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Suffocating public spaces

Photo by Sara Riaño on Unsplash

Originally published in Spanish: «Asfixiar los espacios públicos». El País.

9th June 2018

Radical independentism assumes for itself the right to use the streets, without any authorization or limitations

Last Thursday, radical pro-independence militants close to CUP and the Committees for the Defense of the Republic picketed and disrupted a tribute to Miguel de Cervantes that Societat Civil Catalana had organized at the Barcelona University.

Organizers asked the Mossos (regional police) to protect them, but since the rector’s office chose to keep the campus free police presence, they finally had to renounce to exercise their democratic rights.

This violation of civil liberties – that must be altars of the freedoms of thought and criticism – must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. And given how frequently this kind of incidents take place on Catalan universities, academic authorities should, once and for all, call for all legal means, without exception, in order to guarantee civil liberties within the public academic space that they must protect.

Nevertheless, the main blame for this disorder lies with those those who directly provoke it; and with the parliamentary representatives of the anti-system minority and the pro-independence movement, none of whose leaders, inspirers or rulers denounced that barbaric protest, which apparently they find justified.

The issue here is that radical pro-independence militants assume for themselves the right to use all public spaces without any authorization or limits, all while fiercely denying it to those who try to express themselves freely, by calling them “fascists” and harassing them. Catalan society must not accept the normalization of these blatantly totalitarian practices of suffocation of public spaces.

If the regional Government wants to honor its calls for dialogue, and respond to the promise of building bridges from the new Government, it is urgent that it doesn’t blow them up. They shall not raise the specter of resorting, once again, to illegal break-up measures, as their spokeswoman recently did. Because law-breaking by an organ of government sets the ground for abuse against all the rights protected by laws.

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