What Went Down in Catalonia?
What we know today as “liberal democracy” was, in fact, nothing more than the failure of bourgeois democracy!
The principle of “right of self-determination” is one of the chief selling points of the bourgeoisie in marketing itself. It was the fundamental maxim of the US 1776-1783 fight for independence, the French revolution of 1789, and today, the UN.
The bourgeoisie, unable thus far to complete its international finance capital chain, saw the end of de facto Socialism in the Socialist Block as a great opportunity. This formation, named called “globalism” or “the New World Order”, destroyed anyone who posed a threat to its existence -as evidenced in the genocides of the mid-1990s in Europe which blatantly shattered Yugoslavia for the interests of global capital with “the rights of nations to self-determination (RNSD)” acting as the pretext. The same ploy was use in establishing new ethnic-states in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and it continues to be exploited in the Middle East.
In Spain, however, the RSND was mysteriously ignored for reasons we do not know, and the appeal by the Catalan Autonomous Region to turn into an independent state, which would entail the Catalan Bourgeoisie to have their own market economy, was swiftly denied by the Global Forces. The European Union which normally opts for a diplomatic dialogue in such cases, effectively took a stand against the referendum by staying silent on the subject except for a few bits of unconvincing lip service while simultaneously insisting on continuing dialogue in France vs Corsica as well as the Northern League in Italy.
This is not Catalonia’s first ever request for independence either. They have been demanding independence at every opportunity where they believe the conditions are ripe for it. A retrospect on the history of the Iberian Peninsula might shed a light on the developments today:
- Phoenicians were the first settlers in 1100BC,
- The Celts were next,
- Followed by the Greeks,
- Sovereignty is won by the Carthaginians. In 236 BC, Hamilcar Barça, father of the Carthaginian King Hannibal, established the City of Barcelona (the reason why the Barcelona Soccer Team is nicknamed Barça),
- The Romans arrive in 200 BC overthrowing the Carthaginians and giving the name HISPANIA to the Iberian Peninsula,
- In the late 5th century AD, the Visigoths of the Germanic tribes smashed the Western Roman state and ruled the peninsula up until the end of the 8th century,
- Starting from AD 711, Muslim Arabs, the Umayyads, began their conquer of the region. Apart from the Catholic kingdoms trapped in a small area in the northern part, the Iberian Peninsula remained under the Arab reign until the end of the 15th century,
- In 1469, the Crown Prince of Castilla, Isabella of Aragon and the throne of Aragon were married Ferdinand, and what happens afterwards. Isabella became the Queen of Castilla in 474, and Ferdinand became the King of Aragon in 1479
- In 1469, Isabella of Aragon, the Crown Princess of Castilla, and Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Aragon were med which opened a new chapter in the region’s history. Isabella became the Queen of Castilla of in 1474, while Ferdinand became the King of Aragon in 1479. Against the will of the more encompassing Ferdinand, Isabella initiated “the Reconquista” process to drive the Muslim Arabs, Berbers and Jews from the Iberian Peninsula. The Aragonese Kingdom and Castilla, with the majority of their people bring Catalans, bring unity to the Iberian Peninsula by securing the support of the aristocracies of other kingdoms. There were a great number of mines miners in the mountains on the Portuguese side. These miners took the name SPANIARDS which simply meant “miners” in Castilian.
It may be worthwhile to talk about Portugal at this point.
Following the collapse of the Umayyad State in 1031, the kingdoms of Castile and Leon had come to the forefront of many kingdoms in the region. In 1093 King Alfonso, who reigned both these kingdoms, allowed the territory to south of the kingdom to be handed over to Count Henrique de Boronia and thus establishing the County of Portucale (a combination of Port and Calle meaning castle). In the year 1423 the independent Portuguese Kingdom was officially recognized.
The Counties of Barcelona, originally built as a buffer zone in the south of the Pyrenean Mountains in 878 by the French Kingdom in order to prevent the Arabs from occupying France, are the building blocks of today’s Catalonia. Year 1700 acted as an important breaking point when Catalonia went into an alliance with the Habsburgs (Germans), resulting in the prohibition of Catalan Laws and the Catalan language by the Felipe the 5th, the King of Spain. In the 1920s Catalan language was once again banned by the Spanish dictator Rivera. The region fought against the Fascist regime of Franco by declaring independence twice: for three days in 1931 and 12 hours in 1934, and once again during the 1936-39 civil war by fighting on the side of the republicans. All in all, Catalan was officially banned until 1975. In 1977-79, the Parliament of Catalonia was reopened as part of the democratization process after Franco’s death in 1975.
After forty-years of Franco-Fascism, the status appeals of peoples were addressed in the 1980 Constitution which divided Spain into 17 autonomous regions. Basque, Navarro, Catalonia and Galicia possess more authority than others. In fact, the first three of these regions, are authorized to keep their own police forces, while all four are allowed to use their own official languages. Basque, which has the most extensive authority, collects and utilizes tax at their discretion. Incidentally, these are the most industrialized and developed regions of Spain. Catalonia and the Basque Provinces, have in recent years, received a huge influx immigrants.
Catalonia, managed to convince Zapatero, the leader of the Socialist Worker’s Party, to accept and pursue on their behalf, their renewed appeals for enlarged autonomy before the 2004 elections. Zapatero, having won the election unexpectedly, kept his promise and started negotiations with Catalonia. As a result, the local government of Catalonia managed to obtain wider powers and jurisdiction, including the collection and utilizing of taxes. The Catalan Government presented these new powers in a referendum in 2006 and received the public approval. However, the Populist Party (PP), who is now in power, but then was acting as the main opposition, appealed to the Constitutional Court on the grounds that this new negotiated status is against the constitution. And in 2010, the Constitutional Court ruled that “there is no nation called Catalan Nation, there is only one nation in Spain and it is the Spanish nation ” -a wording not foreign to the people of Turkey. It was after the cancellation of these new statues that the Catalans took it to the streets, with over a million-people protesting in Barcelona.
Despite all the commotion, the separationists in Catalonia were 30% of the population at most at the time.
This number has somehow increased a lot in recent years. One possible explanation may lie in Spain’s pastiche for the times gone-by, a policy by all the right-wing parties we often witness here in Turkey. Spain, after all, is the remnant of an Empire. Following centuries of reign over Central and South America (excluding Brazil), Africa and the Pacific, Spain has suddenly found itself contained in the Iberian Peninsula after running behind the times’ capitalist production schemes and the developing technology. All right-wing organizations and leaders play to the tune of neo-imperialism which is sure to get them the votes. The Populist Party and its leader Mario Aznar was, after all, only too eager to support Bush and Blair in the invasion of Iraq.
Spain did not go through the crucial stage of reckoning of the forty-years of Franco Fascism since Franco’s death, and therefore many members of the fascist rule and their political descendants managed to hold on to their government positions and in place to influence public life in every way. The Spanish Constitutional Court is one prime example of these institutions where this understanding reigns supreme. They have signed many decisions that would sit well under the Franco regime -particularly in cases of regional autonomy.
The People’s Party, under the leadership of Mariano Rajoy, has been in power since 2006 and it has ignored all calls for dialogue by the Catalans, causing the demands for independence in Catalonia to skyrocket. The Central Spanish Government’s response to calls for dialogue, even after the referendum, when Puigdemont call back the declaration of independence as a way to open a dialogue, was to suspend the autonomy of Catalonia and to mass arrests that we witnessed.
The RSND is supposed to be a one-sided appeal. Sovereign ethnic identity is not supposed to have a word in its declaration of intent. Those whose fates are not affected should not have a say in the matter. People must decide their own fate by their free will with democratic methods to determine their future and who they want to live with.
The Assembly of Catalonia consists of 135 seats and 70 members have said “yes” to independence while 10 said “no”, 2 people abstained and 53 people did participate. Despite this obvious breakdown, the will of the people was not respected or implemented.
Furthermore, Catalonia, which stood up to Franco for many years, is not only an industrial center but also an important overall center of Europe, particularly in the case of Barcelona, and it is just as -if not more, capable of setting up and governing a state as is Castile.