Madrid Vows to Block Catalan Independence

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Madrid Vows to Block Catalan Independence

by Stephen Lendman ( – Home – Stephen Lendman)

State-sponsored street violence tried preventing Sunday’s referendum from taking place. It may have been prelude for harsher measures ahead.

Fascist PM Mariano Rajoy announced his intention, saying “(i)f anyone plans to declare the independence of part of the territory of Spain, as he can’t since he does not have the power to do so, we would have to do everything within the law to impede this.”

The “law” apparently is whatever he says it is, including unleashing thuggish police in virtual combat gear against nonviolent Catalans exercising their right to vote, injuring hundreds, some seriously.

Asked if Article 155 of Spain’s constitution will be invoked to suspend Catalonia’s autonomous status, Rajoy’s justice minister Rafael Catala said “(t)hat is a tool that is there.”

“We have always said that we will use all the force of the law, all the mechanisms that the constitution and the laws grant the government.”

“We are not here to divide Spaniards. We are here to serve the general interest. Therefore if we have to use certain measures that worry us and may hurt, we will do it. It is important to guarantee that Spain has rule of law, that laws are fulfilled.”

Rajoy intends addressing parliament on the crisis. Opposition PSOE leader Pedro Sanchez demands he open talks with Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and other political leaders to negotiate a solution to the crisis.

He also demanded an explanation for national police violence against Catalan voters.

Puigdemont vowed to keep his pledge to declare independence following Sunday’s landslide “Yes” vote triumph, saying under Catalan law, winning by more than 50% triggers a declaration of independence within 48 hours.

His party holds a slim parliamentary majority, its members likely to approve separation from Spain, setting the stage for further confrontation if declared.

Brussels largely ignored Sunday’s violence. EU member states support Rajoy, concerned that Catalan independence could trigger similar separatist movements elsewhere in Europe.

Spanish Basque separatists could seek to follow Catalonia, Madrid likely to use tough tactics to keep the nation intact. Martial law could be declared, civil liberties suspended in Catalonia, military forces sent to occupy the region.

Constitutional Law Professor Fernando Simon said Spain is in unknown territory, things “really serious.” Harsh measures by Madrid could ignite a firestorm. Sunday’s blood in the streets could be minor compared to what’s possible ahead.

Both sides are open to compromise under conditions unacceptable to each other. Puigdemont insists Catalonia’s right to self-determination must be respected before talks can begin.

He asked Brussels to get involved to help resolve things, so far not forthcoming, unlikely ahead, especially because Rajoy wants things handled internally.

On Monday, European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said the matter must “be dealt with in line with the constitutional order of Spain.”

National police and civil guards still occupy Catalonia. Puigdemont demands their withdrawal, a sentiment supported by angry Catalans.

On October 6, 1934, then Catalan President Lluis Companys declared independence from Spain. Puigdemont could choose the same date to do it again.

In October 1940, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco executed Companys. Is Puigdemont vulnerable to the same fate if he declares Catalonia independent from fascist Spain?

Whatever way things turn out, Puigdemont intends establishing a commission comprised of legal experts and other professionals to examine Madrid’s “violation of fundamental rights” during Sunday’s vote, the worst Spain has seen in decades.

“The day of gratuitous violence seen (Sunday) cannot be repeated nor go unpunished,” he stressed. Scores of formal complaints were filed against Spanish police.

On Monday, thousands of Catalans protested against Sunday’s state-sponsored violence peacefully. Unions called a general strike for Tuesday.

The pro-independence Catalan National Assembly along with dozens of other groups called on their supporters to turn out en masse to protest against “grave violation of rights and freedoms.”

A Catalan declaration of independence appears likely, perhaps on Friday. Disruptive Madrid-ordered action to block it could follow.

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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.