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.

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.

The Catalan Government’s Plan for this Legislature

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.