To all those who said that it is dead and buried, the human tide that has surged and swept the country has answered: “The Catalan Republic is still here!”
On 14 October, nine Catalan leaders were placed on trial and given prison sentences of from 9 to 13 years for “sedition”. It was a sentence handed down by the Supreme Court and in the name of the Penal Code that are both legacy of Franco’s dictatorship, as are the Spanish monarchy and the 1978 Constitution.
The verdict provoked immense anger that quickly turned into mass demonstrations, at the call of the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) and associations such as the National Catalan Assembly (ANC) or Omnium Cultural. As of 17 October, the students union launched the demand for a strike. The human tide peaked on 18 October in Barcelona, the day of general strike launched by the “minority” trade unions. The leaders of CCOO (Workers Commissions) and UGT refused to call for strike – all the while “leaving their members free to participate”, fearing to be in an awkward position vis-à-vis their own members.
There were endless crowds of marchers on the roads and motorways, sweeping finally into Barcelona, carrying banners and signs stating, “Self-determination”, “Stop the repression”, “Free the political prisoners”, “Independence”, “Republic” and “We are not afraid”.Groups of young people, often led by the CDR, cut off roads and blocked tollgates. There were more than half a million demonstrators in Barcelona, with the longshoremen on a strike that paralysed the port, but there were also strikes in high schools, transportation and industry. Students marched together behind a banner stating, “Catalan Republic”. They chanted “We have not forgotten October 1st”, “Freedom”, “For the Catalan Republic of people and the youth” and “We will do it again”, in reference to the referendum of October 1st2017, in which the Catalan people expressed their desire to live in a Republic. It was in fact for this “crime” of October 1st that the nine leaders were sentenced. Following the speeches at the end of the demonstration, the crowd chanted “General Strike!” and “Independence now!” The crowd cheered at the reading of a letter sent from his prison by Jordi Cuxiart, former president of Omnium Cultural, that ended as follows: “Let us move forward, long live Freedom, long live the Republic!”
The response from the monarchy and Pedro Sanchez’s “socialist” government was irrevocable: the police, along with the Mossos d’Esquadra (the autonomous Catalan police), charged and repressed. Over 110 people were injured.
But this time, throughout the Spanish State, the solidarity of the workers and the peoples expressed itself. In Madrid, as of 16 October and on the occasion of the demonstration by retired pensioners — who were marching by thousands for an increase in their pensions — many Catalan, Basque and Republican flags were to be seen. Then, over the next days, impressive demonstrations took place in Bilbao and Donostia in the Basque Country, and also in Andalusia, etc.
This new phase in the uprising of the Catalan people against the monarchy that was born of Francoism has, in return, led to a re-grouping of all the forces for the defence of the 1978 institutions. At the very announcement of the sentencing, the head of the government and of the “Socialist” Party, Pedro Sanchez, had the audacity to declare, “No one has been sentenced for their ideas”. Three days later he congratulated the police for “maintaining law and order”. To his right, parties like the Partido Popular, Vox and Ciudadanos have demanded an upping of the repression. On the “left”, the leader of Podemos, Iglesias, has indicated to Sanchez that he can count on him if there is a need to “calm” the situation. On 19 October, Ada Colau the mayor of Barcelona, Roger Torrent, the president of the Catalan Parliament (member of ERC, the Republican Left) and representatives of the CCOO and the UGT of Catalonia, as well as representatives of the bosses, proposed to “find a diplomatic solution to the conflict”. The next day, leaders of the CCOO and the UGT, again along with the bosses, took a step further, with a “united manifesto: Catalonia needs political, economic and social stability”*.
But isn’t the only “democratic solution” the one that recognises that on the 1st of October 2017 the Catalan people chose to free themselves from the monarchy and to create a Catalan Republic, opening the way to the Free Union of the Republics of Spain?
* This consensus against the right of the Catalan people goes beyond the borders of the Spanish monarchy: on 6 November 2017, the president of the European Commission, Juncker, affirmed that, “the solution resides in the constitutional and judicial order internal to Spain”, thusgiving a green light to the repression.