Long-term resident

Matthew tree

Dragon’s den

Not long ago a Catalan language writer nutshelled our situation thus: ’We are facing a monster’

Most of us here in Catalonia, our pro-independence politicians included, never expected a semi-legal referendum (it was legal in Catalonia, but ’suspended’, not illegalised, by Spain’s constitutional court) to be met first with a wave of police violence against European citizens not seen in Europe for at least four decades (1,066 civilians injured in a handful of hours). Neither did they expect that Spain’s courts would go into judicial overkill, handcuffing and imprisoning two pacifist civic leaders, a democratically elected Catalan vice-president and seven ministers ditto indefinitely without bail on charges of violent rebellion (for which the hackneyed phrase ’trumped up’ would be a gross understatement). And even less did they expect that on October 10th last (according to three police sources who talked to Interviú magazine) Spanish law enforcement agencies would draw up a plan to assault the Catalan parliament using hundreds of elite forces leaping from helicopters, charging in at ground level, and creeping out of the sewage system, in the event that the Catalan government decided to blockade the building (it didn’t: some ministers stayed to be jailed, and others, plus the president, went into exile in Brussels to internationalise the conflict). Neither did anyone expect the Spanish king - who was given a perfect opportunity to calm things down, apologise for all the biffing and hair-dragging, and suggest negotiations - to make a speech in which he showed that he was little more than a snarling propagandist for Spain’s ruling Popular Party. Even less did anyone expect that the representatives of this same party would lie through their dentures to the international press, claiming that images of police brutality filmed by that same press were ’fake’. And we certainly didn’t think that the application of article 155 of the constitution, which allows central government to take temporary control of any wayward autonomous region, to become an ugly witch hunt (which, by the way, was supposed to last a minimum of six months – by which time anything that so much as whiffed of Catalanism would’ve been banned, fined or jailed into oblivion - but it seems that Mr Tusk obliged Madrid to call the snap election which will take place in Catalonia on December 21st). Not long ago a Catalan language writer nutshelled our situation thus: ’We are facing a monster’. Catalonia’s national saint may be Jordi the dragon slayer, but right now we don’t have so much as a single lance to hand. Which is why many people feel confused, powerless, afraid and furious. All we have, once again, is a chance to vote . And we’re going to take it.

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