Thursday , 26 April 2018

Land and Freedom

Sushovan Dhar

The exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his four associates relinquished to the Belgian police. He earlier fled to Belgium after the Spanish government, also called the Regime of 78, imposed direct rule in Catalonia following the independence referendum. Cases were registered against him and his four associates on charges of rebellion, sedition, misuse of public funds, disobedience and breach of trust. On these bases a Spanish judge issued an EU arrest warrant against him a few days back.Whatever be the fate of Puigdemont and his compatriots eventually, it is sure that the terrible victimisation of the Catalan government confirms the despotic nature of the Spanish government while indications are plenty of restoring a reactionary political regime throughout the Spanish State.The decision of the Audiencia Nacional (a special and an exceptional high court in Spain) to send the Catalan Vice President, Oriol Junqueras, and seven other ministers to prison without bail, as well as the international arrest warrants issued against Carles Puigdemont and his four associates in Belgium, evince that the Rajoy administration is keen to seek an authoritarian ‘solution’ to the Catalan crisis and intends to bulldoze the Catalan democratic spirit.
Neither Rajoy nor his People’s Party are alone in this game. This centre-right conservative party counts on the support of his main opponent turned collaborator PSOE and their Catalan cohorts Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya (Socialists’ Party of Catalonia), another centre-right formation Ciudadanos (Citizens) joined the game with others. Nevertheless, the leadership of this autocratic league is firmly in the hands of Rajoy and the monarchy. The judiciary is acting under their direction with the Spanish armed forces at their disposal. The European institutions and governments are also not left far behind. This reactionary collusion has incarcerated a democratically elected government in an attempt to crush the independence movement and suppress all dissent. The Spanish government, defeated in the referendum countered by imposing Article 155 and rule Catalonia directly. With the principal leadership of the independentistas in jail or in exile, this direct rule was catalysed by countless arrest warrants, the threat of new cases, new internments, a banning of parties or entities, prohibition of all strikes and demonstrations. This was perfected by the brutal employment of all types of police forces. The EU and its governments have given the duo a critical and unconditional support justifying and endorsing repression and Article 155 in the process. It can’t be denied that the EU only exists as an undemocratic apparatus of the financial oligarchy against the interests of the ordinary Europeans.

The autonomous government that the Spanish authorities are trying to impose with this coup – both institutional and constitutional – will truly need these Bonapartist methods to rule over Catalonia and embark upon their recentralisation program. In turn, this “effective model” will be exportable to the rest of the Spanish State in a short time from now. Catalonia now serves as a field trial of recentralisation and authoritarian experiments. A reactionary Spanish nationalism advancing “another form of governance”, trampling under their feet popular rights and democratic freedoms with the help of denigrative judgements and police repression. Thus reads the summary of the script to keep Catalonia and the rest of Spain under iron control.This intervention has turned the whole of the Spanish political regime into a de facto “state of emergency”. To invoke constitutional clauses for insidious measures is perversive since the suspension of constitutional rights by the constitution itself is a contradiction in terms. The denial of rights by the constitution itself turns it into a tragedy, and immediately into a farce.The establishment of the “state of emergency” is also a pretext to unleash armed forces on the ‘impertinent’. More so when Rajoy and his cohorts have lost all credibility as they are unable to revile the Catalan for any legitimate transgression. The independentistas are the popular majority. Under conditions of repression and sabotage, they garnered 43% of the total votes and 90% of the votes polled on 1st October.What is really happening today in Catalonia has neither solely emerged nor is limited to Catalonian independence. It is part and parcel of a global strategy to exercise the state’s freedom and impunity to violate human rights. Under the masquerade of an alleged “public order”.The Catalan struggle has entered a decisive phase where clear demarcation between conciliation and uncompromising efforts is in the cards, a fact that will also tilt the balances. The movement for Catalan independence must be an instrument to achieve bread, work, housing, equality and dignity. It must be the spearhead, along with the working people of the rest of the Spanish state, to end Franco’s progeny, this undemocratic monarchic regime. The struggle resonates the same progressive spirit of thousands who demonstrated to greet the migrants in Barcelona, the mobilisations for decent housing for all, the fight against high electricity tariffs, the defence of water as a public good or commons, etc. All these demands, including those for the right to self-determination, deserve our active internationalist solidarity.

Sushovan Dhar, activist, 28/4, Jogipara Road, Kolkata

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