Difficult. They won’t allow it. At the time of writing this column, 24 hours has passed since a constitutional majority declared the independence of the Spanish autonomous community.
Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marín
It has been a unilateral declaration, which has triggered radical decisions by the Spanish government, the condemnation of several nations, the uncertainty of the European community, the hope of the ‘independents’ and the rage of many Spaniards.
Among other reasons this is because the Catalan audacity can motivate and strengthen other independence movements, not only in Europe and support the self determination of the peoples. With regards to the Spanish government, its chief Mariano Rajoy punished this “escalation of disobedience and aggression”, protected by the authorization given in Madrid by the Senate to apply article 155 of the Constitution, to “preserve the unity of the country “.
That is why he announced the dissolution of the Catalan Parliament, the dismissal of the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, and elections in the autonomous community, on 21 December.
Rajoy has reacted in the style of a dictator, as he has done so before. During the celebration of the October 1 referendum, he sent members of the National Police and the Civil Guard to stop what according to the Spanish Constitution was an illegal referendum. In actual fact, this was a referendum that sought to democratically inquire whether the Catalan people wanted their independence or not.
It was a day in which more than 2 million people participated, in which the “Yes” won with 90.18% of the votes, and in which people went out to vote in a peaceful way. But it was also a day where all the repression and brutality of the National Police and the Civil Guard were felt, leaving more than 800 injured, property destroyed, places raided and a clear message of ‘no’ to the exercise of democracy.
For the wounded, the destruction and repression, neither Rajoy nor his government team is yet to apologize. Rather, they justified everything because the referendum was illegal. Unacceptable, if it was illegal it was enough to let people vote, because eventually the result would be invalid. However, the force doesn’t lay here in democratic debate. Here the strength lies in what is inferred from Article 155 and other possible military action.
Why not respect the right to that independence, the voice of the 90% of Catalans who argue that Catalonia having its own culture and its own language, is a nation and therefore can have their own state? They have been making the argument since the war of succession, when they lost autonomy and then during the Franco regime, which repressed the use of their language and the expression of their culture.
On the other hand, it is understandable that this rich region wants to have more, as they currently carry out high tax transfers to various Spanish regions, and with the sharp economic crisis in Spain the ‘independents’ feel that for what they put in, the returns are minimal. And of course, Spain needs Catalonia, one of the engines of its economy, due to the being the biggest driver of exports, research and tourism. It is, as I said, the richest region of Spain.
That is why they want their full autonomy (partially recovered in 2006), since even on several occasions their decisions have not been respected by the Constitutional Court.
But the truth is that this independence will be difficult, if not impossible. We know that the Spanish Constitution does not allow it.
And the worst thing is that the government of Rajoy (questioned and discredited by its high corruption, to keep the economy depressed, to close and privatize hospitals and schools, and to have more than 4 million unemployed, among other failures) has today the backing of several countries, who see Spain at a critical moment in time.
True, but also a moment of injustice against the decision of a community. With the right to be independent and not to be tried and persecuted for wanting to be, and to be accused of wanting to contribute to the division of Europe.
A people has the right to be independent. It does not have to live under a government it does not want, a government that has repressed it, that does not allow it to develop nor to be completely autonomous. Independents are not criminals nor should they be criminalized.
I remember signs that the media captured on the day of the referendum: “We will never forgive you for hurting our people”. “We are a peaceful people, we have done nothing but vote”.
And they voted. And the ‘yes’ prevailed. Then it became official. But what they did was start a long and difficult road where the independents will have to give evidence of perseverance, strength and patience. And continue to show that they are “a peaceful people”, but strong, that defends their independence. Chaotic times are coming … for everyone. The people decide, that is how democracy is exercised.
(Translated by Gareth Trevor) – Photos: Pixabay