Mass protests against police violence during the Catalan referendum hit Barcelona
by Dave Sewell
Monster demonstrations involving tens of thousands in Barcelona took place in front of town halls around Catalonia today, Monday.
The protests, called by students and others, opposed the violent repression of Sunday’s referendum.
After people occupied voting stations to stop police closing them down, more than two million people defied the Spanish state and voted for independence.
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy dismissed the result, calling the referendum “illegal”. But Catalan president Carles Puigdemont announced, “We have won the right to an independent state, in the form of a republic.”
He initiated moves towards a unilateral declaration of independence, saying that “Catalan institutions must implement what citizens have decided”.
Puigdemont had previously vowed to declare independence within two days of a yes vote. But his emphasis since the vote has been on calling for mediation by international bodies, notably the European Union (EU).
Yet the EU’s treatment of Greece has demonstrated its contempt for democracy.
The European Commission responded by dismissing the question of independence as “an internal matter for Spain”.
Despite an implied criticism of Rajoy’s use of police violence, the Commission emphasised that it “trusted” his “leadership”.
It called the vote “illegal”, called for “unity and stability and reiterated that an independent Catalonia would find itself out of the EU.
French president Emmanuel Macron and European Council president Donald Tusk took a similar tone.
The leaders of the biggest Spanish unions UGT and CCOO today ruled out support for a general strike set for tomorrow. Then the leaders of their Catalan sections flatly contradicted them.
The strike is called by a wide range of organisations, from the most left wing trade unions to several bosses’ groups.
The pro-independence alliance calling the walkout says it will be a “stoppage for the country”, not a “traditional strike” of workers.
But while bosses of some smaller businesses and public sector workplaces may support it, the main organisation of big business opposed the referendum.
The referendum has plunged the Spanish state into its deepest crisis since the transition out of dictatorship in the 1970s.
Workers and bosses have different interests. Even Catalan businesses sympathetic to independence would take Spanish rule over “instability” and mass mobilisation.
And European politicians who represent the same rotten establishment as Rajoy are no friends of those seeking to challenge it.
Only building on the collective defiance of ordinary Catalans that made the referendum possible can overcome the state’s opposition.
Protest against the repression in Catalonia Tuesday 3 October, 6pm-8pm, 10 Downing Street,London SW1A 2AA. Go to STOP repression in Catalonia! Defend people’s right to choose on Facebook