The Spanish government decided to reach back into its history and borrow from the playbook of longtime Spanish fascist dictator Francisco Franco in dealing with Catalonia’s decision to declare independence from the Spanish Kingdom as the Republic of Catalonia. The Catalan government’s decision to declare independence followed an October 1 referendum in the region that resulted in a “yes” for independence.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose Popular Party is a direct political descendant of Franco’s fascist Falangist Party, wasted no time in invoking, for the first time, Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which allows the Spanish Kingdom to impose direct rule on regions not adhering to the whiplashing from Madrid. Catalonia is the first, but possible not the last victim, of Spain’s neo-fascism on display for the entire world.
During the Spanish Civil War, the Catalans and Basques fought with bravery on behalf of the Spanish Second Republic against the fascist forces of Franco and his fascists. Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini provided all-out support for Franco, much like the European Union, NATO, and the United States have fully backed Rajoy in his confrontation with Catalonia. Spain’s King Felipe VI October 3 speech, in which he condemned the Catalan referendum’s pro-independence results, was seen by many Catalans, as well as other groups like the Basques, Galicians, and Andalusians, as an unnecessary involvement in politics. Not only Catalans, but others across Spain, began calling for the scrapping of the Bourbon family’s monarchy and the establishment of the Spanish Third Republic. The Bourbons have little respect among the working peoples of Spain and France. After all, it was an ancestor of Felipe VI, Louis XVI of France, who lost his head to a French revolutionary guillotine after ignoring the poverty of the French people.
Spain’s reaction to Catalonia’s independence was swift and reminiscent of Hitler’s extinguishment of Austria’s independence in his infamous “Anschluss” (union) between Nazi Germany and Austria. Rajoy ordered the sacking of Catalan First Minister Carles Puigdemont; his entire Cabinet, chief of the Catalan Mossos d’Esquadra police Jose Luis Trapero, Catalan representatives in Madrid, Brussels, Strasbourg, London, Paris, Copenhagen, Rome, Berlin, Vatican City, Lisbon, Rabat, Warsaw, Vienna, Zagreb, and Geneva; and even Catalan schoolteachers. Catalan government ministers were replaced with lisp-talking Castillian apparatchiks sent to the Catalan capital of Barcelona to administer, by fiat, all Catalan government institutions. Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria took over Puigdemont’s job, while Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido took over the Catalan police functions from Trapero. Police duties in Catalonia were largely transferred from the Mossos d’Esquadra to the feared “Guardia Civil,” the notorious political enforcers for Franco’s fascist regime that were created by Franco as a Spanish version of Nazi Germany’s Gestapo.
The Madrid regime announced that new Catalan elections would be held on December 21 of this year, however, it is far from clear whether Catalonia’s pro-independence parties will be permitted to field candidates. Madrid may proscribe all of Catalonia’s pro-independence parties and groups, including “Junts Pel Sí” (“Together For Yes”) and the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), leaving only pro-Spanish parties like Rajoy’s neo-fascist Popular Party and the accommodationist Socialists, Ciudadanos, and George Soros-financed Podemos on the ballot. Moreover, Madrid has threatened to put on trial all of Catalonia’s independence leaders for sedition. Sedition convictions under Spanish law carry a maximum 15-year prison term.
Madrid also ordered shut down a Catalan government special commission that was investigating Spanish police brutality against Catalan citizens during pro-independence demonstrations following the October 1 referendum. Ominously, the Madrid authorities ordered sacked police chief Trapero to turn in his passport, a sign that Madrid is contemplating seizing the passports of all of Catalonia’s independence leaders to prevent them from operating a Republic of Catalonia government-in-exile. The precedent for such action was the anti-Franco Spanish Second Republic’s government-in-exile established in Paris in 1939 after Franco’s seizure of Spain. After Nazi Germany’s invasion of France in 1940, the government-in-exile moved to Mexico City, where it was recognized by Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Venezuela, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Albania until its dissolution in 1977 after Spain’s so-called “constitutional monarchy” was restored after Franco’s death. The seizure of passports from Catalan officials and the closure of Catalan foreign missions abroad by Madrid is clearly aimed at preventing a Catalan government-in-exile from being formed.
Today, Rajoy and his junta have the support of all the major corporate periodicals in Spain, El País, El Mundo, ABC, El Razón, and Barcelona’s quisling newspaper La Vanguardia. However, no newspaper endorsements or messages of support from Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Theresa May, and Jean-Claude Juncker that will enable Rajoy’s thugs to keep Catalonia under his boot heel. Catalonia’s future will be determined by its own people and their friends abroad, many of whom have rallied to Catalonia’s cause.
No sooner had Catalonia declared its independence, messages of support began streaming into Barcelona. Jean-Guy Talamoni, the president of the National Assembly of Corsica, a French island where independence sentiment is strong, praised the “birth of the Republic of Catalonia.” Carole Delga, the president of the French region of Occitania, where Catalan is spoken in the Pyrenees-Orientales department, recognized Occitania’s strong ties to Catalonia and called for urgent talks between Spanish and Catalan authorities to maintain the civil peace.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has promised a second Scottish independence referendum, voiced support for Catalonia. The leader of the Scottish National Party government in Edinburgh said, “The right to self-determination is an important international principle, and I hope very much it will be respected in Catalonia, and everywhere else.” There is every reason to believe that Rajoy is seizing the Spanish European Union passports of Catalan leaders to prevent them from establishing a government-in-exile in either Edinburgh or Glasgow, two cities from which they could have at their service satellite communications links and direct air access to Europe’s major cities. There is a great degree of support among Scots for Catalan independence. The new Catalan Defense Committee Scotland is organizing opposition to Madrid’s aggression against Catalonia. It has stated, “The brutality and repression that has been visited upon the people of Catalonia cannot be allowed to continue, or to be legitimized.” The committee is not only confining its activities in Scotland and is vowing to spearhead a Europe-wide movement.
Catalonia’s cause is also supported by Jan Peumans, the speaker of the Flemish regional parliament. Citing the example of Scotland, Peumans said of Catalonia and his own region of Flanders, that independence of such regions is an “evolution that no European government can avoid.”
Regional leaders in Italy’s Lombardy and Veneto regions, which both voted in favor of more autonomy in recent referendums, rallied to Catalonia’s side and condemned Spain’s arrest and intimidation of Catalan leaders. Separatist leaders in the Faroe Islands, which voted in 1946 for independence from Denmark only to see the Danish government bow to pressure from Washington to keep the islands Danish, hope to repeat the 1946 vote in an April 2018 referendum for a new constitution for an independent Faroes. The declaration of the Republic of Catalonia has provided encouragement to not only the Faroese but those in Greenland who want to see a total break from Danish (and NATO) control.
Rajoy’s junta’s crackdown in Catalonia could also re-ignite the Basque region’s desire for independence. The Basque guerrilla group ETA declared a unilateral cease fire in 2010 but it never fully disarmed. If the Spanish suppression of Catalonia succeeds, the Basques may see themselves as next on Rajoy’s list. Unlike the Catalans, the Basques have shown Madrid that they are quite capable of bringing a war home to the very center of the Spanish state in Madrid. The Galicians may also see their autonomy at risk and a mobilization of the armed “Restistencia Galega” would force Madrid to face multiple fronts in not only Catalonia and the Basque region, but Galicia, as well.
Señor Rajoy and his proto-fascists would do well to listen to the Catalan protesters singing from the streets of Barcelona their traditional Catalan songs and one from the musical “Les Misérables” that should worry the puppet minister for the Bourbon king of Spain: “Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men? It is the music of a people Who will not be slaves again!.. Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me? Beyond the barricade. Is there a world you long to see? Then join in the fight. That will give you the right to be free!”
Investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club