Article a INDEX, diari croata de Zagreb

What’s going on in Barcelona?
By Dr Tate Cabré, PhD in Communication
Photos: Anna Serrano

The last 10 days of September 2017 have been a yellow and red tide in the streets of Barcelona. Protesters wearing yellow t-shirts with “SÍ” (yes) and Catalan flags (4 yellow bars on a yellow background with the blue triangle and white star distinctive of separatism) flood the streets when they are called for gathering in by the social media. A steeplechase towards the 1-O voting: a referendum for the independence of Catalonia from Spain that the Catalan people seem to worship and that the Spanish Government has declared illegal.

The means that the Spanish central government -and his president Mariano Rajoy- have used, trying to ban and stop the voting from early September include: police raids, 16 catalan officers arrested more than 48 hours, closing down more than 140 public and private websites, forbidding meetings in Catalunya, Madrid, and other cities in Spain, fines of 12.000€/day for those who help organizing the poll, 712 mayors -out of 900- called by the justice and threatened with fines, withdrawal of banners, posters and flags from streets, windows and balconies… The long list of offences to basic human rights as freedom of speech and reunion continues, but the most astonishing measure is, no doubt, the call towards Barcelona of 7.000 Spanish policemen who live since the 20th of September in several cruise-ships in the city’s port. This force is supposed to stop the referendum from being held, but is known to cost 300.000€/day on the taxpayers. A lot of laugh has risen in the net from the fact that the cruise-ships are decorated with giant images of the Looney Tunes that the Spanish police officers have tried to hide with large drapes. So Tweeny has become a funny “national hero” for protesters.

The 1-O voting follows a previous one held 9-November 2014 that was also banned by the Spanish Government and Spain’s Constitutional Court, TC, and whose organizers face legal incompetency for 2 years and fines higher than 30.000€ each. Those are former president of Catalan Government Artur Mas and his two ministers Irene Rigau and Joana Ortega. But 2,3M Catalans voted and 80,7% voted yes to independence! This is one more example of the very many attempts to improve the conditions and selfdetermination of the Catalan People that the Catalan governements have been trying to put through since 2003, being stopped and punished by the Spanish institutions in all the occasions: authonomy statutes, Tax agreements, referendums… This is surprising when 20% of the Spanish GDP and 25% of the Spanish exports come from Catalonia, that only accounts for 16% of the Spanish population. Catalonia has a tax drainage of 8% that since in the last 20 years has removed her from the first to the 4th position in the ranking of the Spanish regions, some international prestige economist claim in a viral movie. Andalusia, the poorest region in Spain fears the independence of Catalunya as a threat to her subsidized economy, the “Diario the Sevilla” published in the cover page last 25th of September.
More than 50 laws passed by the Catalan Parliament have been cancelled by the Spanish Constitutional Court in the last years. Discouraging responses from the Spanish rulers that have not prevented the Catalans to keep asking for dialogue, dialogue and dialogue… up to 17 times! Last time was the 15th of September when the president of Catalunya Carles Puigdemont, his vice-minister Oriol Junqueras, the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, and the president of the Catalan Government, Carme Forcadell, sent a letter to president Rajoy and to the king Felipe VI claiming a negotiated referendum. As usual, the answer from Spain was… NO!