“Aprofiteu perquè tot el que feu ara cagar, follar, morir, solucionar una equació o omplir una banyera de ciment, serà en una república!”
“Take note because everything you do now whether crap, screw, die, solve a mathematics equation, or fill up a cement tub, will be in a republic!”
For those who have just learned, the Catalan Parliament declared independence from Spain today. I’m writing this to comment on the situation and to hopefully clarify some aspects as, given that I live in Catalunya, friends and family have been asking me what’s been going on with this “October Revolution”.
I think it’s easiest to get to the biggest question first which is, “What’s next?” This is a very just question to ask and I can assure you that many Catalans are asking it as well because despite the process to get democratically-elected politicians to declare an independent republic seemed onerous and never ending, the question as to what Spain’s response will be is
completely unknown predictably heavy handed.
I read a rather idiotic op-ed on Bloomberg (which has been a source of infuriatingly one-sided articles throughout this) that stated:
“Catalonia’s declaration of independence from Spain, passed by the Catalan parliament on Friday, is a largely symbolic gesture as far as true independence goes. It will, however, require all of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s experience and skill to defuse this situation.”
I find the entire statement ludicrous as Rajoy has as much ability to defuse this situation as my dog would to disarm a nuclear weapon. Essentially if this is the man we are relying upon, both Spain and Catalunya are duly screwed. I should add that in a court of law this week, Prime Minister Rajoy has been legally declared as having accepting bribes in an off-the-books accounting case that has been nipping at his party, Partido Popular for years now (see Gürtel case.) That news has been overshadowed by the Catalan issue–for the time being.
I have to say that I’m quite stunned that we’ve actually arrived at this point. As noted earlier, it seems that the Catalans have largely planned it out and Spain has largely followed. But again we come to this rather daunting question of what the hell next?
There are essentially two options as I see it. One is that Spain puts up a front to make it look like they’re fighting the secession movement to placate the Unionists. A number of countries (probably Slovenia as one of the first) will recognize Catalunya starting over the next few days. International pressure will mount and we’ll arrive at something better than Kosovo’s situation and maybe even full reintegration into the EU (independence apparently knocks a new country out, even if it was part of a former country that was in.)
This is the most sane path as the EU’s Donald Tusk has stated that it changes nothing and that the EU still recognizes Catalunya as part of Spain. That makes sense as Europe did jack shit during the Yugoslavian Civil War and has proven to be ineffective in moderating or mitigating these issues when they arise. I can understand how, on a certain level, the British got sick and tired of Brussels.
But there is the reality that if Catalunya is outside the EU then all of Spain’s products can’t reach the EU. I’ve heard estimates that Spain produces some 30% of all the fruits and vegetables in Europe and I know very well that the largest importer of Spanish wine in the world, in terms of volume is France. So, if the 10,000 trucks that pass through Catalunya everyday Catalunya as well all the trains are suddenly exiting the EU at Catalunya, there’s a problem. This could potentially mean that Catalunya actually has a great deal of power lest everything starts passing through Basque Country on the other side of the Pyrenees–for now.
The darker route is a brutal, Franco Era crack down. All autonomy is stripped (as has been voted upon this same day in the Spanish Senate), all leaders are forcibly arrested, all broadcasters are shut off, the Catalan police are taken over, and well, everything goes to shit as the populace is so power charged and pissed off at Spain, while I doubt they would take up arms, there would be massive civil disobedience and if they thought the strikes after the October 1st referendum were something, just wait. This would enter into a period of serious decline for Spain at large and the unfortunate part is that Rajoy is such a malicious, incompetent leader, I wouldn’t put it past him. He bears no semblance to the previous Prime Ministers of Spain who, despite their individual failings were able to lead a country that is made of many fractious nations.
I would however like to clear up a misconception I’ve heard from people who have visited recently which is that both the leaders of Spain and Catalunya are equally to blame for this situation. This is the hack journalist explanation of the situation. The fact is, prior to 2011, the independence sentiment in Catalunya was nearing an all-time low. There were some die hards of course but they were a much smaller group as Catalunya had been negotiating to be a nation within Spain. Most Catalans didn’t give a damn if their passport was Spanish as long as their corner of the country, with their language and customs was left alone. This had all been put in place by Prime Minister Zapatero who had done a lot to try and drag Spain into the 21st century.
Then, after the Global Financial Crisis, Partido Popular came back to power with Rajoy as its head and they came back with a vengeance. Like what we’re seeing with Trump in the US, there was a desire to trash everything done by their predecessors, proving not only inability to lead, but also a massive inferiority complex. One of the things that went out the window were the Catalan agreements and this was the point where independence started to boil.
For anyone who says the Catalans haven’t negotiated, you need to look beyond the last two months. They have tried to negotiate for the past six years to avoid it coming to this. The problem is that PP is the party that came into being (albeit via a different name) from the Franco regime and they have proven to be intractable as well as indefinitely corrupt (again, see Gürtel case.) The Catalans saw that despite new elections where PP lost their absolute majority but still retained power due to backdoor agreements with the Socialists (ie, the “opposition”), they weren’t going away and things weren’t going to get any better, thus we arrive to today where they have decided to leave an abusive relationship.
Where it goes from here, all I can say is that during a situation such as this, you can either choose the intoxication of fear or the warm embrace of humor and the Catalans have most definitely chosen the later to date.