Catalonia has “won right to statehood,” as results of a plebiscite vote for independence from Spain — declared illegal and banned by the Spanish government — preliminarily but decisively show no less than 89 percent enduring brutal police violence to declare support for the cleft from current rule.
“On this day of hope and suffering, Catalonia’s citizens have earned the right to have an independent state in the form of a republic,” asserted Catalonia regional leader, Carles Puigdemont.
“My government, in the next few days, will send the results of [the] vote to the Catalan parliament, where the sovereignty of our people lies, so that it can act in accordance with the law of the referendum.”
The Guardian and other mainstream sources report upwards of 90 percent of around 2.3 million voters choosing in favor of Catalan independence, and although the final numbers must still be counted and assessed, conjecture already lambastes Spanish authorities’ response to the referendum — stifling censorship for months followed by a violent crackdown by law enforcement of polling places, which left well over 800 people injured and bloodied — as responsible for swelling support for the referendum by orders of magnitude over too-close-to-call assessments prior to October 1.
Earlier in the day, Puigdemont aptly prognosticated, “police brutality will shame the Spanish state for ever.”
Paramilitary Civil Guard and national police indelicately removed people attempting to vote, unceremoniously dropping men, women, and the elderly — with varying degrees of serious injury — onto the pavement at the feet of awaiting Catalans and regional police; the latter of which confronted Spanish authorities and were seen in tears as they defended the defenseless from fascistic attacks.
Reports the Guardian,
“Jordi Turull, the Catalan regional government spokesman, told reporters early on Monday morning that 90% of the 2.26 million Catalans who voted Sunday chose yes. He said nearly 8% of voters rejected independence and the rest of the ballots were blank or void. He said 15,000 votes were still being counted.The region has 5.3 million registered voters.
“Turull said the number of ballots did not include those confiscated by Spanish police during violent raids which resulted in hundreds of people being injured. At least 844 people and 33 police were reported to have been hurt, including at least two people who were thought to have been seriously injured.”
Videos and photos of beaten and bruised Catalans in the clutches of Spanish national police — including many images of senior citizens with blood dripping from open wounds — circulated on Sunday, almost immediately after polls opened. Authorities were seen breaking down doors and employing brute force against eager Catalans — some of whom flocked to polling stations the previous day in anticipation of difficulties voting in a referendum deemed ‘seditionary’ by the ruling government of Spain — as they confiscated equipment and ballot boxes in an effort to stop the vote going forward.
CNN reports regional officials castigated Spanish authorities for the excessive and sweeping force used against peaceful, unarmed civilians, as regional Minister of Foreign Affairs Raül Romeva flatly asserted,
“I want to make clear that all responsibility, all violence acts, repression is exclusively on the government of [Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano] Rajoy.
“Today Europe has to choose, shame or dignity. Violence or democracy, this is our demand. With this demand, we begin to work for a response to these circumstances. The absence of a response would suppose a lack and loss of credibility to the EU and its institutions.”
Rajoy — aligning with the entirety of the Spanish state — balked at the mere suggestion the referendum held weight, reiterating in a televised speech,
“At this point, I can tell you very clearly: Today a self-determination referendum in Catalonia didn’t happen.”
Obdurate, insistent dismissals from Madrid of the viability of the vote for independence, however — and despite, or perhaps due to, footage of thuggish tactics used by Spanish law enforcement — did not deter voters from casting their approval for sovereignty.
Indeed, the fraught and longstanding battle for Catalan independence — (yesterday’s was the latest in a succession of attempts to essentially secede from Spain) — surrounds disparities in representation and governance of the autonomous region.
While Catalonia contributes around one-fifth of the 1.1 trillion-euro Spanish economy, the regional government maintains say in its policing, health, and education — but harbors no control over “taxes, foreign affairs, defense, ports, airports, and trains,” the Times of India explains — leaving an apparent majority of Catalans, who share a distinct language and culture, ravenously seeking a split.
“According to experts,” the Times continues, “lack of economic autonomy, especially, has made people angry. Most of Spain’s regions pay taxes to the central government and then receive a portion in return to spend on health, education and public infrastructure, with the sole exceptions of the northern Basque Country and its twin region Navarre. These regions collect their own taxes and decide for themselves how to spend the money. Spain’s refusal to extend these tax-and-spend privileges to Catalonia has fuelled outrage […]
“The current movement for independence gained traction after Spain’s Constitutional Court in 2010 struck down parts of a charter that would have recognized Catalonia as a nation within Spain and granted it greater autonomy. Since the court’s ruling, hundreds of thousands of Catalan residents have taken to the streets every year on September 11, a Catalan holiday, to demand independence.”
As for Spain’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge Catalonia’s vote to cleave itself, analysts surmise the motivation as simple as economic impact — if the region indeed buoys Spain’s economy, its leaving would be detrimental. In equivalent contrast, Catalan officials contend the lack of true representation or say in governance damages its own economic health beyond the tenable.
Despite Spanish national forces’ barbarous voter suppression tactics, that millions not only managed to cast votes, but did so in favor of independence was considered a complete shock — particularly after opinion polls from July suggested as many as 49 percent did not agree with moving toward sovereignty.
Now that Catalans have spoken, the New York Times reports, “Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan leader, said late Sunday that Catalans had won the right to have their own state and that he would soon present the result of the referendum to the regional Parliament to make it binding […]
“Having defied Madrid over the referendum, Mr. Puigdemont’s government risks increasing tensions even further if he proceeds with a declaration of independence. The move could prompt his immediate suspension from office.”
No matter what ultimately results from the historic Catalan referendum this year, indiscriminate cruelty wrought by Spanish authorities at the behest of the State leaves an indelible stain of totalitarianism in the minds of those watching around the globe.
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