‘Nobody is worth more than anybody else’ (Antonio Machado)
The events of 20 September have made it all clearer. The Civil Guard, as a state law-enforcement agency under orders from Barcelona Investigative Court no. 13, and as part of its judicial commission, searches several state institutions and private businesses to investigate public officials in the Generalitat for the (common) crimes of malfeasance and disobedience, in connection with the management and preparation of the illegal referendum scheduled for 1 October. A dozen people are arrested to better ensure the results of the judicial process. The search is conducted amidst the coercive pressure of thousands of people who unleash their anger on the agents in the form of shouts, insults, intimidation and damages to their vehicles, making them victims of multiple counts of assault as well as other more serious crimes. All the while, the agents respect the right to demonstrate of the people confronting them.
They behaved exactly the way General Batet –unsung in Catalonia– ordered his troops to react to the rebels attempting to occupy Barcelona in July 1936: as ‘blind, deaf and mute’ men (Paul Preston). Shortly thereafter, the Catalan President and his Government –the privileged caste that believes itself above the law– implicitly justified the violence against these agents while repudiating and discrediting the judicial action. These are the facts, which would justify a response from the courts.
No such luck. Political leaders and members of parliament have voiced opinions which are not just wrong but manifestly false, confusing the public. Spurred on by ignorance or bad faith, they equate the independence movement with ‘anti-Francoist resistance’ (Joan Tardà). Others, like Pablo Iglesias, in a show of fanciful improvisation, use the term ‘political prisoners’ to refer to a very limited number of arrests for common crimes. And others yet go as far as to claim that ‘civil rights’ are at risk in Catalonia. Yet another has spoken of Spain being under an ‘undeclared state of emergency’.
All hot air and rabble-rousing against the ordinary functioning of a democratic state which they scorn and violate in the name of a sought-after independence. To counter their insolence and recklessness, let us remind these people of certain facts they seem unaware of. After the death of the dictator, in 1976, the police made 4,388 arrests of people exercising fundamental rights, with the dictatorial regime already falling apart. That year, the Public Order Court (Tribunal de Orden Público) still passed sentences amounting to 1,357 years of imprisonment. There’s no need to go back in time any further – these figures suffice to discredit so many lies.
To add to all this, the independence movement is pushing a hate-filled discourse online, thus committing a crime consisting in ‘encouraging, promoting or directly or indirectly inciting hate, hostility, discrimination or violence against a group, a part thereof or an individual because of their… ideology’. Examples of this are countless but they are shameful to quote, especially as their targets might be identified. This is extremely serious, creating a growing tide of fear and even terror. Who will put an end to this situation?
Because, in face of this situation, the independence movement must either back down immediately or face the full force of the repressive response necessary to defend fearful citizens.
And it cannot be long.