We are not afraid! The unanimous cry of citizens and politicians alike before the brutal jihadist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils on 17 August headed the front page of the Spanish El Pais newspaper last Saturday, in Catalan. Quite a gesture from the Spanish publication… sullied, however, by the cartoon by regular cartoonist Peridis on the inside. In the cartoon, Catalan President Puigdemont flies away shouting: “We’re carrying on with our indy agenda” while, at the edge of a cliff, a couple with a daughter dressed in black answers: “We remain here with our daughter in grief”. I and so many others are the parents of daughters – and sons-. Mine, in particular, was working in a shop very close to the murderous route taken by the van. She called home right away: “I’m fine. They say a car has started running people over on the Rambles on the corner of Plaça Catalunya. There are many dead”. It is despicable indeed to draw or write certain things in the wake of a 22 strong death toll – including those attacked (13 on the Rambles, the young man stabbed in Vilafranca and the woman in Cambrils) and some of the attackers (five terrorists in Cambrils and two in Alcanar)-. 130 wounded and a country (and the world) reeling after this renewed onslaught by unreasoning terror. Reeling but not paralyzed. Reeling but not overwhelmed. Reeling but standing united. Reeling but not bewildered. Reeling but standing tall; very tall.
Is this what is so aggravating for the Peridis of this world, for those who pay them and for those who applaud them?
Is this what aggravates them? That Catalonia, its citizens, its residents – the tourists, greatest in the number of victims of this awful act – and its public officials, both of the country and of Barcelona, should have acted serenely, firmly and with determination, should have informed the world clearly and whose police should have been so effective, in the face of the worst terror-provoked crisis in the Spanish State, since the Madrid attack on 11 March in 2004? That they should have done so – and continue to do so – without help from anyone and despite the scarcity of the resources? With their… inexistent – forbidden by the Constitutional Tribunal – “State structures”? That Catalonia should act as a society that has come of age, before such a terrible crisis? As the State it could become?
Is this what aggravates them? That the President of Catalonia and his Minister of the Interior and the top executive boss of the Catalan Police should have told the truth from the word go, to the citizenship, about what was going on and that they did so with the speed necessary for the situation and, at the same time, being as cautious as the ongoing investigation and pursuit of the victims demanded? And that this should be the antithesis of the attitude of José María Aznar and his government – including current Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy- on the day of the Madrid attack? Do they remember the people standing before the PP party headquarters chanting: “Who did it? Who did it?”. By the way, Peridis, did they suspend the elections two days later, despite the 192 and 2057 injured?
Is this what aggravates them? That Catalonia has, yet again, been a model for the world, as is apparent on reading the international press? The press has gone as far as to regret that the US didn’t have a president like Puigdemont instead of Trump, with regard to respect toward ethnic and/or religious diversity and dealing with social and cultural diversity? That the minister of the exterior Romeva, in spite of the Constitutional Tribunal, should act like a State’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, meeting with his colleagues from other countries, who travelled to Barcelona to take care of their dead and wounded?
That the King and Queen of Spain and the Spanish President and vice-president turned up late and messily to the scene of the events and looking as if they were in the wrong country? That after recently refusing to call a meeting of the Security Council for Catalonia despite the terrorist alert level or to allow access for the Catalan police to the European coordination bodies and to the terrorist related data, the Spanish Interior Minister hadn’t appeared until 45 hours after the massacre?
Is this what aggravates them? That while Rajoy’s Government sent Spanish Police to question officials of the Catalan Government regarding the arrangements for the referendum, late July, the terrorist’s explosives production team was working full on in Alcanar, readying an attack far worse attack than that which they finally managed? That Rajoy was obliged to appear, practically 24 hours after the massacre, next to Catalan President Puigdemont? That very same President Puigdemont who, further to the Spanish Government’s request, may be sent to jail for “sedition”?
I can understand how aggravating all this must be, because, as some of the brighter supporters of Spain’s union among the press have realized, many things will change after 17 August and they already have. 17 august has made a number of scripts, many artificially created narratives on the Catalan independence process, redundant. Some of these inventions are core, such as the image of the Catalan police having become a sort of Pretorian Guard for the indy leaders in a context of Balkan violence and insecurity. After the massacre on the Rambles and the response of the Catalan Government’s police, i.e. Catalan national authority, it has become quite clear what the number one priority is. However much the dark caverns of Spanish politics and their disciples (and some local apprentice sorcerers) refuse the evidence, this is and will be an orderly country, where the law and peoples’ rights are respected, not a banana republic. From now on, Rajoy and Soraya (Spanish President and vice-president) will find it harder to convince even the people who seek order – especially in the business world – that the Catalan Government is ruled by a band of lunatics who are leading the country to mayhem.
I can understand the aggravation. And what is more, as will become ever so clear on the demonstration called for next Saturday by President Puigdemont and Barcelona Mayor, Ada Colau, in support of peace and harmonious coexistence, Catalonia is not afraid. We’re not afraid of anything, Mr Rajoy.