Sunday, March 24, 2019

Democracy in Madrid The final message of Saturday’s march by supporters of Catalan independence was not the one that pro-secessionist forces proclaimed in Madrid, but the one that they took home with them to Catalonia

Two Catalan pro-independence associations called a march in Madrid on Saturday under the slogan: “Self-determination is not a crime. Democracy means deciding.” With this display in the capital of a state that they revile, the separatists once again demonstrated the exact opposite of what they meant to, which is that Spain is a dictatorship that subjugates the citizens of Catalonia, and that the leaders on trial at the Supreme Court are there because of their ideas.

Each and every one of the citizens who marched in the streets of Madrid on Saturday proclaimed their ideas freely, exercising their rights as established in the very same Constitution that the leaders on trial attempted to repeal by force of facts on the ground. It is these actions, and not their ideas, that are being tried before a court of justice, with all the guarantees of the rule of law.

    Democracy reaffirmed itself in Madrid on Saturday

What has become patent after days of trial, inside and outside Spain, is that the Supreme Court does not have a verdict mapped out in advance, and that the limits of propaganda lie in reality itself. Given the impossibility of waving the caricature of a political trial, pro-independence forces on Saturday attempted to do politics with the trial, but the only result was to evidence the unlofty inner workings of a political creed that is gambling everything it has on manipulation.

Self-determination is not a crime, a banner rightly proclaimed at the march. But nor is it a right, as the orators slipped in, trusting in a definitive and generalized amnesia when it comes to international law. The same goes for the assertion that democracy means deciding. It certainly does, except when what’s being decided is how to deprive a majority of their rights. The march organizers did not care to bring that up on Saturday, yet it cannot be ignored, because the events of September 6 and 7, 2017 – when separatist parties in the Catalan parliament used irregular procedures to pass legislation to facilitate a referendum and a breakaway from Spain – did just that, ignoring the will of a majority of citizens.

    The Supreme Court does not have a verdict mapped out in advance

Democracy reaffirmed itself in Madrid on Saturday – not because of the way the concept was invoked by the separatist forces who wish to sequester democracy in Catalonia, but because it was evident, once again, that the 1978 Constitution guarantees everyone’s rights, even the rights of those who, like the separatists, want to destroy them and who offer as alternative freedoms what is nothing more than a unilateral imposition of their own political program.

The final message of the march was not the one that pro-independence forces proclaimed in Madrid, but the one that they took home with them to Catalonia. They should admit it, and have the courage to admit it in front of their supporters: the freedoms that separatist demonstrators enjoyed on Saturday in the Spanish capital are the freedoms enjoyed by any citizen in a free country ruled by the law.


The leader of the secessionist historians received 6 million from the Government in two years

The leader of the pro-independence historians is, in fact, the common link in a 'pool' of companies that, as a whole, has taken a large handful of millions of euros.

A. Fernández. Barcelona

03/18/2019 05:00 - Updated: 03/18/2019 21:32

On October 17, 2018, the Department of Labor of the Generalitat awarded the allocation of a contract for the monitoring of activities developed by the General Directorate of Civic Action. The contract was divided into 24 lots, with a cost of 3.8 million euros. Ten of these contracts were taken by the companies Jan BCS and Tasca Serveis d'Animació for an amount of almost 1.9 million euros (Jan BCS took 1,080,000 euros and Tasca, 807,000 euros).

 Albert Codinas i Poch

It happens that the registered office of Tasca Serveis d'Animació is the same as the one for the Fundació Institut Nova Història. That is to say, the entity that gives shelter to the pseudo-historians (who are now called 'researchers') who disseminate the most incredible theories about the greatness of the Catalan nation: they maintain that history has been falsified by Castile, while claiming that Cristóbal Colón, Miguel de Cervantes, Miguel Servet, Saint Teresa of Jesus, Francisco Pizarro, Leonardo da Vinci or William Shakespeare, among others, were Catalans. Erasmus of Rotterdam was not satisfied with that: he was also, in fact, a son of Columbus. Of the Columbus born in the old town of Barcelona, of course.

Behind Tasca is Albert Codinas Poch. And behind Jan BCS, too: he is the sole administrator of both companies. And not only that: he acts at the same time as president of the INH Foundation, as a member of the board of the pro-sovereignty Fundació Catalunya Estat and as a member of the platform Sobirania i Justícia. He was also linked to the radical Cercle Català de Negocis (CCN) and the Via Fora! Platform, which promotes independence.

His supremacist discourse of clear contempt for everything that sounds like Castilian became crystal clear in words spoken in 2015, on the occasion of the Joan Coromines Awards: "Now we know that at the end of the 15th century, Castile was the poorest kingdom of Europe and that it did not reach a population of two million inhabitants, even though in our schools we repeat their lies of exaggeration to justify themselves as great and powerful (...) With a lot of work, two or three professors could be found in the university to be proficient in Latin and many were able to speak barbarously only in Spanish. Do you know what university I'm talking about? Of course, of that of Salamanca, at the end of the XV century". And then he stirred up: "Spain was an old Castilian aspiration - it still is - but in 1572 it was a complex reality with some ports in Seville and Cádiz full of officials and navigators of the Catalan Crown, established with their families, following the House of Trade". He dares to go as far as stating that many Andalusians do not pronounce the z well ("as in all of Latin America") because of the influence of the Catalans, who had "conquered and partially repopulated with Catalan-speaking people  Granada, part of Almeria and part of Malaga".

The assault on the Chambers of Commerce

A couple of weeks ago, Codinas was the man who presented, along with Elisenda Paluzie, president of the ANC, the pro-independence candidacy that wants to raid the Catalan Chambers of Commerce next month. But, for now, what they really seem to dominate is the money tap, because the millions received last fall are only a small part of what they receive from the public treasury.

Albert Codina was linked to the radical Cercle Català de Negocis (CCN) and the platform Via Fora!, which promotes independence.

And this is because the Catalan administrations treat these dealers with delicacy. In addition to the aforementioned contracts with the Labor Department, the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation (ACCD) also has an open line of up to 200,000 euros for the "management, organization, invigoration, coordination, execution and evaluation of the activities of the ACCD". The contract to spend that money was awarded to Airun Servicios Culturales on March 5, 2018, when this company obtained 100 points out of 100, at a distance from the other eight contestants. It happens again that Codinas is another of the shareholders of this company, of which he was sole administrator until March 27, 2015.

On the other hand, the company carries out various activities: from taking the coordination of the ACCD to the logistics and safety of municipal activities in the parks of Barcelona, going through the social support to people of occupational work programs or, even, the "technical support to the Municipal Band of Barcelona", a contract awarded in August 2018 for a total amount of 239,580 euros.

In 2009, Codinas appeared as financial director of Airun. "We do not receive subsidies and we have a very small commercial area. The few clients we have are large entities. At the same time, our turnover has multiplied by six in six years". But what he had billed until then was little less than a tip compared to the business career developed over time.

Contracts and businesses

The leader of the pro-independence historians is, in fact, the common link in a 'pool' of companies that, as a whole, has taken a large handful of millions of euros from the Administration in recent years. These companies are the already mentioned Jan BCS, Tasca or Airun, but there are also Lart Saber Comunicar (which also has its headquarters in the INH Foundation) and another with a curious name: Asac Negocis SL, created by Codinas in 2014 with Alejandro Sánchez Nofre, member also of the board of the Fundació Catalunya Estat. Its name, which could be translated freely into Spanish as Negocios a Saco (Business without control), says it all and seems to be a sarcastic warning of the ultimate purpose of the 'pool', a linguistic caper similar to the famous Paquí Pallá SL (Back and forth) of the PP's Aguirre’s plot. If the Popular Party people in Madrid had their own tap, the pro-independence Catalans would not be less. Sánchez Nofre and other Codinas’ partners also appear in the Aktes Serveis Integrals and Ideafix Team companies, all of them with public contracts.

According to data from the Barcelona City Council, only from the managements and the districts, the Airun company obtained in 2017 a total of 33 contracts

According to data from the Barcelona City Council (wherefrom more money is coming in these years), only from the managements and the districts, the Airun company obtained, in 2017, a total of 33 contracts for an amount of 700,790.95 euros, while Tasca Serveis d'Animació won 20 contracts worth 650,563 euros, Jan BCS won six awards for 76,402 euros and Ideafix Team won another 12 contracts worth 120,563 euros. That is, 1.5 million euros of municipal funds.

But, according to the documentation to which this newspaper has had access, the contracts were much higher: on March 29 of that year, Airun obtained more than 400,000 euros in a contract from the municipal team of Ada Colau to prepare "housing reports with the purpose of promoting the employment of people at risk of exclusion", and another 302,710 euros for "the design, production and support to the organization for sporting events and sports promotion events scheduled by the Institut Barcelona Esports". With both, it already exceeds the figure cited by the consistory, which means that if the contracts awarded by the central services are accounted for, the amount of public aid to the pool grows exponentially.

The aforementioned documentation certifies that, only in the last two years, Airun took 2.3 million euros from the public coffers, while Tasca pocketed 1.9 million euros and Jan BCS received 1.7 million euros if the contracts of all administrations are included. To these almost six million must be added the contracts of Ideafix. In addition, as this newspaper has been able to verify, Aktes Serveis Integrals and Asac Negocis obtained from the municipality of Barcelona several smaller contracts in 2018 worth several tens of thousands of euros. The tasks are perfectly organized so that some companies work more with the Autonomous Administration and others with local administrations. Of what there is no doubt is that the oiling of the machinery of the pro-independence movement, at this time, is going through the stage of its greatest splendor.

A former Treasury high-rank officer points out that the Generalitat could "outwit" the state's control for the 1-O

Agents of the Civil Guard detail their participation in the registries in headquarters of the Generalitat

Reyes Rincon

Madrid 19 MAR 2019 - 20:47 CET

The Ministry of Finance failed to collect evidence that the Generalitat diverted public funds to organize the referendum on October 1, 2017, but does not rule out that it would happen. This was suggested on Tuesday by Felipe Martínez Rico, the former Undersecretary of the Treasury during the procés. Martínez Rico, who has appeared as a witness in the trial held in the Supreme Court, has explained how the Government was expanding the monitoring of Catalan accounts as of November 2015. The control became exhaustive since July 2017. "Was this control impregnable? Did it admit to being mocked?", asked the prosecutor Consuelo Madrigal. The witness has not ruled out this possibility. "It is a certification system of the intervention itself, but it is not the material reality of the facts," he admitted.
The response of Martinez Rico is in line with what was declared at the time by his boss, former Minister of Finance Cristóbal Montoro, who also gave an account of the tight controls but suggested that the Government could avoid them, which would leave open the door to a possible crime of embezzlement. Martinez Rico has affirmed as answers to questions of the Office of the Prosecutor that the controls of the ministry "arrive up to where they arrive and they have the limits that they have", reason why they cannot detect an irregular contracting. "An irregular contract is irregular in any case, with a certificate and without it, and would be outside of this control", he acknowledged.

After Martinez Rico, two Civil Guard agents have been summoned by the Prosecutor's Office. The first was present in the search of the house and the office of the person who was secretary of the Treasury of the Generalitat Josep Lluís Salvadó. He explained that the search could be done "with complete normality" even though some dozens of people had gathered in front of the headquarters of the Department.

Between the documents found in the house and the office of Salvadó, which is charged in the Court of Instruction 13 of Barcelona, ​​the agent has highlighted some broken pages found in a wastebasket. After reconstructing them it could be read: "Scenarios after the referendum", where four phases were foreseen: the electoral night, the recount and formal proclamation, legal transition and transitional constituent process. Another document with two titles was also found: War scenario and Guerrilla scenario. According to the agent, it was about the legal and financial measures that the State could take against the independence challenge and the means of subsistence that Catalonia could adopt.

The second agent who has testified was present, among others, in the search and detention of Josep Maria Jové, number two of  Oriol Junqueras in the Ministry of Economy. The agent has declared that they were able to search the house, but that they could not take the detainee to his office of Economy due to the concentration that was before the headquarters. "They told me that there was such a concentration of people that at the moment it was impossible to access", said the civil guard, who added that his boss told him by telephone that Jordi Sànchez, then president of the Catalan National Assembly, told him that he was not going to allow the entry of vehicles of the Civil Guard to the seat of Economy.

This agent has also explained his participation in some of the investigations to find out if the Generalitat used public money in the organization of the referendum. In particular, in the headquarters of Unipost, Diplocat and other signage companies. And the witness has revealed some details that help the Prosecutor's accusation related to the embezzlement. According to the agent, there is documentation proving payment in almost all cases, but it is in different stages of the process. In the case of Unipost, there are documented payment commitments, while in the Civisme campaign (to promote participation in the referendum) invoices were issued, although they were not paid. Regarding the expenses of international observers, he has maintained that they were paid in the end.

The witness has focused especially on the case of the search in the Unipost headquarters in L'Hospitalet. He told that in the office of the CEO of the company, Pablo Reventós, was found a handwritten note entitled "Summary of the campaign of the Generalitat" which dealt with the sending of 56,000 letters addressed to the members of the polling stations from 1-O. In this note reference was made to five departments of the Generalitat among which the commission was distributed, among them, the Presidency (Turull), the Vice Presidency (Junqueras) and the Labor (Bassa). In addition, agents found invoices "proforma" and delivery notes with the stamps of these five departments on the order made to Unipost.

During the interrogation of the agents, the defenses have tried to cast doubt on the formal procedures that were followed in the searches. For example, in the case of the operation at the Economy headquarters, Junqueras' attorney has considered that the Civil Guard searched in more dependencies than those indicated in the judicial order. The witness has admitted that, in addition to Salvadó's office, "the tables of his secretaries" and "the photocopier's room" were searched. The defenses have also focused in the procedures (in their opinion irregular) that were followed to read the rights of the detainees and whether they were assisted by their lawyers during the searches (Salvadó, not, and Jové, yes, according to the agents).

"Total terror"

The third agent who has appeared has told how the searching was developed at the headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs. The witness has referred to two situations included in the indictment of the prosecution: the "hostile attitude" of the 200 people concentrated in the door forced to remove in a camouflaged car the court secretary "between insults and throwing of objects" and it generated moments of "violence" when Xavier Puig Farré, a high-rank official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was being removed as a detainee from the building.

The Civil Guard has described this situation as "a chapter of total terror". He has assured that there were insults, death threats, throwing bottles and shaking and beating police vehicles, one of which was left with broken glass. "There was a very aggressive atmosphere and I feared an assault on the building," he assured. He also affirmed that the demonstrators "tried to take away" the detainee from the security team which was leading him from the building to the police car. "They grabbed him by the neck and by the clothes", he said. Given this situation, he added, the agents of the Mossos d'Esquadra who were displaced outside the building, only "looked".

The agent has also assured that, at a certain moment, the then president of the Parliament, Carme Forcadell, passed by in front of the building, inside a van. "Forcadell put out her hand to stir the mass of people from the official car", he said. During the question time of the defenses, the lawyer of Forcadell has denied that this happened that day, has warned that the agent had not cited this fact in previous statements and has asked, without success, to act for false testimony against the witness. Other lawyers in the defense have tried to discredit the agent's story. Javier Melero, Joaquim Forn's lawyer, asked if the Civil Guard "used force" in the situation of violence described by the witness. The guard has admitted that it was not done and that no one was injured, except for "some bruise".

The last of the witnesses of the day, a command that participated in the police presence of 1-O, has said that the agents did not know first-hand the instruction of the Secretary of State for Security, José Antonio Nieto, who explained how the police forces should be coordinated and urged "to ensure the maintenance of civic coexistence."

The agent has described that in some schools large concentrations of citizens were found. "We were insulted, rebuked and beaten, passive resistance became active, and the aim was to hinder or prevent the injunction". "We could not intervene in some centers because when we arrived people blocked compliance with the court order, they prevented access and seizing the material, and the hostility throughout the day was increasing", he said.


Republic without fraternity

Republic without fraternity

Many of us could not and cannot get on an artifact that divides rather than unite civilly, which makes impossible the debate on reforms undoubtedly necessary both in Catalonia and Spain

Josep Maria Fradera

20 MAR 2019 - 00:00 CET

The most intriguing concept of the French revolutionary triad is undoubtedly that of fraternité. Concept used profusely during the Great Revolution, its consolidation as part of the revolutionary emblem was not achieved until the revolution of 1848 that liquidated the monarchy of Louis Philippe of Orleans. It was in that brief experience when the canonical currency of freedom, equality and fraternity was definitively established. Certainly, the consecration of the first two concepts never caused great ideological complications among the republican factions. In the criticism of the nobility monarchy and the Church, freedom and equality were ideological pieces whose legitimating function offered few doubts. Fraternity was something else, starting with its very presence in the culture of sensibility at the end of the Enlightenment. With the affirmation of workers and socialist societies in nineteenth-century France, the concept of equality reached for obvious reasons a dimension only hinted at during the events that took place between the taking of the Bastille in July 1789 and the 18th Brumaire of the year VIII (November 1799).

The triple motto covered old achievements and established new promises of greater social and cultural depth

If the very notion of fraternity was incarnated in such an erratic way in the French revolutionary dynamic, it is due, as we indicated, to its origin and diffuse meaning. As Marcel David explained in a book devoted entirely to the word and concept, the revolutionaries of 1789 tried to give a life according to the times to the old idea of natural law and Christian iusnaturalist law and its logical corollary, which referred to the idea of common benefit. It is understandable that some of the revolutionaries most sensitive to the problems of a broad consolidation of the revolution, such as Jacques Pierre Brissot, leader of one of the Girondist factions who ended up in the guillotine, a politician with a close relationship with the abolitionist Quakers of Pennsylvania, were very receptive to a concept of that style. Anyway, the radicalization of the revolutionary process put aside those differences for more than half a century. Revolutionary war and the elimination of the adversary, a dynamic reminiscent of similar experiences in the 20th century, closed that stage until the change of regime in February 1848 placed the idea of the emancipation of slaves on the table again, the working population and women. In short, of those who had been excluded from voting and political representation in earlier stages. The triple motto of the revolution embraced old achievements and established new promises of greater social and cultural depth. In that context, the fraternity was called to endure in close association with the French republican idea, to powerfully influence experiences inspired by it, including contemporary Spain.

It is to be powerfully noticed the absence of the idea of fraternity within the common ideological and cultural substrate of the imagined republic to which an important part of Catalan politics aspires, as well as its passionate and numerous followers. Being like a late formulation of a century-old political tradition, a tradition that had succeeded in merging elements of the old and new Catholic tradition, a discreet mesocratic ethnocentrism, a dose of republicanism prior to the Civil War and a justified claim of language and culture after 40 years of intolerable crushing, the recent nationalist radicalism has modified the elements of that synthesis. In effect, the idea of a republic offered not long ago to legitimize a different cocktail, neither of the right nor of the left, neither trade union nor employer, nor xenophobic nor solidary, but quite the opposite, with the result of a complete disorientation of supporters and adversaries. In short: substantially altering the culture that underlies any political movement. As this alchemy is not included in the political programs that the parties exhibit, the definition of instrumental independence, as it was also the case before the word separatism, makes it even more difficult to describe what was happening. Added to this confusion is the impossibility of defining the ideological nature of populist movements in the past and now in vogue, for which the usual definitions do not work.

It is striking that the biggest event in recent Catalonia has become less important

Digging under appearances, the imagined republic of the last stage presents a notorious absence of the idea of fraternity. In at least two main meanings, without which the rest is hardly identifiable with a mature republican experience. Two facets of these meanings are obvious. After a trajectory that claims without truce a historical foundation that goes back always until the war of Succession, it is striking that the biggest event of recent Catalonia discreetly becomes secondary in these tragic avatars. I am referring to the arrival between the years 1960 and 1970 of an unprecedented wave of emigrants from other peninsular regions. The decisive work force for the disorderly growth of the economy and the Catalan society of that time is a fact of the greatest relevance since it constitutes the community fabric on which grew the fight against the dictatorship and the re-founding of trade unionism in a society of deep-rooted traditions of social struggle. The one and the other were inextricably fused in the life experience of several generations of Catalans who learned effective solidarity - that is, fraternity - in those ties, without renouncing their own language and culture.

Replacing this lesson with a hollow appeal to the integration of the outsider, be it Spanish, Latin American or Maghrebi, demeans a legacy that should not lead to condescension but to distinguish between the obviously perfectible political system and the Spanish society as such.

The second shortage refers to even more recent events, those that are enclosed in the word procés. Its leaders know well that they have never enjoyed the social majority. At this point, it does not matter the percentage of votes or the mobilization capacity that, driven from above with the acquiescence of a blind left, they could have achieved. What matters is the silencing of the other half, of people with diverse ideas, people incapable of responding to a challenge that is based on the exclusion of others. In short: an inverse operation to the moral meaning of anti-Francoism and the imperative of reconciliation that gave it moral impulse and superiority over a civil-war regime until the end.

Fraternity (and loyalty, which is one of its components) must emerge from the entire political body and not only from Catalan society, it also appeals to the rest. Meanwhile, a republic without fraternity is an empty shell, an artifact that divides rather than unites civilly, thus precluding the debate on reforms undoubtedly necessary in Catalonia and Spain. For this and not for reasons of opportunity many could not or cannot get on a ship that leads to shipwreck.


Professor Wind before Puigdemont: "Is democracy just voting or also respecting the law?"


Violence in Catalonia needed closer scrutiny in age of fake news

Peter Preston

A failure to check pictures of those supposedly hurt in recent independence demonstrations did journalism no favours
With fake news apparently leaking from every media orifice, you’d have hoped for a little more diligence over those Catalan referendum demonstration figures and images. Over to the fact-checkers …

“We’ve seen a lot of fake pictures on people who have been hurt by the police, but were really pictures from different demonstrations,” said the head checker for the El Objective TV show. He produced web pictures of bleeding protesters that went viral – but they were old stuff from a miners’ strike five years ago. That woman who had all her fingers broken. She hadn’t. That six-year-old boy, paralysed by police brutality? It didn’t happen. Serious injuries on the day: just two.

When you plough through this account and many others, different perspectives begin to surface. Not that the civil guard’s truncheon-wielding interventions weren’t violent and frightening. But that the reporting of what happened – including the detail of those 893 injured voters – hadn’t been independently checked. Which is important, even at this stage. There’s no bonus to fear and loathing built on frail foundations.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

On 4 October 2017, Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the EC in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights introduced the debate at the European Parliament, on the Constitution, rule of law and fundamental rights in Spain in the light of the events of Catalonia.


On 4 October 2017, Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the EC in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights introduced the debate at the European Parliament, on the Constitution, rule of law and fundamental rights in Spain in the light of the events of Catalonia.

Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the EC in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (in ENGLISH) introducing the debate on the Constitution, rule of law and fundamental rights in Spain in the light of the events of Catalonia - in Europe, after the Second World War, and after the end of dictatorship in Spain, Portugal and Greece and again, after the fall of the Berlin wall, we have shaped our democratic societies based on three principles : democracy, respect for the Rule of Law and Human rights, the three need each other, they cannot exclude each other, you cannot use one against the others, if you remove one pillar, then the others will fall too, respect for the Rule of law is not optional, it is fundamental; if the law does not give you what you want, you can oppose the law, you can work to change the law, but you cannot ignore the law; so this fundamental that the constitutions of everyone of our Member States are upheld and respected, so this is the basis for our debate today, in that debate we should be guided by the values set out in Article 2 of the Treatees, values that are common to Member States and citizens, and on whoch our Union is founded.

As Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, in his last State of the Union: "Our European Union is not a State but it is a community of law, we must never loose sight of this"; there is general consensus that the Regional government of Catalonia has chosen to ignore the law when organising the referendum held last Sunday (1st October 2017), the Spanish Constitution Tribunal having suspended the Catalan laws on the organisation of the referendum and issued daily penalties against those who went against its orders, that is not changing the fact that we have all seen saddening images from Sunday, let me be clear, violence does not solve anything in politics, it is never an answer, never a solution, and it can never be used as a weapon or instrument; Europe knows that better that anywhere else, none of us want to see violence in our societies, however it is off course a duty for any government to uphold the rule of law, and this sometimes does require the proportionate use of force, we understand that people wanted to express their views, freedom of expression is a fundamental right for all European citizens, and thus for all Spanish citizens; one opinion is not more valuable than another opinion only because it is expressed more loudly [applause].

As the Commission has stated, under the Spanish constitution, Sunday's vote in Catalonia was not legal, looking ahead, it is clear that an agreed way forward is needed in Spain, for the European Commission, as Jean-Claude Juncker has reiterated repeatedly, this is an internal matter for Spain, that has to be dealt with in line with the constitutional order of Spain, that is why the European Commission has called on all relevant actors to now move quickly from confrontation to dialogue, the power of dialogue, of sitting down and talking to each other even if and especially when we passionately disagree is what our union is built on, all lines of communication must stay open, it is time to talk, to find a way out of the impass, working within the constitutional order of Spain, at the end of the day, the real answers can only come from all those concerned, those directly concerned are all 46 million Europeans who are Spanish citizens, those indirectly concerned are all Europeans who are citizens of all other Member States.

Jean-Claude Juncker is in touch with Mariano Rajoy, Spanish Prime Minister who will trustly ensure that the situation is resolved in a spirit of dialogue and in full respect of the Spanish Constitution and of fundamental rights of citizens, this must be the goal for all of us; allow me to stress that the development of Spain, since the Spanish people liberated themselves from dictatorship, is one of the greatest success stories Europe has seen in its history [Applause]; in less than my life time Spain was transformed from a nation under a boot of a dictator into a nation that leads globally in a great manieries, where every citizen has full right, protected by the rule of law, where culture flourishes and the economy grows, this is the all inspiring achievements of all Spanians, including Catalans; this would not have been possible, without full respect for the rule of law, respect for the separation of powers, respect for the ruling of judges; let me add, nowhere is the attachment for the rule of law stronger than in those nations where there are memories of what it means to be deprived of it; all this was achieved through hard work, commitment, dialogue and respect for diversity, please let that inspire all of us, to leave the path of confrontation and follow the road of cooperation and dialogue to solve the situation. Thank you very much.

Members of the European Parliament applauding


Guy Verhofstadt 04 Oct 2017 plenary speech on events in Catalonia


Trapero (the former Catalonian Police Chief): with the Mossos, against the politicians -

Enric Hernàndez

Setting of scores in the trial of the Supreme Court: the former Catalonian Police Chief of the mossos has exhibited his anger with the independence leaders for having damaged the prestige of the Catalan police
Thursday, 03/14/2019 | Updated at 20:07 CET

The independence referendum was "illegal".The Catalan police warned the Government that voters could oppose with “active resistence” to the agents in charge of confiscating ballot boxes and ballots. The Mossos were as "uncomfortable" with the 1-O as the minister Jordi Jané who resigned. The declarations of his successor in Interior, Joaquim Forn, had "a point of irresponsibility". And the leadership of the police had a plan to arrest the Government if ordered to do so. Advised by his lawyer, the ex-mayor Josep Lluís Trapero could have kept silence in the trial of the Supreme Court, processed as he is by the same events in the National High Court. He also had the option of dodging questions that compromised his defense strategy. But he preferred to face the court to defend the Mossos and tell his truth. Maybe it's not all, maybe it's a part.

Despite the awkwardness of Vox's lawyer, Javier Ortega-Smith, and the experience of lawyer Xavier Melero, the astute president of the court, Manuel Marchena, facilitated that Trapero summarized what he had already declared: that on September 28, 2017 he and the police leadership alerted Carles Puigdemont, Oriol Junqueras and Forn that the 1-O could be the cause of serious incidents in polling stations, that the Mossos were subject to the law and that the then 'president', as he detailed in the National High Court, rejected it invoking the mandate of the people to hold the referendum.


Trapero made clear that on several occasions he talked to political power about the risk of clashes between the citizens - goaded by the Government and the sovereignty parties and entities - and the security forces. That was the nonsense of 1-O: those who promoted a vote prohibited by the Constitutional had under their orders the Mossos, forced to prevent it by court order. By claiming that the Mossos did not bend to the politicians, the former mayor torpedoed, by the way, the charge of rebellion.

It is not necessary to participate in the childish 'hooliganism' that extolled Trapero as a uniformed hero of the independence movement to recognize the esteem he professes for the police force he commanded. Without prejudging whether his orders were intended to abort the 1-O or just pretend that he tried (justice must determine that), he is right when he argues that if "two million people want to do something" a few thousand policemen cannot stop him. At least, not in a peaceful way.

The revelation about the supposed plan of the Mossos to arrest Puigdemont and his ministers after the DUI  and the reproach to Forn - "gave an image that fed something that did not correspond to reality, and now we are paying" - illustrate Trapero's motivation to testify before the Supreme Court: settling scores with the independence leaders, who in their madcap career nowhere left badly damaged the Mossos' prestige as an integral police force.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Vilarrubias: "PP and PSOE have ceded the linguistic monopoly to nationalisms" The linguist Mercè Vilarrubias, who has just published 'Por una ley de lenguas', considers "unheard of in Europe" that Castilian, the majority language in Catalonia, has no right in this community

Mercè Vilarrubias en Crónica Global / LENA PRIETO

María Jesús Cañizares @MJesusCanizares

13.03.2019 00:00 h.
Merçè Vilarrubias with his book 'Por una ley de lenguas' 

To build a multilingual state. This is the objective of the law of languages in which Mercè Vilarrubias, Professor of English, works since 2014. She denounces that, during four decades of democracy, the successive Spanish governments have left in the hands of the nationalists the monopoly of the debate on the language "for partisan interest".

Vilarrubias has just published Por una ley de lenguas. Convivencia en el plurilinguismo (Deusto), where she proposes a roadmap to create a rule that obliges the State to be an actor in the defense of Catalan, Basque and Galician throughout Spain, but also the protection of the rights of Spanish speakers in Catalonia.

-Question. After forty years of democracy, how is it possible that there is no language law?

-Answer. There has not been a willingness to do it. We started with article 3 of the Constitution that supposed a qualitative change, because it recognized all languages as Spanish, decreed the official character of Basque, Galician and Catalan if their statutes recognized it, as a wealth of all that should be promoted. From here, the development of article 3 is left in the hands of the bilingual autonomous communities. The different nationalist autonomous governments begin to develop linguistic normalization according to their interests. And the different governments of the State see this development with concern, but it is thought that it is a question of autonomy and any intervention from the State would be interpreted as wanting to interfere. The years passed and the concept of one's own language emerged, monolingualism, and with silence on the part of the state governments, which have been trailing behind linguistic nationalism. They have not been able to develop a law for the entire country that seeks the common good. They have not known how to do it.

- Haven’t they known, or PP and PSOE have used this issue in their strategy of pacts?

-Exactly, it was the time when all this was agreed with Pujol and with Basque nationalism. The national parties allowed to do because it suited them. Partisan interests have taken precedence over making a good diagnosis. We are where we are because there has not been an understanding that the State should act intelligently. When governing the PP, with Aznar who spoke Catalan in privacy, the second law of linguistic normalization was approved in 1998. And they did not say anything because they had their interests. And the PSOE has always given reason to the nationalists and has supported its monolingual policy. We are seeing it now in the Balearic Islands, where the socialists govern with MES and Catalonia's linguistic policy program is being imposed.

-What was the point of no return? The law of linguistic policy or the Statute?

-Overall, based on the statutes renewed in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community. They deepened in the term own language, increasingly more important and with more prerogatives to the detriment of Castilian. There is a qualitative leap. Catalan and Spanish are official languages, but as their own language, Catalan becomes the language of preferential use in education, culture or administration. This concept is not in the Constitution. We should ask ourselves how the nationalists have been able to develop this program so easily. There has been something on the part of the State, which left the whole legal regime in the hands of the statutes, instead of developing Article 3 of the Constitution through a language law.

-In this area the only progress has been thanks to families of students who have fought before the courts, private associations.

-There is no regulation that regulates linguistic rights. The Constitution does not speak of linguistic rights and this was normal in 1978, given the time we were coming from. Recognizing the Spanish languages as official and as wealth of the whole country, this was something incomprehensible. In 2014 I had already written my book Sumar y no restar and saw that this topic was like a wall that could not be reasoned about because the basis of nationalism is language. When the pro-independence followers say that the Catalans are different they are basing it on the language and they will never leave it. Artur Mas said it, it's a red line. For that reason, several people thought that the issue had to be approached in another way. In that year I met Juan Claudio de Ramón (who writes the preface of the book of Vilarrubias), who was in the Spanish Embassy in Ottawa (Canada), where he studied federal bilingualism. We started talking and studying this position. There are differences, but there was a rupturist nationalism of Quebec that defended its French-speaking condition against the strength of English. It was then, with Trudeau as prime minister, that French was declared the official language of all Canadians, thus absorbing that sentimental dimension of Quebecois nationalists. We thought it was a very interesting and intelligent movement. We thought about the possibility of applying the same in Spain. The first formulations were to formalize Catalan, Galician and Basque according to the Canadian model.

- What does that law of languages imply?

-It aims to try to alleviate the problems we have had during these 40 years. On the one hand, the State has not assumed the plurilingualism of the country, it has not understood it. The State must be a linguistic actor, it must be active in the promotion of these languages. He has done things, but he has not been able to explain it. The law of languages is a road map to make better use of these languages in official institutions. On the other hand, linguistic rights, which have never been discussed, are addressed, a key instrument in the protection of diversity. We try to solve a situation that in the case of Catalonia is unprecedented in Europe, as a community that has an official language and is a majority language, as Spanish, has no right whatsoever. Two objectives, therefore: construction of a multilingual State and linguistic rights for all citizens.

- How much would it cost to apply that law of languages?

-In the book I explain the cost, because a law must have an economic memory. In Canada they spend 24,000 million euros per year because French was declared official language next to English and that has a number of prerogatives. But in Spain we have made a calculation and the start-up investment would be 2,300 million euros. It seems to us very little within the budget of a country and for the effects that a proposal like this would have. In Canada, they talk about investment, not spending, in languages. The investment in signs in the Museo del Prado in the four languages, for example, would only be done once. And in other cases, like saying hello in all four languages, it's free. Several Departments of the Government already have their website in those languages and Renfe advertising also.

-The pro-independence prisoners invoked their right to use their mother tongue in the 1-O trial.

-I thought it was very interesting that they invoked  the mother tongue and the linguistic rights in the trial of the Supreme Court, which is a court for all. With a language law, these defendants could have had simultaneous translation if they wanted to. Catalan speakers have their rights recognized in Catalonia, but not at the state level. The law we propose speaks of the linguistic rights of all. Just as Spanish speakers should have the right in Catalonia to use their language in administrations, receive education or accessing grants to create a means of communication in Spanish. Why not?

-The use of euphemisms as "own language", "habitual" or "preferred" has been deliberate, precisely to deny the right of Spanish speakers?

-The mother tongue is recognized in numerous international conventions, it implies rights. The nationalists have never been interested. They invoked it when the teaching was all in Spanish. One of the arguments for teaching in Catalan was that children were better educated in their mother tongue. But once the idea of an immersion for everyone is launched, the concept of mother tongue no longer interested. Once I spoke with the Síndic de Greuges, Rafael Ribó, on this subject and he became very aggressive about the fact that there was no right to the mother tongue. I speak of mother tongue and language of preference, because people must be free to choose. But they are not interested in that debate.

-To the point that instructions are given for children to play in Catalan in the playground...

-The inmersion is based on an obligation. In the classroom, the teacher speaks in Catalan and the majority obeys because there is no other way out. But once you go out into the yard or onto the street, everyone speaks as they want. People tend to speak in their mother tongue and that cannot be controlled. That's where come out initiatives like Al pati, en Català to reinforce and halfway to force. We know that the obligation has limits and immersion works in Catalan-speaking areas, but in the more bilingual areas there is a separation between what the school imposes and what is spoken on the street. There is a shock there. The objective is the identification with Catalan by all and adding the nationalist backpack, because the language is devoid of ideology.

-The nationalists say that Castilian is a language of colonization...

-They add those bonuses based on what interests them. At this moment, what we have to do is not discuss with them but make an alternative discourse better than theirs. It is much better, ethically and democratically, to appeal to the discourse of diversity in terms of respect for individual liberties and equality. These are the values of the current liberal democracies. When I was writing the book I had to stop because I thought there are no politicians to do this. You have to be realistic and assume that it will take many years to develop something like that. There is no need to be in a hurry, but social changes, of perception, take time.

-We have gone from nationalism to a 'procés' in which the positions are increasingly bitter, it seems impossible to reach an agreement.

- You can talk with the nationalists, of course. But the approach is not that they give the go-ahead, because they have always had a monopoly on the language, they are the only representatives and managers. And this is not the case. The four national parties (PP, PSOE, Ciudadanos and Podemos) should begin to forge minimum consensus, to be aware that it should be a state issue. The first action should be the constitution of a state commission of linguistic experts which would collect the feelings of the citizens and of the different sectors, also from the nationalists. And after two years of work, make a white paper on how should be that law of languages to be approved by Congress.

-The leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, has proposed a law of languages...

-It has nothing to do with our proposal; it was said that way, suddenly, and never heard again. And it is also unconstitutional because Catalan would practically cease to exist, it would be optional. It is curious that the PP does not have advisers, that it launches proposals that are nothing and, when it governs, does nothing.

- Who is the book for?

-We must be realistic. The ideas begin in civil society and are gaining consensus. We will talk to the political parties, but this will take time. The Canadian federalists told us that this will take time. The plurality in Spain will not change, so we must recognize mistakes, look to the future and improve coexistence. Our proposal does not intend to blur the common language, Castilian. The engine has been the exclusion of Castilian in Catalonia, which is labeled a fascist language, of settlers and criminals. But I would like to explain that denying the promotion of the linguistic rights of Catalans, Basques and Galicians in State institutions does not help in the defense of linguistic plurality. And it plays in favor of the nationalists and the trenches. Castilian is the majority language and works as a lingua franca. But when we speak of a common language from a sentimental point of view, we must accept that there are people who identify themselves more with Catalan, Basque or Galician. And they are languages that have expanded a lot, which are the mother tongue of many people, and that is not an offense to Spanish, but a choice of these citizens.

Alfonso Valero: What Tyrants do is claim that Democracy is above the Rule of Law


Josep María Francàs

Calm conversation between Josep María Francas (@jmfrancas) and Alfonso Valero (@alfvalero) a non-practicing lawyer (England and Wales), founder of the Professors´ Forum (Foro de Profesores - @foroprofesores) 

JMF: You coordinate a group of law experts to follow the ‘procés’ trial. What is this group?
AV: The Jurists´ Committee to Analyze Special Cause 20907/2017 is a group of highly regarded lawyers and professors gathered with the unique compromise - as mere citizens - with the Rule of Law, the Spanish Constitution and democracy at large. Our objective is to follow the trial and then evaluate the fulfillment of the Spanish, European and International legal standards. That is, an unbiased technical, non political, analysis.
JMF: Is it an activity of the Professors’ Forum?
AV: Yes, it’s an activity of the Forum. However, some participants are members of the Professors’ Forum while others aren’t, yet they share a similar vision and compromise.
JMF: Are there only pro constitution lawyers in the group?
AV: Every single one of these jurists defends the Rule of Law, comprising the Spanish Constitution as an essential part of it, and democracy at large. In other words, for us, the only possible way to analyze a judiciary process is through legal parameters, leaving politics aside.
JMF: Are pro Independence jurists contaminated?
AV: I wouldn’t say contaminated, but if one’s analysis is shaped by a political vision, then it stops being techno-legal to become ideological. I think there must be separatist jurists who understand it is necessary to explain the Law for what it is, not for what one would wish it was. But this compromise with objectivity is not always present.
JMF: How do you see the trial so far?
AV: We shouldn’t forget we are just beginning the hearings. We have just heard accused parties. First their pleas regarding potential violations of their rights and then their depositions as indicted. Thus, the main part is still to come. In my opinion, so far, the accused have foregone an opportunity. Instead of using their turn to present legal pleas, they decided to give political speeches. Instead of defending their position, they have opted for “teaching” the court and cite some rights allegedly more important than the Law. Anyhow, the trial has just begun.
JMF: Is democracy above the Law?
AV: Democracy doesn’t exist if it is not through the Law. To appeal to a democracy that is above the Law is what tyrants do… “I know what people want/need, so I go over the Law as it doesn’t fit my plans”.
During this first week of trial, we heard Mr. Torra [current Catalan regional president] in a radio interview on Onda Cero say how he plans to change the law if his loses the majority… There it is: if you don’t have a majority you don’t speak in the name of democracy but just in the name of your group of power. A power you want to impose over the law, outside democracy.
JMF: This is their main argument so far…
AV: It’s a populist argument, but it sells well. Everybody loves an oppressed rebel. It’s an instinctive emotional reaction. Nationalism pivots on its appeal to these emotional reactions. “Democracy” resounds nicely while “Law” sounds hard and rigid. They have also argued they are not bound to obey the court as it is illegitimate. They use the kind of tyrannical arguments we often hear from Venezuela’s President Maduro. But as both Venezuelans and Spaniards know very well, if the Law isn’t above the powerful democracy doesn’t exist. Let me ask you something, when former separatist Catalan regional President Mas stopped voting in the 2014 referendum using the Mossos [Catalan police force] baton in hand… did he do it in the name of democracy or under the Rule of Law?
JMF: What did Mas do? I don’t remember.
AV: In May 2014 there was a “multi referendum” with questions about fracking, transgenics, the Generalitat’s public debt… among others. The Generalitat [Catalan Regional Government] sent their Mossos to seize the ballots because it was an illegal vote. Some of the organizers ended up sentenced guilty of disobedience.
JMF: Right, I had forgotten… What interest does this trial have from a legal point of view?
AV: It is very relevant. First, it will clear the facts and will determine what is proven. From a strictly legal point of view if will clarify the scope of the rebellion crime. Article 472 of the Criminal Code requires violent upraise. What needs to be clarified is the concept of violence itself. Some argue violence occurs only when weapons are used; other maintain violence is not only an act like Tejero’s [takeover the Spanish congress] in 1981, but it must also include the possibility of using it. Actually, those who defend the need of physical violence are saying that any rebellion without shooting is not a rebellion. Or something even more perverse: any failed rebellion is not a rebellion as a winning one would never be considered so because there would be nobody to prosecute it.
JMF: How does the international press see the trial?
AV: Aside from some remarkable exceptions, the international press is using this trial to lecture Spain about democracy. For instance, British daily The Independent started by saying they didn’t want to meddle with Spanish democracy and then went on doing the exact opposite. The Times did it too, though much more courteously. French journals have mixed reactions. Nevertheless, it is obvious that separatists are seizing this opportunity for their propaganda, they are using their so called “embassies” and all the resources at their disposal. The [Spanish] government should be much more educational and active to prevent the use of taxpayer’s money to attack the Spanish democracy and its judiciary.
JMF: Are they winning in the international battlefront due to the Spanish Government’s failure to appear?
AV: The Spanish government is doing something, though bashfully, while facing a very well lubricated machinery engineered for situations like the current one. Their arguments are ready, its funding well set up… for example, an organization named “Foreign Friends of Catalonia” publicly admits to host journalists for free. They facilitate interviews with families, obviously only separatist ones, and translate for them. These kind of activities need funding. Money that separatists don’t mind diverting from other high priority needs. Despite this, I don’t advocate for the Spanish government to do the same. Instead, they should provide more information and develop an educational strategy for journalists and diplomats and explain, openly, what is happening.
JMF: Nationalist money comes from every Spaniard taxpayer’s pocket. If they could just control this…
AV: That’s right. Not so long ago President Sanchez declared he couldn’t think of any other solution than dialogue… Without debating or refuting that statement I would like to supplement it: Audit their finances and figure out the origin of the expenditures. We don’t need to reinstall article 155 to do so. A proper control of the adequate use of taxpayer’s money everywhere in the country would be enough.
JMF: But you need to want to do it…
AV: You can’t expect those kinds of decisions during a pre-election period. I would settle with the government countering separatist propaganda. What The Independent may print has a relatively low importance. Its opinions and assessments don’t change the fact that Spain is a full fledge democracy (one out of a total of 20 in the world) and the fact that King Felipe VI received the Jurists for Peace World Association Award for his “unyielding” compromise with the Rule of Law, freedom and the constitutional order. Yet it is important insofar as it influences international opinion. The efforts of any Spanish government should walk along those lines.
JMF: I’m afraid the current Spanish government [socialist party] won’t do any of that if they need the support of the secessionists to govern. Just as they have done until now.
AV: Given I’m talking to you in the context of an activity of the Professor’s Forum I can’t give you answers to political matters. I wouldn’t want to confuse or mislead your readers.
JMF: Will you publish any reports about the trial
AV: We will indeed but only once the deposition period ends and then, later, when they publish the sentence. We’d like to publish it in Spanish, and, at least, also in English. Even though it will be a scholarly text it will also be educational and written taking into account the population at large.
JMF: Will you make any statements during the trial?
AV: Many Jurist Committee members frequently participate in different media. Many of them have weekly columns where they comment the trial. However, right now we don’t have any plans to publish anything as a Jurist Committee. That’s because we aim to make a rigorous in-depth report based on the legal standards of the Spanish, European and International Law, not on the day to day issues of the oral proceedings.
JMF: Thank you very much Alfonso. Warm regards. See you soon.
AV: Likewise. See you soon.


Alfonso Valero: ‘Apelar a una democracia por encima de la ley es lo que hacen los tiranos…’


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Israel criticises Catalan government over Anne Frank tweet - Israeli embassy in Spain calls use of quote for political cause ‘a disgrace’

Anne Frank, whose quote was tweeted with a yellow ribbon in support of jailed Catalan leaders. 

The Israeli embassy in Madrid has accused the Catalan government of using the Holocaust “to promote a political cause”, after its spokeswoman tweeted a quote from Anne Frank alongside a picture of the yellow ribbon worn in solidarity with jailed or exiled regional independence leaders.

 Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Elsa Artadi posted a yellow ribbon emoji, followed by words from Frank, the Jewish teenager who hid from the Nazis with her family in Amsterdam before dying of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.

“We aren’t allowed to have any opinions. People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but it doesn’t stop you having your own opinion … No one should be prevented from saying what they think,” ran the abridged quote.

Artadi added: “A very appropriate quote from Anne Frank, who died in Bergen-Belsen 69 years ago today.” In fact, Frank died 74 years ago, in February or March 1945.

Spain’s electoral commission has ordered the pro-independence Catalan government to remove yellow ribbons and separatist estelada flags from official buildings because it says they are partisan symbols and should not be used by regional authorities in the run-up to general and European elections in April and May.

Assaf Moran, Israel’s deputy chief of mission to Spain, said of Artadi’s tweet: “Nothing, but nothing can be compared to the Holocaust to promote a political cause. This comparison is a disgrace!
The former French prime minister Manuel Valls, who is running for the mayoralty of Barcelona in May’s elections, also criticised the tweet. “A disgrace and a lack of historical knowledge. Spain is a democracy. How can it be compared to the Holocaust? Enough of all this nonsense!”

In January last year, the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who went into exile after his government’s failed bid for independence, was criticised for tweeting and praising a video that featured images of the then Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, along with archive footage of Hitler and Franco.

Twelve Catalan leaders are on trial in Madrid for the parts they are alleged to have played in the region’s attempt to break away from Spain in autumn 2017.

Nine of the defendants, who include the former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, the former speaker of the Catalan parliament Carme Forcadell and two influential grassroots activists, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, are accused of rebellion, which carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years. Other charges include sedition and the misuse of public funds.



Trials of Catalan activists - the what the why and how great academic centers are unwittingly contributing to undermining a European democracy

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