Catalonia’s Decisive Week for Independence

On Tuesday, Catalan President Puigdemont “declared Catalonia’s independence,” but soon after suspended its effects in favor of dialogue with Spanish authorities. His decision came after numerous international actors suggested that mediation would only be possible if he halted independence as a sign of good faith.

Nevertheless, numerous members of parliament, who were informed about Puigdemont’s decision only 45 minutes before his intervention, expressed their disagreement and threatened to boycott his speech, as well as threatening to break the pro-independence absolute majority in Parliament. They stressed that they had agreed on a different declaration earlier in the day.

To address this alarming situation, President of Parliament Forcadell decided to suspend the plenary for 1 hour. While the disagreements remained, everyone present in the meeting finally accepted Puigdemont’s changes to the speech in order to maintain unity. Additionally, they agreed to hold a ceremony to sign an unofficial declaration of independence in another building after the plenary in order to give more solemnity to the day.

Tens of thousands of people who gathered around the parliament to celebrate the proclamation of the new Catalonian Republic ended up with mixed feelings. At first, when Puigdemont declared independence, they felt very excited, but this turned to disappointment when he suspended its legal effects without setting a deadline a few seconds later.

Most experts saw Puigdemont’s move as a wise one because it served to show the international community that Catalonia is seeking dialogue until the very end, which favours future international recognition of Catalonia as an independent country.

On Wednesday, Spanish PM Rajoy refused Puigdemont’s latest offer of dialogue and activated Article 155, which can be fully implemented a few days after Puigdemont responds to a mandatory request for information as to whether he has declared independence. He was given until Monday to respond; if it is in the affirmative, this period is extended until Thursday, with the option of altering the decision.

With Article 155, Rajoy can suspend Catalonia’s government, intervene in the education system and the police, and even call for an early election while installing technocrats from the central government to rule Catalonia for at least 3 months. In parallel, pro-independence parties and organizations may also be barred from participating in any eventual general election for at least 4 years.

Major pro-independence organizations are preparing a proportionate response to the implementation of the Article 155 and the possible arrest of Catalonia’s President and vice-president, which includes mass protests, and an indefinite general strike. The main idea would be to collapse the Spanish and European economies and eventually force an international intervention/mediation in Catalonia.

The response may be precipitated by Spain this Monday, because the leaders of the two major pro-independence organizations, Cuixart and Sanchez, have been summoned by the Spanish National Court to testify about “sedition charges” (punishable by up to 15 years in prison + a fine). According to some journalists with contacts in the Spanish government, the judges who are hearing these two cases have already made the decision to jail them in order to smash their respective organizations and thus spread fear across Catalonian society.

Against this possible outcome, Cuixart and Sanchez named their replacements on Saturday. In the meantime, pro-independence organizations and parties such as the ANC, Omnium, ERC, CUP, Democrates and several MP’s from the PDECAT have called on Puigdemont to lift the suspension of Catalonia’s declaration of independence and implement its legal effects as soon as next week. If possible before the Spanish implementation of Article 155.They believe there are no longer grounds for mediation or negotiations as equals with Spain, and that the only way to bring about international mediation/negotiations is by formally declaring independence first.

With this in mind, Puigdemont will have to make the most important decision of his life tomorrow morning. He must decide whether to go all-out to respect the will of the Catalonian people and face a prison sentence of up to 15 years or to surrender, refuse to declare independence, and thus comply with the Spanish government’s will.

Whatever Puigdemont’s decision may be in the coming hours, the worsening of the conflict between Catalonia and Spain appears to be inevitable, given that if he surrenders the independence process, millions of Catalans will then feel betrayed, resulting in the radicalization of many who would rise up against the Spanish government in order to defend the newly promised Catalonian Republic.

Perhaps the only thing that can stop this upcoming clash would be Spain’s acceptance of international mediation. Although, I must admit that I do not have much hope of that happening.

 

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The Week that Spain Lost Catalonia

The detention of 15 high-ranking officials and the suspension of the Catalan government, last week by the Spanish government, in order to halt the referendum on independence set for tomorrow appears to have united separatists, federalists, and a significant number of unionists in defense of the vote.

“I have always been opposed to this referendum, because I am a federalist. However, the latest Spanish aggressions against Catalonia in order to humiliate our people is intolerable. That’s the main reason why I have decided to vote, and I will vote “YES” because I do not want to belong to a dictatorship like Turkey any longer. I think that the creation of a new state would give us the chance to build a more fair country and society” said David, a Barcelona citizen.

My family and I have always voted for unionist parties. We like Spain and most of our friends are from Madrid. Nevertheless, the Spanish repression of the Catalans this week is unacceptable. The government has violated the international law and has restricted the freedom of expression in Catalonia. They have raided printing shops, newspapers offices, and forbidden Catalan editors from advertising the referendum. Last week, they suspended our government and detained a number of our democratically elected representatives. Until this week, I was not going to vote in the referendum because I have always been a unionist, but Spain does not give me any other option. I will go to vote “YES” because this is no longer a referendum on independence, it is all about “Democracy” VS “Dictatorship,” said Marta, a Barcelona businesswoman.

The Catalan government has had serious problems in mobilizing the “unionists” for this referendum until the past week. Most of them thought that they could defeat the Catalan President by promoting a boycott of the vote. However, the latest Spanish aggressions against Catalan institutions have changed the situation, and it appears now that the vast majority of unionists are willing to support the referendum, in order to preserve democracy. This could result in a historic turnout that cannot be ignored by the international community.

The constant attacks against Catalonia by the Spanish government have also united separatists, federalists, and several unionist political parties, which are now calling on the people for mass participation in the referendum. Additionally, they are planning a social/labor indefinite general strike starting on October 3rd, in order to collapse the Spanish economy, if Spain does not recognize the results of the vote.

Although the Catalan government has always been committed to carrying out the referendum, there has always been serious doubts about the validation of the results. However, it seems that the latest anti-democratic actions against Catalonia by Spain have already guaranteed the international recognition of the results, whatever they may be.

Spain Assaults the Catalan Government

Spanish militarized police assaulted Catalan government offices and arrested 15 officials on Wednesday in order to stop the October 1st banned referendum. The Catalan president said that this action meant the suspension of Catalonia’s government and the implementation of a state of emergency across the country.

Tens of thousands of protesters crowded outside the Catalan government offices in downtown Barcelona’s tourist district, waving Catalan flags and chanting “Occupying forces out” and “Where is Europe?”.

The Spanish state has by all rights intervened in Catalonia’s government and has established emergency rule,” said President Carles Puigdemont. “We condemn and reject the anti-democratic and totalitarian actions of the Spanish state,” he said, calling on the Catalans to vote in the referendum to preserve democracy.

Spanish militarized police detained Catalonia’s junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove and 14 high-ranking local officials. The raid targeted numerous regional government departments.

Police confirmed that they were carrying out raids to dismantle the organization of the October 1st referendum.

Despite Spanish police provocations to cause riots, mass protests across Catalonia remained peaceful. Protesters bore banners reading “Democracy” and “Vote to be free”.

The FC Barcelona soccer club said in a statement: “FC Barcelona, in remaining faithful to its historic commitment to the defense of the nation, to democracy, to freedom of speech, and to self-determination, condemns any act that may impede the free exercise of these rights.”

Police efforts to stop the referendum have intensified in recent days as the Catalan government reaffirms its commitment to hold the referendum by any means. A few days ago, President Puigdemont said that he and his administration members were willing to go to prison if necessary. He added that he is not afraid of defending people’s rights.

Over the last few weeks, the Spanish police have raided printer’s shops, newspaper offices private post-delivery companies looking for the necessary material to hold the referendum, instruction manuals for manning voting stations and ballot boxes.

 

One Year after Turkey’s Failed Coup Attempt, the Purge Continues

One year after the failed coup in Turkey, the situation in the country has worsened significantly and Erdogan has begun a transition from ”democracy” to dictatorship, backed by fanatical supporters willing to die for him.

Taking advantage of this situation, Erdogan has criminalized and jailed all critical voices by linking them to the coup and Fethullah Gülen’s movement, who is considered the coup’s mastermind by Erdogan.

To that end, Erdogan has detained 118,235 people, arrested 55,927, including 269 journalists, sacked 138,148 people, including some 4,424 judges and prosecutors, and around 9,000 teachers, and has also shut down 2,099 schools, dormitories, and universities, and 149 media outlets. The co-leaders of the second-largest opposition party in the Parliament are also in prison.

More recently, Erdogan has detained eight human rights defenders, Amnesty International’s Turkey Director Idil Eser and two international trainers on the absurd suspicion of being members of an ‘armed terrorist organization.’

In the aftermath of the failed coup attempt, Erdogan believed he would be able to keep Turkish society united behind his authoritarian project while directing a purge against the opposition and critics.

However, his authoritarian actions, like the rigged constitutional referendum to grant super powers to him in April, and the increasing repression against anyone who criticizes him have divided Turkish society to levels never seen before.

Numerous voices have arisen across the country stating that Erdogan could have directed last year ‘s failed coup attempt against himself to have a pretext to install a dictatorship, extend his mandate, and get rid of the most prominent opposition leaders who could have disputed his leadership of the country.

Erdogan administration has not yet proven the link between Gulen and the failed coup. And Erdogan’s claims that the coup was organized without his knowledge by hundreds of thousands of people during more than a decade is absurd.

Keeping a secret in a small group for years is hard, and it is impossible to do among hundreds of thousands of people, especially while Erdogan was leading the country and had many of his supporters infiltrated in all governmental institutions.

World precedents show that, at first stages, coup d’États are always organized by a small number of people until things are up and running and people see that the coup can succeed. This is then when a large number of people join the project.

Despite the fact that Erdogan is installing a dictatorship and jailing teachers, judges, and journalists on a regular basis, the Western world is still endorsing him and indirectly his actions.

Numerous European leaders have suggested that Merkel keep a “friendly” position with Erdogan due to the fact that the EU and Turkey have an agreement on immigration, which prevents thousands of immigrants and refugees from entering the EU annually. And Erdogan has suggested that he could break this pact, causing a flood of immigration in Europe.

Trump has also venerated and congratulated Erdogan for overweening superpowers in the constitutional referendum in April. Trump, who has also shown to be an authoritarian, speaks the same language as Erdogan. And unless this affects the US, he appears to be willing to allow Erdogan to install a dictatorship in Turkey.

With the endorsement of the Western world, this coming year will be harder than the previous one in Turkey. Erdogan will continue deploying his superpowers, repressing the Turks, firing thousands of teachers, judges, and will continue his purge against the opposition, human rights activists and the independent media.

Unless the international community led by Trump and Merkel take action to stop Erdogan’s authoritarian drift, hundreds of thousands of innocents will soon suffer the devastating consequences of Erdogan’s actions.

Although initially the US and the EU will not help the Turks reinstating democracy in Turkey, the firm determination of the Turkish opposition to challenge Erdogan and bring back democracy to the country will cause tensions, and if as predicted, Erdogan reacts by using force against millions of peaceful people, the US and the EU will have to decide then between allowing this to happen or intervening to return the power back to the Turkish people.

As usual, the future of the Turks will be in Western world’s hands, and perhaps, this time, they will not make the same mistakes made previously in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, by choosing to defend democrats instead of villains.

Donald Trump: The War on Terror

From the outset of his presidency, Donald Trump has appeared to be willing to follow in the footsteps of previous presidencies in the “war on terror.” His cabinet has started to hammer out an international plan which, once approved will give green light to the U.S. military forces deployed in the Middle East to direct air strikes on civilian areas in the name of killing terrorists.

Despite his many promises and oaths, Obama embraced Bush’s military strategy to fight terrorism, and endow the JSOC (Joint Special Operations Commands) with the capability of operating undercover in countries such as Pakistan and Iraq with absolute immunity. The JSOC often targeted innocent civilians (including children) causing a real massacre in the region.

Emulating the legacy of previous administrations, and during his first week in the white house, Trump directed a fatal raid in Yemen, which jeopardized the lives of several members of the American special forces, and caused the death of Chief Petty Officer William and 30 civilians, including the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born “radicalized” leader who was killed in a drone strike in 2011.

During his first intervention at the Congress, Trump vehemently used the death of Officer William to make propaganda and reaffirm that the fatal raid in Yemen was necessary to protect the country against terrorists.

Far from stopping his acts of barbarism, Trump recently announced the deployment of 1000 additional soldiers to Syria. In addition, Trump has ordered the U.S. military commanders in Syria to escalate their operations in civilian areas to target and kill terrorists.

The tragedy came swiftly, on March 17, when the US-led coalition directed an air strike in a residential area in West Mosul (controlled by ISIL.), which slaughtered as many as 200 civilians. That was preceded by the killing of dozens of civilians in a school in Raqqa province where refugees were being sheltered, which itself was preceded by the US-led destruction of a mosque near Aleppo that also killed dozens.

Because of these atrocities, a large pool of U.S. commanders announced an investigation to establish accountability for the above-mentioned carnage against innocent civilians in Mosul.

“We have an investigation going on, but our initial assessment… shows we did strike in that area; in fact there were multiple strikes in that area, so is it possible that we did that? Yes, I think it is possible,” Lt. Stephen Townsend told reporters Tuesday.

“Because we struck in that area, I think there’s a fair chance that we did it.”

Unfortunately, several U.S. soldiers and commanders justified the lethal air strike, which caused so many deaths, alleging that since ISIL uses civilians to shield then the air strikes are justified because it is more important to kill terrorists.

Later on, numerous civilians fearful of reprisal expressed their concerns, and asked the authorities if there was any justification for bombing innocent civilians who are denigrated, mistreated, tortured, and raped on a regular basis by the most inhumane terrorist group on earth.

It is worth recalling that the international law prohibits the targeting and bombing of civilians. The deliberate assassination of civilians constitutes a war crime, and essentially if someone commits it, he or she is liable to face prosecution at the International Court. However, the world’s most powerful countries do not bear any legal responsibility for their crimes since they control the very organizations which investigate war crimes.

Another concerning fact is Trump’s struggle to re-establish the network of U.S. secret military prisons to torture terrorists and civilians worldwide. Several experts argue that torture programs are ineffective in fighting terrorism. Most of the prisoners who are tortured on a regular basis are likely to incriminate themselves to stop the physical and mental suffering.

Under Bush’s presidency, the U.S. unjustly targeted and jailed thousands of innocents civilians for years. Once out of the White House, Bush acknowledged some of his mistakes, although it does not exempt him from the war crimes that he committed during his presidency.

By unjustly killing thousands of innocent civilians, Trump will never annihilate terrorism. On the contrary, it will be used for terrorists as a propaganda tool to convince and persuade citizens that the U.S. is the real enemy of the Middle East.

The defeat of Islamic terrorism will only come when the international community shows citizens of the Middle East that they are there to help them. However, it is unlikely to happen since Trump could have several conflicts of interest in the Middle East.

During the last presidential campaign, Trump announced that if he became President, he would then try to take control of petroleum production in the Middle East, and this fact will undermine his efforts to build trust with the citizens.

While I am writing this piece, Trump is probably planning his next move in the Middle East. Or perhaps a deadly strike is being directed against defenseless civilians causing carnage in Syria or Iraq. What is certain is that the international media will be waiting for the next fatal event, and the international community, as usual, will lean on global superpowers and do nothing to stop the massacre in the Middle East.

 

 

 

 

Organizing to Resist Threats to Our Rights

Ongoing political degradation and the rise of bigoted movements in western countries such as the U.S., France, and the Netherlands represent a real threat to our democracy. Its birthplace can be found in the U.S where President Trump has launched his personal crusade against immigration, women, LGBT, and human rights. 

In addition to that, Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands could soon both follow Trump’s steps as heads of their respective governments. Both have expressed their intent to target immigration and human rights if they win the next elections. They have aslo called on the international community to unite to create an international coalition to spread their ideas worldwide. Such a coalition could be catastrophic, since it would eliminate the rights that our ancestors achieved through decades of fighting.

As a result of all of this, there is clear evidence that, in the near future, bigotry will continue increasing to levels not seen in decades. It is in this context that we cannot wait any longer to unite and organize to resist these threats. For that reason, I suggest we start working to create a new inclusive organization to lead the resistance in western countries. It would fight back against any threat to our society regardless of political orientation.

In most cases, people tend to associate resistance against xenophobia with the Democrats in the U.S and Social Democrats in Europe. Both are supposed to be left organizations which defend the working and the middle class. However, their ties with the so-called establishment backed by previous administrations invalidate them from fighting xenophobic populism.

The resistance against bigoted movements must be broad and target xenophobic leaders, but also those who are acting indecorously by helping bigots such as Trump to win elections in their countries. For that reason, it is not possible to build an effective resistance, settled with old generations of unpopular Democrats (US) and Social Democrats (EU) leaders.

The alternative must come from those who have never represented any political party, instead, it should come through a new organization, which should represent all those minority groups who have been ignored in western countries for decades. It should come from below. Yet it is crucial that we know what this broad movement is for, as well as what it is against.

Under the existing context, a generation of true right defenders are leaving traditional political parties such as Democrats in the U.S., and Socialist Parties all across Europe. They are engaged in a process which causes divisions in their parties and finally, are forced to leave if they want to keep their convictions up. Unfortunately, after they leave their political parties, these brilliant minds feel betrayed and do not want to join any other project since they all seem very similar to each other.

Further, in just a few months, thousands of citizens from all over western countries have started to become interested in politics since they understand that it really impacts in their lives somehow. They are very energetic and want to protect their rights, but they have never participated in any political organization or movement, and they do not know how to do it.

For that reason, we need to start working to create a new inclusive organization to attract either, the millions of citizens from the working and middle classes who are interested in organizing a resistance, and those disenchanted brilliant minds who already left traditional political parties.

During the creation of this organization, there should be intense debate about who is allowed to take leadership positions. In my opinion, if this organization wants to repair the damage that has been caused by traditional political parties during decades, it should limit the participation of those who have ever had positions in other political parties or who have represented them. However, since this platform needs to be inclusive, I think it should discuss with them so we can learn how to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

As mentioned, there will soon be many challenges to confront, and unless we are ready, we will lose our freedoms. So let’s organize and resist these threats. Your contribution could determine the future of our global democracy and liberties. To that end, I am calling on you to share this as many times as you can with your contacts to begin an important discussion about the creation of such an organization.

If you are interested in this project contact me at: josepgoded@riseup.net

    

Stephen Bannon: the Person Who Is Silently Changing the World

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, both the national and the international media have frequently focused on Trump’s plans to target immigration and dismantle the existing health-care and education systems. However, most of them have ignored the fact that the real author of these plans is not Trump, but his principal advisor, Stephen Bannon, who is a despicable and intelligent person, and refuses any sort of prominence to focus on his work without raising suspicions.

Bannon demonstrated his intelligence and influence during the last presidential election when he was the person most responsible (a campaign chief) for planning Trump’s campaign that eventually led his victory. Bannon was also the person who recommended that Trump use fierce rhetoric against immigration, the media, and the establishment. Without his presence there Trump would not have been elected President.

As if that were not enough, Bannon was recently selected by Trump to be on the National Security Council board. This group is responsible for advising President Trump regarding national security and foreign policy. Bannon’s presence there has raised increasing concerns among politicians and experts due to his lack of knowledge about security. Many think that he may try to mislead President Trump in order to achieve his personal goals. However, to better understand why experts and the international community have expresed concerns about Stephen Bannon, it is necessary to know his background.

Before working for Trump’s administration, Stephen Bannon was the executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC. An American news outlet linked to controversies and the mass fabrication of stories, intended to demonise gays, Muslims, immigrants and liberals. In addition, under Bannon’s leadership, the site has promoted racism, and anti-Muslim ideas, and it has been accused of white nationalism. Bannon once said:

“I think strong countries and strong nationalist movements in countries make strong neighbours.“And that is really the building blocks that built Western Europe and the United States, and I think it’s what can see us forward.”

Breitbart has published dozens of stories accusing U.S. Muslims of sympathising with terrorism.The site has also mocked LGBTQ people, feminists and women, and has also denied the existence of climate change, insisted that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin was an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood, and served as a propaganda arm for the Trump campaign.

Controversial BreitBart’s News Headlines:

‘The solution to online ‘harassment’ is simple: Women should log off’

http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/07/05/solution-online-harassment-simple-women-log-off/

‘Bill Kristol: Republican spoiler, renegade Jew’

http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/05/15/bill-kristol-republican-spoiler-renegade-jew/

‘Trannies whine about hilarious Bruce Jenner billboard’

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/12/04/trannies-whine-hilarious-bruce-jenner-billboard/

‘Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy’

http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2015/12/08/birth-control-makes-women-unattractive-and-crazy/

‘Suck it up buttercups: Dangerous Faggot Tour returns to colleges in September’

http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/07/06/milo-yiannopoulos-dangerous-faggot-tour-returns-campuses-fall/

‘Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?’

http://www.breitbart.com/video/2016/02/19/would-you-rather-your-child-had-feminism-or-cancer/

‘Gay rights have made us dumber, it’s time to get back in the closet’

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/17/gay-rights-have-made-us-dumber-its-time-to-get-back-in-the-closet/ 

Bannon has also promoted anti-Semitic conspiracies about globalist cabal of bankers.“We call ourselves ‘the Fight Club.’ You don’t come to us for warm and fuzzy,” said Bannon.

Banon has also expressed his concerns that the United States and the: “Judeo-Christian West” are in a war against an expansionist Islamic ideology. Speaking about Breitbart, Bannon has said:

“We’re the platform for the alt-right.” According to NPR, “The views of the alt-right are widely seen as anti-Semitic and white supremacist.”

Aside from his work as the executive chairman of Breitbart, Bannon has had a disturbing past. He is considered a supremacist who advocates for Alt-Right organisations from all over the world. Probably the most worrying thing is that Bannon has never hidden his global fascist vision and, according to his inner circles, he still praises those who led fascism in European countries such as Germany or Italy during the WWII.

Bannon’s ties with European fascism go further. During UK referendum on the European Union in 2016, Bannon used Breitbart’s propaganda machinery to advocate for Brexit while simultaneously praising Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP (an anti-immigration political party) at the moment. However, his contact with emergent European Alt-Right political leaders did not finish there. Since the Brexit decision, Bannon has increased his contacts with other leaders such as Marine Le Pen (France) and Geert Wilders (the Netherlands), according to several European sources whose name cannot be revealed for security issues. Bannon and Marine Le Pen have met several times to discuss the potential creation of an international coalition to change the world if Le Pen wins the French elections.

Given that Le Pen has a good chance to win the French elections, she has become a global threat. Bannon, who is no longer the executive chairman at Breitbart’s news, has ordered them to initiate a propaganda campaign to weaken her opponents. In addition, Marine Le Pen has confirmed that she will imitate Trump’s Presidential campaign strategy. It is clear that Bannon is not limiting himself to setting up an authoritarian system in the U.S.; his vision goes [much] further. Apparently, he will not stop until such a system is created, or until his ideas and policies are spread worldwide.

A year ago, it was unthinkable that someone with Trump’s characteristics could be elected the president of the U.S., but Bannon‘s hidden efforts helped him get elected in the end. Bannon knew that there were millions of Americans disenchanted with the existing system, and he knew how to exploit it. He also knew that Sanders did not have much chance to win, which made Trump’s election possible.

While much of the American and the international media will continue to undervalue Bannon’s real influence, he will continue working quietly behind scenes, like a termite, slowly but unceasingly planning to plan his next move to achieve his life’s goal; a world governed by authoritarians united to spread fear, and to target, and persecute those who act and think differently.

By Josep.