Black October

What people of Catalonia and Spaniars have experienced the last October has had a great impact on the feelings, usual talks and way of living of thousands of citizens. Overall, a black October.

Spanish version and photographs

The month started with an uncommon day. Hundreds of Catalans going to vote, which was not authorized by the Spanish State; police and civil guard interrupting in schools; people disarmed and with their arms raised, shouting democracy, … and blows, many blows. What Europe and the world saw of that fateful October 1st was the beginning of a black month.

As regards the successive days, everything could be summed up in fears of having found a way out, in ambiguous speeches, in the “reading between the lines”, in “now it is on your roof”, between the central government and the Parlament of Catalonia. The struggle reached its highest point by applying the article 155 of the Spanish Constitution by the Government of the Popular Party – after acceptance of the Senate – and the Declaration of Independence unilaterally approved by the Parliament of Catalonia on the 27th October. 

A month in which the media has not stopped a second to broadcast what was happening in Catalonia – with more or less success; a month in which citizens have contemplated astonished, angry and heartbroken – I included – how Catalan institutions were neglected, both by the suspension of the Autonomy in application of article 155 as for the absolute taking of the Parliament by the pro-independence parties; how the gap between separatism and the so-called “unionism” increased; a month where, informatively, only the Catalan same old story has existed. But, still, that has not been the worst. The crisis in Catalonia, as they say, is also the crisis in Spain and in Europe.

This is an editorial blog, in which I and anyone can express their feelings. So, I will write here some thoughts.  

Would it be so bad that a historic town, with its own culture and traditions, with its own and recognized language, with six years of massive demonstrations in favor of the same idea, with a majority of the Parlament chosen in favor of that idea, could they have self-determination? Would it be so bad that Democracy could be used – that word with which now many fill their mouths up without knowledge – so that all parties could have an opinion, debate and finally endorse the solution in the polls? Would it be so bad if Carles Puigdemont and Mariano Rajoy talked like normal people?

October started in a black way and finished in the same way. With its own ups and downs, which is a costly process, massive street demonstrations for and against independence – almost every weekend -, the imprisonment of the “Jordis” and successive “protests with pots and pans” from the Catalan balconies, last Friday 27th of October everything was blurred and the parties that should have sitted down and negotiate, went straight, getting the population lumbered with the problem. 

Now and always, if you are not in favor of the independence cause, you are automatically in the “Spanish” cause and the words “facha” or “unionista” appear in the mouths of those who call themselves democrats. In the same way it looks on the opposite side. “Separatists” or “breaking Spain” are common ways of describing those who support independence.

These words are not a mere insult. Some will say them as a joke, but they are the result of division, confrontation and ignorance. To give an example, Joan Manuel Serrat was called “fascist” for stating that the 1-O referendum was not transparent.

The “procés” has tested the feelings of many people. Politicians, determined to destroy and humiliate the opponent, have got themselves involved in a race where everything counts. It could have been a nice process, thinking about a reform to change whole Spain – starting with a reform of the Constitution and rewritting the role of the autonomies. Instead, it has becomen a nightmare that nobody knows how it will end. 

Given what we have seen, self-criticism is necessary. The government headed by Mariano Rajoy, for his stubborn resistance to listening and the negligence with which he has dealt with the Catalan issue during these years – starting with himself when in 2006 he promoted a collection of signatures for the “Estatut” (a kind of legal rights for catalans) to be voted on throughout Spain; Carles Puigdemont and all his advisers, in addition to the parties that bet for independence, to justify their actions in a referendum that clearly did not meet any standard from the moment the first ballot box was withdrawn; the media, to saturate and, in some cases, dramatize the situation in Catalonia and the vision towards the rest of Spain; the pro-independence entities, ANC and Omnium Cultural, for trying to decide on the future of Catalonia from outside the Parlament; those who are dedicated to inflame, whether in our out the government, the opposition, lawyers, judges, journalists, or ordinary people, for misunderstand the “Catalan conflict”.

Now, with a president dismissed abroad, with a search and arrest warrant, and his government also stopped in prison for crimes of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement, among others, the independence movement has a new reason to continue believing. Many, after the proclamation of the Catalan Republic on 27-O and with the passage of days without any clues as to how that republic was going to be configured, they looked with contempt at all the sovereignty discourse. Not now. Meanwhile, the central government washes its hands in anticipation of the regional elections on December 21, although at this time I am sure ‘Pablo Casado’, Communications vice-secretary of the Popular Party (PP) is saying among his people “I told you Puigdemont” when he compared the future of the Catalan politician with the former president of the Generalitat Lluís Companys.

There are no magic solutions, but the imprisonment of the government and, surely, also of Puigdemont, does not fix things. It sharpens a political problem, with capital letters and, most worrisome, leaves the Spanish justice with one foot inside and one outside the executive power, something that undoubtedly truncates all hope that there is separation of powers in Spain.

And I ask myself, who are the real victims here? Coexistence, something that made Catalonia proud because it is a plural and diverse territory, has been broken. The journalist Jordi Évole already said it in a television program. Coexistence is something very easy, but also very fragile. October 1st began with crying and the month ends in the same way. And the people, as always, pay the consequences.