Catalan struggle

Catalan Premier Carles Puigdemont officially declared an independent Catalan republic on October 10, only to announce a suspension in its implementation to allow for talks with Madrid.

The harsh reply of the conservative People’s Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy came two days later: abandon all thought of secession or see Catalan self-rule erased under article 155 of the Spanish constitution.

Is it possible to have a successful referendum when your country is effectively occupied by 10,000 police and paramilitaries with orders to stop it?

The holding of Catalonia’s October 1 referendum on independence shows it is: all you need is a mobilised people with a clear view of where they are going, Europe’s most powerful and persistent social movement to help guide them, and a government committed to carrying out its promises.

In 1713-14, it took the troops of Spain’s Borbon monarchy 14 months to take Barcelona and end Catalan self-rule. Three centuries later, Catalonia is again under siege, this time from the central Spanish People’s Party (PP) government.

Under Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish state is concentrating all its firepower on stopping the Catalan government’s October 1 independence referendum, where Catalan citizens will be asked to vote on whether “Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic”.

Nothing alarms Spain’s establishment more than the prospect of the unity of the Spanish state being threatened by the desire for self-determination of the peoples that live within its borders.

Up to 1.5 million people flooded the streets of Barcelona on July 10 in an enormous demonstration behind a lead banner proclaiming: “We are a nation, we decide.” The turnout exceeded the most optimistic forecasts.

Even the most conservative and Spanish-nationalist media admitted this huge protest against the constitutional court’s undermining of Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy was one of the biggest since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975 — and the most important in the history of Catalan nationalism.

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