The Catalan Police Group Guilleries Warns that Spain’s Police Agents Participate in Far-Right Unionist Squads

On Friday, the Catalan police group, Guilleries, released a statement on Twitter where they reported that agents of the Spanish police Civil Guard had participated in a unionist far-right group meeting that had acted across Girona’s region (Catalonia) over the last few months. 

On Tuesday night, the Catalan police were alerted by an unnamed local source neighborhood of a far-right group meeting in a bar in Figueres (Girona) that was allegedly preparing to remove Independence symbology and yellow ribbons from numerous towns across the region of Girona.

When the Mossos arrived, they observed that two men from the group left the bar and got in a black color car. That’s when Catalan police followed and intercepted them. The surprise was when the two men in the car identified themselves as agents of the Spanish police Civil Guard.

According to the Mossos, these two agents were “nervous and cooperated very little.” They refused to give any explanation about why they were participating in a far-right group meeting. In this regard matter, the Catalan police demand that the Spanish Ministry for Home Affairs clarify what tasks are being carried out by the hundreds of Spanish police agents deployed across Catalonia that are not part of the ordinary staff. “It would be unacceptable that public resources are being spent to integrate police officers into squads aimed at provoking civil strife.” The Guilleries group of Mossos warns of the presence of Civil Guards infiltrated in extremist unionist squads.

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The Spanish “Socialist” Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP) to Reach an Agreement on the New Composition of the General Council of the Spanish Judicial Power (CGPJ)

The Spanish “Socialist” Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP) are negotiating over the new composition of the General Council of the Spanish Judicial Power (CGPJ), the governing body of the judiciary, as well as the presidency of the Supreme Court. The new appointments to the CGPJ  are scheduled for early December. Twenty members will be appointed: twelve by magistrates and eight by political parties in the Spanish Congress with a qualified majority of three fifths. 

The PSOE needs the PP for the renewal of the GCPJ given that it requires the aforementioned super-majority of three-fifths in the Spanish Congress. The negotiations between the PP and the PSOE began early this August though no final agreement has yet been reached.

The PP has proposed Manuel Marchena, the current President of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, to replace Carlos Lesmes at the head of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ). The name Marchena has political significance. He currently presides over the chamber that will judge the Catalan leaders and political prisoners who were involved in last year’s independence referendum. He will also be the one to announce the final sentences against them. Though not officially decided yet, the PSOE will propose someone like the Vice-President of the Constitutional Court, Encarnación Roca. However, the PSOE could end up accepting the PP’s proposal given that the deadline for proposing the members of the new CGPJ is today, and it needs the support of the PP. It’s believed that failing to reach an agreement would weaken the PSOE.

The PSOE is planning to give Unidos Podemos one of the names of the ten judges that they will nominate. Apparently, Podemos will choose Victoria Rosell. Thus Podemos appears to support this flagrant violation of the separation of powers in Spain that they once strongly criticized.

The Spanish Government won’t involve the Catalan pro-independence parties in the renewal of the Spanish judiciary, although the Catalan Government didn’t intend to participate in any case. The Catalan administration believes that the twenty members of the CGPJ should be elected by the judges, and not by parties. The renewal of the Council of the Spanish Judiciary comes on the eve of the trial against the Catalan political prisoners over last year’s independence referendum and after the scandal of the sentence of the mortgages that have buried the prestige of the high court, which makes clear the inexistent separations of powers in the Spanish State.

Given that a significant number of judges of the CGPJ, the governing body of the judges, are directly appointed by the two major political parties in the Spanish Congress, who can guarantee that the Catalan political prisoners will have a fair trial? On the contrary, it appears that the sentence against the Catalan leaders will be a political decision that is expected to be a tough one.

The Spanish Supreme Court Violates Fundamental Rights of the Catalan Leaders who will Be Tried over Last Year’s Independence Referendum

On Thursday, the Spanish Supreme Court officially finished the inquiry of the referendum case and opened the phase of the trial against 18 Catalan leaders, including the political prisoners who have already spent over a year unfairly imprisoned. The Court, which has accepted Judge Llarena’s findings, will try the Catalan leaders for rebellion, misuse of public funds, and disobedience. The prosecutor’s office and the private prosecutor VOX party have had five calendar days since last Thursday to announce the proposed sentences after which the defense will have five additional days to present arguments calling for the acquittal of the Catalan leaders. This process is expected to end between November 7th and 15th. 

The trial is expected to begin in January with two daily sessions, morning and afternoon, during which the political prisoners will be transferred to Madrid prisons. This will last between two and three months and the defense is seeking to televise it in order to provide international coverage of a trial they believe to be a farce. The rapidity of the Supreme Court in opening the trial in such a complex case, where the defense has not had access to all the necessary documentation to prepare for it, clearly violates the fundamental rights of the Catalan political prisoners and the rest of the defendants. 

The Spanish Supreme Court has dismissed more than three hundred requests for the inclusion of evidence, documents, and testimony such as the information of the ICS on the number of people injured the Oct. 1 by the police with details of clinical diagnosis of each case, the inclusion of numerous videos from the first of October, the provision of medical experts on the injuries of agents who intervened in the October 1st referendum to know how they were done, or the declarations of Méndez de Vigo on September 22 in which he spoke of tumultuous actions anticipating the criminal complaint for sedition and rebellion against the jailed Catalan leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart presented shortly after by the prosecutor of the Spanish Court.

In addition, Judge Llarena has disallowed the inclusion of evidence from other courts that have also investigated facts over the independence referendum case such as the summary of testimonies collected at Court No. 13 and No.7 in Barcelona. Llarena argues that the facts investigated by these courts “do not have any procedural connection” with the matters being considered by the Supreme Court, and that a “documentary avalanche would only delay the beginning of the trial sessions.” Additionally, the defense for the prisoners has also complained about the difficulty of accessing the documentation included in the summary as well as the malfunctioning of the so-called “virtual cloud” from which they couldn’t consult the full documentation of the summary. 

The Supreme Court’s dismissal of evidence and important documentation to the case, arguing that the trial would then be extended, clearly violates the human rights of all the prisoners and defendants and shows a lack of guarantees in what is expected to be a trial for political motivations. Thus, it appears that the prison sentences against the Catalan political prisoners have already been written before the trial has even started and that the trial itself will be a mere performance. In the meantime, this is also expected to be an important opportunity for pro-independence leaders to demonstrate the nonexistence of the crimes of rebellion, misuse of public funds, and disobedience that they are being accused of, as well as the constant violations of human rights perpetrated by the Spanish State against them. 

The eagerness of the Spanish State to destroy the pro-independence movement is likely to fail and backfire on them. This unfair trial is expected to cause widespread indignation through Catalan society, and those people will likely take to the streets in mass numbers in an attempt to push the Catalan government to implement the republic and call for its peaceful defense. This could hit or even collapse the Spanish and EU economies, forcing the EU to recognize Catalonia as a new State or forcing the negotiation of an agreed self-determination referendum.

The Spanish Government and Podemos Launch a Coordinated Blackmail Campaign against Independentists in order to Approve the 2019 Spanish State General Budget

Over the last few weeks, the Spanish “socialist” government and the “left-wing” party Podemos have launched a coordinated blackmail campaign against the Catalan government and pro-independence parties in order to approve the 2019 Spanish General State Budget. With the help of their regional brands, both the Catalan “Socialist” Party (PSC) and Catalunya en Comú Podem (CeC) are openly demanding independentism to support the Spanish Budget for nothing in exchange. According to them, the approval of the budget is necessary for the dignity and the welfare of the people. Consequently, it would also allow the government to increase the minimum wage from €736 to €900 a month. This would significantly improve the quality of life of Spaniards and Catalans. 

While it is true that an increase in the minimum wage would benefit both the Spaniards and the Catalans, it doesn’t require the approval of the budget. In fact, previous increases in the minimum wage have been done in such a manner. Not even the Spanish parliament has to vote. Article 27 of the Worker’s Statute gives the government the power to set the minimum annual wage. This contradicts the despicable and miserable blackmail campaign launched by the current Spanish government and Podemos who, for electoral reasons, are demanding the approval of the budget by the pro-independence parties ERC and PDeCAT, linking it with an increase of the minimum wage and warning independentists that they will bear responsibility for a stagnation of the minimum wage if the budget is not approved.

Regardless of this despicable blackmail campaign, pro-independence parties have shown their willingness to support the budget if the Spanish government takes clear steps to solve the Catalan conflict on self-determination and release the Catalan political prisoners. More precisely, ERC and PDeCAT are demanding the Spanish government to order the Prosecutor’s Office to withdraw all the charges against the Catalan political prisoners. This is a comprehensible pre-condition to any negotiation of any kind given that the Catalan political prisoners didn’t commit any crime, and much less, rebellion or sedition as the judiciary from numerous European countries, including Germany, have already ruled. This measure, which wouldn’t affect the separation of powers of the Spanish State would really show a willingness from the Spanish government to dejudicialize and solve the ongoing political conflict between Catalonia and Spain.

Whether the Spanish government will attempt to remove the Catalan conflict from the judicial process remains to be seen. However, the current blackmail campaign carried out by the Spanish government, Podemos, Catalunya en Comú Podem (CeC), and the Catalan “Socialist” Party (PSC) against independentists is unacceptable, despicable, and miserable. They are behaving exactly like the PP did during the previous legislature and are whitewashing the repression against the Catalans. Perhaps they should ask themselves how they would react if their leaders were unjustly imprisoned for over a year, and with each of them facing up to 30 years in prison. Surely, they wouldn’t negotiate the Spanish State General Budget until their leaders are released. They would also likely react stronger than Catalan pro-independence parties have done so far. In addition, the Spanish government can’t pretend that the pro-independence parties would approve the budget without conditions. Where has this been seen before? In which country? All pacts have conditions in any democratic country.

This despicable attitude from the Spanish government, Podemos and their regional brands the PSC and CeC is likely to backfire on them in upcoming local, possibly, general elections in Catalonia and Spain. Their bases, who oppose the repugnant attitude from their leaders towards independentism, are likely to make them lose social support, municipalities, regional governments, and the presidency. This is, at the same time, a big opportunity for independentists to attract them to their cause.

Independentists must acknowledge facts: social support for independence has grown most with unilateralism, clarity, and honesty. In my opinion, it is time for independentists to say enough is enough. Time to reject the Spanish budget, to bring down the Spanish government, to unite again, and prepare for the unilateral implementation of the republic in the upcoming months. In order to achieve the final victory, pro-independence parties must be more honest and clear to the Catalans than ever in saying what is already obvious. The Spanish government will never negotiate an agreed self-determination referendum unless it’s forced to do so. Additionally, the only possible way to force it is via unilateralism and mass permanent mobilizations across Catalonia. Surely, it won’t be an easy path, but with unity and determination, no one will be able to stop the Catalans. At least they will have a chance to get the victory and their desired republic.

Spanish Supreme Court Violated its own Regulation Appointing Judge Llarena as Judge of the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court

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.

President Torra’s Conference

In a conference on Tuesday night, President Torra revealed his “roadmap” for the crucial upcoming months. He called on the Catalans to start “a march that begins tomorrow, and ends on the day of the sentences against the political prisoners.”

Torra said that he won’t accept any verdict that isn’t the absolution of all political prisoners. “We will not resign ourselves to unjust sentences that will only bring more pain and conflict.” He added that if the verdict isn’t absolution, he would make “important” decisions that he would share with the government and parliament. He also said that he’s not “afraid” of making crucial decisions.

President Torra focused on urging the Spanish government to negotiate a self-determination referendum without threats, violence, or without a dirty war.” He said that he will dialogue and listen to everyone, but that the starting point of any negotiation is the referendum which he won’t give up.

President Torra also called on launching a Constituent process where all the Catalans will discuss how the Catalan Republic should be. He also committed to implementing 14 social laws suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court in the past few years.

Torra said that the Council for the Republic led by former Puigdemont will be formed shortly in order to internationalize the Catalan cause at the next level. “Here no one has absconded from justice, we have had to find it abroad,” said the Catalan leader. “In no democracy should call a vote to be a crime, and this idea is stronger with the judicial rulings taken by German and Italian courts, and with the international treaties of Human Rights and Peoples.”

Finally, the President called on the Catalans to organize themselves via grassroots organizations in order to be prepared for the crucial upcoming months. He added that “the Republic won’t come from the government or any office, but from self-organized people able to resist the Spanish State.”

 

Unionists and Spanish Media Launch a Campaign of Fake News about an Alleged “Aggression” to Criminalize Catalan Independentism

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.

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Yellow ribbons: An independentist breaks a woman’s nose reported the Spanish newspaper “Crónica Global.”

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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 ithe 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.