Catalan Trade Union Intersindical-CSC Calls for General Strike on February 7

The Catalan trade union Intersindical-CSC calls for a general strike in Catalonia on February 7. The strike, which will apply to all workplaces in the country, both public and private, will be held a few days before the trial against the Catalan political prisoners begins.

Although the real motive for the strike is to protest against the trial of the Catalan political prisoners, officially the Intersindical-CSC has announced it will demand the complete repeal of the 2012 labor reforms, a minimum Catalan wage of 1,200 euros per month, the reinstatement of the social laws that were approved by Parliament  but  stopped by the Constitutional Court, full gender equality in work centers, and progress towards a model of improved quality of public functions, along with decent working conditions, amongst other issues. The Intersindical-CSC thereby reaffirms the reasons why it called a two-hour strike on December 21 and now calls for a second round of the action.

Sergi Perelló, spokesman for the Intersyndical-CSC: “The actions of the Spanish State, including its judiciary, may affect the lives of the people of this country, both for their living conditions and for the deprivation of freedom, but the strike the strike is motivated by the desire for better jobs.”

The pro-independence organizations and political parties National Catalan Assembly (ANC), Ómnium Cultural, CUP, JxCat, ERC, Demòcrates, USTEC, Sindicat d’Estudiants dels Països Catalans (SEPC), and other pro-independence organizations support the strike. On the other hand, Catalunya en Comú Podem (CeC) has not yet taken a position on the strike. It will decide in the next few days whether or not to support it.

President Torra calls for permanent mobilization: “It seems perfect to me that there are organizations that believe that this day should be a strike. I’m also insisting, as you know, from the September conference that I did at the National Theater, in need of a march for the civil, social and national rights of this country, and of permanent mobilization. Therefore, more than ever, I think that now, before this trial, and attending to what Jordi Cuixart always tells us, it is not only the ‘I accuse,’ but the ‘I mobilize myself’.”

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Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez’s Budget For Catalonia Violates the Third Additional Provision of the Statute of Catalonia

Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez won’t fulfill his promise to invest in Catalonia in proportion to its economic importance,  a clear violation of the current legislation. His need to get the support of pro-independence parties for the approval of the Spanish Budget has not been sufficient for him to comply with the current law.

The Sánchez administration’s budget includes 2,051.38 million euros for Catalonia,  representing 16.8 % of investments throughout the State, far from the 19.2% of Catalan GDP. This comes after the Minister for Finance María Jesús Montero had announced that the Spanish government would comply with the third additional provision of the Statute of Catalonia, which states that Spanish investments in infrastructure must be equivalent to the size of the Catalan economy.

The Spanish Constitutional Court ruled out the obligation to comply with the aforementioned provision in 2010. Nevertheless, the Spanish government had vowed to comply with it in an attempt to get the support of Catalan pro-independence parties for the approval of the 2019 Spanish State General Budget. A goal that now seems to be impossible.

According to the Spanish government, their budget “complies with the Statute of Catalonia.” In fact, at 2 million euros – 90% for infrastructure – it is necessary to add an additional 200 million that is also allocated to Catalonia in compliance with a ruling of the Supreme Court of 2017 referring to the 2008 budget.  The high court considered that the money should have been included in the accounts of that year because they were already committed and forced the State to pay them.

ERC and PDeCAT made clear earlier last week their absolute opposition to the budget presented by the Spanish government last Friday, although both parties are still open to negotiating it. Apart from an increase on the budget for Catalonia, PDeCAT and ERC also demand a political solution for the right to self-determination of Catalonia and the release of the Catalan political prisoners in exchange for supporting the Spanish Budget.

Last week, exiled President Puigdemont set his own conditions for the approval of the budget: the creation of a dialogue table on the right to self-determination supervised by independent observers. Puigdemont announced his proposal publically after proposing it to the senior leadership of his PDeCAT party, which met with him in Waterloo, Belgium.”There are not today the conditions either for processing or for passing it,” he warned.

President Puigdemont: “In the current circumstances, the budget cannot be approved. We’ve enabled Mr. Sánchez to talk about a budget, but despite the calls and constant gestures, today, Pedro Sánchez’s government, with regard to the political conflict in Catalonia, has exactly the same policy as Rajoy’s government.”

Earlier last week, the “Socialist” government refused President Puigdemont’s proposal on the creation of a dialogue table on self-determination with international observers as well as a solution for the Catalan political prisoners.

Unless there are last-minute changes in the negotiations between the Spanish government and pro-independence parties, the 2019 Spanish General State Budget will be rejected by the Congress, leading to a more than probable snap election, which could radically change the current political panorama.

 

 

The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) Demands the Immediate Release of Jailed Catalan Leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez

The largest network of NGOs against torture and inhumane treatment in the world, the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), has called for the immediate release of two jailed Catalan leaders; Òmnium Cultural’s president Jordi Cuixart and the former President of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Jordi Sànchez.

The OMCT demands that accusations against the two jailed Catalan leaders be dropped, considering that they are unfounded. They also argue that keeping them in pre-trial jail is a restriction of their fundamental rights.

In the letter, which focuses on Jordi Cuixart, and is signed by Secretary General of the OMCT, Gerald Staberock, the organization calls for an end to the harassment against Cuixart and Sànchez and seeks to guarantee their right to a fair trial.

Another concern for the OMCT is that these two leaders of civil society will be tried in the Spanish Supreme Court. This is worrisome, especially when recalling the latest controversies about how the members of the high court are appointed, which cast doubt on the separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers.

The OMCT believes that the political nature of the trial against the Catalan leaders is highlighted by the participation of the far right Vox party as a private prosecution.

The letter also points out that Cuixart has appealed to the courts for release on several occasions but “with no success,” and argues that to be “compatible with international standards,” pre-trial imprisonment “must only be applied as a last resort.”

The OMCT recalls that the right to freedom of assembly consecrates the freedom to meet, debate, and discuss whenever the organizers of the meeting have peaceful intentions, means, and ways. Additionally, at this point, the entity emphasizes that the term “peaceful” must be understood as a behavior “that can annoy or offend, and even prevent or hinder third-party activities.”

The OMCT already publicly condemned the “indiscriminate and excessive use of force by the police in Catalonia during last year’s independence referendum” and called for an immediate and impartial investigation.

READ the full statement here

The Trial Against Catalan Political Prisoners Gets Closer

The countdown to the trial against Catalan political prisoners has already begun. This week itself ended the deadline for the defenses to ask for the revocation of the instruction, which will surely be dismissed by the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court. Thereafter, the trial court can present its conclusions from the investigations and the opening of the trial can be decreed. However, the prisoners’ defense will seek to block it until their appeals are resolved.

The defense estimates that the trial will begin in January. And that this could last for about two months, just before the campaign for local and European elections begin. However, they suspect that the Supreme Court could intend to initiate the trial in November in order to take the defense by surprise and undermine their strategy.

Until now, the opening of the trial has been delayed because the defense has appealed the instructions of Judge Llarena and the provisional orders of imprisonment. The recusations against the members of the court have already been rejected.

Given that there are local and European elections in May 2019, the Supreme Court is not expected to announce the final sentence for the Catalan political prisoners, which will likely be up to 25 years in prison for each one, until June or July. The court believes that the announcement of the sentences before the aforementioned elections could give pro-independence parties landslide victories, which would legitimize Catalonia’s independence. 

Meanwhile, the Catalan leaders Oriol Junqueras, Carme Forcadell, Jordi Turull, Dolors Bassa, Josep Rull, Quim Forn, Jordi Sànchez, Raül Romeva, and Jordi Cuixart are expected to remain in prison before the trial.

Additional Information About the Case

In the filings of the prosecution, the public prosecutor and VOX party will have to specify the crimes for which the defendants will be tried. Right now, the nine political prisoners are being prosecuted for rebellion and embezzlement – the latter, in the case of the Puigdemont government advisers. This is where the state prosecutor’s office can make a gesture of distension and reduce the classification of Crimes and Petitions of Penalties, despite the opposition of the Supreme Court prosecutors. It is not expected that the VOX party will do so, but a reduction in the rhetoric of the prosecutor’s office can lower the fervor surrounding the trial, just as it could open a crisis between the prosecutor’s office and the state prosecutor’s office by not doing so.

Roadmaps of JxCat, ERC, and CUP for the Implementation of the Catalan Republic

JxCat: Confrontation and immediate implementation of the Republic

JxCat does not renounce “any democratic and peaceful means” to bring about the Republic and aims to win it “through intelligent and peaceful confrontation with the Spanish state.” It defends “an indispensable commitment to pacifism, non-violence and the active (internal and international) action of all institutions, as well as citizen mobilization and strict obedience to the legality that arises from the Catalan parliament, not the Spanish one.”

JxCat also urges a response to the needs of all citizens, claiming that this should be a process with an inclusive intent and maximum civic participation to expand social support and achieve “majorities that allow safeguarding the popular will, and especially that of their legitimate representatives.”

JxCat believes that “ideal” conditions to implement the Republic could be achieved between this September and May: the commemoration of the October 1st independence referendum, the trial against jailed Catalan leaders and their sentences of up to 30 years in prison could create a perfect momentum for pro-independence parties to proclaim independence and call for its defense. According to sources, this would come by President Torra calling for an early election in November, aimed at pro-independence parties winning more than 50% of the total vote in order to legitimize the implementation of the Republic in the eyes of the international community.

Given that scenario, Presidents Puigdemont and Torra recently created a new political platform called the “Crida Nacional,” a political platform aimed at unifying all pro-independence forces under the same party to win an eventual election. This platform is likely to be constituted as a political party on October 1st. (President Torra can legally call for an early election starting October 27th.)

ERC: Growing social support for independence before implementing the Republic

The leadership of ERC would like to postpone the implementation of the Republic until social support for independence is a clear majority: around 60 to 70%. The bases of the party, however, recently forced the leadership of the party to include the possible immediate implementation of the Republic, if “conditions” are met, in its roadmap.

At the political level, ERC wants to increase “synergies and complicities” with sectors that are in favor of democratic principles and exercise the right to self-determination, despite not being independentists like CeC, and keep a “fluid and profitable dialogue with constitutionalist political parties of Catalanist tradition” like the PSC.

At the social and territorial level, ERC is committed to finding new support from working classes, women, and newcomers, as well as campaigning in Barcelona and the metropolitan areas of the country, which are pro-Spain strongholds. To achieve this, ERC pursues involvement in active processes of social change and democratic renewal that can be driven by non-pro-independence sectors, “to emphasize the desire to build a new, fairer country. A plan that should be based on “civic patriotism, secularism, and inclusiveness,” to prevent any fracture of society. They also underline that the new Republic “will be sensitive to respecting and preserving multiple identities and the diverse feelings of belonging that will be present within their citizenship.”

ERC will support the implementation of the Republic when the conditions are met (probably in autumn). This will come from organizing and coordinating with other social actors, massive actions which could range from “mass demonstrations to an indefinite strike,” without setting limits. They also emphasize the need to keep all acts of disobedience peaceful.

It also proposes that other political parties “train and organize” together, with other pro-independence organizations, so they will be ready to defend the Republic. The goal is to avoid the situation of lack of coordination of last October when the Catalan government ruled out the possibility of defending the Republic.

Finally, ERC recognizes the importance of individual actions from the Catalans to disconnect from the State and the regime of the 78. For example, it is committed to promoting financial entities and companies “with social conscience and that do not depend on the favors of the Spanish government.”

The Primary objective of ERC in carrying out acts of civil disobedience, however, is to force the Spanish State to negotiate a self-determination referendum. That is, “to ensure that the government of Madrid assumes a framework of dialogue and bilateral negotiation in order to make possible a democratic resolution,” which will have to be mediated by international bodies.

CUP: Similar strategy as ERC in social matters, but believes that social changes can only be achieved in an independent Catalonia

The CUP claims to stay alive within the state from the beginning and organize a “non-violent mass civil and institutional disobedience.” It makes clear that disobedience must be the central driver of the new phase of the process, in which it is committed to “mobilization and civil disobedience and massive nonviolent institution disobedience.” It believes in new offensives that create tension and permanent instability to deepen the crisis of the political regime of the 78 inside and outside of Spain.

Not a step back or a break, the anticapitalists try to “keep the situation with Spain alive [… ] through disobedience at all levels, inside and outside the institutions,” with a clear objective : “To reach that place from which we can challenge the State and initiate the application of the agreements, laws and actions necessary to truly establish the new Republic.”

CUP is also committed to “unequivocally and definitively linking the struggle for national liberties, the fight for social rights, and the feminist struggle” and, in the case of the independence movement, strengthen “the central role in the struggle of working classes, popular and class feminists.” In order to achieve this, it urges the creation of community decision spaces shared between independence, republicanism, and social movements.”The participation of the working class and the whole of the popular classes” in the construction of the Republic is another one of its pillars.

In contrast with ERC, the CUP is skeptical about possible agreement frameworks for independence, as it emphasizes that “there is no possibility of negotiating anything with the Spanish state other than surrender” and, in fact, it warns that, if the [Republican] movement is weakened, Spain would deepen its intervention in all areas.” The anticapitalists, however, admit that they must end up in a multilateral negotiation phase, but they say that disobedience is the only way to force international actors to mediate.

 

 

President Quim Torra

The new presidential candidate, Quim Torra (JxCat), is well-known for his fierce defense of the Catalan Republic. Ex-president of Òmnium Cultural, one of the major Catalan pro-independence organizations, Torra was chosen by President Puigdemont to lead a provisional government aimed at the construction of the Republic.

Quim Torra was born in Blanes, a small town on the north side of Barcelona, in 1962. He has a degree in law, was director of the Born Cultural Centre until 2015 and director of the Centre of Studies of Contemporary Topics of the Catalan government until last October.

Torra presented his MP candidacy for JxCat as an independent. He isn’t a member of any political party. He also formed part of the team which negotiated the government manifesto with CUP and ERC in advance of an expected investiture. His presidential candidacy comes after the Spanish Constitutional Court blocked the investiture of Puigdemont, the legitimate President of Catalonia, who then activated the plan “D,” the provisional investiture of Torra until he can be sworn in later by the legislature.

The expectation is that Torra will be elected as President of Catalonia in a second round on Monday after not achieving an absolute majority in the first round on Saturday after the CUP decided to keep its abstention in its political council held on Sunday.

Although unlikely, if the Spanish government or the Constitutional Court decides to block Torra’s investiture, there will be a new election in two months.

Imminent Internal Restructuring of ERC and PDeCAT

The failure of the negotiations for the formation of a new government between pro-independence parties in the last two months, has forced ERC and PDeCAT to carry out a deep internal restructure.

Numerous influential groups within PDeCAT are demanding that the leadership call for an ideologically extreme congress aimed at establishing a new strategy. They argue that PDeCAT is not defending the mandate of the latest election: the immediate implementation of the Catalan Republic. They also accuse the current party leadership of betraying Puigdemont, arguing that they only defended his candidacy at the last moment, which ultimately led to his resignation and the nomination of the jailed Jordi Sánchez as new candidate.

ERC has also announced that it will soon hold an ideological conference aimed at unifying the party and choose a new strategy. This move comes after numerous ERC representatives from numerous cities across the country publicly showed disagreement with the leadership of the party. They argued that ERC has given up on construction of the Catalan Republic due to their fear of repression by Spain. That is why they are also demanding that all the leaders of the party who are scared of ending up in prison must step aside and allow new members who are willing to disobey Spain to implement the Republic.

Sources close to the leadership recently said that they won’t resign and will instead try to impose a new strategy, aimed at respecting the current Spanish legal framework and implementing measures to grow social support for independence. However, the party bases appear to be willing to push until their resignation.