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.

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One of the Major Catalan pro-Independence Organizations the National Catalan Assembly (ANC) Calls for Unilateralism and Sets out its Roadmap for the Implementation of the Republic

The National Catalan Assembly (ANC) calls on the Catalan government to prepare themselves for the unilateral implementation of the Catalan Republic on the day that the possible prison sentences against Catalan political prisoners are announced by the Spanish Supreme Court (it’s expected to be in June).   

In order for independence to be successful, the ANC believes that the government,  parliament, institutions and mobilized citizens must be aligned. At this moment, it will be when they commit to revalidate the unilateral declaration of independence in parliament and request international recognition.

El Periodico newspaper had access to a document approved by the ANC last Saturday with 45 votes in favor, 6 against and 9 blank ballots. The document set the measures that should be taken by the Catalan government together with pro-independence organizations as a response to the likely conviction of Catalan leaders for rebellion. This includes the revalidation of the declaration of independence, the publication of decrees on the development of the legal transitory law, the release of the jailed leaders, the take over of the Catalan territory, organizing the return of the exiled leaders, and the removal of the Spanish Flag from the Palau de la Generalitat, the headquarters of the Catalan government.

This document was disclosed following last weekend’s ANC ultimatum “calling on the Catalan Government to adopt, before 21 December 2018, a single, clearly defined government strategy to establish the Catalan Republic and to share the strategy and coordinate tactics with all political groups and stakeholders committed to the effective establishment of the Republic declared on 27 October 2017.

If, after 21 December, the Catalan Government persists with the current disconcerting lack of clarity on the strategic criteria for the future and continues to employ language steeped in formality and completely fails to respond to the central government action perpetuating the current system of autonomous government and legitimizing repression by the Spanish State, the ANC will no longer accompany the Catalan Government but will adopt a critical stance that demands compliance with the Government’s mandate, including mobilizations to this end.

We call on anyone in the Catalan Government who lacks the courage to pursue a clearly defined process leading to the effective proclamation of the Catalan Republic to step aside and make room for others prepared to take more determined action and accept the risks inherent in disobedience.”

Three scenarios have been considered by the members of the ANC: a joint referendum with the State after a direct bilateral negotiation, dismissed as “naive” and “impossible”; a referendum agreed to by an international body, labeled as “very unlikely”, and the unilateral route, the means they consider “most likely” and the “only” that allows them to be “more proactive.”

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.

 

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.

Over a Million Demonstrators Demand the Implementation of the Catalan Republic

Over a million demonstrators have flooded Barcelona’s streets to demand the implementation of the Catalan Republic and the immediate release of all Catalan political prisoners, according to figures provided by the police.

People of all ages were seen in the protest, many of whom were wearing flags for independence, banners calling for the freedom of political prisoners, and T-shirts with the slogan: “We make a republic.” 

The atmosphere was festive. This is the seventh consecutive mass pro-independence demonstration held in Catalonia on September 11th, becoming the only country in the world that has been able to mobilize such a large number of people year after year. 

VIDEO: https://www.patreon.com/posts/21357281

 

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.”