The Catalan government has elaborated a plan for “four years,” not only for a few months as the Spanish media have been speculating recently.
With this legislation, the government will focus on the freeing of political prisoners, the return of exiles, the reinstatement of Puigdemont as President of Catalonia, and the negotiation of an agreement for a self-determination referendum with Spain without ruling out unilateralism as a way to implement the Republic if the negotiations fail.
The government is also expected to launch a Civic, Social, and Constituent forum before October 15th, which will set the foundation for the Constitution of the future Catalan Republic. This process is expected to end with a Constitutional referendum by the end of the legislature.
In addition, President Torra has announced that his administration will implement 14 social laws suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court, even if the negotiations with the State fail. These laws would allow the government to significantly improve the quality of life for the immense majority of Catalans.
The government’s plan also includes the implementation of a total of 1,000 measures such as a primary health care plan that also identifies social problems in walk-in clinics, the transformation of culture into a basic social right, a national plan to help the nearly half a million disabled people in Catalonia, a quality work market, gender policies, protecting teachers, a national pact on the knowledge economy, and taking engineering and technological paths.
The government will also put special emphasis on the march for civic and social rights announced by Torra at a National Conference on September 4th.
“We must refrain from making a nostalgic or sentimental look,” he said. It must be a day by day protest in which we peacefully confront the state to exercise our right of self-determination,” he added. For him, the referendum was “the founding moment of the Catalan Republic.”
In regard to the public diplomacy body (Dipoclat) which was dismantled by the previous Spanish administration, the Catalan government will continue consolidating and expanding it worldwide. The Government is currently reactivating foreign delegations. Last week, for example, the Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs Maragall reopened the Catalan delegation in Berlin (Germany) despite the fact that the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell announced a contentious-administrative appeal to halt the reopening of the offices.
President Torra is expected to give more details about his government’s plan during the general policy debate set for the second and third of October.
One of the most important Spanish associations of Judges, Judges for Democracy, filed a lawsuit requesting the annulment of the appointment of Judge Llarena as Judge of the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court for violating the regulation, the law, and the Constitution.
This illegal promotion would have occurred making Llarena the instructor of the special cause against Catalan leaders in prison and exiles, since the whole procedure would have been oriented to the judge occupying the vacancy of the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court — which tackles special cases of politicians with parliamentarian immunity — clearly breaking the rules of distribution of the Special Causes approved by that same High Court.
As the Spanish newspaper Público revealed a few days ago, on March 18, 2016, Judges for Democracy filed a contentious-administrative appeal against the appointment of Llarena at the Supreme Court in defense of the legal and constitutional rights of the magistrates excluded in the selection of the Permanent.
According to Judges for Democracy, Llarena’s appointment “was done without respecting the principles of merit and capacity established in Article 23 of the Spanish Constitution. “It also violated two articles of the Organic Law of the Judicial Power, three articles of its Appointment Regulations, and three articles of the Spanish Constitution, which clearly shows the interference of “someone” from the Spanish government, to appoint a “friendly” judge to instruct the special Catalan case.
In 2017, the Criminal Chamber of that same High Court, chaired by Manuel Marchena and formed by four other judges that formed the Chamber of Admission, decided “to irregularly appoint Judge Llarena as instructor of the Catalan case.”
In doing so, the Judicial Branch breached its own regulations. Llarena was the last judge on a list of 5 Supreme Court judges: 1) José Ramón Soriano Soriano, 2) Miguel Colmenero Menéndez de Luarca, 3) Antonio del Moral García, 4) Andrés Palomo del Arco, 5) Ana María Ferrer García and 6) Llarena, who should have received the task of instructing this cause in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement of the Government Chamber, dated December 21, 2016, regarding the composition and operation of the Chambers and Sections of the Supreme Court and assignment of presentations that the magistrates must submit in 2017.
This Agreement states:
“When the appointment of an Instructor proceeds, his designation will be carried out according to the order of seniority, excluding the President and the Judges that form the Admission and Resource Rooms.”
In conclusion, the current law and regulation is clear with the procedure to appoint the Instructor of Special causes: however, this case has been flagrantly violated by the Admissions Board Speaker and President of Second Hall, Manuel Marchena, close to the PP, who appointed the last Judge on the list, instead of the first of the judges according to the period established by seniority.
These efforts to appoint Judge Llarena as instructor of the case against Catalan political prisoners and exiles by someone close to the PP and the Spanish government, clearly shows the nonexistent separation of powers in Spain and that the whole case against Catalan leaders (still commanded by the PP) is a farce without any kind of legal guarantee for the prisoners, who will probably end up with unfair prison sentences of up to 30 years.
Over a million demonstrators have flooded Barcelona’s streets to demand the implementation of the Catalan Republic and the immediate release of all Catalan political prisoners, according to figures provided by the police.
People of all ages were seen in the protest, many of whom were wearing flags for independence, banners calling for the freedom of political prisoners, and T-shirts with the slogan: “We make a republic.”
The atmosphere was festive. This is the seventh consecutive mass pro-independence demonstration held in Catalonia on September 11th, becoming the only country in the world that has been able to mobilize such a large number of people year after year.
On Saturday, the unionist far right-wing party C’s (Ciutadans) together with other ultra organizations such as the Civil Catalan Society and the Spanish media, launched a large-scale disinformation campaign to criminalize Catalan independentism and generate violence across the country.
In the evening, C’s reported, without providing any type of evidence, that one of its members (a Russian nationalized Spaniard) had been attacked by an independentist who punched her face and shouted, “Go back to your country” because apparently, she was removing yellow ribbons (a symbol to call for the release of Catalan political prisoners) from the Parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona.
Minutes later, the Spanish media and C’s leaders spread news of the incident in social networks using fake images, including one of a woman who had undergone cosmetic surgery. The woman was sporting a large facial splint over her face and several bruises.
Yellow ribbons: An independentist breaks a woman’s nose reported the Spanish newspaper “Crónica Global.”
“That is how they have left Lidia for removing [yellow] ribbons. Her children were in front of her, but that has not prevented the aggression. TORRA GUILTY,” said Spanish journalist Yolanda Couceiro.
“More information about the criminal who breaks the nose of a woman for removing yellow ribbons,” said the Union of Mossos (Catalan police) for the Constitution.
“They have broken the nose of a woman in front of her children for removing yellow ribbons in Barcelona. Mr. Sánchez, there is no “normality” here. Defend millions of Catalans, who are being attacked by separatism and stop whitewashing those who break the coexistence in Catalonia,” said Inés Arrimadas, the President of C’s in Catalonia.
“We are going to report to the Prosecutor’s Office the aggression for hate crime of the xenophobic separatist who broke Lidia’s nose in front of her children for removing yellow ribbons in Barcelona. Zero tolerance with nationalist totalitarianism,” said Albert rivera, the leader of C’s in Spain.
“ATTENTION! The politics of hatred and the criminalization of the dissident of @QuimTorraiPla [President Torra] takes its first victim. Assaulted for removing yellow ribbons; She is in the hospital right now,” tweeted the far right-wing organization Civil Catalan Society (SCC).
Almost in tandem, the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalan police) confirmed that there had been an attack made against a woman, a Russian nationalized Spaniard, but that it was for non-political reasons. They reported that the alleged attack occurred in the Parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona.
According to the unionist newspaper “La Vanguardia,” the attack occurred following a heated discussion between a Ciutat Vella resident who was walking his wheelchair-bound mother and a female member of the C’s. According to witnesses, the man would have shouted at the children of the victim, using profanity language, because they tore down the yellow ribbons and threw them to the ground while they were playing. He accused the three minors of littering the city.
When the mother defended her children, the aggressor told for her to go back to her own country and punched her in the nose. All this, without any political allusion to the yellow ribbons, political prisoners, or independentism.
At that moment, the victim’s husband intervened and grabbed the aggressor by the neck to separate them. Shortly after he attended to the woman and the children. Three Catalan police officers, who were in the area and who had been alerted about the events, appeared. They called an ambulance and identified the woman and the man.
The police reaffirmed that the aggression had nothing to do with any political reason, which contrasts with the version of C’s, the Spanish media, and the Catalan Civil Society, which rapidly launched a misinformation campaign to criminalize independentism by linking the incident with a fascist “angry” independentist who didn’t want a Spaniard to remove yellow ribbons.
On Sunday, the Catalan Public Television TV3 spoke to the alleged aggressor who said that the incident was a simple fight, and he also received a bite. He recognized that he insulted the woman and punched her in her face. But he claimed that it was not an aggression, but a physical confrontation, and said that he had reported the facts to the Catalan police. He also admitted that he reacted badly and that the discussion increased in tone and became a fight in which he had struck the woman in the face with force.
On Monday, the victim of the aggression recognized herself that the aggression was not for political reasons. And her husband admitted that her wife did not have her nose broken as the Spanish media, unionist parties, and other organizations reported during the weekend.
Even though it had been confirmed that the incident was not for political reasons, C’s continued carrying out its disinformation and confrontational campaign during the weekend in an attempt to criminalize Catalan independentism and depicting that Catalan society as broken. They also announced that they will hold a demonstration in Barcelona on Wednesday in support of the “victim” and against independentists, though the alleged aggressor wasn’t an independentist. Thus, Cs appears to be adopting Joseph Goebbels’ strategies of disinformation and lies:
“A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth” — Joseph Goebbels
Over the last year, the unionist far right-wing parties C’s, the PP, and other organizations such as the Catalan Civil Society have been attempting to divide Catalan society in order to avoid independence. They have launched confrontational campaigns and endorsed violent organized squads armed with knives, cutters, and sticks, which remove yellow ribbons from the streets, and occasionally enter private properties and attack peaceful independentists across Catalonia every night. Thus their goal appears to be clear: divide society by creating a social conflict close to a “civil war” to prevent any implementation of the Catalan Republic in the near future.
Whether they will succeed or not is still unclear, but what is certain is that if Catalan independentism is able to remain united and strictly peaceful as well as keep organizing massive permanent demonstrations in the next few months, an important number of unionists could join the cause, and the conditions for the implementation of the Catalan Republic could be met soon.
At around 2 am on Friday, the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalan police) identified fourteen people in three vehicles, including a Spanish Civil Guard officer, in the Catalan region of the Ribera d’Ebre. The Catalan police were alerted by frightened neighbors, in what appeared to be a “paramilitary” squad formed by numerous individuals with covered faces and armed with knives and saws. They were removing yellow ribbons and other yellow symbols from the streets.
Once there, the police found cutters, hooks, saws, dark clothes, scarves, and maps with what appeared to be organized regular routes for removing yellow symbols from several Catalan towns, which demonstrates the existence of coordinated ultra-right- wing groups.
According to police sources, the material was confiscated and due diligence was undertaken in case anybody complains about the damages. The confiscated material also enabled the police to identify two more cars and their occupants in the town of Tivissa.
El Mon newspaper spoke to Jordi Jardí, the Mayor of Tivissa (one of the towns where the paramilitary squad appears to be operating regularly), who said:
“This group of people removed the yellow ribbons that were located at the entrance of the municipality and the squares of the Paranova and the Portal de l’All. Jardín will not report the facts since it must be considered that they have not infringed any municipal property nor have they damaged any urban infrastructure.”
“They have not touched the yellow ribbons that are lit every night in the City Hall, and we are not thinking about removing them,” said the mayor. “Henceforth, the CDR of Tivissa and the region, which filled the squares of our town with yellow ribbons, are free to restore them,” he added. And Jardí said that the council will maintain the same attitude of “respect” toward these symbols.”
The Department of Home Affairs of the Catalan government has initiated actions against the members of the paramilitary squad for a serious infringement of Law 4/2015 of citizen security, which sanctions these actions with fines of 601 to 30,000 euros.
Since last October, numerous citizens from various towns across Catalonia have been warning of the existence of violent para-military squads that, on occasion, enter private properties to remove banners calling for freedom for Catalan political prisoners, yellow ribbons, and other yellow elements. According to sources, they physically attack anyone who offers any kind of resistance or tries to stop their criminal acts.
In the last few weeks, C’s and the PP have been accused of promoting and endorsing these kinds of violent paramilitary fascist squads. A few weeks ago, C’s launched a campaign to remove yellow ribbons and other symbols and “encouraged” these radicals groups to carry out more “violent” night operations across Catalonia.
Exiled Catalan President Carles Puigdemont will return to Waterloo (Belgium) next Saturday to activate the Council of the Republic following the withdrawal of his European Arrest Warrant (EAW) by Spanish Supreme Judge Llarena.
The Council of the Republic will be “a government in exile” led by Puigdemont and also formed by the exiles Ponsatí, Serret, Comín, Puig, Gabriel, and Rovira. This government will have the mission to internationalize the Catalan cause, to find “ways” to implement the Catalan Republic, and to promote the constituent process in order to create the drafting of the future Republic.
The Council of the Republic is expected to be free to act in Belgium without the problems imposed by the police and Spanish justice. The Council should represent the country’s diversity, which is why it will also have the representation of local communities and associations.
The design envisaged in principle and that in the coming days will take control of the body is to be composed of two institutions: the Council of the Republic and the Assembly of Representatives. The Council of the Republic will be the government in exile. It will meet every week and will coordinate politically with the Catalan government presided over by President Torra.
With regard to the Assembly of Representatives, this will be equivalent to the parliament in exile, in charge of any other executive powers. The Assembly of Representatives will have the deputies of the independentist parties that now represent the majority of the Catalan parliament but will add representatives from the city councils and more institutions, with the intention of constituting a Catalan national institution with greater representation. Both the Council and the Assembly will generally meet in Brussels, but the possibility of meeting in Catalonia is not ruled out, which may cause new problems with Spanish institutions.
Formally, both institutions will be private, in order to avoid becoming trapped in the legal web that Spain wants to build. Politically, its public performance will be covered by the Catalan government, which will incorporate the decisions taken by the board to the extent that it is legally possible. The council, however, will escape the Spanish repression and will be able to take on tasks that could not be carried out otherwise, as in the case of Catalan delegations abroad. It is clear that the two bodies will continue to be banned by the Spanish government, but they can be activated from the free space in Brussels practically in the same format that they had used so far. In Brussels, the drafting of the Constitution of the Republic will also be piloted from an ample popular discussion movement that receives broad input.
Josep Borrell said diplomats must intervene like the Spanish ambassador to the US, Morenés, last week when he accused President Torra of being a liar and denied the existence of Catalan political prisoners during the inauguration of the Smithsonian Festival, in Washington.
President Torra and the whole Catalan delegation left the reception and accused the ambassador of delivering an insulting speech against the Catalans. Dozens of attendees immediately reacted to the offending speech by shouting “free the political prisoners” at the ambassador, before following the president out of the event.
Morenés also accused Torra of spreading “propaganda.” “In Spain, there are no political prisoners …. there are some politicians who, despite having been repeatedly warned by their own legal services, decided to bend parliament regulation and violate the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia and the (Spanish) Constitution,” he said. Borrell defended these words saying, “No ambassador should remain passive to President Torra’s attacks on Spain.”
President Torra later said that what happened was “intolerable.” He called on Spanish PM Sánchez to say whether he and the Socialist party shared the ambassador’s opinion on what’s happening in Catalonia. Since then Torra and his administration have called for the immediate resignation of Morenés because this level of insult cannot be tolerated in public institutions.
The Spanish Socialist Party and PM Sánchez defended Morenés speech and attitude on Monday, arguing that he said the truth about what is happening in Catalonia, including the non-existence of political prisoners.
Earlier this week, Borrell took a step further and urged all Spanish ambassadors to keep the same “offensive” attitude against President Torra and other Catalan high-ranking officials who give speeches abroad.
The leader of the Spanish ultra nationalist Ciudadanos party in Catalonia, Ines Arrimadas, accused the Catalan government on Sunday of being responsible for recent aggressions against people who wear yellow ribbons.
“The Catalan government should accept that yellow ribbons don’t represent all the Catalans,” Arrimadas said.
Arrimadas avoided condemning such aggressions, and instead, called on the Catalan government to maintain institutional neutrality by removing yellow ribbons from governmental buildings. She believes that everybody is free to wear yellow ribbons on their jackets or use other types of symbology at home, but never in institutions because according to her, yellow ribbons are comparable to symbols like the “swastika” used by the Nazis.
“We’re worried about the social fracture and these acts of ‘violence’ can happen. We have been the first party to say that we must discuss how to recover peaceful coexistence and reconciliation among Catalans.” Asked if the Catalan political parties should do self-criticism, she said that C’s has proposed a plenary session to discuss the Catalan conflict and the return to Spanish constitutional legality. “We want everyone to participate, it will mean that the social fracture worries the rest of political parties.
In this way, Arrimadas avoided condemning the recent fascist attacks against peaceful pro-independence supporters. In the last few weeks, Arrimadas and her political party have been accused of endorsing these kinds of violent attacks against innocents and some of their members have been seen in nocturnal squads removing yellow ribbons from the streets in numerous cities across Catalonia.
Since Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) became the new Spanish prime minister, following a successful motion of no-confidence against the then Prime Minister Rajoy on June 2nd, C’s appears to have hardened its position against pro-independence supporters, probably expecting to recover the big social support that they once had, and have lost in hardly a week.
A few days before the motion took place, C’s was leading all the polls for new Spanish elections, reaching 28,6% of the votes against 20% for the PSOE. However, with Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) as prime minister, the tables have been turned with C’s losing nearly 8% of their support, becoming the third party in Parliament with only 21,1% of votes, behind the PP and the PSOE who went on to win the elections with 28,8% of the votes.
With those “awful” projections, C’s appears to have launched an anti-Catalan campaign aimed at getting support from traditional PP supporters. In past elections, an anti-Catalan discourse gained millions of new voters and the victory to the PP.
Hence, it is expected that C’s will continue making attacks against pro-independence supporters until the next elections take place in 2020. Chaos and an escalation in the conflict between Spain and Catalonia may give them a chance of winning the elections and becoming the leading party in Spain.
The Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has nominated Josep Borrell as new Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs. Borrell, who was ex-minister in Spanish socialist governments and ex-President of the European Parliament, is a controversial figure characterized by his relentless offenses against Catalan pro-independence leaders. During a unionist demonstration organized by a far-right organization in Barcelona last December, Borrell said:
“It’s a good idea, this ‘stitching up wounds.’ They have to be stitched up. It’s true: this is a wounded society and it has to be cured. But, before closing the wounds, they have to be disinfected. Because, if they’re not disinfected, things rot. The social body has to be healed, so it has to be scrubbed well with disinfectant.”
Borrell resigned as president of the European University Institute in 2012 following accusations of conflicts of interests. In 1998, Borrell accompanied convicted politicians of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) to prison who were sentenced for organizing and taking part in (GAL), a state terrorism group that acted in the Basque Country during the 80’s and caused 27 deaths.
Pro-independence parties have criticized Borrell’s appointment and accused the new Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez of fueling the conflict in Catalonia. President Puigdemont went further and said in a Tweet that the Socialist party was attempting to divide Catalan society.
The Catalan government has been calling to open a dialogue with Spain’s PM Pedro Sanchez since he became President last week in order to find a solution for the continuing political conflict between Catalonia and Spain.
Despite the appointment of a radical anti-independentist as Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Catalan administration has insisted on the need to start bilateral talks with Spain as soon as possible. However, behind the scenes, pro-independence leaders recognized that there are few chances of that happening. They believe that Sánchez will follow the same strategy that his predecessor ex-PM Rajoy used during his term in office: the judicialization and criminalization of the pro-independence movement.
Born in 1947 in Pobla de Segur, Lleida, Borrell began in local politics before joining the PSOE party and eventually rising to ministerial level. He was the minister of Public Works, Transport, and the Environment during the third and fourth terms governments of Spanish PM Felipe González (PSOE). In 2004, he was elected head of the European Chamber where he served from 2004 to 2007. He joined the board of the Spanish multinational corporation Abengoa in 2019 and became chair of its international advisory board a year later.
Borrell has a doctorate in economic science from the Complutense University of Madrid, and he has studied at the French Institute of Petroleum in Paris and Stanford University in the US.