Confrontation in Catalonia

Russia Warns Washington
September 23, 2017

Confrontation in Catalonia

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Catalonia was independent earlier, over the past century settling for autonomy instead.

In 2006, Spain’s High Court ruled parts of the community’s Statute of Autonomy were unconstitutional, sparking calls for independence.

Spain’s hardline Prime Minister Mariano Roy earlier called Catalonia’s secession aim “an unacceptable attempt to blackmail the state.”

Catalans oppose his regime’s attempt to obstruct their democratic process, 80% of the population supporting the October 1 independence referendum, they alone to decide whether to secede or remain part of Spain.

Catalonia’s 7.5 million people comprise little more than 6% of the country’s population, about 30% of its GDP, its wealth vital for Madrid to retain – why the Rajoy regime’s opposition is firm, challenging the right of self-determination, affirmed in international law, opposing the democratic rights of Catalans.

Confrontation continues, Catalans determined to vote on October 1, the Rajoy regime intending to block it forcefully and/or by invoking Article 155 of Spain’s constitution, saying:

If a regional government fails to “fulfill the obligations imposed upon it by the constitution or other laws, or acts in a way seriously prejudicing the general interests of Spain, the Government” may take control of its government, compelling it to meet its “obligations” and uphold “the general interest.”

The article was never previously invoked, Madrid authorities reluctant to use it, fearing it could incite a firestorm of outrage. Catalonia might declare independence without a referendum vote, likely supported by the majority of its residents.

Among Spanish youths, Rajoy is more despised than Francisco Franco, Spain’s earlier despot, Rajoy a modern-day tyrant, punishing Spaniards with force-fed austerity, hollowing out local communities, accumulating an enormous debt burden, around 100% of GDP, protests and strikes at times challenging his harshness.

Rallies supporting the October 1 referendum continued for three days on Barcelona streets. Thousands of police are poised to block it.

On Friday, Madrid said increased numbers will be sent to Barcelona and elsewhere in the community. Catalan officials expressed determination to proceed with the October 1 vote, a week from Sunday, defying Madrid’s attempt to block their democratic right.

If a “yes” majority wins, they’ll declare independence straightaway, they said. Police state terror aims to block the vote, Catalan Interior Minister Joaquim Form tweeting:

“The state is laying the groundwork to take over the Mossos d‘Esquadra (Catalonia’s police force). It’s a clear attempt to discredit it.”

Days earlier, Catalan officials accused Madrid of taking over the community’s administration, after state police raided its offices, arresting Vice President Oriol Junqueras, economic affairs head Josep Maria Jove, taxation secretary Lluis Salvado and others, a despotic action.

About 20 officials are being investigated for alleged civil disobedience, abuse of power, and embezzlement – related to the planned referendum.

Dozens of facilities were searched, including private offices and residences, along with Catalan government offices and the premises of three Barcelona companies – inciting angry street protests, including demonstrators blocking police cars.

Spain’s chief prosecutor asked the nation’s National Court to investigate the Catalan National Assembly and Omnium civic group for sedition.

Thousands of police reinforcements are deployed on vessels in Barcelona and Tarragona harbors. Catalan dock workers refused to service them “in defense of civil rights.”

Madrid intends having around 16,000 police in Catalonia to block the planned referendum. Earlier, 10 million ballots were seized along with materials containing information about the referendum.

Tense standoff continues, perhaps turning violent if voting proceeds, police forcefully attempting to block it.

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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.