The Catalan crisis continues. Madrid conducts a tough policy and does not compromise a single step away from its line, while Puigdemont tries to maneuver, mostly without success and faces defeat regardless. In any case, he already lost. This all looks like a trap, which he himself once mentioned.
Madrid calculated everything in advance and has done a good job. For several months, the telephone conversations of high-level officials of the Generalitat de Catalunya were wiretapped. It turned out that the project was estimated at half a million euros and entrepreneurs were involved in organizing its financial backing. The referendum was discussed in an active manner, including its legal and technical aspects, in particular, the possibility of counting votes of Catalans residing in other countries.
From the wiretap reports it was clear that the Generalitat was aware that the referendum would not be viable, since nothing substantial was prepared for real, genuine independence.
Why did Madrid attempt to vigorously suppress the Catalan referendum? Not many people wanted to come to vote to the referendum and only a little more than 40 percent voted. Of course the result was 90% + for 'SI', because those who are looking for independence came to vote. I believe that there was much more than just those 40% who desire independence for Catalonia, but hopes were pinned on parliamentary elections, and not to a referendum. On the eve of the election, September 30th, I heard how Catalans discussed why they need the referendum now. "Apparently, to see before the election how many people want separation." Therefore, not so many people went to vote. So why did Madrid even bother to send its special forces? The Constitutional Court ruled on the illegality of this referendum and it would have been enough just to declare it invalid.
However, they send their Civil Guards who pressured the population and pictures of violence were aired worldwide. TV channels showed long lines. The ballot boxes were withdrawn but not from everywhere. So, people went to vote at other polling stations where ballot boxes still were, which increased the lines and created an impressive picture for everybody, including the Catalans, so they could convince themselves of how high their numbers were. This rallied the Catalans even more, as well as the demonstration of aggression of the Civil Guard. Even Frau Merkel expressed disapproval of Madrid. This information is for the public, but who knows what was said behind the scenes? Quite possibly, it could be an approval. The police violence rallied the Catalans, especially since they themselves did not show any aggression - the voters were absolutely peaceful. After the initial outbreak of police violence those who might not have gathered earlier to vote now went to vote. "The Basques will follow us", "Then the Basques will begin," "The Basques are next." "After the Basques will be Scots". "Yes, yes, the Scots will finally be able to regain their independence", the people told each other. The flags of Scotland, Venice and some others that I didn’t even recognize were on display there, on Pl Catalunya, among the Catalan flags.
The events in Catalonia are a sign to all the advocates of independence saying we have succeeded, now it's your turn. And it was a message to the EU - the Union will crumble like a house of cards. Of course, if the EU retains the membership of the new independent republics, so they can keep the currency, trade ties, etc., and etc. (and there is so much behind the “etc”), then the EU itself can survive. But this is not what people on the Pl Catalunya were talking about, but about the fact that it will be the end of the EU, “we will leave, and after us - many others will stand up for their independence”. Who at that moment was thinking about what to do, when the banks will be closed, investors will leave, sanctions will begin and all trade will be stopped? But when you see the bloody face of an old woman, do you really think about the banks? Pumped up over such visual impressions of savagery, the Catalans waited unanimously for one thing - a declaration of independence.
All that happened dealt good cards into the hands of Madrid. It was Madrid who needed the not-so-well prepared referendum to take place, and in this proportion - 40%, so that they could always say, “Yes, it happened, but how many participants were there?” It had to take place, so the Catalans had to be activated, this way the actions of Madrid were justified, and the government of Catalonia fell into a trap.
The referendum, the inaction of Mossos d'Esquadra - the Catalan police - and the subsequent calls for strikes by Catalan’s leaders allowed Madrid to apply Article 155 of the Constitution, of which everyone knew, but somehow did not believe that it would ever be used. Nevertheless, Rajoy consistently adheres to the method of force. It was counted how many policemen loyal to Madrid in Catalonia had been called upon to identify and activate the "silent dissenters". So, they were found and attended the counter demonstration. Maybe they attended the demonstrations against independence for money, we don’t know. What difference does it make if the picture was impressive enough? Furthermore, Madrid sends in reinforcements to his guardsmen in an also impressive amount of 20 vehicles. Then the predictable repression began. The following were arrested - Jordi Sanchez, President of the National Assembly of Catalonia and Jordi Cuixart, The Head of the Òmnium Cultural (Society for Culture). They are charged with calls for insurrection and face "imprisonment for up to ten years". [See here]
The head of Mossos d'Esquadra, Joseph Luis Trapero, was arrested as well. The prosecution demanded imprisonment for him without the possibility of bail. [See here] In the case file, Trapero was mentioned "as one of the members participating in the organizational leadership of the referendum".
At present, he is fired and his farewell letter to his colleagues is published in the Catalonian newspapers.
Meanwhile, "the state security forces are ready to finally take control of Mossos d'Esquadra and resist mobilization on the streets from the most radical sectors."
The Spanish government officially takes control of Catalan institutions, in accordance with Article 155 of the Constitution. Thus, control over Catalan finances was established. "All the obligations of the Catalan administration will be carried out by the Bank of Spain through a deposit already created by the Ministry of Finance, with revenues that correspond to the Catalonia financial system."
Also ousted from office were Albert Serra, The Secretary-General of Health, and Adria Comella, The Secretary-General of Justice - the key figures in their fields. Some of the leaders were fired, some voluntarily resigned, and the most obstinate are arrested. If the Catalan government of Carles Puigdemont began to fall apart before the central government openly interfered in this process, as we read in Spanish newspapers, than with what, or rather, with whom will Catalonia come to election in December?
Now, the supporters of Catalonian independence are considering measures such as a "peaceful" boycott of actions carried out in accordance with Article 155, as well as possibilities and ways to disrupt the elections, in which they knowingly will lose. In connection to this, actions such as forgery of extra envelopes in ballot boxes are considered, or dropping the ballot box which open it and in both situations the result will not be counted. These ‘methods’ look really naïve, helpless and unfortunately accompany the losers and not the winners.
The Spanish government is also looking for new instruments to be implemented in suppressing separatism. Everything in there just begins. Now the question is, with what losses will Catalonia emerge from this situation?
Despite the declaration of independence, they came to the referendum unprepared and on my subjective look, it was expected to fail. It’s sad… What a high spirit was on the eve of October 1st in the Pl Catalunya... what a high level of energy! The fact that Madrid sent its special militarized police unit to obstruct the referendum and its brutal action evoked memories of the Frankish and the resistant movement since this unit played an important role in suppressing the resistance to fascism. So those old antifascist slogans began to sound out from the masses.
I feel sorry for the Catalans. Because this kind of inspiration, tears of happiness, and this spiritual uplift will not end up in the way the Catalans expected it to be.
But on October 1st on that Pl Catalunya I sang with them:
“If you pull hard here,
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