Franco

From One Divided Country To Another…

At least, that is what I have taken to saying to my friends.

From Trump’s Great and Wonderful America, we have moved to Barcelona for the foreseeable future. And the times…well…they are interesting here, too.

Two Catalan officials have been jailed for sedition, the Spanish Police came down somewhat excessively during the recent non-binding (and illegal, according to the Madrid government) independence referendum, and now Rajoy & Co. are invoking the never-yet-exercised Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution in order to take control of the Catalan regional government.

Where this ends is anyone’s guess.

It seems to me that the only way to really put this whole thing to bed for a siesta would be to hold a real and binding Scottish-style independence referendum in Catalunya (something Madrid so far has absolutely refused to do). Yes, it would be a risk for Madrid…yes, it might prompt other European regions to ask for the same thing, causing a cascade effect…but it is not entirely clear that the result would be “Sí!”. Polls seem to indicate a fairly even split between those opposed and those in favor of Catalunya as a separate nation. 

The debate would almost certainly be harsh with all kinds of rhetoric, including outright lies, emotional appeals, wringing of hands, twitching of eyebrows, and so on.

At the same time, Catalunya would need to carry out some serious preparation with the European Union to assure a smooth and quick transition into that community in the case of a “Sí!” vote. This, in order to avoid a huge disruption in the financial sector (to date, some 1,000 businesses have apparently re-registered their headquarters outside of Catalunya due to the recent unrest–although some Catalans say, at least in part, at the urging of Madrid).

 

So, we had yet another massive (450,000 people) protest today. Here are a few images from the tiny Sony RX100iv point-and shoot…

Note the symbols here–the unofficial Catalan flag of independence with its solitary star, the yellow ribbons, the Tweety Bird (symbol of pacifism against agression?). The political prisoners referred to in the signs are the “two Jordis”, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez (Jordi is George, or Jorge in Spanish), who were both apparently involved in organizing these large independence protests. They are being held without bail by the Spanish government and are accused of the crime of sedition:

Manifestacion, #1, Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya, 2017
Manifestació, #1, Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya, 2017

 

These protests are often a family affair, with grandparents, kids, folks of all ages out on the street dressed in the Catalan colors. What I don’t see a lot of? People of color, recent immigrants, etc., of which there are a high number in the region. Perhaps they don’t feel like this is their fight? Or perhaps they are simply content to be part of Spain?

Manifestacion, #2. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya, 2017
Manifestació, #2. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya, 2017

 

Sometimes the crowd would grow hush and everyone would raise their hands–’twas amazing to “hear” the silence of thousands of protesters–then the clapping and slogan-shouting would begin anew. A “Llibertat Jordis” (Freedom Jordis) sign is just visible left of center:

Manifestación, #3. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya
Manifestació, #3. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya

 

There were odd juxtapositions at times…here, modern consumer society and a street protest merge on Passeig de Gràcia:

Manifestació, #5. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya
Manifestació, #5. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya

 

Those big white rings are handcuffs basically asking, ‘Is this Really a Spanish Democracy?’ The poster depicts Franco, the Spanish dictator from 1936 to his death in 1975 (a fellow fascist chum of Hitler) and it reads, “This dead man is very alive”, a reference to what the Catalans view as fascist tendencies on the part of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the national government. Indeed, Rajoy’s center-right political party, the Partido Popular (PP), can trace its lineage back to former members of the Franco regime:

Manifestació, #6. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya
Manifestació, #6. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya

 

Many very young folks were at the protest. Are they being sold a costly bill of excessive and unrealistic expectations, without understanding the huge list of technical and economic details such independence would necessarily imply?

Manifestació, #7. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya
Manifestació, #7. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya

 

Whenever the chopper from the Spanish police would fly over, everyone would flip the bird toward the heavens and shout (as if the helicopter pilot could hear!): 

Manifestació, #8. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya
Manifestació, #8. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya

 

A giant “senyera”, or Catalan independence flag is unfurled, then furled:

Manifestació, #9. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya
Manifestació, #9. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya

 

Here is a close-up of the handcuffs (esposos). The small sign reads, “Europe, when will you apply Article 7 to Spain to avoid abuses of power against Catalonia?” Article 7 is a European Union provision designed to curb human rights abuses by EU member countries, the threat being sanctions and loss of EU voting rights. So far, the EU has the official position that the Catalonia crisis is an internal issue for Spain to resolve:

Manifestació, #10. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya
Manifestació, #10. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya

 

That is Mariano Rajoy, the Prime Minister, dressed up as the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. There is certainly no doubt how these folks feel:

Manifestació, #11. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya
Manifestació, #11. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya

 

A father and daughter review the day’s photos and videos:

Manifestació, #12. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya
Manifestació, #12. Barcelona, Catalunya, Espanya