Barcelona

Live coverage of the struggle for independence in Catalonia from Dick Nichols, European correspondent of Green Left Weekly and Links--International Journal of Socialist Renewal, based in Barcelona.

The Spanish People’s Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has decided to implement direct rule in Catalonia.

In implementing article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which allows central government intervention in regional governments, Rajoy has the full support of the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and the new-right party Citizens. The unprecedented intervention is the first since the present Spanish constitution was adopted in 1978.

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.

The war without guns between the Spanish state and the 80% majority of Catalan people who support their parliament’s October 1 independence referendum is reaching a climax at the time of writing on September 29.

On October 1, it will become clear whether the Catalans have humiliated the central Spanish People’s Party (PP) government by succeeding to vote; suffered a setback because the 10,000 Spanish National Police and paramilitary Civil Guards in Catalonia succeed in closing polling stations; or achieved a mixed result due to only some voters getting into polling stations.

Forty-one Spanish Civil Guard raids on Catalan government-related buildings and private homes on September 20 led to the arrest of 13 high-level Catalan government officials and harvested a lot of “suspect material” for the prosecutors charged with stopping Catalonia’s October 1 independence referendum. However, the raid have provoked a mass revolt in response.

The haul included 10 million ballot papers stored in a printery warehouse in the central Catalan town of Bigues i Riells.

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”.

Half-a-million people marched in the Catalan capital of Barcelona on August 26 to express the profound desire in Catalan society to stay tolerant, open and un-militarised in the face of the August 17-18 terror attacks on Barcelona’s Rambla and in the seaside town of Cambrils.

This was partly because the attacks — claimed by Islamic State and causing 15 deaths and up to 130 wounded — coincided with the tensest moments to date in the fight between the Catalan and Spanish governments over the planned October 1 referendum on Catalan independence.

On September 26 last year, Podemos’s Castilla-La Mancha secretary-general Jose Garcia Molina said that his party’s agreement keeping the regional Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government in office in the autonomous community had “died of depression and shame”.

“Fearless Cities” was the name of the inaugural international municipalist meeting that took place in Barcelona on June 9-11. It was hosted by Barcelona en Comu (Barcelona Together, the radical citizen-based coalition which runs Barcelona Council in alliance with the Party of Socialists of Catalonia).

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