The Catalan Council for the Republic Makes the New Digital Identity System Available for the Next Government of Catalonia

The new digital identity system launched by the Council for the Republic last week aims to be a tool for the next Catalan government to disconnect from the Spanish state. This is considered a state structure out of the reach of Spain where the new Catalan state should start to be built. Over 15,000 people have already joined the initiative.

The new ID has an identifying QR code that allows people to “join and access the services of companies from all over the Catalan Countries.” NGO’s, companies, unions and associations are currently negotiating their integration in the system that also aims to create “social cohesion, collective awareness and sovereign spaces that empower citizens.”

The success of the new identification system will be determined by the number of people and organizations that join and operate this new structure, which could replace the Spanish National ID in the future if there is ever a new attempt to create the Catalan republic.

The new ID will cost six euros for the digital format with a QR code and twelve for the physical card, which is made of bamboo, a biodegradable material.

Council for the Republic

The Catalan Council for the Republic is an institution that aims to “promote political, social, cultural and economic activities aimed at the establishment of an independent state in Catalonia in the form of a republic.” It currently has around 96,000 members and is growing every day. The only requirement to join the Council is to be at least 16 years old, to prove your identity, and to make a contribution of a minimum of 10 euros.

The Council of Europe Denounces the “Retaliation and Intimidation” by Spain against Jordi Cuixart, a Catalan pro-Independence Human Rights Defender

The Council of Europe denounces the continued suffering of the Catalan political prisoner and President of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart. This was stated in a report written by the General Rapporteur of Human Rights Defenders of the Council of Europe, Alexandra Louis, after Jordi Cuixart’s situation was analyzed by the Committee of Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Body, where his treatment was equated with that of other human rights defenders imprisoned in countries of dubious democratic quality such as Turkey and Azerbaijan.

The report states that “the trial against Cuixart was political in nature, and he should not have been tried by the Supreme Court, which has jurisdiction to try elected officials and not activists of civil society like him.” The rapporteur also pointed out that Cuixart is the president of “an association that promotes civil and cultural rights in Catalonia that was founded in 1961 under the Franco dictatorship.”

Louis also affirms that she will “continue to pay close attention to the work of the institutions of the Council of Europe.”

“I will also oversee the work of other international organizations on this issue and alert the committee and the Assembly to new cases of violations of the rights of human rights defenders and all new initiatives aimed at protecting them,” she stated.

Reprisals and intimidation

The rapporteur says that examples such as Cuixart’s show that “human rights defenders are still suffering reprisals and intimidation, and that their situation has not improved, but has even worsened in certain European member states,” comparing it with the situation in Turkey.

Arbitrary Judiciary

In 2018, the GRECO group (Group of State against Corruption of the Council of Europe) stated that Spain has a problem of judicial independence, and the human rights advisers of this body have also questioned the proportionality of the Judgment in Democracy.

International call for Cuixart’s release

Prestigious institutions and entities have called for the release of Jordi Cuixart. The list includes: Amnesty International, the World Organization Against Torture, Front Line Defenders, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the Association of European Democratic Lawyers, the International Commission of Jurists, and the International PEN, among others. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also questioned the allegations against Cuixart and his imprisonment, while calling for his release and for the Spanish government to open an investigation into his imprisonment. Still within the framework of the United Nations, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and three Special Rapporteurs, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, and the Special Rapporteur on Minorities.

In addition, there have been many political, social, and cultural figures from around the world who have expressed support for Jordi Cuixart and called for his release. The manifesto made public at the beginning of the year stands out around fifty internationally known figures ask for amnesty for all those against whom the Spanish state retaliated. It was signed by Dilma Rousseff, Gerry Adams, Yoko Ono, Ai Wei Wei and five Nobel laureates: Shirin Ebadi, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Jody Williams, Mairead Corrigan, and Elfriede Jelinek.

A Few Reasons Why Young Protesters Have Been Demonstrating in Catalonia Over the Last Week

Freedom of Expression

The arbitrary imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasel for his song lyrics and tweets criticizing the monarchy and the police has motivated many youngsters to take to the streets. Where the international community and society see freedom of expression, the Spanish justice system sees “glorification of terrorism and slander.”

No Future Prospectsfor Young People

With 40% youth unemployment, the highest rate in the EU, young people see no future prospects. They don’t have access to the job market, and when they do the jobs are precarious, not letting them leave home and build a vital, independent life. This situation has been ongoing for a long time and the general sentiment is that the system has left them behind.

Cumulative Anger from Past Injustices

In the last few years, thousands of Catalans: rappers, activists, political leaders, etc., have been prosecuted, repressed, forced into exile or jailed, while reactionary forces and fascists have been able to spread hatred across society with absolute impunity.

Mistrust in Politics

The general perception of society is that their problems have never been solved through politics and that the current system is punishing them.

Police Brutality During the Protests

The way that the police dealt with the first few days of unrest was another motivation for protest. For example, one 19-year-old woman lost her eye to a police-fired foam bullet, and a group of peaceful protesters was kettled and were hit with batons. 

Catalan Political Prisoners Call on People to Vote for Amnesty and the Republic in Today’s Catalan Elections

The nine Catalan pro-independence political prisoners Oriol Junqueras, Carme Forcadell, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Dolors Bassa, Josep Rull, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart call on the Catalans to vote en masse for “amnesty and the republic” in today’s Catalan elections.

They emphasize the importance of voting in order to challenge the Spanish state and to demand an end to repression “through amnesty and the return of exiles” to “face the democratic resolution” of the conflict between Catalonia and Spain.

The political prisoners also call for a future government that defends an inclusive project, in the service of social reconstruction and national liberation, emphasizing that to move towards this common goal they must build a shared strategy. “The repressive state powers always seeks to divide those who fight it. That is why it is more important than ever to maintain unity in diversity,” they state.

Some of the prisoners remind us that the elections in the current Covid-19 scenario force “citizens to choose between the protection of the right to life and the right to political participation,” which shows the “contempt” of the state for both institutions and Catalan society.

Jailed Catalan Leader Jordi Cuixart Calls on the Catalans to Vote en Masse in the February 14th Elections

The President of the Catalan cultural and civil organization Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, calls on the Catalans to “fill the ballot boxes” with pro-independence votes in the February 14th elections in response to the ongoing Spanish “state operation” against the pro-independence movement.

Jordi Cuixart affirms that the political prisoners are not “the visualization of any defeat but a further step towards victory” and also recalls that exiles continue fighting “to defend the ideals” that forced them to leave Catalonia.

“We will continue to defend the right to self-determination and the right to live in a Catalan republic of free citizens,” Cuixart says, adding that “enough is enough” in reference to political courts. “The solution to the repression will come neither from pardons nor from reforms of the penal code. We demand amnesty: there are more than 2,850 being repressed. We will not abandon anyone,” Cuixart insists.

Cuixart also calls for “a strong government” to defend amnesty and the right to self-determination, and assures that “we will do it again [exercise the right to self-determination like in 2017]. We will always obey our conscience in the face of unjust laws, in defense of the violated rights and freedoms of people,” he says, calling for them to be “united, standing and on the street.”

The Spanish “Socialist” Party (PSOE-PSC) Once Again Blocks an Investigation Into Spain’s Former King Juan Carlos’ Illicit Accounts

On Wednesday, the Spanish “Socialist” Party (PSOE-PSC) once again blocked the creation of a commission of investigation into Juan Carlos, Spain’s former king’s illicit accounts. This came after the lawyers of Spain’s Congress endorsed such an investigation for the first time, contrary to what they had done before.

PSOE/PSC joined forces with the far-right Vox and the right-wing PP in the Congress Bureau in order to block the admission of the request to investigate the emeritus king in the chamber. It is a procedure that so far has not passed any similar request and that allows the issue to be raised in the Congress.

The request for the creation of a commission of investigation by Podemos argues that the facts to be investigated are subsequent to the abdication of the former monarch, and therefore the criterion of inviolability cannot be applied to him.

Minister of Health Salvador Illa

Spain’s Minister of Health Salvador Illa recently announced his presidential candidacy for PSOE/PSC in the next Catalan election, saying he will call for the formation of a new progressive government if he won the election. But the refusal of his administration to allow an investigation into the alleged corruption of the Spanish monarchy shows once again that his progressive rhetoric is just populist, not real, aimed at manipulating the public opinion to reach power by any means.

If this last episode of failure by this minister and his administration to be progressive is not enough to open people’s eyes, it is important to remember that he, himself, and a number of his colleagues also attended several demonstrations in Catalonia organized by the far right organization Societat Civil Catalana (SCC), some members of which have direct links with neo-Nazi squads.

Therefore, Illa’s victory in the next Catalan elections would be a victory of reactionaries, who if able to form a new government, would have a carte blanche to dismantle any sign of progress across the country.

Former Catalan Police Leadership During the 2017 Independence Bid Acquitted by Spain’s National Court

On Wednesday, the Spanish National Court acquitted the former Catalan leadership of the Catalan police: Chief Josep Lluís Trapero, Superintendent Teresa Laplana, the former Secretary-General of the Department of Interior Cèsar Puig and the former Director-General of the Mossos Pere Soler for their role in the 2017 independence referendum.

The public prosecutor was asking for 10 years in prison for Trapero, Puig and Soler for sedition or alternatively twenty months of disqualification for the crime of disobedience. For Laplana, the prosecutor asked for four years in prison for sedition or one year of disqualification for disobedience. The Public Prosecutor’s Office will now study the ruling and decide whether to appeal it.

The judgment dismantles the main arguments against the political prisoners

The verdict was based on the lack of proof that any of the defendants violated the rulings of the Constitutional Court, the Spanish High Court in Catalonia or the Public Prosecutor’s Office. It also states that it has not been proven that the defendants agreed with the government to promote the “passivity” of the Catalan police during the 2017 independence referendum.

The verdict also contradicts the sentences given to the political prisoners for sedition. It states that the Catalan police acted with proportionality, congruence and opportunity during the referendum because in case of having “used violence the situation in polling stations could have led to serious public disorder.” As for the events of September 20, 2017, the resolution details that the protest, for which Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart are imprisoned, took place “without major violent incidents during the morning and afternoon, besides the ‘destruction’ of a few cars.”

Poll: 66.5% of Catalans Would Vote for a Republic while 14.6% Would Vote for the Monarchy in a Referendum

Some 66.5% of Catalans would vote in favor of a republic in a referendum on the monarchy in Spain. Only 14.6% would support the monarchy.

The survey was carried out by sixteen media outlets, based on 3,000 interviews throughout Spain, including 500 in Catalonia.

Across Spain, 40.9% would vote for the Republic while 34.9% would vote for the monarchy.

Among the various institutions mentioned in the survey, Catalonia gave the worst approval rating to the Catholic Church, 2.3 out of 10.

King Felipe VI received a rating of 3.6 from Catalans versus 5.8 from the whole of Spain.

Former king, Juan Carlos I, who fled the country amid allegations of corruption, has a 1.9 rating in Catalonia and 3.3 in Spain.

Satisfaction with the monarchy in Catalonia is 2.9 with almost half of the Catalans rating the monarchy with a 0 or 1. In Spain the support is 4.6.

The support for the monarchy remains high among right wing and far right voters, while it is very low among left wing voters. A Republic is preferred by young people and the monarchy by those over 55 years of age.

Catalan Pro-Independence Activist Tamara Carrasco Found Not Guilty

The Catalan pro-independence activist Tamara Carrasco, accused by the prosecutors of sending a WhatsApp audio message inciting public disorder, has been acquitted by the criminal court number 25 of Barcelona. She faced a 7-month prison sentence as requested by the public prosecutor.

The court found that it has not been proven that Carrasco sent an audio message about possible actions of the Committee for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) to anyone other than her group of friends or that she disseminated it via WhatsApp. Nor has it been proven that she exercised coordination tasks within the CDR.

“It is absolutely impossible to determine when the incitement to commit public disorder occurs in a large demonstration or gathering, and it is clear that the message sent by the defendant does not give any such instruction,” said the judge.

Carrasco was detained in 2018, accused of terrorism and rebellion and was confined for over a year in her hometown of Viladecans (Barcelona) while waiting for her case to move forward.

“As I remember it, it was surreal: I woke up, opened the door, and saw 12 armed people accusing me of terrorism,” said Carrasco.

When she was first detained, the police used an alleged voice message sent to a WhatsApp group to accuse her of terrorism and of instructing orders to a local branch of the Committee of Defense for the Republic (CDR), a decentralized network of protest groups created on the eve of the 2017 independence referendum. However, she has now been acquitted of all allegations.

Former Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy to Be Investigated by Andorran Justice for Alleged Coercion

The Andorran justice will investigate former Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy and the members of his former administration Cristóbal Montoro, Jorge Fernández Díaz and Francisco Martínez for alleged coercion against the Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA). The organization that filed the lawsuit, the Institute of Human Rights of Andorra (IDHA), claims that the former Spanish government threatened to shut down the Andorran bank if it did not provide them with politically-useful information and when the bank refused it, Spain put its threat into action by reporting alleged money-laundering activities to the US Treasury Department, which acted swiftly.

According to the private prosecution, the coercion and threats to the Bank took place during an official visit of Rajoy and Montoro to Andorra in January 2015, when they met with the head of the Andorran government, Toni Martí and other ministers.

The Institute of Human Rights of Andorra (IDHA) claims that the visit was intended to obtain information on Catalan pro-independence politicians. The Andorran justice will investigate all the offenses they are accused of by the private prosecution.

In another case of May and June 2014, it was stated that four Spanish police officers had threatened, coerced and extorted three BPA executives in an attempt to extract information on alleged bank accounts of Catalan pro-independence politicians under the threat that the “bank could end up being blocked from activity,” which is what eventually happened.