Spain

On the northern outskirts of Barcelona, on La Rambla de Carmel, stands one of the most visually striking and symbolic monuments to the volunteers of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade of the International Brigades.

“David and Goliath”, designed by US sculptor Roy Shifrin and first unveiled in 1988, was the most prominent gathering point for the 80th anniversary of the departure of the International Brigades — anti-fascists who had come from around the world to fight against Francisco Franco’s forces — from Barcelona on October 28.

In recent weeks, senior judges in the loftiest halls of the Spanish legal system — the Supreme Court, the National High Court and the Constitutional Court — have been exposed as subverters of a fair legal process, lackeys of Spain’s almighty banking elite and bumbling incompetents, writes Dick Nichols from Barcelona.

Last December 21, Catalonia’s three parliamentary forces supporting independence — Together for Catalonia (JxCat), the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) — won a 70-65 seat majority in the 135-seat Catalan parliament.

Six months of drawn-out negotiations over forming a pro-independence government then followed.

More than 1 million people marched in Barcelona on September 11 in support of Catalonia’s struggle for independence from the Spanish state. The day is marked each year as Catalonia’s national day, commemorating Barcelona's capture by Bourbon forces in 1714 during the War of Spanish Succession.

This year’s march also demanded the release of pro-independence political prisoners, who have been jailed for their role in last year’s independence referendum.

At the June 8 ceremonial handing over of portfolio briefcases from outgoing conservative People’s Party (PP) ministers to their incoming Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) replacements, the contrasts were dramatic.

A bunch of reactionary lifetime political operators and religious obscurantists were replaced by what new Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez boasted was the “progressive”, “feminist” and “Europeanist” alternative.

The Catalan parliament finally voted in a new president on May 14, 199 days after the pro-independence bloc held on to its majority at the December 21 elections imposed by the Spanish government.

“La Manada” (The Wolf Pack) is the name of a WhatsApp group chosen by five men to organise a trip to los sanfermines — the running of the bulls — in Pamplona, Navarra. During the festival, in the early hours of July 7, 2016, they gang raped an 18-year-old woman in a small room under the stairwell of a block of flats.

Three hours later, one of them shared a video of the attack in another male-only WhatsApp group with 28 members, called “Danger”. One of the five was an off-duty National Guard officer, another a soldier. During the trial, evidence of another attack committed by four of the five several months earlier was uncovered.

Despite this, although the trial found the men guilty of sexual abuse, it cleared them of rape.

Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA), which waged a decades-long military campaign for Basque independence, released its “Statement to the Basque Country: declaration on harm caused” on April 8. The statement is an apology for the suffering arising from more than 40 years of violent operations that ended in a permanent ceasefire in 2011.

The most extreme Spanish reaction to the April 5 ruling of the Higher Regional court of German state Schleswig-Holstein that freed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was from radio shock jock Federico Jiménez Losantos.

“In the Balearic Islands there are 200,000 of them [Germans] as hostages,” he railed. “In Bavaria, well in Bavaria pubs could start being blown up. So, I’m proposing action? Of course, they’ve slapped us around, they’ve given us a kick in the you-know-what.”

“General strike! General strike! General strike!” In protests across Catalonia after the March 23 jailing of five MPs and the March 25 detention in Germany of Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, these words rang out loud and appeared on placards and banners everywhere.

A general strike would certainly make the Spanish government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the senior judges doing its bidding think twice about their relentless persecution of Catalonia’s pro-independence MPs.

Except that a general strike, while desirable and important as a goal, will not happen until there is an earthquake in the Catalan trade union movement.

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