viernes, 27 de octubre de 2017

Barcelona, Friday, 15.27 hours

I was going to write last night how Carles Puigdemont had called elections to appease the bloodhounds, as seemed the case when I left home, but to my surprise after many hours of deliberations and it becoming clear that no gesture or promise could change Madrid from its collision course, any decision was left to the Catalan parliament for today. So I decided against posting anything more than I already had that morning. Come Friday, at 15.27, less than an hour before the Senate over in Madrid started its mostly ceremonial vote on Mr Rajoy's proposal to intervene, enthusiastically applauded by the majority of senators when it was read out, parliament accepted the proclamation of the Republic of Catalunya, in a secret vote to protect the integrity of parliamentarians. I was going to write how Puigdemont's decision to call elections was the right one under the circumstances, as Madrid will not accept any such proclamation and send in the troops anyway, and the best we could do was to show the world that they had applied article 155 of the constitution without their being a formal ground to do so. After all, the only reason they had so far was the referendum of 1 October, but as it was deemed illegal and therefore without any consequence, it was impossible to claim Catalunya had become ungovernable. Now, I guess, things have changed. Madrid has got its excuse. So why was the republic proclaimed, and why at this hour and not right after the Senate's approval?

The main reason, I take it, is to possess a formal declaration to fall back on in case in some (distant) future Madrid eases up and democracy – real democracy, not the shameless mockery that passes for people rule in Spain these days – will be materially restored. If ever the Spanish public come to their senses and vote out these greedy bastards, negotiations about some form of cohabitation may be started after all. It's also a matter of pride. If nothing can change the mood in the heartland and their revenge for our renunciation of their model and their methods will rain down on us come what may, it's best to face defeat with heads held high. As the measures surging from article 155 will likely be in force immediately, even if it takes time to implement them practically, perhaps they thought it better to have a proclamation as long as the parliament was still bestowed with law making powers and not wait until it had become nothing but a groundless ceremony. As we are just one hour into the new republic, and I must say it already feels good to live in a country without a king, and outside of the ever more authoritarian European Union as well, I may have to withdraw my words before it is time to post them. So let me get back to the latest news flashes and return when further conclusions can be drawn. Right now, at least we can sing we are heroes, just for one day. And I drink all the time, while the shame falls on the other side. I know, these words were written in – if sarcastic – support of the capitalist model, but forty years down the road they neatly fit our little struggle against capitalism's most ugly outgrows.

I have wanted to discuss the implications of the independence movement and Madrid's aggressive posture with my students for a long time, but they always refused on the grounds they didn't want to get stuck in angry debates between supporters and detractors. I always consented, as they have to work with each other every day and I only come by twice a week and very few courses last more than two years. This week, everything has been different. In all my groups it was them who started to talk about the process, often asking me what I make of it all. I would smile and tell them how the Dutch escaped Spain's rule 370 years ago, after an 80 year-long battle. And that the two main reasons were the merchants of Amsterdam, many of whom descended from Sephardic jews who had managed to escape the torture of la inquisición, wanting to exercise their right to freely do business around the world without having to pay a 10% tax to Spanish authorities (only ten percent!), and the protestants in the countryside going with the opportunity to adhere to their religious beliefs without fears of being prosecuted for how they saw their relation to their maker. Of course, they recognize the parallels and also that it has been 78 years since Franco's troops entered Barcelona to begin his cruel revenge on anything and anybody having rejected his military uprising. I usually conclude with stating that an independent republic only makes sense if they are willing to leave the European Union altogether, a move which would initiate a severe economic downturn in the short run though Catalunya's excellent geographics should see it recuperate relatively fast, and that a consensual solution is always better, but that it is also clear that Madrid is not having any of it, that all this is nothing but an ordinary power grab and that in the end each person should make up their own mind. Finally, if they insist, I tell them I am personally in favour of independence as I believe small countries are inherently more democratic than large ones and that the fall out might lead to more regions breaking away, in the end creating a situation where a new, federal Spain would be in the interest of even Madrid. I never forget, though, to warn them of the consequences, the ones we will be seeing in the days and weeks to come. Are they up for a long, hard-fought underground battle in difficult circumstances? Or will they prefer to follow their jobs to Madrid?

Half past nine, and we're still independent! I guess Mr Rajoy wants to watch his Real Madrid this weekend before calling the hounds into action. I hope they play late on Sunday night. Now that the Union has finally reacted, Mr Tusk deploring Rajoy to take it easy, many of my earlier suspicions fall into place. As vigilant citizen claims, you must always go with the signs. Some say follow the money, but the signs are sometimes an easier lead to follow if you're not in on the game. Who did Madrid attack? First, they hit out on the voters, in a most stupid and vile way for that. Where they could have easily blocked voting, they chose to put up a media show, which they later tried to deny, by the way, a pathetic move laid bare by the these days mostly empire-friendly BBC. Then they got their hands on major Trapero from the mossos d'esquadra and the two Jordi's leading the grassroots movements. Trapero they let go for what under their twisted idea of the law amounted to subordination, in the words of the prosecution. The Jordi's got jailed for as far as I know indefinitely. So they attack the movement. You're not supposed to want it and certainly not to organize it. Meanwhile, the policeman runs free. The media will be left in relative peace, according to recent reports. Even education might escape the beating it initially feared. They want the Cat out of Catalunya. They want to subdue us. We have become too good at being happy citizens.

After the downfall came to a halt in 2013, we've had a couple of prime years which perhaps suited Barcelona's new strength more than the wavering independence movement. Mayor Ada Colau's sudden rise to effective leadership is certainly an exponent of the first. It may be this is what Tusk is alluding to. I guess they want us to liquidate the movement in exchange for business as usual. I believe this is exactly where Colau is coaching at in her surprise embrace of the city's financial movers and shakers. If one woman is to profit from all this sad and unnecessary upheaval, this shaking of human emotions, this play with their soul's energy, it is Colau. If the Spanish have a heart, they could go with Ada Colau for president next round. She is Carmena's political daughter. Carmena would be first choice, but she will most likely refuse it for health reasons. Ada is up for it. She's a real woman from the people, she is smart, and she is growing good company. If the Spanish have the heart to go with a Catalan, and I'm looking at Madrid first, Colau is your recipe for success. She became mayor on the smallest of margins, the fastest loser basically, but she has proven her mettle since the day the crowd at Plaça Sant Jaume, which I was part of, cheered her on the balcony of the town hall.

Back to our story. The main reason to turn down this solution would be that the movement has been crucial in the way Catalans dealt with the crisis. Thanks to 15-M, an originally Madrileño sit-in which grew into Podemos, people in Barcelona's neighbourhoods and further up field found each other and also found their shared desire to get rid of Madrid. In our case, of course, this doesn't mean that we seek to destroy her, as she in her delirious madness loudly claims, we are totally uncapable of that, we're only trying to run away. I know we all want to continue a bad marriage a bit too long, that's natural, but there comes a time divorce is the best option. A settled divorce, preferably, they're much cheaper. Some people even choose to continue living together, though in separate spheres.

I believe the dismantling of the independence desire should also exclude Catalunya's social fabric from being torn apart. It's too important to us. It keeps us alive. So don't touch our maires. We promise to be good. Ada will promise. And we all love her. We accept Madrid's superiority as long as we get a fair deal for coming second. We promise we won't find another Messi. Come on, Madrid! We need you and you need us. You know you do. Don't waste a good one.

Which leaves us with Soraya. I have said it before, I don't like her eyes. They're too fanatic. It seems her hatred is pure. Softer positions and change of course cannot affect it. As she must be high on the list to succeed Rajoy, I wouldn't want her to destroy our little scheme. Could someone order Rajoy to calm her down? He's probably not able to speak to her, but he's cold-hearted enough to simply fire her.

Un abrazo,

Jan Hamminga

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