Photo: Pro-independence demonstrators (Credit: VIlaweb)
By Roser Cussó
December 22nd, 2018
The Catalan people have spoken. Prison, exile, an intervention into their autonomy, repression and censorship have not succeeded to topple the will of the citizenry. An absolute majority of separatists, that is to say 70 seats out of the total available 135, was the result, with 57 seats going to unionists, and 8 seats which were neither yes or no.
Accused of rebellion, two presidents of two independentist civil society organizations (the ANC, and Omnium), whose pacifism is unquestionable, are in prison, and the Catalan Minister of the Interior and the Vice President remain there as well. The President of the Catalan government and four of his ministers had to go into exile in Belgium, despite the international extradition order for them was withdrawn by the Spanish government to avoid losing face, meaning the accusations against them did not hold water. Catalan Governmental Autonomy was intervened with by the central government, through the use of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. This article does not allow for the dissolution of the Catalan Parliament or for the calling of early elections. Despite this, the Spanish government has gone ahead and done both of these things, with minimal scandal in Europe.
Censorship during the campaign broke records: certain election advertising spots were banned, as well as the presence of the colour yellow in the realm of the public sector, and other allusions to the freedom of political prisoners. The Catalan media can still not use certain expressions, Catalan public television was only allowed to broadcast a few minutes of the huge independence demonstration in Brussels on December 7th (only a minute per half hour was allowed). The Catalan ministers who were freed on bail before their trial dates had their communication limited. Old indication of repression also surfaced: teachers were indicted for speaking in class about police violence on October 1st during the referendum; websites were closed, Facebook accounts deleted, as well as thousands of Twitter profiles.
There is even a recent report from the Spanish Civil Guard, submitted to the Supreme Court, which includes a new list of people accused of rebellion and sedition, a list which gets longer every day. Even Manchester City football coach Pep Guardiola is cited, for having read a manifesto at a demonstration in Barcelona. All this has been happening, in a context where the spokesperson for the Spanish executive states to television cameras that it is thanks to the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, that the Catalan leaders are in prison . One can no longer pretend to believe that Spanish justice is independent.
It seems surprising, but we must still remind ourselves that, according to the Spanish constitutional and penal framework, the exercise of self-determination is not a crime. One need only read articles 10.2 and 96 of the Spanish Constitution , or alternatively, read the analysis of an experienced lawyer, who wrote in a pro-union newspaper – see his article “In Spain today, it is is not a crime for a Parliament to declare secession” . A declaration of independence is not a crime.
Despite this exceptional background context, independence has won, once again.