What the Victory of the Spanish Trumpist, Ayuso (PP), in the Madrid Elections Means for Catalonia

The victory of the right-wing/far-right in the Madrid elections on Tuesday will push the Spanish government led by PSOE to show their true neoliberal and imperialist nature against the Catalan pro-independence movement in an attempt to win the next Spanish election in 2023, or a snap election before then. There are two immediate consequences for the pro-independence movement:

– Pardons for the Catalan Political Prisoners

The Spanish Supreme Court is expected to deliver its non-binding report on pardons to the Spanish government in the next few weeks. The government will have to make a final decision. Whether the Sánchez administration will be able to withstand the pressure from the Madrid right-wing and far-right still remains to be seen, but everything indicates that they will disregard it and keep the political prisoners in jail, a blow to part of the pro-independence movement, who supported his administration expecting some results in the resolution of the Catalan conflict. Sánchez would only be willing to grant the pardons if he could continue getting votes during the legislature and secure the support of pro-independence forces and other minor parties in the 2023 elections, which is unlikely.

Table for Dialogue

The so-called “Table for Dialogue” between the Catalan and Spanish governments to solve the Catalan issue has never existed. The results of the elections in Madrid are just a confirmation that it will never exist, at least not in the foreseeable future, since the Sánchez administration is expected to embrace right-wing policies in an attempt to win the 2023 election. This, however, is likely to open many people’s eyes in Catalonia, since many still believe an agreed solution is possible.

PM Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) and the conservative Pablo Casado (PP) have never really sought a solution for the Catalan conflict, and the position of Unidas Podemos, the only influential party in Spain supporting dialogue, has been weakened to the point that its leader, Pablo Iglesias, quit politics after the poor results of the left-wing in the Madrid elections.

Iglesias, former second deputy prime minister of the Spanish government, was one of the leaders more aware of the conflict. He positioned himself in favor of dialogue, visited the political prisoners, and kept sporadic communications with exiled former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.

With the masks off after the Madrid elections, Catalans can see that they have wasted much of the last three years in pursuit of something that was really just an intentional fantasy of a few: an agreed solution to the current conflict.

ERC-Junts Summits at Lledoners Prison Don’t Serve to End the Deadlock Over the Formation of a New Government in Catalonia

On Tuesday and Saturday, ERC and Junts held summits at Lledoners prison in an attempt to end the deadlock over the formation of a new pro-independence government in Catalonia. The negotiations were led by the leaders of ERC and Junts, Oriol Junqueras and Jordi Sànchez respectively. Other negotiators, including Pere Aragonès (ERC), Josep Maria Jové (ERC), Elsa Artadi (Junts), and Josep Rius (Junts) also participated.

The summits, which lasted several hours each, saw progress in the structure of the future government and a commitment by both parties to avoid snap elections, though it didn’t serve to close any deal. The talks also saw strong disagreements on the coordination in Spain’s Congress and the strategic plan for independence, especially the role of the Council for the Republic, and the collegiate leadership of the pro-independence movement, which will have the task of creating a new roadmap for the implementation of the Catalan Republic.

ERC proposed the creation of three new ministries: Climate Action, Feminism and Universities and Research, and with a curator for the management of Next Generation funds. Both parties, who are seeking an equal distribution of ministries, issued a joint statement after the first meeting, in which they committed to continue working “to create a pro-independence government that responds to the electoral mandate of 52%.” However, ERC gave an ultimatum during the second meeting and opened the door to forming a minority government if a deal is not sealed soon. They have until May 26th to prevent snap elections.

Spanish Government Dialogue and Reconciliation? Immunity of Catalan MEPs Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí Stripped and Seven of the Nine Political Prisoners Sent Back to Prison

On Tuesday, the European Parliament approved the removal of the immunity of Catalan MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí after a plenary session vote. The Spanish political parties PSOE, PP and Vox had requested this. The secret ballot was held on Monday, but the results were released on Tuesday morning.

The vote was not unanimous and some 80 MEPs from the Socialists, PP and Liberal groups broke the voting discipline imposed by PSOE and PP. That means that 42% of the MEPs didn’t vote in favour of the immunity waiver, which is an unprecedentedly high figure in such cases.

– In the case of Puigdemont, 400 MEPs voted in favour of removing his immunity, 248 against and 45 representatives abstained.
– In the case of Toni Comí, 404 MEPs voted in favor of removing his immunity, 247 against and 42 representatives abstained.
– In the case of Clara Ponsatí, 404 MEPs voted in favor of removing her immunity, 247 against and 42 representatives abstained.

Spain seeks the extradition of the Catalan leaders for their role in the 2017 independence referendum – this is the third time the Supreme Court has attempted to have them handed over. Belgium, Germany, and Scotland rejected extradition requests before and Spain withdrew the EU arrest warrant on another occasion before it was denied.

Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí will keep their status as MEPs. They would lose their status only after extradition and conviction in a Spanish court. The extradition would have to be approved by a local court.

Belgian justice already denied the extradition request for exiled Catalan leader Lluís Puig, who didn’t have immunity, on the grounds that the Spanish Supreme Court was not competent to request his extradition.

Removal of the Open Prison Privileges for the Seven Male Political Prisoners

On Tuesday, a few hours after the European Parliament decided to remove the immunity of the exiled Catalan leaders and MEPs, a penitentiary court decided to remove the day-leave permits of the seven male pro-independence political prisoners, who will now have to stay in prison full-time.

They had been enjoying the “low security” prison category status since late January, allowing them to leave jail during the day, sleep in their cells at night, and go home on weekends, after over three years behind bars.

The other two female political prisoners persecuted for their role in the 2017 referendum, Carme Forcadell and Dolors Bassa, are still pending a final decision of another Catalan penitentiary court.

Punishment

The pro-independence movement has interpreted these moves as a punishment for getting historic results in the last Catalan elections, surpassing 50% of the popular vote for the first time, with 52%.

Spain’s Public Prosecutor Punishes the Pro-Independence Movement for Its Historic Results in the Last Elections

Earlier this week, the Spanish public prosecutor took to the Supreme Court a lower court’s decision to provisionally keep an open prison regime for the nine jailed Catalan leaders Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa, Jordi Cuixart, Oriol Junqueras, Josep Rull, Raül Romeva, Jordi Turull, Jordi Sànchez and Joaquim Forn.

The nine political prisoners obtained the “low” prison category status in late January, allowing them to leave jail during the day, sleep in their cells at night, and go home on weekends, after over three years behind bars.

It’s the second time the Catalan leaders have seen their prison privileges taken before the Supreme Court. Their low category status was already revoked two months ago.

In this new appeal, the prosecutor is confident that the Supreme Court will overturn the penitentiary court judge’s decision and order the re-imprisonment of the political prisoners. The prosecutor considers the arguments presented by the judge of the penitentiary court in favor of the maintenance of their privileges to be “erroneous” and claims that they should not apply while serving a sentence for sedition. The Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority, has always accepted the prosecutor’s demands. There are no signs it will be any different this time either.

Punishment

The pro-independence movement has interpreted this move as a punishment for getting historic results in the last Catalan elections, surpassing 50% of the popular vote for the first time, with 52%.

It is also seen as interference in the ongoing negotiations between the pro-independence parties, ERC, Junts and CUP, for the formation of a new government in which CUP, an anti-capitalist party, could assume institutional responsibilities for the first time, something the Spanish establishment, the deep state and government are trying to prevent by any means.

Whether the Spanish government and the deep state will be able to prevent a pro-independence government in Catalonia is still to be seen, but in the meantime, with each act of interference, the pro-independence movement appears to be stronger.

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. 

The Tweets for Which Catalan Rapper Pablo Hasel Was Imprisoned

Catalan rapper Pablo Hasél has been imprisoned for “glorification of terrorism” and “insulting” the Spanish crown and police in song lyrics and tweets. Here are the 64 tweets that the prosecutor included in the indictment against the artist, as published by Público newspaper:

March 23, 2014
“50 wounded police officers? Those fucking mercenaries bite their own tongues beating people up and say they’re wounded.”

March 24, 2014
“Proud of those who responded to the police aggression.”

March 25, 2014
“Today the riot police are cry babies when they’re the ones who have always beaten and tortured thousands and thousands of people, evicted people with billy clubs, etc.”

March 27, 2014
“The police kill 15 immigrants and they are little saints. The people defend themselves from their brutality and we are ‘violent terrorists, trash, etc’.”

March 30, 2014
“They mean to hide the fact that many people came out today to demand the end of the fascist monarchy and beat even the journalists.”

March 30, 2014
“Nazi-onal police go torturing people even on camera.”

April 4, 2014
“You kill a police officer? They search for you everywhere. The police kill someone? They don’t even investigate it well.”

April 4, 2014
“Two years since Iñigo Cabacas was killed by the police without anyone being tried for it.”

April 28, 2014
“The Guardia Civil torturing and shooting at immigrants? Democracy. Jokes about fascists? Abetting terrorism.”

October 30, 2015
“Detained in Galicia for “glorifying terrorism” that is, for saying that one has to fight against the fascist State.”

December 2, 2015
“The Bourbon mafioso partying with the Saudi monarch, everything stays between those who finance ISIL.”

December 25, 2015
“The Bourbon thief must not appreciate the impunity he has in order to make fun of us.”

December 25, 2015
“Constancy in the fight so that one day it will be Phillip of Bourbon who will be evicted with all the rest of his parasitic family, enemies of the people.”

December 25, 2015
“The fucking mafioso king giving lessons from the palace, he’s a millionaire thanks to other people’s misery. Brand Spain.”

December 25, 2015
“The most disgusting thing about the monarchy is that while they are millionaires due to other people’s misery, they pretend to care about the people.”

December 25, 2015

“The Spanish Communist Party supported the Franco-imposed monarchy in the ‘transition’ while the Reconstituted Communist Party of Spain put their lives on the line to denounce the maneuver.”

December 27, 2015
“Thousands of old people freezing and without a stable roof over their heads while monarchs give lessons from palaces.”

December 27, 2015
“If it’s true that the people love the monarchy as much as the mercenary tv pundits say, let them let the royal family loose in the streets without bodyguards.”

“One more year with the mafioso and medieval monarchy insulting our intelligence and divinity with public monies. Incredible.”

December 29, 2015
“Faced with the terrorism of the State, we answer with organized neighborhoods (with an attached video of police charges in Lavapiés, a neighborhood in Madrid)”

December 30, 2015
“They call graffiti artists—but not the monarchy—a criminal gang. What a demented state.”

January 18, 2016
“The mafioso monarchy that gives lessons to countries where no one is thrown out of their houses.” (with an attached image of a cartoon with the former king next to a decapitated Saudi Arabian)

January 20, 2016
“They want to exterminate him like his comrade Isabel Aparicio. Everyone should know.”

January 21, 2016
“The Spanish Kingdom’s friends bombing hospitals while Juan Carlos goes whoring with them.”

January 21, 2016
“A member of the CUP speaking clearly against the monarchy while the United Left jokes around with this one at the Zarzuela [Spanish royal palace].”

January 24, 2016
“The fucker P. Iglesias joking around at the Zarzuela [Spanish royal palace] without recriminating the Bourbon for the atrocities for which he is responsible for.”

January 25, 2016
“While they say there is terrible tyranny in Cuba—a place with fewer resources which doesn’t evict people—they hide the mafioso business dealings between the Bourbon and Saudia Arabia.”

January 25, 2016
“No matter how many millions of euros they invest in manipulation, no matter how ‘untouchable’ they are, the monarchy will be remembered in history as the parasites they are.”

January 26, 2016
“The Spanish State giving weapons to criminals who are friends of the monarchy so they can bomb Yemen. Everyone should know. [With an attached image of the former king next to Saudi Arabian leaders.]”

January 29, 2016
“It is Saudia Arabia’s fault that the children in Yemen suffer like this. Ah, the democratic friends of the mafioso Bourbons [with an attached image of a child in an advanced state of malnutrition on a scale]”

February 7, 2016
“The police that jailed people under Franco and that now jail people as judges of the Nazi-onal Court.”

February 14, 2016
“Joseba Arregi tortured to death by the police.”

February 15, 2016
“Lowlife police say: ‘We’re watching out for your safety’ while, paid by you, they come to evict you.”

February 17, 2016
“In the ‘eviction-free city’ that Carmena promised, the police are attacking and detaining whoever fights against the evictions, right now.”

February 21, 2016
“[Barcelona Mayor] Ada Colau will not call the king a criminal for selling weapons to Saudia Arabia or for living a luxurious life by causing misery, she criminalizes the strike.”

February 22, 2016
“Police officers who kill your child, but are not punished, and on top of that, ask for money.”

February 22, 2016
“If I was Iñigo Cabacas’ father, those police who on top of it all ask for money for killing him would be on notice.”

February 22, 2016
“The police killed 15 immigrants and they’re little saints. The people defend themselves from their violence and we’re ‘violent terrorists, trash and so on.’ The police who ordered the shooting which led to Iñigo Cabacas’ killing, is demanding €777,000 from the family in order to open an investigation. It’s enough to make you…”

March 7, 2016
“The police sow racism and harvest rage. Who’s surprised?”

March 9, 2016
“Even the police agents who seem the nicest stop the people who are struggling and not those who exploit and plunder. They are not friends.”

March 11, 2016
“Yes, they do represent us. [With an attached image of Ignacio Várela Gómez]”

March 4, 2016
“The demonstrations are necessary but insufficient, let’s support those who have gone further. [With an attached image of Victoria Gómez]”

March 16, 2016
“The police are racist with immigrants and when they receive a blow in response, act like they’re the victims. Same old story as always.”

March 17, 2016
“Students responding to police brutality in the Basque Country.”

March 17, 2016
“Fighting for decent education means that the police will stop you and bash open your head with billy clubs. It’s happened again in Gasteiz.”

March 17, 2016
“When the police use their weapons against the oppressors and not the oppressed, then you can start telling us that they are our allies.”

March 17, 2016
“Today the police, enemy of democracy, bashed people’s heads open and detained young people who were fighting for a decent education [attached image with two Basque police agents taking away a detained, bloody youth]”

March 24, 2016
“No Guardia Civil agent paid for the 16 immigrants murdered by rubber bullets. Now call that democracy. [attached image of a dead body on the beach]”

March 31, 2016
“We don’t see you being such a drag about much worse damage caused by the imperialist bombings or police torture.”

March 31, 2016
“Mónica and Francisco received 12 years in jail for some damage to a basilica. The Guardia Civil, impunity for dozens of murdered immigrants.”

April 1, 2016
“Two years since she was exterminated by a torturing state, we remember her words. [attached image of Isabel Aparicio]”

April 1, 2016
“And that’s how it was, they ended up exterminating her. [attached image of Isabel Aparicio]”

April 1, 2016
“They condemned her to 12 years in prison for being in the propaganda apparatus of the PCE(r). 12 years with no armed struggle. [attached image of Isabel Aparicio]”

April 1, 2016
“Two years since Isabel Aparicio was exterminated for being communist, by the State which refused her medical attention in jail. [attached image of Isabel Aparicio]”

April 1, 2016
“No forgetting, no pardoning. What they weren’t able to do was kill your important legacy of struggle, you live much more than they do. [attached photograph of Isabel Aparicio on the PCE(r) logo]”

April 1, 2016
“They wanted to silence you by exterminating you and they will never be able to do it, because your voice carries the cries of the desperate [attached image of Isabel Aparicio’s gravestone]”

April 5, 2016
“The police who murdered Iñigo Cabacas not only go unpunished, on top of that they ask for money from his family. Reality is stranger than fiction.”

April 5, 2016
“New letter from political prisoner Victoria Gómez.”

April 7, 2016
“Juan Martín Luna, member of PCE(r), killed by police for defending our rights.”

June 1, 2016
“Antifascist activist explains the tortures inflicted by the police.”

August 1, 2016
“They wanted to exterminate you and they will never be able to do it because your voice carries the cries of the desperate. [image of Isabel Aparicio Sánchez’ gravestone]”

August 7, 2016
“The police kill with total impunity: Iñigo Cabacas, immigrants, etc. But Pablo Iglesias says they protect us.”

December 24, 2016
“One more year with the mafioso, medieval monarchy insulting our intelligence and divinity with public monies. Incredible.”

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.”

Spanish National Heritage Spends €500,000 per Year on the Maintenance of Three Swimming Pools for the Royal House

Spain’s National Heritage spends half a million euros per year on the maintenance of three swimming pools for the Royal House, according to revelations published by elDiario.es.

The 500,000 euros per year are spent on tasks such as daily cleaning of filters and hygienic control of water quality of the three swimming pools. The contract was awarded to Multiservicios Tecnológicos SA, which specializes in installations, air conditioning and cold rooms. In addition, 240,000 euros must be added for the maintenance of the building and its premises by the company Teodoro SA, cleaning tasks for the palace costing 893,000 euros and forestry services for the Palau del Pardo costing 140,000 euros.

However, these are not the only expenses that have been charged to National Heritage that are linked to the monarchy. This body, linked to the Ministry of the Presidency, has also paid for the compensation for the unfair dismissal of the crew of the yacht Fortuna, which former King Juan Carlos enjoyed until he decided to sell it; the maintenance of the house where his ex-lover Corinna Larsen was staying in Madrid, the insurance for the various luxury cars she received as gifts and the staff and security that accompanies the former King in Abu Dhabi.

In total, the Spanish monarchy costs taxpayers almost €2 million extra than the €8.4 specified in the state budget approved by Congress for this year.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Once Again Condemns Spain for Not Investigating Tortures

On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) once again condemned the Spanish state for failing to investigate allegations of torture and thus violating Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The sentence confirms that Iñigo González Etayo, arrested in 2011, was subjected to “inhuman and degrading treatment” and must be compensated with 20,000 euros.

Iñigo was arrested, along with Gorka Zabala, Jon Patxi Arratibel and Gorka Mayo, by order of the incumbent Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska, then a judge of the Spanish National Court. They were all accused of belonging to a terrorist organization for being members of the Basque pro-independence organization Ekin.

Iñigo claimed that during the interrogation they put a bag over his head, waterboarded him, hit him and made him want to vomit because he couldn’t stand it anymore. The confession was obtained by torture. Its contents were specified by the police. All the detainees reported being tortured by the Civil Guard.

Strasbourg already condemned Spain for failing to investigate allegations of tortures against Patxi Arratibel and Xabier Beortegi, both detained in the same police operation. It is noteworthy that Arratibel signed a police statement with the word “Aztnugal,” which read backwards means “help” in Basque.