Indeed, Madrid is now playing with its own laws like a cat with a mauled mouse. Anything it doesn’t like, it makes illegal by giving what are virtual orders to the courts.
The October 1st campaign of police brutality against civilians who were passively blocking access to polling stations around Catalonia, including women over 75 and children under 12 (there were 1.066 people confirmed injured, including one man who lost an eye and another who survived a heart attack) first astonished me, then left me depressed. Astonished, because I had never expected such a wave of organised savagery (we know it was organised, because once the images of the beatings, kickings, rubber bullets and so on had been railed against by media commentators around the planet, putting Spain in a worse than bad light, in the early afternoon the violence ceased as swiftly as a tap being turned off). And depressed, because it showed what Madrid - meaning the Spanish political establishment - really thinks of Catalonia: namely that it can be tolerated - despite it having a non-Castilian language and culture, which Madrid grudgingly puts up with but never embraces - as long as it shuts up and pays up (having as it does the highest fiscal deficit of any region in Europe). But if it gets seriously uppity, its citizens will be pummelled and pounded, its civil society leaders will be arrested (only two, so far) and the leader of its police force - a Catalan national hero, thanks to the efficiency with which he dealt with August’s Jihadist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils - will be accused of sedition. And this is just for starters. The main course, some of which we will have sampled by the time this goes to print, will consist of mass arrests (a well-informed lawyer I spoke to reckons on a minimum of a thousand: 750 pro-referendum Mayors, the Catalan government, the directors of various Catalan pro-indy media, more civil leaders and a sprinkling of journalists). There is also a strong possibility that Catalan schools will be taken over by Madrid, which has already spoken of a ’single command structure’ to be imposed on Catalonia for an indefinite period.
If Catalan elections are ever held again, it will only be when all the pro-indy parties - now in the majority - have been either fined out of existence or illegalised. As I write, police helicopters are circling in the sky over Barcelona, on the lookout for anything resembling spontaneous demonstrations, which have been banned.
Indeed, Madrid is now playing with its own laws like a cat with a mauled mouse. Anything it doesn’t like, it makes illegal by giving what are virtual orders to the courts. Anything it deems necessary to do - such as raiding Catalan government offices, or using rubber bullets (banned in Catalonia), or, indeed, pulling women along the floor by the hair - it does without worrying if it’s breaking the law or not. All of which makes us utterly vulnerable, unless we get some support from abroad. And so far, abroad has been as silent as stone. And yet, despite everything, we’re still listening.