Spain – a police state?
Guardia Civil ordered to stop the referendum (Press Release)
Yesterday, the Spanish state decided to deploy the military police “Guardia Civil” to Catalonia, and the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) has now accused the Spanish government of using methods of a police state to stop the Catalan people from casting their vote in the referendum. “The excessive force is not worthy of a democracy – and it will not help to convince the Catalan people that it might be desirable to remain a part of Spain,” stated Ulrich Delius, the STP’s director, in Göttingen on Monday. “It was those who were wearing uniform who started the violence.”
Older Catalans still remember the “Guardia Civil” as the repressive instrument of the fascist state of the Franco-era. The “Guardia Civil” was also known to torture people. Yesterday, the violence was clearly started by the conservative government, which had before refused to enter a dialogue. Historically, the government is close to the “Guardia Civil”: The Spanish People’s Party PP was founded by former followers of the Franco regime.
According to the government, the referendum is a farce because it was not organized properly. In order to block the referendum, the military police confiscated electoral cards as well as ballot boxes, and many polling sites were closed down. There had been a years-long political standstill in the autonomy negotiations, mainly caused by conservative PP and its representatives in the Constitutional Court. Thus, it is not surprising that the Catalans and the Basques are demanding own representatives in the Constitutional Court.
59 percent of the Catalans had taken part in a referendum on an autonomy status for Catalonia in 1979 – and most of them had voted in favor. In 2006, only 49 percent of the citizens had taken part in a referendum regarding a new autonomy council, but the majority had voted in favor. Due to pressure from the PP, however, the Constitutional Court had rejected a new statute. In 2014, the same judges had stated that the Basques and the Catalans have a “right to decide”, provided that the vote was to be carried out in the framework of the constitution. This would have required a dialogue and cooperation between the central government and the community striving for autonomy – but neither had taken place.
Headerphoto: Fotomovimiento via Flickr