News Release

Behind Spanish Gov’t Attempts to Halt Catalonia’s Independence Vote

SEBASTIAAN FABER, [in D.C. Fri.] Sebastiaan.Faber at oberlin.edu, @sebasfaber
BÉCQUER SEGUÍN, becquer at jhu.edu, @bcqer
Faber is a professor of Hispanic Studies at Oberlin College and author of the forthcoming Memory Battles and the Spanish Civil War. Seguín is an assistant professor of Iberian studies at Johns Hopkins University. They just wrote the piece for The Nation: “Have Spain and Catalonia Reached a Point of No Return?” which states: “While the repressive measures taken so far have certainly made a region-wide vote more difficult, the Catalans refuse to give up. In a nationally televised interview aired on Sept. 24, Catalan President Puigdemont vowed to go ahead with the referendum [this Sunday]. Meanwhile, the arrests of Sept. 20 have prompted massive, ongoing demonstrations in Barcelona and elsewhere.”

SIMONA LEVI, [in Barcelona] simona at xnet-x.net, @x_net_
Levi is a theater director, activist and co-founder of the Spanish digital democracy group Xnet and of 15MpaRato, a citizens’ device to bring to court those responsible for the economic crisis in Spain.

She recently wrote the piece “We just want to stop pleading,” which states: “It’s truly unsustainable that there’s no way of having a referendum in Spain. I’m not just referring to this one. I mean any referendum. The law decrees that it’s the government that decides whether there can be a referendum or not. And, naturally, the government of Spain always says no. If this isn’t so, go and tell the PAH (Platform for People Affected by Mortgages), which collected one and a half million signatures in a popular legislative initiative (ILP) to change Spain’s foreclosure law and, though an ILP only needs 500,000 signatures in order to be put before parliament, the government refused to discuss the issue. …

“So what Catalonia is asking for is not just for Catalonia. It’s because the centralism of the powers-that-be in Madrid, and of all the parties that egg them on with the chumminess of parliamentary rituals, ignores the peoples of Spain, using them merely as raw material to extract what they can, regarding them as colonies and even, as we have seen lately with certain questions of security, as cannon fodder (note: the government excluded the Catalan police from Europol and the Catalan police are not receiving all the information about jihadi terrorists in Catalonian territory). Once more all this is about covering up their own privileges, abuse, and corruption, or simply protecting the patronage networks of each and every party.”

THOMAS HARRINGTON, [going to Spain Thurs.] thomas.harrington at trincoll.edu
Harrington is professor of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. and author of Public Intellectuals and Nation Building in the Iberian Peninsula, 1900–1925: The Alchemy of Identity.

In a recent piece, he writes: “That people in Scotland addressed the matter of their possible independence this way with the full acceptance of the UK government in 2014 does not move [Spanish Prime Minister Mariano] Rajoy …

“For most of the years since the ratification of the Spanish post-Franco Constitution in 1978, the matter of independence was a non-starter for a broad swath of the Catalan political establishment.

“What changed things?

“What changed things was the election of José María Aznar, the son of an important propagandist for the Francoist regime, as prime minister in 1996 with a clear — albeit at first skillfully camouflaged — program to roll back the regime of timid decentralization that grew out of the aforementioned post-Franco Constitution.”