Spain’s Constitutional Court has banned Catalonia’s independence referendum, but the Catalan authorities have approved and scheduled it for 1 October. Spanish police, meanwhile, have seized 10 million ballot papers.
But the people of Barcelona, and Catalans generally, have a long history of resisting authoritarianism. And they have now taken matters into their own hands in a number of ways.
The game is on
On the weekend of 23-24 September, pop-up print shops appeared on streets in locations across Catalonia. The printing machines are used to print out ballot papers, as well as posters promoting the referendum. And citizens are printing and distributing the ballot papers en masse.
Already, more than a million official ballot papers have reportedly been printed and distributed in this way.
— Catalan News (@catalannews) September 24, 2017
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Yellow cards aplenty
The crackdown saw more than 700 officials taken in for questioning. And the Guardia Civil (paramilitary police) raided the offices of three Catalan government ministries: Economy, Governance, and Social Affairs. Several Catalan government buildings were raided too, including Finance and the Telecommunications and IT headquarters.
There is some irony with the latter because, during Spain’s civil war, it was the Telephone Exchange that became the symbol for control of Barcelona.
A Spanish own goal?
In possibly an own goal, video evidence has now emerged via ‘Antidisturbios #UIP’ (Spain’s anti-riot police). It shows scores of armoured police vehicles amassed on Barcelona’s docks:
— Antidisturbios #UIP (@FuerzasDelOrden) September 23, 2017
Defensive tactics adopted
Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont has said that, despite police action, 6,000 ballot boxes are still hidden in secret locations.
Meanwhile, it’s also reported that Colonel Diego Pérez de los Cobos, who was appointed to coordinate the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalan police), Guardia Civil, and Spanish National Police, was previously prosecuted for torturing a prisoner.
And the colonel’s brother just happens to have been the president of the Constitutional Court that declared a previous Catalan independence referendum unconstitutional.
The clock is now ticking, as the day of the planned referendum approaches.
And what happens over the next few days will be pivotal. For this struggle is no longer about secession; but the emergence of a progressive social movement that has had enough of centralist, authoritarian rule.
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