Spain

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.

The announcement by Spain’s right-wing Popular Party (PP) government of a miniscule 0.25% rise for pensions has brought pensioners out onto the streets in the hundreds of thousands in recent weeks, writes Julian Coppens from Merida in the Spanish state. 

Of all the International Women’s Day (IWD) demonstrations held in an unprecedented 177 countries on March 8, the Spanish state stood out as the site of the largest mobilisation for women’s equality. In fact, it was the greatest mobilisation for women’s right in history, with almost 6 million people — overwhelmingly women — striking and demonstrating in about 120 cities and towns.

The title of Adam Hochschild’s marvellous book on the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War is taken from French author Albert Camus’s requiem for that doomed struggle: “Men of my generation have had Spain in our hearts … It was there that they learned … that one can be right and yet be beaten, that force can vanquish spirit, and there are times when courage is not rewarded”.

About five million women went on strike and marched in Spain on March 8 in support of a call for an international women’s strike to mark International Women’s Day and demand a just and egalitarian society, TeleSUR English said that day.

Early on January 30, Roger Torrent, speaker of the Catalan parliament elected on December 21, suspended that day’s session, which had been set to elect outgoing president Carles Puigdemont as head of the new Catalan government.

The decision of Torrent, leading member of the pro-independence Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), came after the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled two days earlier that electing the exiled Puigdemont could not take place in absentia.

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