfolding the Republic from day one.
PP leaders dominate the begin of the march for the Spanish constitution in Barcelona (photo below). PP leader García Albiol criticises Citizens and PSC leaders for not being present on the march.
- Podemos Andalusia leader Teresa Rodríguez (from the Anticapitalists tendency), says that it is "disgusting" that the PSC tickets includes leaders of the former ruling christian democrat Democratic Union of Catalonia and that is "shameful" that García Albiol should wave the flag of Andalusia in the Catalan parliament.
- In the Spanish congress prime minister Rajoy makes broad consensus a pre-condition for reform of the constitution.
- Lleida mayor Ângel Ros demands that the CUP municipal group remove their yellow ribbons of solidarity with Catalan political prisoners from the Lleida council premises (see photo under Monday, December 4). The CUP councillors refuse.
- Gerardo Pisarello, deputy-mayor of Barcelona, compares Pascal Maragall, a previous leader of the PSC and former Catalan premier and mayor of Barcelona, with present incumbent Miquel Iceta: "He had a very tough criticism of [former PP prime minister José María] Aznar, and I don't see him doing selfies with Albiol and defending the 155."
- José Manuel Villegas, general secretary of Citizens: "We can't trust leaving our future in the hands of Pedro Sńachez and Miquel Iceta."
- Huge caravan of cars leaves Catalonia for Brussels (photo: supporters in northern Catalan region of southern France greeting cars driving up to Brussels).
- PSC lead candidate Miquel Iceta: "Now is the time to reform the [Spanish] constitution."
Today's front cover
"The Supreme Court dodges a legal defeat in Belgium"
Latest Feedback poll for El Nacional
NOTE: "Catalonia: Seats and estimate of vote 2017". Sample, 1000; Margin error, +- 3.6% at 96.84% confidence level. Date, December 1 to December 5.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5
50 nights with political prisoners
Manel Fontdevila, Ara, December 5 (Number 2 in his "Diary of a non-normal election campaign")
Rajoy (phrase from yesterday's Spanish Supreme Court decision justifying continuing detention of four Catalan political prisoners--Oriol Junqueras is looking out of cell): "...outbreaks of violence and conduct threatening physical integrity".
Ferreres, El Periódico, December 5
"The election race begins" [with JxCat and ERC candidates kept in jail by yesterday's order of the Spanish Supreme Court]
- Spanish electoral commission orders this banner removed from the headquarters of Catalan public TV.
- Galician PP premier Alberto Núñez Feijóo with lead PP candidate Xavier García Albiol at meeting sponsored by the Galician Cultural Centre Saudade in Barcelona. García Albiol told the meeting that if pro-independence forces won on December 21, pension payments would stop.
- At PSC election meeting Extremadura premier Guillermo Fernández Vara calls Catalan independence process "a pseudorevolution of the well-off that the poorest will pay for."
- Reus group "Grandmothers and Grandfathers for Freedom", banned from demonstrating by the Spanish electoral commission, will return to the streets next Monday (photo from a November demonstration).
"The prisoners would ask us, what are you doing here?" said Turull: "Yesterday we left wing 4 with all the prisoners applauding us and embracing us".
- CUP action in support of the CUP mayor of Argentona (Maresme), who refuses to answer a court order related to October 1 referendum preparations
They can’t get away with calling us violent: we are not
“Junqueras, Forn, Sànchez and Cuixart are not violent types”
By Antoni Bassas, Ara, December 5
Judge Llarena has ruled that Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras, Home Affairs minister Joaquim Forn plus grassroots leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart (ANC and Òminium Cultural, respectively) must be kept in remand pending trial without bail. But he has set a bail amount of €100,000 for the release of ministers Meritxell Borràs, Dolors Bassa, Josep Rull, Jordi Turull, Carles Mundó and Raül Romeva. Six out, four stay in. How come? Well, the judge believes that they are likely to reoffend with serious consequences. In his statement, Judge Lamela highlights the actions by Junqueras, Forn, Sànchez and Cuixart. Notice the language he uses: “Their contributions are instrumental to a violent explosion which, should it reoccur, would leave no room for correction or satisfaction to those affected”. What does the judge regard as a violent explosion? What he calls the “siege” of the HQ of the Catalan Finance Ministry on September 20.
“The risk of reoffending demands a higher degree of caution and rigour by this magistrate when striking a balance between the defendants’ right to be free and the right of the community to go about their daily business in a context that is devoid of any foreseeable risk of actions that might cause irreparable damage, not merely to the peaceful coexistence of families and society at large and their freedom to conduct business, but also to the general public’s physical integrity.
Judge Llarena concludes that, in the case of these four defendants, the risk that they might reoffend “reflects the likelihood that they might engage again in acts that might cause serious, immediate and irreparable damage to the community”. The danger, according to the judge, is not averted by the defendants formally shunning their previous strategy, “but the unlikelihood of further attacks would have to be positively validated or the truthfulness of their change of heart would have to be confirmed one step at a time”.
I am not a legal expert but, with all due respect for the judge, this sounds more like state retribution than justice. In other words, the judge claims that Junqueras is the leader of an organisation that stages violent demonstrations and Forn is the Home Affairs minister who looks the other way while Cuixart and Sànchez encourage the people to take to the streets. In other words, what everyone saw as a peaceful demonstration with the two grassroots leaders asking protestors to go home, the judge sees as “attacks”. And please don’t talk to me about the Guardia Civil’s 4x4s. I was there. I saw them park their cars outside the building so that something might happen. I know —and I can say this because I know it for a fact— that the security personnel manning the headquarters of the ministry offered the Guardia Civil a parking space in the building’s underground car park, but they turned their offer down. And I know that, by the time the Catalan police might have managed to set a perimeter and move the people further away from the main entrance, it was already too late.
But the most outrageous sentence is the one I quoted earlier: “Their contributions are instrumental to a violent explosion”. I have said it many times before: the choice of words is of paramount importance. For instance, if someone suddenly asked you what might cause a violent explosion, you would undoubtedly answer “a bomb”. Who plants bombs? Terrorists do. The judge claims that a rally that went on for 17 or 18 hours was a violent explosion. He is saying that Junqueras, Forn, Cuixart and Sànchez are violent people and that everyone who dropped by the Rambla de Catalunya that day took part in a violent explosion. By using that phrase, he is looking to induce a particular mindset. The election campaign that just kicked off intends to present Catalonia as a violent nation that needs to be rescued by normal people.
As days go by, it is becoming increasingly clear that the images of Spanish Guardia Civil and police beating up voters on October 1 have backfired on them to the point that they have caused more damage to them than to the people they clubbed. They hate that the whole world has seen their baton charges and they are desperately trying to put the blame on the secessionist camp. If you are travelling to the march in Brussels this week, watch out for false flag provocateurs who might seek to discredit Catalan demonstrators in front of Europe. And to think that Catalans tend to value form over substance and independence supporters would much rather put together a concert …
They can’t get away with calling us violent: we are not. Junqueras, Forn, Sànchez and Cuixart are not violent types and the best way to prove that is to have a campaign that is joyful, active, proud and committed, and go to the polls on December 21 wearing a big smile. And to win. We must turn our pain and our indignation into a victory at the polls.
Freedom for Jordi Cuixart, Jordi Sànchez, Oriol Junqueras and Joaquim Forn. And may those in Brussels be able to return home soon: Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín, Clara Ponsatí, Meritxell Serret and Lluís Puig.
- Judge Pablo Llamena withdraws the European warrant for the arrest of Puigdemont and the five Catalan ministers in Belgium. Comment of released Catalan attorney-general Carles Mundó: "The Spanish legal system, before turning red with embarrassment, preferred to withdraw this European warrant so that the Belgian legal system wouldn't set them right. "
- The Barnils Group of journalists, which documents cases of repression of freedom of expression since the Spanish police and Civil Guard intervention began in Catalonia, releases it latest map of censureship.
- Spanish police search Catalan statistical agency Idescat for documentation relation to October 1 referendum
- The Catalan economics ministry issues its calculation for Catalonia's fiscal deficit with the rest of the Spanish state (cash-flow based) at €16.57 billion for 2014. Calculated on a cost-benefit basis the figure is €11.59 billion.
Front page of the day
"Jonqueras will stay in jail so he can't head up more acts of violence"
Images from last night's election campaign launches
JxCat--Carles Puigdemont addressing meeting from Brussels
ERC--Attorney-general Carles Mundó, released earlier in the day, thanking meeting for support received by political prisoners
CUP--lead candidate Carles Riera addressing opening rally in Barcelona's Ramon Llull high school, scene of some of the heaviest police charges on October 1
CatECP--Xavier Domènech stressing the social struggle
PSC--lead candidatde Miquel Iceta (left) being presented as bearer of solutions. Accompanied to his right by Nuria Marín, PSC mayoress of L'Hospitalet and to her right, Ramon Espadeler, former leader of the christian democrat Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC)
Citizens--Ines Arrimades speaking against a backdrop of the "horrors" of Catalonia's recent past: the"Spain Robs Us" of Catalan nationalism, the 2003-10 PSC-ERC-ICV tripartite government, the 3% commission sucessful bidders for public contracts paid into the coffers of the once-ruling Democratic Convergence of Catalonia, and the red estelada, the "communist" version of the independence flag
PP--'Spain is the solution', with lead candidate Xavier García Albiol
MONDAY, DECEMBER 4 (official start to election campaign)
49 nights with political prisoners
Manel Fontdevila, Ara, December 4 (Number 1 in his "Diary of a non-normal election campaign")
Title: Don't say "Election Campaign", say "Fortnight of Yoga"
Cop: "You're not wearing anything yellow-coloured, are you?"
Ultra-rightist: "TV3 is not normal! It indoctrinates badly!" [sings Francoist anthem Cara al Sol]
Beseiged voter: "I'm not feeling anything...calm...I'm not feeling anything..."
- Tonight's demonstrations for the release of the two Jordis, Junquera s and Forn: Sabadell; Barcelona; Tarragona;
- Spanish Constitutional Court supports Spanish government appeal to suspend the Catalan government law on climate change.
- Demonstration for release of remaining four Catalan political prisoners begins in St James Square, central Barcelona.
[TWEET] Raül Romeva: "Thanks for having always been there, we've had you by our side at every moment. Today we leave prison but we do so without Oriol, without Joaquim, without the Jordis. Let's think about them, let's take care of them every day and, above all, let's dignify them on December 21. Let democracy win."
- Ministers Raül Romeva, Carles Mundó, Jordi Turull and Josep Rull on leaving Estremera prison this evening.
- Barcelona mayoress Ada Colau describes the maintenance of preventive detention for Junqueras, Forn and the two Jordis as "an attempt to criminalise the independence movement."
- ERC maintains that lead candidate Oriol Junqueras is being kept in prison in order to favour unionist bloc in the December 21 election.
- CUP municipal group in Lleida hands yellow ribbons off the council building (the Paeria) to demand release of Junqueras, Forn and the two Jordis.
- Judge in Sabadell opens investigation into whether Catalan police acted "passively" at local high school being used as polling station on October 1.
- Belgian judge will decide on extradition of Carles Puigdemont and four ministers in exile on December 14.
- Spanish Centre for Sociological Research (CIS) releases its traditional pre-election forecast for the December 21 Catalan elections. It has the pro-independence parties just short of a majority (66-67 out of 135), with the ERC and Citizens (Cs) neck-and-neck for lead party. Support for JxCat continues to rise while Catalunya en Comú has the balance of power.
NOTE: Sample, 3000; Margin of error, +-1.8%, at 95.5% confidence interval; Date, November 23-27.
- The CUP launches its December 21 campaign themes, to be expressed through four posters:
- "We've taken a modest decision--not to retreat"
- "A people that struggles never loses"
- "Against the state of emergency, the dignity of rebellion"
- "Not asking permission to be free, nor pardon for being so"
- CUP main poster for December 21
"We've got 155 reasons to spare
Social rights--Republic--Constituent Assembly"
- Casseres (Berguedà) becomes first municipality to announce it belongs to the Catalan Republic.
- Reactions to Supreme Court decision:
[TWEET] Marcelo Mauri (Vice-president, Omnium Cultural): "Let's turn anger and indignation into energy to continue building a just and cohesive society and, above all, into votes that fill the ballot boxes of freedom. Friends Jordi Cuixart, Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sànchez and Joaquim Forn, we shall not rest until you return home."
[TWEET] Gabriel Rufián (ERC MP, Spanish Congress): Hullo Ada Colau and Pablo Iglesias. Junqueras, Forn, Cuixart and Sànchez won't be able to give you explanations today either. It's that fascism never sleeps."
[TWEET] Xavier Domènech (lead candidate, Catalunya en Comú-Podem): "Absolutely unjust to maintain previsional detentions that should never have happened in the first place."
[TWEET] Albano-Dante Fachin (former general secretary, Podemos Catalonia): "If the Jordis don't return and if half the government continues in jail, this December 21--if anyone still doubted--there are only two blocs: democracy and authoritarianism. To pretend otherwise is to side with dictatorship."
[TWEET] Xavier Garcia Albiol (PP lead candidate): "With the decision of the Supreme Court judge it is shown that the Spanish Constitution is not chewing gum that can be stretched as far as allowing independence, as stated by Oriol Junqueras."
- Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, keeps four of the ten Catalan political prisoners--vice-president Oriol Junqueras, interior minister Joaquim Forn, ANC president Jordi Sànchez and Omnium Cultural president Jordi Cuixart--in detention, releasing the other six on bail of €100,000 each. The released ministers are foreign minister Raül Romeva, welfare minister Dolors Bassa, minister of administration Meritxell Borràs, infrastructure and transport minister Josep Rull, minister of state Jordi Turull and attorney-general Carles Mundó.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 3
48 nights with political prisoners
Manel Fontdevila, El Diario, November 29
[Signs read: "Sentences", "Pardons", "Favourable treatments", "Judges", "Leaks", "Rulings made to measure", "Sewers"]
Rajoy: "And then they'll say that in Spain the legal system has to be modernised... Self-service! What can you ask for that's more modern than that?"
- Catalan national anthems The Reapers sung by 10,000 at yesterday's Plaza d'Espanya concert.
- Vice-president Oriol Junqueras calls for EU supervision of Catalan election in this article in the Brussels-based Político.
[TWEET] Albano Dante Fachin (former general secretary of Podemos Catalonia): "Pablo's right. Just like when Allende awoke the spectre of Pinochet. How bad this all is."
- 10,000 musicians play together in solidarity with Catalan political prisoners and exiles, in Barcelona's Plaça d'Espanya (below).
- ERC national secretary Marta Rovira says that the Catalan Republic has to be built from the municipalities, which are also under threat from the article 155 intervention.
- Creating a human yellow ribbon in solidarity with the political prisoners, Parets de Vallès (Vallès Oriental).
- Pablo Iglesias addresses CatECP rally in Barcelona.
- Main points of his speech:
- The Puigdemont government had "awoken the spectre of fascism": "Those who promised something that they knew was a lie have failed. We told them so in public and private. And that has had disastrous consequences for Catalonia and the rest of the state--they have reawakened the spectre of fascism."
- PP and Citizens have "given up" on Catalonia: "They know that they won't rule here and all they think about is hunting for votes in other regions [of Spain]. They don't care. They know that Arrimades and Albiol won't be presidents and they are using Catalonia to win power in the rest of the [Spanish] State."
- "Don't forget who has lied, who has privatised and who has been corrupt": the two blocs that now confront each other have "implemented the same policies".
- Announcement of the formation of Mossos [Catalan police] for Democracy, an association of police opposed to the application of article 155.
- PP leader Xavier Garcia Albiol calls for a vote for the PP over the "opportunists and adventurists" of Citizens.
- Fifteen-member national secretariat of the CUP decides to step down to allow "process of renewal".
- Heavy metal version of Catalan national anthem The Reapers at last night's "Concert for Freedom" here.
Latest opinion poll on Catalan elections (SocioMétrica)
[NOTE: There are 135 seats in the Catalan parliament, with 68 seats a majority. This poll, done for El Español, shows the pro-independence parties with 68-72 seats.]
The main features are:
- Support for independence bloc holding, support for unionst bloc increasing and support for Catalunya en Comú (CeC) declining.
- Increase in support for JxCat at the expense of ERC.
- Increase in support for the PSC and Citizens at expense of PP.
- Decline in support for The Commons (CSQP in 2015, CeC today)
Sample, 800; Margin of error: +-3%. Date: November 27-30.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2
47 nights with political prisoners
La Punxa d'en Jap, El Punt Avui, December 1
"The sun rising over Catalonia is forbidden!" [because yellow, the colour of solidarity with Catalan political prisoners, has been banned from public buildings and places by the Spanish electoral commission]
Time-lag video clip of painting "Freedom for Political Prisoners" mural
From freedom (ANC president Jordi Sànchez's fourth open letter from jail)
We now face a great challenge: turning all our pain into a new social asset
If the media are to be believed, this may be my last letter from prison. It may even be the case that, by the time it is published, the Supreme Court will have overturned its decision to send me to prison on remand. Or perhaps not. Which is why we need to be very careful not to confuse our genuine optimism with our hopes for our impending release from prison. The former helps us to get through each day, while the second could plunge us into depression, if it is frustrated. Whatever happens, it's like life itself: the more optimistic you are, the better and the more life will smile at you, but as for expectations, the fewer you have, the better and they should be as reasonable as possible.
There’s no doubt that the State’s response to the referendum and the subsequent declaration of independence has had a significant impact on us all. The police brutality outraged us. Every image of the police beating and manhandling innocent members of the public who were only trying to vote enraged us and hurt us. That day we collectively went from a congratulatory smile for our civic revolution to a contained gesture of public indignation. But the incarcerations on 16 October and 2 November —and the forced exile of President Puigdemont and the four ministers in Brussels— caused many to travel from indignation to sadness, and pain.
Our sadness and an anxiety were not limited to relatives and friends of those behind bars and those seeking refuge in Brussels. Not at all. instead, it was, and it remains a society-wide sadness. An outrage that has taken hold of a part of Catalan society, wrapping us in a blanket of collective unease.
Here in prison I have felt it through the thousands of words in the letters I have received. And I am sure all of you have also perceived it, if not personally, then in your family or workplace. Many tell me that a form of sadness has hung over all the demonstrations we have organised since 16 October. The light of the candles and the whiteness of the mobile phones on that 11 November projected solidarity and a craving for freedom pierced with sadness.
In their letters, people tell me they find it hard to fall asleep, that they don’t feel like going to the cinema or the theatre. They even tell me they feel guilty being free and enjoying everyday normality (work, family, friends...) while we’re in prison or in Brussels. And a lot more people tell me that they’ve wept, and they still do so when they think about us or hear our families.These two months have left no one indifferent. And I’m convinced that today Catalan society is more aware than ever of the meaning and the feeling of solidarity and pain since we have jointly expressed ourselves, without shame and without fear, hundreds and thousands of us. Today there are many more of us and we feel more cohesive as a people. And that is a good thing.
But now we face a great challenge; how to turn all this pain into a new social advantage. The pain we have suffered will count for little unless we collectively transform it into a source of renewed hope.
It's time to recover our smile, the same smile that has made us so strong since 2012. The collective sadness —inevitable in shocking circumstances like the one we have experienced— cannot and should not continue any longer. No one ought to feel guilty if we remain in jail or in exile. It is time to wear our best smile once more, to regain our enthusiasm and prepare to continue making history in the conquest of our freedom.
The work that remains to be done is still enormous. We are at a historical moment in time to continue showing everyone who wishes to see that we are all determined and with the same democratic will to achieve our independence. As a consequence, we must present ourselves to the world in the best manner possible. With a new smile, enthusiasm and a commitment that I invite you to share right away. And on 21 December we have our second appointment with destiny. With the ballot box, in an election that has been declared illegally but from which we will not shy away, as a democrat never shuns a ballot.
Let no one think that the work has already been done, that they are tired, that there is nothing left to do. In building a country one can never say that everything is finished. The nation is a permanent plebiscite. Everyone is called, and we are all needed. Now is the time to turn our pain into enthusiasm and turn back once again towards history. And wearing our best smile. With a light in our eyes and a spring in our step. Let’s do this!
Ada Colau's letter to members of Catalunya en Comú urging attendance at December 2 launch of CatECP campaign
On December 21, we Catalans have a very important appointment at the polls. These elections are key for Catalonia, but also for Barcelona.
Since our arrival at the City Council, we have shown that many things could be done that previously we were always told were impossible: we have increased investment in social services by 50%, which makes us the capital with the highest social investment per inhabitant of the whole [Spanish] State; we have regulated hotel activity through the PEUAT [Special Tourist Accomodation Plan]; we have made 010 [the Barcelona Council information and hep line] free again; we have frozen the IBI [municipal Tax on Real Estate Assets] for 98% of the population; we have modified the regulation covering cemeteries and are working to create a public funeral service; and we have tripled the existing number of bicycle lanes.
We have also changed the rules of participation so as to facilitate citizen consultations and we have put the fight against gender violence at the center of our policies; we have created mechanisms of transparency to avoid new cases of corruption and cast light on existing ones and we have unblocked important projects for the city like the recovery of the Model prison, Garcini Tower, the reform of the Place of the Glories, Sagrera Tower and the traffic-calming of Meridiana Avenue. And all this has been done while facing the Montoro Law that aims to stifle councils' sovereignty through controlling their accounts.
At the same time we have had to make an effort to respond as City Council to those needs that are not sufficiently met by the Generalitat [Catalan government]. Thus, we have created ten new primary schools; we have multiplied the housing budget by four and are working to create a stock of public housing for affordable rent; we have doubled monitoring of evictions by creating a specialised unit and we have fined companies that do not comply with the Energy Poverty Law. We have created a guaranteed family income for children at risk; we have promoted a counter-pollution policy through the creation of low-emission zones that should allow us to breathe better and have increased our [financial] contribution to the public transport system to avoid ticket price increases. We have made an effort to ensure the Metro arrives at the [underserviced neighbourhoods of the Barcelona Port area of the] Marina . We are working on the municipalisation of the water service. We are working to improve working conditions and achieve a minimum citizen salary of 1000 euros and we are developing economic policies to improve the productive fabric and promote the cooperative economy.
We need a proposal that puts people and their needs at the centre of politics, which does not resign itself to subordinating the social agenda to the national agenda. A proposal that defends sovereignty and the right to decide in Catalonia and at the same time does not give up on building a project for the future shared with the rest of Spain's peoples.
In the December 21 elections this alternative is represented by Xavi Domènech and the Catalonia in Comú-Podem ticket. A winning combination that ties the work of opposition done in the Congress against austerity and the re-centralising policies of the People's Party with the work of construction carried out by the City Council so as to make Barcelona a city of rights and opportunities for everybody.
Can you imagine what it would mean for Catalonia to take the policies that we have pushed from Barcelona into the Government of Catalonia? Can you imagine what we could win for the city of Barcelona if on December 21 Xavi Domènech is elected new president of the Generalitat? Can you imagine a government of the Generalitat that also responds to the serious social and environmental problems afflicting the country? Come to Saturday's event and get involved in the campaign. Between all of us we will make it possible.
- "Concert for Freedom" begins in Bareclona's Lluis Companys Olympic Stadium.
- Citizens' leader Albert Rivera tells rally that "PSC is a bad copy of the nationalists".
- Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy tells PP rally in Mataró that "the process has ended" and that Catalonia is on the road to normality. Lead PP candidate Albiol García says that his party is the "real opposition" to the independence process.
- Carles Puigdemont addresses PDECat rally in the First of October Square outside the high school in Sant Julià de Ramis where he was supposed to vote on October 1 and where the Civil Guard made their first raid attempting to stop the vote. Puigdemont, in a direct link from Brussels, said that December 21 would be "the second round" of October 1 and called on the auddience to bring "the spirit of October 1" to mobilisation and organisation for the day.
- Xavier Domènech to CatECP rally in Barcelona: "Neither [Spanish treasurer Cristóbal] Montoro nor the Constitutional Court is an excuse [for the Puigdemont goverrnment shortcomings in social policy]."
- Chants of the ultra-right: "You are not alone, you are with the lice", "Soap and water is the solution" and "In-Inte-inteligencia" [parody of "In-inde-independència".
- Spokesperson of ultra-right group National Democracy read out a manifesto at their rally opposing the banning of the CUP because "it is a factory of patriots".
- Fifty-odd ultras confront massive defence picket outside CUP HQ: Chants: "The streets will always be ours!", "Fascists, you are four cats" (i.e., very, very few) and "They shall not pass".
- PDECat president Marta Pascal describes the December 21 election as "a plebiscite between Puigdemont and Rajoy".
- Human defense barrier of CUP HQ against ultra-right demonstration forms (below).
Today in English in El Nacional:
- Agriculture minister Meritxell Serret: "As long as Spain acts undemocratically, we need a Catalan government in exile"
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1
46 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, December 1
Citizens' leaders Ines Arrimades, Juan Carlos Giraulta and Albert Rivera: "The colour of these cars [Barcelona's yellow cabs] violates electoral neutrality". Woman from the electoral commission: "I'm taking a note of that."
STOP THE PRESSES
The reckless bias of Spanish media when reporting on violence
Any allegedly separatist graffiti is more newsworthy than an actual physical assault
“Separatists mark home of Catalan judge behind referendum probe” was the headline on El Mundo’s front page the same day when they could have run a story about the school in Valencia that was vandalised after a private Spanish TV network, Antena 3, claimed the schoolchildren there were being indoctrinated because they were shown a video about the history of Catalonia. This is the sheer bias of Spanish media: they don’t bother to cover the very real, palpable instances of physical violence by far-right groups, whose actions are either excused by media or simply ignored. Instead, only the graffiti allegedly drawn by independence supporters who have —so far— never been responsible for any physical assaults (let’s hope it stays that way) are regarded as newsworthy.
Meanwhile, the fascists who attacked Blanquerna [the Catalan government’s office in Madrid several years ago], including one who is related to several Partido Popular officials —he is the defence minister’s cousin and the brother-in-law of the Spanish deputy minister for EU affairs— have dodged their prison sentence, once again, thanks to the gracious grace of the oh-so-graceful (and Popular!) Spanish Constitutional Court. Of course, no ardent editorials, no outraged headlines have been printed in condemnation. Unsurprisingly, the HQs of pro-independence parties in Catalonia have also fallen prey to faceless, spray-painting cowards, but that hasn’t got the attention of the Madrid-based papers, either.
The efforts to impose a certain sectarian political narrative have definitely corroded the basic principle of journalism, which states that you must present the different angles and reasons behind a conflict.
These days there has been much talk as to whether there would have been a clear and present threat of violence by the Spanish state against independence supporters, had they been urged to engage in peaceful resistance to defend the Catalan Republic. While we wait for further details to emerge, it is obvious that, for months, certain newspapers have been preparing their (Spanish) readers for that sort of violence. In doing so, they were either reckless or foolish.
- Catalan public television channel TV3 takes out a libel suit against El País for its article "A Week in the TV3 Bubble", which accused the channel of repeated manipulation of the news. The director of TV3, Victor Sanchís had given the newspaper three days to print a detailed retraction, but received no reply to this request.
- The Spanish electoral commission rules that tormorrow's ultra-right demonstration outside the headquarters of the CUP does not prejudice the electoral process. The CUP calls for volunteers to set up a peaceful defence barrier around the building.
- Reus town council adopts by 14 votes to 12 a PSC motion calling for the release of the Catalan political prisoners. In favour: PSC, PDECat, ERC. Against: PP, Citizens, CUP. CUP councilor Edgar Fernández justified the CUP's opposition by saying that the motion "contained no political proposal" and only served to "justify the passive role of the PSC", which is "unjust".
- Spanish ministry of foreign affairs orders all Catalan overseas delegations closed and employees dismissed.
- [November 30] Terrassa leaves the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) because of split between previous governing coalition of PSC and PDECat.
- Rajoy government spokesperson Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, accuses Unidos Podemos of acting as an "appendage" of Catalan nationalism.
- "Grandmothers and grandfathers for freedom" meet in Reus town hall in protest against the Spanish electoral commission decision banning them from meeting in Reus's central square in support of the Catalan political prisoners.
- Today's demonstration of public servants against the application of article 155 (below).
- Marta Sibina, En Comú Podem MP in the Spanish parliament, criticises Unidos Podemos for not allowing ERC and PDECat to be partners in its case against the constitutionality of the article 155 intervention, supposedly because they bear a part of the blame.
[TWEET] Marta Sibina: "The action of the Catalan government can be criticised, but NEVER put it on the same level as those who jail, censure and bash. That's unworthy."
- Elsa Artadi, campaign director for JxCat, explains to Catalunya Radio that three shared points between JxCat, ERC and the CUP are presently being negotiated: release of the political prisoners and an end to the application of article 155; affirmation of the validity of the referendum of October 1 and that the vote on December 21 will be one to ratify the referendum result; and the creation of a constituent process to broaden the base of support of the independence process.
- Ines Arrimades (Citizens): "I respect the courts, but if they let them [the detained ministers] out, they'll go and go the same thing."
- PP MP Santi Rodríguez demands that the jailed Catalan ministers declare themselves "democrats" (ie, accept the imposition of article 155) on the basis of "conviction and not cowardice".
- Spanish electoral commission orders the removal of "Freedom" and "Democracy" posters from the Catalan economy ministry (below).
- Citizens demands of the Spanish electoral commission that it order the return of the portrait of King Felipe and the removal of the portrait of Carles Puigdemont in the council chambers of Sitges (Garraf) .
- ERC denounces in the Spanish senate the blocking of funds for the ongoing excavation of Civil War-era mass graves (see below), a special priority under the Puigdemont government. Over 100,000 unidentified bodies remain in these mass graves across the Spanish state.
- Catalan community in Mexico City sets up Committee for the Defence of the Republic.
- Response of people of Manlleu to banning of yellow ribbons and banners supporting the political prisoners (below).
- CatECP releases main points of its election proposal (election meeting poster shows policies of Barcelona Council migrating across St James Square to the Catalan government building):
- Implement the Guaranted Citizen Income adopted in July by the Catalan parliament, indexed to the poverty line and with increased payments for children.
- Increase tax rates on high incomes, and imposea tax on financial entities keeping housing empty.
- Set the minimum wage at €1000 a month (presently €707.60)
- Lift spending on education to 6% of GDP (presently 2.8%)
- Restore the €1.5 billion cut in health expenditure and progressively increase it as a percentage of GDP
- Create a public bank
- Change the Catalan electoral law to allow non-national residents to vote
- Abandon any attempt at unilateral referendum and pursue a negotiated referendum with the Spanish state
- Latest articles from El Nacional in English:
- The reality of the Spanish intervention in Catalonia: suspended projects, delayed subsidies
- Rajoy regrets his road losing its Francoist name: "I don't know why they removed it"
- Today's front page (no comment)
"Iglesias turns his back on Spain and hands himself over to nationalism"
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30
45 nights with political prisoners
Anthony Garner, Ara, November 30
[NOTE: After the Barcelona branch of the Spanish electoral comission ruled that the public displays of yellow on buildings, fountains, statues etc and the wearing of yellow ribbons on election day by election volunteers could be interpreted as partisan in the run-up to the December 21 Catalan elections.]
Vidal Aragonés, CUP candidate for Barcelona
Source: Ara, November 30
Vidal Aragonés is number three on the list of the CUP for Barcelona. From the outer Barcelona metropolitan working-class town of Cornellà, up until now he was a town councilor for the left-wing alliance Call for Cornellà--Cornellà en Comú, bringing together Cornellà Left Alternative, the ecological party Equo, Constituent Process, Pirates of Catalonia and Podemos.
What is the CUP's goal now?
To implement the [Catalan] Republic and the "decrees for dignity" as a shock social plan. This can't be done in a context of ordinary regional ["autonomous"] government .
What are the decrees?
Control of infrastructure, a public bank, and transport and strategic sectors, such as water, electricity, education and health being publicly owned and managed.
How is the Republic to be developed?
If we were the government we would give the orders and assume the responsibilities needed to make it effective. Public administration and public employees must serve the Republic.
By disobeying Spanish legality?
By obeying Catalan legality. The Republic will come about when public administration obeys the mandate of the people and on the basis of strong mobilisation and self-organisation.
Would the Mossos [Catalan police] be sent to the airport and to control the borders?
I can't tell you what we would do exactly but it would be through the institutions and the mobilised people. As for October 1 [the independence referendum]: that wasn't the Mossos, but the people organised, and peacefully organised.
But on October 1 the people suffered the violence of the police. In the case of implementation of the Republic, wouldn't you have to be prepared for that?
That's an assumption I can't answer, you would have to ask [Spanish government delegate in Catalonia] Enric Millo. The people are mature enough to decide what they want. If we build majorities, the intervention of the State isn't possible.
Was October 1 legitimate enough to implement the Republic?
We have a mandate. September 27, [2015, date of the "plebiscitary elections" that created a pro-independence parliamentary majority] and October 1, given the difficulties generated by the State.
Is it important, in terms of implementing the Republic, that support for independence exceed 50% of the vote [on December 21]?
We already have a mandate. But of course whatever makes the independence cause stronger is positive.
And if it doesn't reach 50%?
It is irresponsible to make an evaluation. You have to look at the context of the campaign and when it's time to vote. The reality is one of coup d'etat, with prisoners and repression.
If ERC and JxCat do not implement the Republic, will you apply a boycott?
We haven't come into the institutions to take part in a Spanish regional administration. If ERC and JxCat violate their commitments, we will adopt measures that put on pressure to make the Republic effective.
Will there be an alliance with the commons [Catalunya en Comú-Podemos]?
We would like to take a trip to Madrid and come back with a referendum agreed, but it's not possible. There is no prospect of new majorities and a two-thirds majority would be needed in the [Spanish] institutions. Since the end of the Franco regime there has been no process of democratisation .
The commons would respond that unilateralism has not worked to achieve independence...
Their strategy hasn't worked for 300 years. Not in the most progressive moments nor during the most revolutionary changes in Spain. We put the referendum on the table and it has absolute democratic legitimacy. They cannot say that our strategy has failed, it has been a success.
The Republic has not been implemented...
If anyone thinks the Republic will be created through a change of legal framework they are mistaken. Let no one believe in independence by magic. And this is not just about the commons, but other, pro-independence forces too. It's a question of popular mandate, disobedience and implementing a new institutional regime.
Would you be part of a Government with ERC and JxCat?
We're not considering that now. But it would be something the membership would decide.
You could be reproached for not wanting to wear the cost of being in government. Ministers are now in jail.
Never has anyone raised entry into government with us. However, we will not give up on our political program. And if anyone minimally questions the commitment of the CUP, let them say in what. We have suffered political repression for decades.
If we see CUP people facing charges, what legal strategy will they follow?
We'll decide that at the time. Up until now we have followed a line of disobedience and we will not abandon our political practice: we will not make any commitment not to implement the Republic and socialism.
Would you do what the ERC and PDECat ministers are doing [accepting the reality of the article 155 intervention under duress]?
With all due respect, there's no comparison. For us there is a Catalan legality and we do not recognise Spanish justice.
That can lead to arrests and imprisonment.
We understand that. They can separate us from our families and send us to jail. But repression and loss of freedom will not limit our political behaviour.
You were against supporting the [last Puigdemont government] budget. Are you critical of what the CUP did?
The strategy of the CUP facilitated that there was no backtracking on October 1. Afterwards we also saw that the budget was not needed.
And how was October 1 paid for?
By the people's will. October 1 took place because, from an organisational and material point of view, the people wanted it to.
President Puigdemont and the ministers in exile in Brussels commemorate one month away from Catalonia with a ceremony in the studio of a Belgian artist who sheltered Jews during World War 2. They receive a hand-made senyera (the Catalan official flag) made by Catalan exiles in Algeria after the 1936-39 Civil War, and sent to Brussels from the exiled family's final destination, Chile (photo below).
- The Professional Council of Catalan Television rejects Spanish electoral commission criticism of its coverage of the November 11 demonstration for the Catalan political prisoners, pointing out that it has also done live coverage of unionist demonstrations.
- The Spanish electoral commission continues to order the removal of insognia in support of the Catalan political prisoners from town halls. Latest examples: Camprodón and Ribes de Freser (Ripollès).
- The PP denounces Catalunya Radio announcer Mònica Terribas to the electoral commission for having used the non-neutral term "jailed ministers".
- The High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) rules that the Spanish state cannot oblige the municipality of Les Preses (Garrotxe) to fly the Spanish flag because "this requirement was never advised."
- ERC campaign poster released (below)
"Democracy always wins" #let'smakerepublic
- The Unidos Podemos group in the Spanish parliament will present an appeal against the constitutionality of the Rajoy government's ending of Catalan self-rule under article 155 of the Spanish constitution.
- Members of the European Parliament denounce the difficulties they are having in getting permission from Spanish authorities to visit jailed Catalan ministers.
- PSC leader Miquel Iceta proposes in El Mundo that Catalonia and all other of Spain's autonomous communities have the power to raise and spend taxes via a federal treasury.
- [November 28] BBC coverage of the Catalan situation here.
- Carles Puigdemont, interviewed on the TV3 breakfast show, repeats his assertion that the Catalan independence movement cannot rule out "unilaterality", given the unilateral actions of the Spanish state.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29
44 nights with political prisoners
La Punxa d'en Jap, El Punt Avui, November 29
Civil Guard: "This one goes to Alcalà-Meco prison" [where the female Catalan ministers are in jail]
[NOTE: The Spanish culture minister Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, in his capacity as acting culture minister of the Catalan government under Madrid's article 155 intervention, yesterday ordered the return to the monastery of Sixena in Aragon of invaluable Romanic-era religious artworks rescued and restored by Catalan restorers after the anarchist Durruti column set fire to it during the Spanish Civil War. The works, in addition to others sold by the monastery to Catalan authorities between 1983 and 1984 and others kept by the bishopric of Lleida (Catalonia) after the creation of the Aragonese bishopric of Barbastre-Montsó during the Franco dictatorship, have since been kept in the diocesan museum of Lleida and Catalan National Art Museum in Barcelona. They have been the subject of a law suit initiated by the Aragon government, with an appeal against the decision of an Aragon judge to order their return to Sixena still to be heard. Méndez de Vigo has intervened to stop Catalan government support to this appeal and also show, under the guise of obeying court instructions, who's boss in Catalonia. See mpre here]
Meeting of Tarragona's College of Lawyers ends with presentation of an enormous yellow riobbon by the audience.
This Christmas tree in the central square of Vic, topped with the yellow ribbbon of solidarity with the political prisoners.
- Going by sales to date this Christmas's most popular caganer ("shitter") will be Carles Puigdemont (below).
- The Spanish Constitutional Court rules that the streamlined one-reading procedure used by the Catalan parliament to adopt the law on the referendum and the law on jurisdictional transitional is constitutional. "It is up to Parliament, in the exercise of its autonomy, to regulate the period for amendments."
- Laia Ortiz, the depity mayoress in charge of social rights on Barcelona Council, warns ERC group leader Alfred Bosch not to spread alarm about the impact of article 155 intervention on council spending.
- Marta Ribas (CatECP) says that this election has to be about "recovering the social" and overcoming the national divide.
- PSC leader Josep Borrell "adjusts" the PSC prohibition on a governing alliance with Citizens: "Let's see first what comes out of the election."
- PP leader Garcia Albiol: "Article 155 has the independence leaders dropping their pants to get out of jail."
- The Spanish far right at work. Demonstration called "the streets are no longer yours" outside the CUP headquarters this Saturday by "For Spain I Dare". Gross caricature is of CUP leader Anna Gabriel, with "Washing prohibited" sign on shower.
- The "cheeky" slogan of Green Left Youth (youth organisation of ICV, part of Catalunya en Comú): "The Equidistants--Neither the Unilateral [path to independence] nor Repression"
- Barcelona branch of the Spanish electoral commission rules that Barcelona Council cannot color fountains yellow in support of Catalan political prisoners (below, fountains of Montjuïc).
- The three CUP councilors on Reus (Baix Camp) town council again refuse to attend court to explain why they should not face charges of "inciting hatred" for having signed a manifesto criticising Spanish police violence on October 1.
- Historian and ICV member Andreu Mayayo, interviewed by NacióDigital, says that Barcelona en Comú "still has to learn the culture of government of the PSUC" [United Socialist Party of Catalonia--the old Catalan CP] and that [PSC mayoress of L'Hospitalet] Nuria Marín "acts more as Barcelona metropolitan mayoress than does Ada Colau."
Front page of the day
"155 takes the artworks off to Sixena"
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28
43 nights with political prisoners
Fer, El Punt Avui, November 28
Sign (on Barcelona Town Hall): "Freedom for Political Prisoners"
Man from the Spanish election commission: "There are no political prisoners! Get rid of that sign!!! And if you don't, judge Lamela [responsible for jailing Catalan ministers] will come and you'll really cop it!"
- Protest against PSC leader Miquel Iceta in Pont de Vilomara (below). Iceta accuses pro-independence councils of discriminating against those who want Catalonia to remain part of Spain.
- University of Pompeu Fabra action in support of jailed ministers and mass movement leaders (see below).
- Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria says the pro-independence parties have to explain the damage they have caused to Catalonia.
- PP leader García Albiol says it would be "fantastic" if ERC lead candidate Marta Rovira were charged for her alleged role in October 1 referendum.
- Spanish culture minister Iñigo Mendez de Vigo orders the return of artworks from Lleida museum (in Catalonia) to Sixena monestery in Aragon. The artworks were saved by Catalan forces during the Civil War and have been the subject of competing claims between Aragon and Catalonia.
- Committee for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) of Barcelona FC set up. First action to be this weekend at Barcelona v. Celta de Vigo (see poster for mobilisation below).
- The October Association of Volunteer Lawyers brings case against Civil Guard for use of tear gas in Mont-Roig del Camp on October 1.
- Ten million working hours were lost through industrial action in Catalonia in October alone, more than for the rest of Spain for the whole year. According to Joan Rosell, head of the Confederation of Spanish Business Organisations (CEOE), this is "dreadful".
- The Economy Circle, the Catalan big business umbrella, warns that if the independence "process" continues companies will continue to shift their headquarters out of Catalonia, noting that 2724 have done so to date.
JxCat launches its election campaign with the slogan "Puigdemont, Our President".
CatECP launches its election campaign, axised against the division of Catalan politics into nationalist and unionists blocs, with the slogan "We've Got a Lot in Common".
- The lawyer for the four imprisoned ERC ministers (treasurer Oriol Junqueras, attorney-general Carles Mundó, minister for social services Dolors Bassa and foreign minister Raül Romeva) says that they "accept the application of article 155 from the deepest political and legal discrepancy, do not renounce pursuit of their political convictions by strictly peaceful and democratic means and work with the goal of reaching an agreement that allows the decision on the future of Catalonia to be placed in the hands of its citizens."
The council of Sant Llorenç de Morunys (Solsonès) ask residents to vote on whether they want christmas decorations in the streets this year, given the imprisonment of Catalan ministers and the two Jordis.
Front page of the day
"[Marta] Rovira [ERC general secretary and lead candidate for December 21 election], near being charged as key player in October 1"
- Letter from jailed Catalan attorney-general Carles Mundó, sent to radio RAC1
In prison, yesterday looks a lot like tomorrow. It is easy to forget which day of the week it is. Mondays are confused with Fridays and Saturdays with Tuesdays.
However, there are special moments that always have to do with what comes from outside, whether it's a call from the family, hearing the voice of your wife and your children, receiving an unexpected visit or going over the situation with your lawyer.
One of the emotional moments is the daily arrival of correspondence. The letters, in their hundreds, keep us very connected with the heartbeat of the people. The thrill of opening each letter without knowing what is hidden inside the envelope is a great experience.
Every week we dedicate hours to reading hundreds of letters and, no matter how sorry we feel, it is impossible to answer them all.
We receive letters of all sorts.
Letters written by hand - some in a precious hand that you would never tire of admiring - where people explain that they do not remember the last time wrote to someone. They acknowledge that for years now they have only used the computer to write, but now want to do it by hand to show that they are writing from the heart.
Many letters written by mothers and grandmothers, who are suffering for our children and our families.
Letters with drawings of children to express the most tender feelings and letters with poems chosen to keep us company.
Letters of friendship that begin with a "we don't know each other at all but every day you are present in our home".
Letters that are addressed with a familiar "you" to emphasise affection and closeness and letters addressed to "honorable minister" to stress the persistance and dignity of our institutions.
Letters of thanks, encouragement and hope and letters of indignation, rage and impotence for the abuse and injustice that aims to keep us locked up in prison, spending 16 hours a day in the cell.
Letters that express incredible generosity but that reckon they are still doing little to help us and letters from people who pray each day for our freedom and light candles to feel us closer to them.
Letters from strangers that tell us about how they fight for their children and their grandchildren and letters from friends, acquaintances and people met that remind us of times we have shared. Moments that made us laugh, made us cry and when we were moved.
We are not alone. We know it and we feel it .
Words don't exist to express this.
In these difficult times, locked up in prison, 700 km away from home, far from our beloved partners, your most beloved little children and our dearly beloved parents, it is a matter of pride to be part of a country where there are so many good people. Honest and committed people, who never give up or let you down.
I believe I can explain it best by remembering one of my favorite phrases:
"Maybe I'll forget what you've done, maybe I'll forget what you said, but I will never forget how you made me feel. "
Thank you so much! Infinite thanks!
Carles Mundó Blanch
Prison of Estremera (Madrid)
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27
42 nights with political prisoners
La Punxa d'en Jap, El Punt Avui, November 27
[NOTE: PP Catalonia lead candidate Xavier García Albiol (pictured) told a PP election meeting that he would, if elected, "close down [Catalan public channel] TV 3 and reopen it with normal people". Albiol is presented here wearing the three-cornered cap of the Civil Guard, in Spanish colours.]
- Reus singer-songwriter Fito Luri release his clip "October" (below)
- Pompeu Fabra University to host meeting in support of imprisoned Catalan attorney-general Carles Mundó (poster below):
- The four ERC ministers in jail ask that the same condition for release on bail (acceptance of the reality of article 155 intervention and commitment to abide by instructions made under it) that was applied to the members of the speakership panel of the Catalan parliament be also appled to them.
- PP and Citizens ask regional office of Spanish electoral commission to force the removal of "Freedom for Political Prisoners" from Sant Cugat town hall (as already done in Barcelona).
- Spanish electoral commission rules that public media in Catalonia cannot use the terms "government in exile" and "imprisoned ministers". Reason: "The viewer could arrive at the false conclusion that there exists a legitimate government in exile, political persecution of ministers or that a specific candidacy is the genuine heir of this supposed Government in exile, concealing or distorting the reality that no such exile exists but rather a pure and simple application of the laws prevailing in a democartic country."
- Puigdemont calls for a "stronger EU where citizens have more decision-making power".
- ANC resident Jordi Sànchez sanctioned for breaking prison regulations by supposedly concealing letters on clothing sent out of jail for laundering.
- CatECP lead candidate Xavier Domènech calls for revival of the National Pact for the Referendum and the passing of a transparecy law outlining what the content of that referendum should be, as the best way of making continuing denial of the Catalan desire for a referendum impossible.
- Citizens releases election program: main features are end to Catalan as language of instruction in schools, to be replaced by a "trilingual" syste; intervention into Catalan public broadcasting, and closure of the Catalan diplomatic service DIPLOCAT.
- ERC lead candidate Marta Rovira: "These elections are about who runs Catalonia, Rajoy or its citizens."
- PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez, concerned that the PP will only want to discuss funding reform in the Spanish parliamentary commission set up as a condition for PSOE support to the Rajoy government's article 155 intervention, says: "Constitutional reform is not an option but a necessity."
- García Albiol on the TV3 morning show: "TV3 has a very serious problem of impartiality".
- Carles Puigdemont in an interview with El Nacional: "We have a State that applies with complete force and complete illegality its own unilateral approach, because article 155 is unilateral, isn't it? And we have to say that we democratically give up a democratic method. A priori, we should give up nothing."
- Last night's Salvados (Spain's most-watched current affairs program) former PSOE prime minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero debates former Catalan premier Artur Mas. Zapatero says that after the events of October "the Catalans have learned a lesson as to what not to do".
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26
41 nights with political prisoners
Fer, El Punt Avui, November 26
"[Spanish] attorney-general Català is right...you have attacked the policeman's baton and you'll have to pay for it."
Front page of the day--No comment
Antonio Cañizares, archbishop of Valencia and vice-president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference: "One can't be an independence supporter and a good Catholic"
- Barcelona mayoress Ada Colau agrees to remove banner demanding freedom for political prisoners.
- 2000 march in Girona for the unity of Spain.
- The Spanish electoral commission, running the December 21 Catalan election, orders Barcelona Town Hall to remove its "Freedom for Political Prisoners" banner (below), supposedly to guarantee its neutrality as a polling station in the December 21 elections.
- Elisenda Alemany (number two candidate for CEC-Podem) calls for women not to vote for the PSC, because it includes anti-abortion candidates from the (now defunct) christian democrat Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC).
- At launch of Citizens' publicity for December 21, leader Albert Rivera compares Puigdemont to French National Front leader Marie Le Pen: "Populism and nationalism are two sides of the same coin, and they want to destroy Europe."
- Last night's street renaming expedition by the Committee for the Defence of the Republic for Sant Antoni barrio (Joaquim Forn is the elected Catalan interior minister, presently in jail).
[TWEET] Carles Puigdemont: "Urging denunciation of Catalans, closing TV3 so as put "normal people" there, banning phrases and pacifist symbols...the combination of Macarthyism and Spanish supremacism should scare everyone, be they pro-independence or not."
See graphics below (Source: Carles Puigdemont Twitter site)
(Top graphic) Rajoy: "I have saved Spain, now the wounds must be stitched" (interview with November 22 edition of Italian daily La Repubblica)
(Bottom graphic, highlighted) "The name alone of José Antonio [de Rivera, founder of the fascist Falange] is a sancrosanct invocation of the founding doctrine and redeeming zeal that, following upon the Insurgency of the Army, has saved Spain."
- Jose Téllez, councilor on Badalona council for Guanyem Badalona en Comú ("Let's Win Badalona Together"), describes what Catalan state TV would be like on the basis of the experience with the Badalona media when PP lead candidate Xavier Garcia Albiol was mayor of the city (defeated in 2015): "His first decision was to sack 21 of the 66 workers...Completely political sackings that followed the line of outsourcing production to companies close to the FAES [neoliberal think tank the Foundation of nlysis and Social Studies, whose president is former Spanish PP prime minister José María Aznar."
- In an interview on the Israeli public TV channel 1 Kan, Carles Puigdemont defends the idea of a Catalan plebiscite on whether to remain a members of the European Union, "a club of decadent and obsolete countries, where those who rule are a few and, moreover, tied to ever more questionable economic interests."
- The Spanish state solicitor-general declares himself a party to the case against the satirical magazine El Jueves for its article "Continued presence of anti-riot police exhausts cocaine reserves in Catalonia".
- According to report in today's edition of El Mundo, the Civil Guard believes on the basis of documents obtained from raids of Cataln government offices that the October 1 referendum was organised by a second-level group of government officials all members of ERC.
Today's NC Report poll (published in La Razón)
Sample, 1000; Margin of error: +-3.3% for 95.5% confidence level, Date: November 13-20.
Today's Metroscopia poll (published in El País)
Note: "Escaños" are seats: there are 135 seats in the Catalan parliament. Sample, 1800; Margin of error: +-2.4% for 95.5% confidence level, Date: November 20-22. This repeates the result of recent polls: a slight (8 seat) swing to unionism, leaving pro-independence parties just short of a majority and CEC-Podem holding the balance. Participation is calculated at over 80%, with 20% still undecided ("mainly women over 65 in the greater Barcelona region").
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25
40 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, November 25
"And if the imam of Ripoll [leader of the August 16 terror attacks on Barcelona and Cambrils] had been a collaborator of the Catalan police instead of the [Spanish] National Intelligence Centre?"
"Then for many it would be proof of the Russian-separatist-jihadist-ETA plot, unstoppable in its obsession to destroy Spain and Europe."
[NOTE: Ferreres's homeless republicans (note the flag) sheltering under a railway bridge are regular sharp commentators on the osbcenities of the politics of the Spanish state.]
The left must support Catalonia
Gorka Elejabarrieta, head of the international department of Sortu, explains why in the latest issue of Green Left Weekly:
Bilbao, September 16
- Call for Democracy answers PP leader Garcia Albiol: "The normal people already run TV3, because TV3 represents all of us."
- CECP lead candidate Xavier Domènech says that his ticket will only ally with "those forces that leave aside 'road maps' and 'pratices of one-sidedness'.
- Carles Puigdemont presents Together For Catalonia (JXCat) candidates from Bruges, Belgium. He describes the ticket as made up of "activists for Catalonia".
- Workers Commssions trade union confederation (CCOO) loses members to Catalan national federation Intersindical-CSC as a result of failure to support November 8 strike.
- PP leader Xavier García Albiol says he would close down Catalan public television TV3 and "reopen it with normal people".
- PDECat national coordinator Marta Pascal says her party will accept agreements with the ERC alone in case thet they cannot also be reached with the CUP.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24
39 nights with political prisoners
El Roto, El País, November 21
"The nationalist oil sludge is complicated to remove."
NOTE: El País cartoonist El Roto, progressive and incisive on all other issues, has a fixation against Catalan nationalism. This cartoon equates the Catalan movement with the massive oil slick that the shipwrecked oil tanker Prestige deposited along the coasts of Galicia, Portugal and France 15 years ago this week.
- The CUP councilors on Reus city council, accused along with the mayor and leaders of other municipal groups with "inciting hatred" because they were signatories to a statement against police violence on October 1, show the new court summons they have received after refusing to answer an initial summons.
- Catalunya en Comú-Podem lead candidate Xavier Domènech presents the groups candidates for Taragona province.
- Enric Millo, Spanish government delegate to Catalonia, denies that there was any agreement with Catalan premier Puigdemont to suspend article 155 in case of his calling an early election. Says that L'Hospitalet mayoress Nuria Marín, who made the claim on morning radio, "does not have full information".
- Demonstration against Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria outside 22nd Economy Meeting at S'Agaró, devoted to the theme "Spain-Catalonia: Levers of Growth".
Catalonia: Democratic revolution or authoritarian state
Behind the events in Catalonia, the question of power, alliances and self-organization of the people
By Óscar Simón Bueno (CUP)
November 7, 2017
The struggle for self-determination in Catalonia, carried by an authentically popular movement, has highlighted a number of features of the situation, especially since the unilateral referendum of October 1:
- The highly reactionary nature of monarchical Spanish nationalism.
- The inability of Spanish republicanism (with few exceptions) to generate a critical political stance capable of mobilizing broad masses of the population and detaching them from rightist influence.
- The need for any movement of democratic rupture to seriously confront the question of power.
- The unity of the bourgeoisie as a class in defense of the status quo.
These issues, without exception, can be resolved only in the process of the democratic revolution.
For rest of translation go to Canadian revolutionary Richard Fidler's blog here:
- Francisco Perona, the PSC councillor in charge of town planning in Sant Pere de Ribes (Garraf) brings a complaints of "lack of respect for authority" against former CUP MP Joan Garriga for events at an October 2 protest against the police violence of October 1.
[TWEET] Carles Puigdemont: "Nuria Marín completely false. Who guaranteed it [withdrawal of article 155 if Puigdemont called elections]? When? What your article 155 mates guaranteed was its application independently of anything we did. Stop manipulating and lying out of your shameless collusion." [accompanied by graphic below]
- Spain's Supreme Court formally takes over the case of the detained Catalan ministers and the "Jordis".
- On appeal from Citizens, the Barcelona Province branch of the Spanish electoral commission prohibits Catalan public TV from using the terms "government in exile" and "exiled ministers".
Judge Lamela imprisoned Catalan ministers despite complying with Article 155
The recordings, to which ARA has had access, reveal that the Catalan ministers had rejected violence
ERNESTO EKAIZER Madrid Updated 23/11/2017 07:35
All of the imprisoned ministers have asked to be released, formally acknowledging that they are complying with the application of Article 155 [of the Spanish Constitution] and that, as a result, they accept that they are now ex-ministers. Carmen Lamela, National High Court judge --or Judge Pablo Llarena, if the Supreme court takes over the case-- will have to decide whether compliance with Article 155 is enough to curb the cautionary measures and, as requested by the defense, impose bail or require passports to be surrendered as a condition for leaving prison. The situation is, however, exactly the same as on November 2nd in the National High Court, as revealed by recordings of the ministers' statements, to which ARA has had first access.
The lawyer for Vice-president Oriol Junqueras and ERC ministers asked Lamela to release them, claiming that they had agreed to their removal from office and, therefore, there was no risk of reoffending in the alleged crimes they have been charged with. "Let's face it: Carles Mundó has registered with Social Security and returned to his law firm. And these gentlemen here [referring to the other Ministers] have not returned to their offices [in the Generalitat]. It appears that they have formally agreed to abide by 155", said Andreu Van den Eynde that day, who also spoke of the declaration of independence as a "political statement" without practical effects.
Judge Lamela, in contrast, granted the cautionary measures requested by the Prosecutor: prison without bail for all the ministers, and release on bail for Santi Vila for having distanced himself from the unilateral strategy. The prosecutor argued that there was a flight risk, as well as risk of reoffending, and stressed the "violent" nature of the pro-independence demonstrations in September and October, during which there were "public derision of politicians and security forces, massive gatherings of volunteers, and blocked highways, all with the aim of separating a part of Spanish territory by violent means". The ministers, nevertheless, had each individually rejected the use of violence to achieve their political aims.
As is already known, all of them chose to reply only to the lawyers for the defense-- the majority only to their own lawyer-- and none of them, except Vila, had to recant the declaration of independence because they weren't even asked to. This was a significant difference from what happened in the hearing of Carme Forcadell and the members of the Parliament's Executive committee before the Supreme Court, when they also responded to the prosecutors' questions.
The democratic path
"Have you promoted acts of a violent nature and tumultuous actions?" "No, never. I am a religious person, and as such, anything to do with violence is unacceptable to me". This was Junqueras' answer, but could be extrapolated to the rest of the ministers. "We have always defended freedom of expression and fundamental rights in a peaceful way, always via a democratic path", said Foreign Minister Raül Romeva in his turn.
"To me, violence is unjustifiable under any circumstances", noted Jordi Turull, Minister of the Presidency. Dolors Bassa, Minister of Social Welfare, resorted, like Junqueras, to reasons of conscience in remarking that she would never consider violent actions to be valid: "I'm a teacher in a Christian school in Torroella de Montgrí, and my principles are against any form of violence, in the streets or anywhere”.
The lawyers also added that the gatherings which the prosecutor characterized as "tumultuous" were not violent in nature and, at any rate, none of the defendants was an instigator. The Mossos didn't collaborate either. Minister of the Interior Joaquim Forn stated before Judge Lamela that he always urged them to comply with judicial orders.
Request for adjournment rejected
The other leitmotiv in the statements was that of complaints over the lack of time to prepare a defense. Madrid’s National Court summoned the majority of ministers with less than 24 hours notice, and Meritxell Borràs did not even receive a summons. Therefore, their lawyers called for the declarations to be adjourned although, unlike the Supreme Court's decision regarding independence supporters on the Parliamentary Executive Committee, Lamela rejected this.
Van den Eynde sent his request on Wednesday via the Lexnet system (used by the court system) at 20:41, and on Thursday morning he sent a solicitor and a lawyer to the court secretary with a copy that was not accepted. Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, who on that day was acting as the lawyer for Josep Rull, Jordi Turull, and Joaquim Forn, also used Lexnet to request the suspension at 9:05 that morning, although he neglected to request it of the judge directly until the first Minister, Turull, had finished his statement. Judge Lamela dismissed both requests and alleged that the defense had neglected their duty. Now, Daniel Pérez, the lawyer representing Forn, has filed an appeal with the court in which he notes that there is "an incontestable documentary trail", to show that they tried to suspend the hearings "because it was materially impossible to prepare a defense due to the lack of time". Lamela —or Llarena if the Supreme Court takes over the case— will have to decide whether to set bail for the ministers. Llarena demanded one other thing besides compliance with 155 from Carme Forcadell and the members of the Catalan government: a renunciation of the unilateral option.
Ara, November 23
- PP slogan for the December 21 elections: "Spain is the solution".
- PSC lead candidate Miquel Iceta: "I offer a government whose main objective is reconciliation."
- In an interview on German radio station Deutschlandfunk Carles Puigdemont offers to debate Mariano Rajoy on Catalonia.
- Judge offers those injured during 1st October Catalan referendum chance to report police.
- Catalan Ombudsman demands explanation from Spanish security service.
- Nuria Marín, the PSC mayoress of L'Hospitalet, tells Catalunya Radio that Carles Puigdemont is lying when he says he didn't have all the guarantees the article 155 would be withdrawn if he called early Catalan elections instead of going ahead with the October 27 declaration of independence.
- Sixteen Members of the European Parliament, from the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform, demand to be able to visit the Catalan political prisoners in jail.
- Exiled health minister Toni Comín, interviewed in today's Ara, says: "What we have to do now is win, win, win. Make people understand that if we don't win the exiles will never return." Comin adds that the independence movement had been hobbled by adopting a timetable instead of setting strategic objectives and working towards them as the balance of forces allows. He also denies that the Catalan government in exile is "symbolic".
Today's front page
Exiled Catalan health minister Tony Comin: "What has happened has been a shower of realism"
- According to a report in yesterday's El País, over half of the extra six thousand police sent to Catalonia to stop the October 1 referendum have been returned to their territory of origin. (Photo: The Loony Tunes cruiser in which many were housed and which gave rise to endless jokes leaving Barcelona Port on November 16.)
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23
38 nights with political prisoners
La Punxa d'en Jap, El Punt Avui, November 23
Today we're doing maths: "PP + Citizens + PSOE = 155"
- This year's Christmas lighting of 20 fountains in Barcelona will be in yellow, the colour of remembrance for the Catalan political prisoners.
- Catalan education minister Clara Ponsatí, exiled in Brussels, receives a delegations of education unions and parents associations and urges them to resist any changes to the Catalan education system brought under article 155.
- Transform! Europe publishes this analysis of "the Catalan question" by former United and Alternative Left MP in the Catalan parliament, David Companyon.
- Mireia Boya, lead candidate for the CUP for Lleida province, calls on Catalunya en Comú-Podem to state clearly that it will not form an alliance for government with the PSC after December 21.
- The council of the Autonomous University of Barcelona adopts resolution demanding the immediate release of the Catalan political prisoners.
- Catalunya en Comú-Podem lead candidate Xavier Domènech signs the December 21 Manifesto (see below) supported by a broad range of public figures, including former politicians from the CUP, ERC, PDECat, Initiative for Catalonia-Greens and even the PP. He also asks for a clear statement from PDECat and the ERC that they have abandoned a unilateral path to independence.
CALL TO THE POLITICAL PARTIES AND FORMATIONS OF CATALONIA
The elections to the Parliament of Catalonia having been called for December 21, and aware of the political and institutional crisis that our country is suffering, the undersigned urge parties and political groups to adopt the following commitments in their respective electoral programs:
--Demand the repeal of Royal Decree 944/2017, applying article 155 of the Constitution and the measures that flow from it;
- Call for the withdrawal of criminal proceedings initiated against political leaders and representatives of citizen movements and for the release of those who have already been subject to preventive detention or prison on the basis of these actions;
- Promote the calling of an agreed referendum that will allow the Catalan people to freely express their preferences regarding future relations between Catalonia and the Spanish State.
We believe that a large majority of our society shares the conviction that these are indispensable requirements for a return to democratic normality. The celebration of these elections--as long as they are carried out with indispensable respect for freedom and in equality of conditions for all citizens and all options--must be an essential step towards restoring that institutional normality in which a new stage of political agreement can begin that makes possible the social, economic and cultural progress of the country.
- The ERC presents the electoral alliance in which it is running for December 21. The other minor forces are Catalanist splits from the PSC (Movement of the Left, Let's Advance), Democrats, the pro-independence split from the now-defunct and formerly ruling Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC), and Catalonia Yes!, a non-party pro-independence association.
- PSC leader Miquel Iceta and PSOE federal secretary Pedro Sánchez state that the PSC will not support the formation either of a pro-independence or a right-wing government in Catalonia.
- Former Catalan minister of state Neus Munté attacks former business minister Santi Vila for shaking Mariano Rajoy's hand at a Catalan business awards ceremony. Her tweet: "No reason for smiling, even less for greetings. Yesterday dignity was to be found at the demonstrations for freeing the political prisoners or in staying at home."
- The mayor of Reus, Carles Pellicer (PDECat), enters Reus court house to face changes of "inciting hatred" for having signed a manifesto deploring police action on October 1. The heads of the ERC and We Are Reus municipal groups also face charges, as do three CUP councilors. These last refused to testify. Pellicer and the councilors were greeted by a demonstration of support ("You're not alone!) and a small counter-demonstration ("No to hate!")
China was interested in the situation of Catalonia at its last meeting with the EU
ACN (Catalan News Agency), Barcelona
11/22/2017 2:37 PM | Updated at 11/22/2017 3:42 PM
Catalonia was included at the last minute on the agenda of the interparliamentary meeting between the European Union and China that was held on November 15 in Strasbourg at the request of Beijing, the ACN agency has learned.
The Vice-President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress of China, Wang Xiaochu, asked the MEPs about the situation in Catalonia and, expressing support for the attitude of the Spanish government, asked if the strategy adopted by Madrid was also the official line of the European Union and, if that was so, whether it was to be therefore expected that it would also be applied to "other" issues, in an implicit reference to the attitude of the EU on the issues of Tibet, Xinjiang or human rights violations in China, according to the ACN confirmed sources with knowledge of the content of the meeting.
"Currently, yes," said the chair of the delegation of the European Parliament for relations with China, the German socialist Jo Leinen, on whether or not the Spanish position on Catalonia was the same as that of the European Union. Two Spanish MEPs, Francisco Millán, of the PP, and Fernando López Aguilar, of the PSOE, defended the attitude of the Spanish government on Catalonia and received Chinese support.
Given the suggestion by China, however, of whether the European role of non-interference in Catalonia was expected, therefore, in other issues such as Tibet, the delegation of the European Parliament for relations with China wanted to insist that the situations in Spain and in the Asian country were not completely comparable, according to the ACN.
Specifically, according to sources familiar with the content of the meeting, the European representatives of the Parliament made it clear that, although the EU follows the "one China"' policy with respect to territorial disputes in the Asian country, this does not mean being silent about possible human rights violations in Beijing.
The European Union, they recalled, calls for "dialogue in the Catalan situation and compliance with the law. The same sources denied, today, that the EU considers that there are human rights violations in Catalonia as a result of the imprisonment of the ministers or the leaders of the ANC and Òmnium Cultural.
The debate on Catalonia occupied about 20 minutes at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and was included on the agenda, changed at the last minute, under the heading 'Regional issues in Europe'. The European and Chinese parliamentarians spoke immediately after debating the consequences of Brexit.
Today's front page
"Catalan separatism's trick program"
"After their seditious cop d'etat, JxCat and ERC now reach an agreement not to include unliateral independence in their election programs.
The judge of the National High Court believes that the UDI was the work of a 'criminal group'"
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22
37 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, November 22
Rajoy: "Given the good result, 155 will always be here."
García Albiol (PP Catalonia leader): "If they've got it overhead, they'll comply without a peep."
[NOTE. Looking on is Enric Millo, the Spanish government representative in Catalonia, soft cop to García Albiol's hard cop.]
Official Statement of the Government of Ecuador on Julian Assange's support for Catalan independence
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, referring to recent events in Spain concerning the independence of Catalonia and to the statements of Mr Julian Assange on this matter, considers it important to point out that they do not represent the position of the Ecuadorian State.
Ecuador reaffirms its commitment to the principles governing relations among all nations, especially respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of States, as well as non-intervention in the internal affairs of any country, and the right of all the States, as equal members of the international community, to resolve their differences without foreign interference. At the same time, it reaffirms its commitment to diplomatic asylum and renews its decision to continue providing the protection due to Mr Assange, in accordance with the principles and norms provided for in international law and in national regulations on asylum.
In this regard, it should be noted that the Ecuadorian authorities have reiterated to Mr. Assange his obligation not to make statements or activities that could affect the international relations of Ecuador, which must be preserved, as is the case with Spain, a country with which unchanging historical and cultural ties are maintained, along with links based on mutual respect, friendship between their peoples, bilateral cooperation and the shared desire to permanently strengthen their reciprocal relations. For his part, Mr. Assange has formally committed himself to observe conduct compatible with the will of the Ecuadorian State.
- Presentation of CUP candidates for the province of Girona. From left to right: Laia Pèlach (councilor on Girona council), Natàlia Sànchez (councilor on Figueres council) and Dani Cornellà (mayor of Celrà).
- The CUP, through national secretariat spokesperson Núria Gibert (below), calls on JxCat and the ERC for greater commitment to unfolding the Catalan Republic declared on October 27: "Unilateral construction is the way left to us for building our political project."
- Catalan president Carles Puigdemont spurns offer of salary as ex-president of Catalonia offered by Spanish finance minister Cristóbal Montoro.
- Rajoy refuses to make details of the Spanish state operation in Catalonia available to congress, citing the need to defend state secrets and making use of a law first formulated under the Franco dictatorship.
- PP leader García Albiol challenges Puigdemont to debate him in Brussels.
- "In depth" interview with Mariano Rajoy in Italian daily La Repubblica: "I saved Spain--the European Union has isolated the supporters of independence. We must not divide the country."
- PDECat will run a minority city council in Olot (Garrotxe) after breaking witht he PSC and failing to form new alliance with ERC.
One thousand US and European academics demand release of Catalonia’s “political prisoners”
They have signed a manifesto also demanding “fair elections” on December 21
ARA, November 21
Nearly one thousand academics from the US and Europe demand that Spain’s “political prisoners” be released. These professors and university researchers have signed a manifesto on democracy.cat where they also demand “fair elections” on December 21. The manifesto is entitled “Petition for the release of Spain’s political prisoners and for fair elections in Catalonia on December 21st”, a demand addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres; Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council; and Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission.
The document begins by explaining that, following the referendum and Catalonia’s declaration of independence, the Spanish government dissolved the Catalan parliament, deposed the government of Catalonia, arrested eight cabinet ministers, including the vice president, and has been trying to have president Carles Puigdemont extradited, together with the remaining four ministers who are currently in Brussels “in an effort to ensure a fair hearing”.
The manifesto’s supporters believe that the comparison drawn by the Spanish prosecutor between the referendum on independence and an “armed coup d’état” reveals “Spain’s untenable position”. They also denounce a political persecution unheard of since Franco’s regime: “the Spanish government’s appeal to the rule of law cannot disguise a political persecution of an extent and intensity not seen since the Franco dictatorship”.
Furthermore, they insist that all of this has continued since the referendum, by extending judicial persecution to civil servants, mayors, teachers, journalists, and “any person who voices opinions on behalf of the citizens’ peaceful exercise of their democratic rights”.
The academics argue that Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy has called “a snap election” in Catalonia on December 21 while prominent members of his government and the Senate “have simultaneously declared their intention to ignore any victory of pro-independence parties. Even without the incarceration of prominent political leaders and would-be candidates, their mistreatment in custody and persistent far-right violence against journalists and citizens, the response of the Spanish government is hardly creating a climate in which fair and free elections can be properly held”, they claim.
The professors and researchers note that Catalans insist on a democratic solution to the conflict and are willing to decide this matter through the ballot box. However, the academics believe that “in order for those elections to be an honest arbiter, certain conditions must be met” and, therefore, they have drawn up a list of requests addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission. They ask them “to stop condoning Spain’s undemocratic behaviour, including its misuse of the courts, its takeover of Catalan government institutions, its police violence, and its turning of a blind eye toward the more than one hundred incidents of far-right violence that have appeared after every unionist march”.
Furthermore, they demand that they guarantee Catalans’ civil and political rights as European citizens, including the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of political expression, “which are currently being violated with impunity by the Spanish State”, and that they urge Spain to release the ten “political prisoners” currently in Spanish jails, whose summary judgement hearings and subsequent preventative custody in prison cells “is a travesty of European democracy, and whose participation in the election cannot be fairly executed from jail”.
The professors also demand that the UN and the European leaders guarantee that “no person or party will be prohibited from participating in the elections in Catalonia, and that Spain will not dictate which electoral programs are acceptable”. They also request that accredited international observers be provided “to ensure that the imposed December 21st elections in Catalonia are carried out fairly and honestly”.
The academics conclude that “the only peaceful solution to the conflict between Spain and Catalonia is a democratic one. It is time for the European and International communities to assert their influence in insisting that Catalan citizens be given the chance to express their opinion over the future of their country freely and democratically without fear of retribution in the courts, by police or by far-right extremists”.
- Citizens suspends the membership of Alberto Moreno, councillor on the Altafulla town council, for voting in favour of an Altafulla council representative to the Association of Municipalities for Independence.
- Guillem Fuster, spokesperson for CUP affiliate organisation Poble Lliure, appears before the Sabadell branch of the National High Court to give reason as to why he and two others should not be charged with "exaltation of terrorism" for having attended an event in memory of Julià Badia, activist with the armed organisation Movement for the Defence of the Land (MPT) who died in 1987. Fuster to the media: "There's an obsessive mania to link the pro-independence left with political violence."
- Judge Carmen Lamela, the National High Court judge who put the eight Catalan ministers and two mass movement leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart into preventive detention without bail, agrees to pass these cases onto judge Pablo Llarena of the Supreme Court. Her reasoning: "The behaviour of the suspects cannot be investigated in isolation, disconnected from the organisation of what they and possibly others undertook so as to bring about a shared outcome." Unlike Lamela, Llarena did not refuse bail to those he has been investigating, the pro-independence members of the Catalan parliament speakership panel who allowed parliamentary debate on independence to go ahead against a Constitutional Court ruling.
- Four detained Catalan ministers ask for release on grounds that they have not expressly opposed article 155 intervention.
- Spanish Supreme Court said to be considering laying charges against CUP MP Anna Gabriel for her role in the independence process.
- Albert Botran, outgoing CUP MP, says that the nine-point draft common platform between JxCat and the ERC (below) "is only a starting point".
The nine points agreed by Together for Catalonia (JxCat) and the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) for a common platform for the December 21 election, to be submitted to the People's Unity List (CUP)
Source: NacióDigital, November 21
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 21
36 nights with political prisoners
Fer, El Punt Avui, November 20
Spanish defence minister Dolores de Cospedal: "I've been rung by Russian spies, Chinese spies, spies from North Korea, Cuban spies...that Puigdemont is a moonlighter!
[NOTE: The reference is to the gullible PP minister being taken in by two Russian radio program pranksters who rang de Cospedal and pretended to be from the Latvian defence department, with "information" that Puigdemont was a Russian agent and that 50% of Russian tourists to Barcelona also engage in espionage.]
Catalan News, November 21
- Barcelona judge investigating police operations on October 1 demands of the Spanish National Police that he be sent details of individual police.
- Catalan government public servants demonstrate in St James Square against the implementation of article 155 and for the release of the detained ministers. The rally receives message sof support and appreciation from president Puigdemont. Most popular chant: "We Are Republic!"
- Citizens' leader Ines Arrimades gets a rousing reception at the Equestrian Circle, Barcelona's snootiest club.
- ERC MP in the Spanish parliament Joan Tardà delivers a letter to the president of the Palestine National Authority, Mahmud Abbas, after he publicly supported a "strong and united" Spain in the presence of Mariano Rajoy and King Felipe. The letter calls on the PNA to "acknowledge the legitimate right to self-determination of all oppressed peoples" and reiterates the support of the Catalan people for the struggles of the Palestinians.
- The families of Catalan political prisoners create an association (the Catalan Association of Civil Rights) to fight for their release from prison.
- Spanish government denies that it is considering special fiscal treatment for Catalonia (as reported below under 0900 HOURS in today's Guardian.)
- Spanish National Cryptological Centre confirms that he has not detected any cyber attacks for Russian sources.
Jordi Ballart, former PSC mayor of industrial city Terrassa, who recently resigned as mayor and also from the PSC
In recent months the PSC has lost the "C" of Catalonia, but it long ago lost the "S" of socialist with the amendment of article 135 of the Constitution at the end of the Zapatero government [in 2010, making debt repayment an absolute priority over all other budget expenditure]. I have also been able to experience the process in my own skin, because of important decisions we took in Terrassa, where we wanted to be a reference point when it comes to applying genuine, courageous left-wing politics. The turning point was the decision to municipalise the water supply once the [private] concession finished. We decided to recover the service and from then on I was witness to all the economic and hidden interests around the party leadership and the connivances that made sure that this decision of ours was not understood. A campaign of discredit and defamation was even orchestrated against me personally for taking a left-wing decision and being consistent with the socialist values that we defended within the institutions. It was from that moment that I started to disconnect and I see what sort of party I was in.
Interviewed in NacióDigital, November 21
- The Guardian reports that "Madrid is prepared to discuss greater fiscal autonomy for Catalonia."
- In a citizens' poll, residents of Cervera (Segarra) vote to change the name of the street named after the Duque de Ahumada, founder of the Civil Guard, to October 1 street.
- Former French PM Manuel Valls to El Periódico: "There is no road to independence. It's a dead end."
[TWEET] Carles Puigdemont: "The hangman takes on the narrative of the innocent victim. The fascist heirs of the National Movement [the "party" of the Franco dictatorship] call the grandchildren of the executed Nazis. The voter is a delinquent. The basher is a hero. And with the help of the press of article 155 they create the reality that suits them. If we allow it, we disappear."
Today's front page decoded
- "European door-closing on Barcelona" [Barcelona loses its bid for the European Medicines Agency, having to be shifted from London because of Brexit. Implication: fault of the independence process]
- "60% believe the [independence] process is damaging Catalonia" [largest heading]
- "According to [pollster] GESOP, the majority see the response of the State as excessive" [small kicker] The majority is 77.6%, including 61% of those opposed to independence. But his is not the message El Periódico wants to highlight.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20
35 nights with political prisoners
Vergara, El Diario, November 20
Old Spanish saying: "When the stupid man points at the moon, the wise man watches the finger"
"Isn't that the hammer that destroyed Bárcenas's computers?"
[NOTE: Last week the Madrid branch of the National High Court brought charges against the ruling People's Party (PP) for deliberately destroying the computers of former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas, accused of running a double set of books to cover up the racket whereby bsuinesses won public works contracts in exchange for paying a percentage of this income into PP coffers. Bárcenas has also been accused of using these funds to pay senior PP figures, including prime minister Mariano Rajoy, a second income in cash. Rajoy was the first-ever Spanish PM to have to give evidence in a corruption case, the long-running one against Bárcenas and other PP figures accused of running the scam. The "moon" in the cartoon is the Catalan independence flag, the estelada.]
- Omnium Cultural converts act in remembrance of the prisoners of Francoism in the now-closed Model Prison into one in support of Catalonia's detained ministers and mass independence movement leaders.
- At the opening of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, president Ricardo Blázquez condemns the October 27 Catalan declaration of independence and "gives support to the re-establishment of constitutional order because it is a common good."
- ERC spokesperson Sergi Sabrià expresses the desire in the case of a pro-independence victory on December 21 that Puigdemont and Junqueras return as president and vice-president.
- Former PSC premier José Montilla say that is "the hour of moderation" in Catalonia, and that Catalunya en Comú is complicit with pro-independence forces in opposing article 155 intervention in Catalonia.
- Ultra-right paint-up in Barcelona:
Nazi insignia on the statue of Rafael Casanova, last chief minister of Catalonia during the 1714 defence of Barcelona
Memorial plaque defaced
- Petition launched by US academics demanding the relase of Catalan political prisoners.
Briton Geoffrey Servante, who fought Franco, backs Catalan separatists
[The Times, November 18] The last surviving British volunteer to serve with the International Brigades during the Spanish civil war will vote for Catalan independence in regional elections next month.
Geoffrey Servante, 98, who was an artilleryman during the conflict, said that he was so appalled by police violence during the illegal referendum in Catalonia on October 1 that he would be voting for Carles Puigdemont’s pro-independence coalition on December 21.
Mr Servante, who was born in London and lives in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, was granted honorary Spanish citizenship in 2009 and has voted by post in previous elections.
He said: “I went to the Spanish embassy and got sworn in. I was asked where I wanted to be registered. I chose Barcelona. So I’m Catalan."
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19
34 nights with political prisoners
Anthony Garner, Ara, November 19
[NOTE: Reference to the story of the two Russian pranksters who rang from a radio station to Spanish defence minister Dolores de Cospedal, pretending to be Latvians with inside information on the "Russian-Catalan connection". They told a believing Cospedal that Puigdemont was a Russian agent who went by the nickname of 'Cipollino' (the little onion). She promised them that she would immediately pass on this intelligence to Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy.]
- Pro-independence forces maintain majority in latest GESOP poll for El Periódico. Participation is put at a stratospheric 87.3%: the previous record was 74.95% in the September 27, 2015 "plebiscitary" elections that were regarded as taking the place of the rnegotiated referendum rejected by the Spanish government.
Note: "Escaños" are seats: there are 135 seats in the Catalan parliament. Sample, 800; Margin of error: +-3.5% for 95% confidence level
- Yellow ribbons decorate a Barcelona footbridge in solidarity with the jailed Catalan ministers and mass movement leaders.
- ERC registers a second ticket, Republican Dialogue, for December 21, in case it is banned from running.
- PP Catalonia leader García Albiol attacks PSC leader Miquel Iceta for wanting detained Catalan ministers out of jail: "What I say to Iceta is that only the politicians who abide by the Constitution, respect the rule of law and recognise article 155 and the job the Spanish government has done can leave prison."
- Catalunya en Comú-Podem (CatECP) leader Xavier Domènech tells election meeting in working-class Barcelona suburb Nou Barris: "We are the only ticket that guarantees that social policies will be the focus of government".
[TWEET] Carles Puigdemont: " In Catalonia Rajoy receives 8,5% of votes. But according to Juncker, Mariano Rajoy has a lot (?) of support in Europe for his policies in Catalonia. Does Juncker have any regard for European citizens votes and opinion?"
- ERC general secretary Marta Rovira, interviewed by La Vanguardia, says that if pro-independence forces win, they may, depending on the circumstances of the detained and exiled ministers and Carles Puigdemont, have to run a "political government" composed of these legitimately elected members of the government of 2015 and an "executive government" composed of pro-independence representatives elected on Decmber 21.
- GAD3 poll for ABC has unionist parties gaining up to eight seats but still short of a majority (shown in a distorted graphic). Other way of reporting result: Pro-independence parties maintain absolute majority or at worst fall two seats short
[NOTE: Predicted participation: 82% (a record high, 2.5% more than in 2015; Sample size 801; error margin, not specified. Note also the distorted presentation of the result on the graphic below, depicting votes won instead of seats won (Catalonia has a rural gerrymander). In 2015 Junts pel Sí plus the CUP had 72 seats, a majority, which would be shown as passing to the right of the high point of the inner arc. In 2017, the same forces, in the form of Junts per Catalunya, ERC and CUP reach 66-69 seats, just below or just above a majority--68 seats, i.e.,. bracketing the high point of the outer arc. This is a typical example of the distortions of "state journalism": polls for Spanish state elections--where the gerrymander is much worse--are hardly ever presented in this way.] See El Periódico GESOP poll above for an accurate depiction of a nearly equivalent result.
- El País interviews European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker: "Nationalism in poison".
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18
33 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, October 15
Pedro Sánchez (PSOE leader): "Let's launch the 155, but promise me that we're going to reform the constitution in six months."
Rajoy: "Obviously. When have I ever failed to carry out an agreement?"
[NOTE: It only took one month for this joke to become true. On November 15, the PP spokesperson to the Spanish congress's parliamentary commission on Spain's territorial structure said: "We haven't come here to change the constitution."]
ARA EDITORIAL, November 18
After 58 days, the Tweety Pie ship leaves Barcelona
Since September of this year, Barcelona’s residents have grown used to living in difficult circumstances, with Spanish Police vans patrolling the streets and one or more helicopters hovering over the city. By stationing between 6,000 and 10,000 officers here, clearly someone is very keen on making the police presence felt. These are the same police officers who were responsible for committing acts of violence against defenceless members of the public on October 1. The images were broadcast round the world, though some, such as Spain’s Foreign Minister, deny any such acts of violence.
Yesterday, however, after 58 days, the symbol of this police presence, the cruise ship decorated with Tweety Pie and other Looney Tunes characters, left the port of Barcelona. Nevertheless, it set sail with no one aboard: the Guardia Civil and Spanish police it housed have remained in Catalonia, since the Spanish government plans to continue with what is known as Operation Copernicus until the end of the year. The operation was specifically designed to disrupt the referendum and the independence process through the use of force. Although Spain’s Interior Ministry has ruled that the cost of the operation will remain a state secret, experts such as the economist Modest Guinjoan estimate that some €192 million have been spent on travel expenses, accommodation and meals alone.
Nevertheless, the major damage wrought by Operation Copernicus, aside from the physical harm done to the one thousand individuals who were injured on 1 October, thanks to the use of material prohibited in Catalonia, such as rubber bullets, is the negative impact that the police violence has had on Barcelona’s image. This impact, unquantifiable in economic terms and the damage that has been done to the city’s reputation, is directly attributable to the Spanish government’s actions.
However, far from apologising for those who were injured or for the disproportionate measures taken by the police, Spain’s Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido took it upon himself to congratulate and decorate those responsible for the outrage, while punishing the Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, who acted impeccably on both 1 October and 20 September. The last straw was the way in which the head of the Mossos, Josep Lluís Trapero, was removed from office and assigned to administrative duties.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Operation Copernicus was specifically designed to spread fear among the populace and demonstrate that Spain is prepared to use force at any time. Keeping individuals in custody without bail seeks the same objective. This is the State we live in.
- Spanish chief prosecutor, José Manuel Maza, dies of kidney infection in Buenos Aires.
- The ANC, Omnium Cultural and Committee for the Defence of the Repuplic (CDR) of central Catalan city of Vic (Osona) set up two prison cells in the central city square, with volunteers being asked to spend time inside until the Catalan political prisoners are released. At the time of luanching the organisers had 154 volunteers, enough to keep the cells occupied for five days.
Sign on right reads "a jailed people", while the silouettes above the cells are of the detained Catalan ministers and mass movement leaders
- In response to PSOE refusal to have a Spanish congress commission investigate police violence on October 1, former Podemos Catalonia general secretary Albano Dante Fachin releases video clip: "A vote for the PSC is a vote for supporting police violence against Catalonia".
- PSC general secretary Miquel Iceta calls for the release of the detained Catalan ministers.
- CUP lead candidate Carlos Riera states, in supporting the comment of ERC general secretary Marta Rovira, that the organisation had information from reliable sources that one of the scenarios planned by Spanish state agencies in response to a Catalan UDI was the deliberate creation of violence by the Spanish secret service in collaboration with right-wing groups.
- Catalan police (Mossos d'Esquadra) protecting today's anti-facist march in Sarrià from an ultra counter-mobilisation.
- Agriculture minister Meritxell Serret, running on the ERC ticket for December 21, says that Carles Puigdemont should continue as president in the event of a win by the pro-independence camp.
- Spanish defence minister Dolores de Cospedal taken in by Russia Today pranksters.
- Local HQ of ERC in Sitges defaced.
- With their combined vote in the Spanish congress the PP, PSOE and Citizens vote down the proposal for a parliamentary commission into police violence in Catalonia on October 1.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17
32 nights with political prisoners
SPECIAL: See Catalan president Carles Puigdemont interviewed (in English) by former Scottish premier Alex Salmond on his new program on Russia Today, here.
La Punxa d'en Jap, El Punt Avui, November 11
"Do you recant and repudiate the Catalan Republic?" [formula of the Holy Inquisition]
Mural, Terrassa petrol station
- PP Catalonia leader Xavier García Albiol calls for "short-term shcok measures" to fight "indoctrination" in the Catalan education system.
- ANC and Omnium Cultural launch "Let's Fill Brussels" web site.
- Spanish defence minister Dolores de Cospedal denounces the claims of ERC general secretary (that the Rajoy government was prepared to "spill blood" to stop Catalan independence) as "utterly false".
- The Association ServidorsCAT launches its register of damage done to the Catalan economy, welfare system and services by the Rajoy government's article 155 intervention.
- Belgian judge hearing the extradition case against Puigdemont and four Catalan ministers adjourns it until December 4.
- Paint-ups calling for an "no more indoctrination" in Catalan education system appear outside schools in Vacarisses (Barcelonès). The mayor comments: "I propose a debate, in daytime and in front of everyone. Arguments against arguments."
- Catalan government web site for December 21 elections set up (in English too).
- El País revelas that Abdelbaki Es Satty, the imam of Ripoll who recruited the terrorist cell responsible for the August 16 attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, was a confidante of the Spanish national intelligence service. This news later disappeared from the El País web site.
- Workers from Catalan ministries of foreign affairs and administration block main Barcelona thoroughfare Via Laietana demanding release of ministers Raül Romeva (foreign affairs) and Meritxell Borras (administration)
- Marta Rovira, general secretary of ERC, says that the Puigdemont government was made to understand that the Spanish state would use force to stop the independence process in Catalonia: "They told us that there would be bloodshed, that they wouldn't be rubber bullets like October 1, that the thing would be overwhelming."
- Spanish National Police arrest two people for "inciting hatred and discrimination towards the forces of order deployed in Catalonia" for putting on the social networks comments like "you don't deserve to see fucking Civil Guards and Nationals" and "have to set fire to Civil Guard barracks".
- Council of Europe denounces "degrading treatment" in Spanish jails.
- PSC hangs onto the mayorlty of Terrassa because PDECat refuses to support left ticket Terrassa en Comú (Terrassa Together).
- Detained Catalan treasurer Oriol Junqueras writes in the Sunday Times.
- Protest of Catalan government public servants against article 155 intervention called for Tuesday, November 21 (poster below)
An abuser’s version of events
The State justifies its actions by claiming they have been left with no other choice but repression
Toni Soler, Ara, November 14
Without wishing to make light of the terrible suffering surrounding domestic violence, I would like to point out certain parallels between the attitude of the Spanish authorities towards Catalonia and the way abusers behave towards their victims. I will try to highlight the similarities between the two in reference to some stock phrases which the abuser typically employs to justify such behaviour.
“THINGS WERE GOING SO WELL BETWEEN US". The first line of defence of an abuser is to accuse the victim for the relationship having turned sour. First, they create the fiction of an idyllic past that has been spoilt on a whim. In our case, the Spanish media apparatus speaks of the Independence Process as a spontaneous occurrence, with no connection to earlier events. As if the conflicts of the twentieth-century (and those that came earlier) were an accumulation of falsehoods generated by twisted historians, as if the list of grievances that led to calls for a new Statute had vanished, as if the overturning of the Statute was a false detonator that led to the uprising of an infantilised population. Once such a narrative has been established, the victim becomes guilty of being frivolous and, naturally enough, of playing the victim.
“YOU MADE ME DOT IT". Just like the spouse who takes advantage of their dominant position, the State and its media wing justify their actions by claiming they have been left with no other choice but repression. As Rajoy said, "Don’t make me do what I don’t want to". The unprecedented acts of police brutality which took place on 1 October were egged on by the passionate chants of "Let ‘em have it" and, finally, proud acceptance of such actions, based on the premise that "the state has a right to defend itself", though on the day in question, "defence" consisted of beating helpless members of the public. The absurd extremes of such self-justification can be found in the proposal from Ciudadanos to award medals to the police officers responsible for this outrage. The thousand individuals who were injured have yet to receive a single word of consolation or respect. The message is clear: they were asking for it.
"YOU’RE MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF". The abuser seeks to impose their will, not only by coercing the victim, but also by undermining their self-esteem. Spain has tried to ridicule Catalan identity in all its forms, starting with the language, and continuing with the independence movement’s lack of success in transforming its democratic majority into a tangible political reality. Stereotypes abound: the Catalans don’t know how to conduct politics, they go weak at the knees, they are only interested in money (anti-semitism "Made in Spain"), and so on. Every time we come up against the strength of the State we are faced with mockery, rather than empathy. Even the absence of violence is seen as a lack of courage.
"YOU’RE UPSETTING THE CHILDREN", is what an abusive husband will tell his victim in a form of emotional blackmail. Secessionists had always accepted their minority status and now it seems as if its growth is the cause of a "rupture", an "emotional tear" that has caused businesses to flee and a drop off in tourism. But who is doing the tearing? It is the PP government that has drained the Catalans of their taxes, dissolved Parliament, imprisoned the Catalan government, challenged its laws, filled the streets with police blinded by hatred, encouraged businesses to flee and tolerated the violence by the far right.
But the abuser’s version of events —driven by what Francesc Serés calls state journalism— remains immutable.
The abusive spouse has the ability to make others believe that the feelings of victimization is just an act, resulting in the victim ending up blaming themselves, telling themselves they must have been exaggerating, that maybe the violence of which they are on the receiving end is a result of their own unstable character. And if they can only admit it, maybe the husband won’t beat them that day. Whatever they do, however, the abuser won’t thank them for the gesture. They’ll even make fun of such weakness. And this is the stage we are at now, with politicians who are either "too scared to show their face", such as Puigdemont, or those who "sing like a canary", like Forcadell before the judge, who threatened her with prison without bail for having allowed Parliament to go about its parliamentary business.
And the false victims are sent to jail, handcuffed in a van, with the Spanish national anthem playing on repeat. You see what you make us do?
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16
31 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, November 16
Angela Merkel: "How did it go in Spain, Jean-Claude?"
Jean-Claude Juncker: "Best country in the world--they really know how to live there."
[NOTE: European Commission president Juncker has received two Spanish honours in the past month. At the ceremony for the last, an honorary doctorate of the University of Salamanca, the former prime minister of tax-haven Luxembourg delivered a speech against "nationalism", aimed against the Catalan movement.]
- PDECat announces that detained ANC president Jordi Sànchez will be number 2 for Barcelona on the Together For Catalonia ticket of president Carles Puigdemont for the December 21 election.
- English-language account of last night's interview with Carles Puigdemont on El Punt Avui TV channel.
- Pirates Catalonia to go on CUP list for the December 21 election.
- Omnium Cultural president Jordi Cuixart, in a letter from prison to members of the Catalan language and culture association, urges them "not to fall for provocations--I know what I'm talking about."
- Agriculture minister Meritxell Serret, exiled in Brussels and the lead candidate for the ERC in the Lleida province, says "we will never give up on building the Catalan Republic".
- Constituent Process fails to reach an agreement for joining the CUP ticket for the December 21 elections, but says it looks forward to continuing collaboration afterwards.
- ERC national coordinator Marta Rovira says that the December 21 election is "the referendum that the State didn't dare to negotiate".
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15
30 nights with political prisoners
Fer, Punt Avui, November 12
Preacher: "Blessed are the political prisoners, the persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom..."
Rajoy: "Shit! Quick! Get me prosecutor Maza and judge Lamela!" [responsible for the preventive detention of the eight Catalan ministers and the exile in Belgium of the rest, turning them into an electoral asset for the Catalan independence movement]
FEATURE: TWO DEMONSTRATIONS COMPARED
Map of Barcelona: The blue line marks the space occupied by the October 29 unionist demonstration, estimated by the Barcelona municipal police at 300,000, by the Spanish government delegation in Barcelona at 1 million and by the organisers, Catalan Civil Society (SCC), at 1.1 million.
The fuschia-coloured line markes the 3.3 kilometre-long space ocupied by the November 11 demonstration in support of the eight detained Catalan ministers and against the application of article 155 in Catalonia. The municipal police estimate was 750,000, while the organisers, the ANC and Omnium Cultural, expressed no different estimate.
The November 11 demonstration was over three times longer than October 29 event, but in a street that is at points narrower than the Passeig de Gracia where the SCC demonstration took place. This explains why the municipal police estimate for November 11 is 2.5 times as large as for October 29.
Going by the relative municipal police figures, if the SCC figure (1.1 million) for their October 29 demonstration is correct, then the attendance on November 11 would have been over two million--a figure no-one believes in.
The answer to the conundrum is that the Spanish delegation and SCC figures for the October 29 demonstration were pure fiction.
In a November 12 article on the Catalan web site Vilaweb Antoni Morell calculated attendance at the November 11 demonstration at between 1.014 million and 1.521 million, depending on the actual density of the crowd (with the lower figure corresponding to 4 people per square metre and the upper figure to 6 people per square metre). If the implied average density of the municipal police estimate (5.05 per square metre) were applied to the entire area occupied by demonstrators, the result would be 1.28 million.
Morell's conclusion: a million at the very least, and probably more.
- Carles Puigdemont, intervioewed on TV Punt Avui: "I have to have a ticket that is more my own than that of the party. [PDECat]
- Sacked head of the Catalan police, Josep Lluís Trapero, has been given an office job without operational responsibility by the Spanish interior ministry.
- The National Council of PDECat gives Carles Puigdemont the power to decide the final composition of the list Together for Catalonia (JxCat), which will have many non-aligned candidates and operate out of its own headquarters (and not the PDECat's).
- Former leader of Podemos Catalonia announces that his new grouping We Are Alternative will not be standing of Decemebr 21.
- Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell to stand on ERC list for Decmber 21.
- Former Brazilian president Dilma Roussef defends Catalonia's right to self-determination and criticises imprisonment of the ministers in Strasbourg media conference. Also points out that the UN recognised the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo.
- The United List campaign achieves the 55,000 signatures needed (1% of the electoral roll) to run a candidacy on December 21. The list will be offered to the PDECat, ERC and CUP as a vehicle for runing a single ticket.
- The territorial commission of the Spanish congress, agreed by the PP in order to get PSOE support for the application of article 155 in Catalonia, starts work with the participation of Spanish-centralist parties only. Missing are Unidos Podemos, En Comú Podem, ERC, PDECat, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and EH Bildu (that is, the forces (with the exception of the ERC) who signed the Zaragoza Declaration supporting the right to decide as the indipsensable precondition for any solution of the territorial crisis of the Spanish state.
- ANC calls demonstration in support og Catalan political prisoners for tomorrow evening.
- Defaced posters on ERC MP's office door in Spanish parliament:
Man who was blinded in one eye on 1-O files criminal charges against three Spanish Police officers
The charges have been brought against the policeman who fired the shot and two of his superior officers
Ara, November 14
The man who lost his sight to a rubber bullet fired by Spanish Police has filed a criminal complaint against three officers. The incident in question took place outside the Ramon Llull School, in Barcelona city, leading to charges being filed against the police officer from the Spanish Police —yet to be identified— who fired the rubber bullet that blinded the man in one eye, together with his two superior officers. The three police officers are to be charged with major bodily harm and for having caused the loss of an eye. Charges may well be brought against other individuals in the future.
The charges are being pressed by Roger Español, the man who was blinded in his right eye during the 1 October independence referendum. He has obtained access to video footage of the events recorded by several individuals. The images show the Spanish Police charging the public outside the Ramon Llull School and the moment when the police officer fired the rubber bullet that hit Español in the eye. The Irídia centre is bringing charges on behalf of Roger Español as a civil plaintiff, in which he will be represented by lawyer Anaïs Franquesa. Meanwhile a private prosecution will be brought by lawyer Laia Serra (who was legal counsel to Ester Quintana, the woman who lost the sight in one eye to a rubber bullet in the protests during the November 2012 general strike).
According to Franquesa, "The police officer fired the rubber bullet at point blank range, at less than 15 meters from the members of the public. He was fully aware that he was exposing them to danger", adding that the two commanding officers have also been charged since "they ordered the use of rubber bullets or at the very least did nothing to prevent them from being used". Serra added that "Roger was surrounded by reporters wearing press bracelets and holding cameras. Anyone could’ve been hit". The events took place at 10:30 a.m. on 1 October in carrer Sardenya in Barcelona, between Diputació and Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes when Spanish Police charged members of the public outside Ramon Llull School.
The criminal charges were filed with Criminal Court No. 7 in Barcelona, which has opened an investigation to decide whether the actions of the Spanish National Police in 26 polling stations around Barcelona on 1 October was "reasonable". Last week, the Irídia centre filed five more criminal complaints with the same court on behalf of seven individuals who also reported incidents of police violence during the 1-O vote.
- Workers from the Catalan ministry of culture demonstrating in Barcelona's Rambla their support for the jailed ministers.
Puigdemont claims that a solution other than independence "is always a possibility"
Ara, November 14
In an interview with 'Le Soir', President Carles Puigdemont declared himself "willing" to "accept the reality of a relationship with Spain" other than independence. “It’s always a possibility! I’ve always supported independence, I’ve worked for thirty years towards building a different relationship between Catalonia and Spain!". Puigdemont went on to say that "A lot of work has been done on the issue, but when José María Aznar arrived in office he called a halt to all that".
Details of the last secret meeting with Rajoy
In the interview, Puigdemont also gave 'Le Soir' details of his last meeting with PM Rajoy, which took place in secret. "In January, I saw President Rajoy and I told him we were willing to discuss everything", adding, "I received a negative answer to every proposal". Puigdemont went on to ask: "Does the PP, which represents less than 10% of the voters in Catalonia, have more right than we do to decide the Catalans’ future? My answer is ‘no’".
During the interview, Puigdemont lists the points on which he offered to negotiate with Rajoy: "the date of the referendum, the question, an alternate question with a choice between independence and self-rule with full autonomy, the majority necessary to make such a decision... I was even willing to accept that, for an entire generation, we would hold a referendum every three years. I received a negative to every single proposal", Puigdemont stated.
Puigdemont also commented on the process that his government followed. "It‘s clear that the plenaries held on the 6 and 7 September weren’t the best in the history of the Catalan Parliament, but it was a last resort," he said.
[TWEET] Civil Guard, Barcelona barracks: "Good morning from the centre of Barcelona, in the Gràcia neighbourhood: as on every day, the Civil Guard raises the national flag. How fine it is!"
- Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria accuses Catalunya en Comú leaders Xavier Domènech and Ada Colau of "wanting to lead the pro-independence bloc" after the December 21 Catalan elections.
- Josep Duran i Lleida, former leader of the christian democrat Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC), says he will be voting PSC on December 21.
- Annual Girona robotics fair Robolot rejects €5000 donation from the Spanish royal family.
- Catalan policemen who accompanied president Carles Puigdemont to Brussels to faces charges by Spanish interior ministry.
Today's headlines (NOTE: all about Catalonia)
Catalan-language daily press
"Now they're not in a hurry"
"United front for December 21"
"PP and Citizens will reinforce inspection of the Catalan education system"
Spanish-language daily press
"Everything for the 'process', nothing for the most unfavoured"
"Two Mossos [Catalan police] on holidays escort Puigdemont to Brussels"
"The Constitutional Court opens the 'Forcadell route' for Junqueras so he can carry out [election] campaign"
"PSOE and PSC reject any sort of deal with secessonists"
"A thousand companies also shift out their financial HQs"
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14
29 nights with political prisoners
Ferreres, El Periódico, November 14
Road to December 21 Catalan election, with Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria as traffic cop: "Vote in moderation"
- ERC national coordinator Marta Rovira visits Carles Puigdemont in Brussels, where they agree on the details of a "common front" between the ERC and Puigdemont's ticket Together for Catalonia for the Decemebr 21 election.
- The union confederation Intersindical-CSC and the public administration group of the ANC open web site "From 155 to the Republic" through which to organise meetings of public servants on how to deal with the article 155 intervention.
- Terrassa en Comú and the ERC reach an agreement to replace the PSC as the ruling party in Terrassa (Vallès Occidental), with the CUP providing external support. The agreement will depend on the support of PDECat. If this forthcoming the PSC will cease to be the ruling force in this important industrial centre for the first time in in 38 years.
- In the Spanish congress the PP opposes and Citizens abstains on a PDECat motion declaring all decisions of Francoist courts null and void. When a similar motion was put to the Catalan parliament it received unanimous support.
- The Barcelona Council budget passes its first reading in committee due to the abstention of ERC, PDECat, PSC and Democrats, with Citizens and PP against.
- Mariano Rajoy to radio COPE: "I'm in favour of talking about the issue of education in Castilian." The main Catalan education union USTEC-STEs says it will not accept any change in the Catalan education policy, where Catalan is the language of instruction and Castilian (Spanish) a compulsory subject.
[TWEET] Julian Assange; " The Rajoy government has declared the costs and details of its violent attacks on Catalan voters a “state secret”. Game on. I issue a €20k reward (divisible) for majority of the suppressed information. https://t.co/JQo9f0GfRDhttps://t.co/UkVKSU2Ro3 "
- Public servants in the economy ministry send a letter to jailed Catalan treasurer Oriol Junqueras saying they recognise only him as their legitimate minister.
- Citizens expresses its agreement with the PP's three points.
- Citizens denounces Catalan public TV as "Telepuigdemont" to the Spanish eelctoral commission (running the December 21 Catalan elections).
- The PSC Barcelona, advises its former governing partner Barcelona en Comú that it will not support its budget.
- Two of the four parties in the governing coalition on Sabadell council, Unity for Change and Let's Win Sabadell, call for the mayor to re-raise the Spanish and European flags over the town hall.
- PSC leader Miguel Iceta says he won't support the PP's three points, but won't vote for a pro-independence party to form government nor for Catalunya en Comú to do so if it continues to support a referendum.
- Pablo Llarena, the judge of the Supreme Court who is dealing with the cases of the speakership panel of the Catalan parliament, asks for a report from National High Court judge Carmen Lamela on her grounds for jailing the eight Catalan ministers. According to various media commentators, this is the first step in trying to defuse an issue that is politically embarrassing for the Rajoy government in the run-up to the Catalan election (NOTE: Llarena imposed less stringent bail conditions on the speakership panel members, even though he deliberately set bail for Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell at €150,000 such that she had no time to raise it and had to spend a night in jail).
- 100 university law lecturers and professors sign manifesto criticising the decision to judge Carmen Lamela place eight Catalan ministers in preventive detention without bail. Their statement reads: "Only by seriously infringing the principal of legality can it be maintained that the accused committed an act of rebellion .. [because] the structural feature of this violation of the law, an act of violence, is missing."
- Man who lost eye to Spanish National Police rubber bullet fire on October 1 to launch case for damages and also campaign for banning of rubber bullets in whole Spanish state (rubber bullet use is already banned in Catalonia).
- PP's three points for Citizens and the PSC to consider: no referendum, no deals with pro-independence parties, the unionist parties to try to form government if they win enough votes.
[TWEET] Súmate (Castilian speaking supporters of Catalan independence): "Please write letters to this poor man to help him out of his depression before he gets evicted." [NOTE: The Infanta Pilar said yesterday that King Felipe VI was "very depressed" about Catalonia.]
[TWEET] Dolors Sabater (mayoress, Badalona): “ I'm speaking out to demand explanations from the 155 bloc for having brought us to where we are, first unilaterally denying the right to a negotiated referendum, next prosecuting it with violence and refusing dialogue, and finally intervening and jailing freedom of expression and the institutions."
- Interviewed on COPE radio prime minister Rajoy says of Puigdemont government: "Not only were they not prepared, they knew it [independence] was impossible."
- Imprisoned Omnium Cultural president Jordi Cuixart not to stand on any ticket for December 21 elections.
- [Saturday, 1700 HOURS] Captain of Vueling flight expels two women, residents of Menorca, from plane when they refuse to answer cabin crew in Castilian (Spanish). Vueling says it is investigating incident.
[TWEET] Carles Puigdemont: "After 155 an authoritarian wave grows by the day. Expelling someone from a plane because of the language they speak is injustifiable."
- Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis denounces Russian media and social network "manipulation and distortion" of events in Catalonia.
- Former Catalan business minister Santi Vila tells Madrid's 21st Century Club that the situation in Catalnonia is "terrible" and that the past legislature "was distorted by the positions of the extreme left" [i.e., the CUP].
[TWEET] Gabriel Rufián (ERC MP in Spanish parliament): "Our struggle this December 21 is for the restoration of the institutions, government and legitimate president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont".
- Last night's meeting of Girona council votes to demand immediate release of Catalan political prisoners: in favour PDECat, ERC, CUP and PSC; against Citizens and PP.
Last night's Girona demonstration demanding release of political prisoners
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13
28 nights with political prisoners
Anthony Garner, Ara, November 12
PSC leader Miquel Iceta tip-toes past the million strong November 11 demonstration against article 155 intervention in Catalonia, supported by PSC
- Spanish treasurer Cristóbal Montoro says his department will investigate the funding of last week's trip of pro-independence mayors to Brussels to meet Puigdemont and the Catalan ministers in exile.
- PP leader Albiol García says he has "three points" he will put to Citizens and the PSC as a common platform for "constitutionalism".
- "They'll betray us again!": call by Citizens leader Albert Rivera for voters in Barcelona's southern industrial belt (traditionally PSC) not to vote for the PSC again, because it could produce another edition of the 2003-2010 "tripartite" government of PSC, ERC and "the commons" (then Initiative for Catalonia-Greens, today Catalunya en Comú).
- Puigdemont attends launch of book When Catalonia Worried Europe in the Brussels Catalan Cultural Centre.
- Àngel Ros, PSC president and mayor of Lleida complains to the newspaper Segre about the cartoon below, saying it expresses a desire to "despire and erase the work of an historic party of Catalan politics".
The PSC will run in the December 21 elections with the heirs of Democratic Union [of Catalonia]
- Junts Per Catalunya ("Together For Catalonia") is the name of the tickets to be headed by Carles Puigdemont (that is, not PDECat). The idea is to have as broad a ticket as possible, with independent pro-independence mayors and jailed ministers featuring.
- Promoters of the united pro-independence list for Decmeber 21 have collected 35,000 of the 55,000 names needed to register it in time for the December 21 election. This amounts to1% of the electoral roll of 5.5 million.
- Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis days that continuation of article 155 intervention will depend on whether Catalan government resulting from Decenber 21 agrees to abide by the Spanish constitution and the Catalan statute of autonomy.
- Carles Riera, CUP MP and former head of the Escarré International Centre for Ethnic Minorities and Nations (CIEMEN), to head CUP ticket for December 21. This is possible because Riera has been a CUP MP for less than a year. The rest of the ticket will be new, in accordance with the CUP rule of having its MPs serve only one parliamentary term.
- PSOE premier of the Valencian Country, Ximo Puig, attacks Ada Colau for "party secratrianism" is breaking alliance with PSC.
- ERC spokesperson Sergi Sabrià says that the Puigdemont government was "not ready for independence".
- PSC Barcelona leader Collboni says PSC will now make "resolute" opposition against Ada Colau mayolralty, accusing Barcelona en Comú of having made an "historical error" for breaking with the PSC.
- Weekly magazine Interviu reveals that Spanish police and Civil Guard had plans to assault Catalan parliament if Puigdemont had barricaded himself inside.
- President Puigdemont tells the Belgian daily Le Soir that another solution for Catalonia besides independence exists.
- Barcelona mayoress Ada Colau denies that the break of Barcelona en Comú with the PSC means accommodation with pro-indendence forces. "If the PSC had consulted its membership about article 155, it would have been rejected."
- Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, interviewed on the Salvados program of Jordi Évole, describes the November 11 Barcelona demonstration as "impressive" and says that the Catalan independence movement has to be listened to.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12
27 nights with political prisoners
A comment on the November 11 demonstation
ESTHER VERA (editor, Ara)
Once again, and filled with hope despite the disorientation caused by the political situation in recent weeks and impotence over the imprisonment of the principal pro-independence leaders, thousands of people have again taken to the streets, civically and en masse. This time it was to demand freedom for Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, the presidents of the ANC and Òmnium, Oriol Junqueras, the Vice-president of the government, and Ministers Borràs, Bassa, Mundó, Forn, Turull, Romeva, and Rull.
Once again civically and peacefully, but this time with a knot in the stomach. With dignity, but also sadness, listening to the silence of the children of some of the honorable politicians who are imprisoned for their ideas and for a disconcerting political strategy, but driven by the lack of political reasoning by an impassive and blind Spain. The atmosphere on Saturday was not festive, it was a collective act of warmth towards the families and the attendees themselves, still disoriented from the repression, the annulment of home rule, the imprisonment of peaceful, democratically-elected people for reasons of conscience.
The demonstration was also a call to unity. But the logic of political parties differs from everyone else’s and it is unclear whether they will be able to overcome their partisan agenda and achieve a unitary list, or even that this would be the best formula for managing the difficulties from December 22nd. The citizens’ slate that President Puigdemont is asking for would erase party acronyms and would be a joint challenge to Madrid, but it would be an instrumental list that would be ineligible for any election funding and advertising spaces, which the parties value. It would be the most advantageous for a disoriented PDECat, which needs to rebuild itself, but with the elections called by Rajoy, Puigdemont lost the presidential ability to dissolve the parliament, and thus leverage over his partners. As a single ticket or several, those in favor of sovereignty will have to rebuild proposals, objectives, and itineraries. For the good of the country, they will have to generate a collective catharsis that explains to their voters where they have made mistakes and what the new timelines and realistic objectives are. But they probably won't do so before the elections, only afterwards, and it will be then, once they have measured their strength, that they can set objectives, strategies, and calendars.
In the past month the constitutionalist bloc has gained strength and the application of Article 155 with the cooperation of the PSC has given wings to Miquel Iceta. His aim is to act as an intermediary with the theoretically harsh sector (PP and Cs) and seek out moderates even in turbulent waters, such as those from the now-defunct Unió Democràtica. The strategy is risky, but developed using his direct relationship with the Moncloa and in anticipation of the results of December 21st and the scenarios that voters could create.
There are people who always have a bonfire at hand. A bonfire for witches, for heretics, for communists, masons, independence supporters, or even for supporters of Spanish unity. The bonfire can take on the form of a newspaper editorial that puts the world to rights, but also a holier-than-thou message on Twitter. The thing is that from the absolute truth provided by proximity to power, a comfortable sofa, a healthy bank balance, or a more-or-less distant university lecture hall, it is easy to dictate a doctrine of purity for others to obey. The release from prison of Carme Forcadell, the Speaker of the House, provided an opportunity to light the bonfires. Some Madrid newspapers talked of "renouncing support for independence", or "rectification", or "non-credible repentance". It is well known that recanting requires retraction and anathematization, in addition to professing the Catholic faith. In addition, establishing if the spirit is sincere and intentions correct is essential. The lovers of rectifications and recantations follow the star of the Holy Inquisition or of the great Beria, who was in charge of the huge Stalinist purge. A man who generated so much fear that in the 1990s Muscovites still avoided passing by what had once been his house. A few days ago, a balanced person made me think about the disgrace, the lost opportunity, of the Counter-Reformation. Spain is still a country that is reactive to change, suspicious of difference, and some political and judicial players appear to seek out their opponent's recantation rather than compliance with the law or political debate. Spanish Attorney General José Manuel Maza clearly suggested, referring to the imprisonment of the Vice-president and Ministers, that if they had complied with the Constitution and Article 155 "perhaps some things might have been different".
The Attorney General's words urging the recantation of ideas, and the enthusiastic reaction of those who see a betrayal by Forcadell in a simple defense strategy do nothing more than confirm the political nature of the crimes and the legal measures being applied. Prohibiting Carme Forcadell from attending yesterday's demonstration is a useless act from a political point of view because she and the other prisoners were very present to millions of people who were demanding their freedom as an urgent necessity, and who continue to hold true to their ideas, as they have shown en masse. After them, after all of us, others will come. What is needed is to do it better, with less herding instinct and more listening to what we don't want to hear.
- Neighbours in Gimenells, whose mayor deserted the PSC for second place on the PP ticket for Lleida province, paste up the town hall. Slogans include: "Gimenells has not voted PP", "Gimenells is not Dante [Pérez]".
- Ana Gabriel (CUP MP): "From December 22, the commitment is to give content to the realisation of the Republic, the beginning of the constituent process, stopping article 155 and the release of the prisoners for jail."
- Constituent Process, led by former Benedectine nun Teresa Forcades and former Podemos Catalonia leader Albano Dante Fachin, to stand together for December 21, possibly with the CUP-Constituent Call.
[TWEET] Lluís Rabell (leader, Catalonia Yes We Can): "May the commanders of the 'new politics' forgive me, but a consultation on a governing alliance where the government 'doesn't have an opinion' but never stops sending out messages against its allies--that's a demogigical piece of trickery pushed by people who are afraid to take responsibility for their decisions."
CUP assembly votes 64% in favour of presenting a list at the December 21 elections.
CUP assembly, Granollers
Ballot paper for CUP Assembly decision
The vote was:
Total voting: 1099. First round: To stand or not (91.6% in favour, 7.8% against). Second round vote, on three options emerging from regional assemblies: (a) Citizen list without parties (12.6%); (b) Negotiate a left front (21.7%); Stand as CUP plus supporting parties in Constituent Call, as in 2015 elections: (64%).
Brussels demonstration in support of the release of the Catalan political prisoners. Attended by ministers in exile Meritxell Serret, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí.
- Elements of the "commons" and Podemos express criticism of the decision of Barcelona en Comú to break with the PSC.
- PSC secretary Miquel Iceta says that Ada Colau as "chosen independence" before Barcelona.
[TWEET] Ada Colau: "Thanks Jaume Collboni [PSC leader in Barcelona Council] for the joint work in the service of Barcelona. May the PSC soon abandon deals with PP/Citizens/Unió and recover left alliances."
- Unionist march in Manresa starts to shouts of "Puigdemont to jail".
- PP leader Albiol García demands anti-independence united from from Citizens and PSC.
- Result of Barcelona en Comú membership ballot on whether to continue with governing alliance with PSC on Barcelona Council: 46% for, 54% against.
- Former business minister Santi Vila says he will take a "step to the side" if his party, PDECat, persists in a unilateral approach to independence: "The question we have to ask ourselves is whether the intransigence, inability and even catalanophobic tics of some people justify political responses that put at risk all the material and spiritual progress we've achieved over the last 40 years.
IMAGES OF THE NOVEMBER 11 ONE-MILLION STRONG BARCELONA DEMONSTRATION IN SUPPORT OF THE POLITICAL PRISONERS AND AGAINST ARTICLE 155