02 Oct 2017

Crushing the Catalan Dream

Catalan voters and their children will undoubtedly have bitterer memories of today, even in decades from now.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team NewsMavens, Europe
Source: BBC
Crushing the Catalan Dream - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

When Quebec voted for independence in 1995, for a second and seemingly final time, I was too young to vote. It was a tranquil day compared to the tumultuous campaign that had preceded. People voted, went back home and turned on the television. The tears and sobs and shouts came later, during the edge-of-the-seat coverage of the results, when it first appeared as if Quebec would unilaterally declare independence before the final result was revealed to be 50.8% in favor of remaining.

One would think that -- 22 years later -- the world would have become a more civilized place. But apparently, I was privileged to witness a peaceful secession vote.

Catalan voters and their children will undoubtedly have bitterer memories of today, even in decades from now. Out of all possible reactions to the referendum, an essentially peaceful form of making a political statement, Spanish authorities chose force. The national police and civil guard moved in to block what had been declared an illegal vote. According to the latest count, 761 people were injured during these interventions at polling centers and pro referendum protests. Both social and traditional media are rife with images of bloodied and beaten voters.

The national police was acting on orders from the government of Spain, whose constitutional court had not declared the vote legal.

It says volumes about the Spanish powers' attitude towards Catalans --- and towards democracy as a whole -- that they would deny them a vote rather than hearing their will, and then negotiate accordingly in the hope of finding a solution or a compromise.

There is a lot to be said against, and there is a lot to be said in favor of it. On one hand, the world doesn’t need more borders. On the other, self-determination is one of the foundations of international law. But there is nothing to be said about how the Spanish government handled the vote -- because it is beneath contempt.

-Lea Berriault

Details from the story:

  • The ballot papers contained a single question: "Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?"
  • Barcelona's mayor, Ada Colau, reported that 460 people were injured by the police on Sunday
  • Police officers prevented voters from voting by seizing ballots at voting stations
  • In Barcelona, police fired rubber bullets and used batons against pro-referendum protesters
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