Spain’s plan to send boatloads of military police to Catalonia to prevent its independence referendum has backfired with dockers in two ports staging a boycott and a third refusing access.
The Express writes Police boats Blocked by Catalan ports as unrest threatens to Rip Spain Apart.
More than 4,000 members of Spain’s Guardia Civil are being dispatched to the troubled region amid concerns over divided loyalties in the autonomous community’s own police force, the Mossos d’ Esquadra.
Spanish authorities wanted to house the Guardia Civil officers on four cruise ships – two in Barcelona, one in Tarragona and another in Palamos.
But as thousands took to the streets to protest against the detention of Catalan officials, local dock workers joined the backlash.
The Assembly of Stevedores of the Port of Barcelona announced that workers would not provide any services to boats carrying security forces, a decision it said was taken “in defence of civil rights”.
Colleagues in Tarragona quickly followed suit and the Catalan government then denied permission to dock in Palamos – which, unlike Barcelona and Tarragona, falls under regional rather than national control.
More than 40,000 people have gathered in Barcelona to protest over the arrests and the intervention of the Spanish government in the Catalan independence vote.
Many of the angry protesters have been waving Catalonia’s red and yellow flag while chanting “We will vote” and “Hello Democracy!”
In a television address, Catalan’s President Carles Puigdemont said: “The Spanish state has by all rights intervened in Catalonia’s government and has established emergency rule.
“We condemn and reject the anti-democratic and totalitarian actions of the Spanish state.”
A spokesman for the Catalan National Assembly said: “They made a big mistake; we wanted to vote and they declared war.”
Catalans are split on the issue of independence but support for a vote is high and few are happy with Spanish police arresting Catalan leaders.
Tensions have been further fuelled by reports that some of those detained are likely to face charges of sedition, which carries a lengthy prison sentence.
Support for a Vote
The Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia (via Mish translation) notes ‘The Times’ joins foreign dailies asking for a referendum for Catalonia.
The Times joins the list foreign newspapers that support a referendum. Le Monde and the New York Times also support a referendum.
In an editorial, The Times, a historic British conservative daily, accuses prime minister Mariano Rajoy of “repression.”
The text of the British newspaper is especially blunt against the reaction of the Spanish state. The editorial maintains that Spain is in a serious “constitutional crisis” with risk of “rupture”, the greatest since “the end of the Franco dictatorship.”
The editorial also accuses Rajoy of “feeding the crisis”. The Times ventures to ask the central government to allow the referendum even if it is contrary to the Spanish Magna Carta.
Spain Seizes “.CAT” Domain
The New York Times reports In Catalonia, Spain Seizes the .Cat Internet Domain
On the same day this week that the Spanish authorities stormed the offices of the Catalan regional government, detaining at least 14 people, a less-noticed raid took place.
The puntCat foundation, which oversees the registry of websites with the “.cat” domain, tweeted Wednesday that its offices had also been raided and that one of its senior executives had been arrested.
Given the web’s rich cat history, you’d think that domain names ending in .cat would be another online feline gold mine. [But] almost all sites with the .cat suffix belong to the Catalan-speaking community thanks to the efforts of the puntCAT (“dot-cat” in Catalan), the foundation approved in 2005 to manage its registry by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a global organization. That made it one of the first domain suffixes to explicitly refer to a language and culture, paving the way for others, when it first appeared online in 2006.
In a letter to ICANN, the foundation said that the Spanish authorities had asked it to “block all .cat domain names that may contain any kind of information about the forthcoming independence referendum.”
“We are being requested to censor content and suppress freedom of speech,” the organization added.
The internet naming corporation said, “We are aware of the reports about Fundacio PuntCAT, the registry operator for .CAT, and we continue to monitor the situation.”
Spain digs itself deeper into a hole. Most of those previously undecided will now vote for #catalan independence, and rightfully so.— Mike Mish Shedlock (@MishGEA) September 22, 2017
The Catalan President says “We Will Vote on Independence Whether Spain Likes it or Not”.
Carles Puigdemont is the 130th president of Catalonia.
What follows is Puigdemont’s message in the Washington Post
After three centuries under Spanish rule, on Oct. 1, citizens of Catalonia will finally have the chance to exercise their right to self-determination. More than 5 million eligible voters will have the right to decide on a simple question: “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?”
The way to this historic referendum was paved by a majority decision of the Catalonian parliament. In our last regional election in September 2015, pro-independence parties won 47.8 percent of the vote, which gave them an absolute majority of seats. Unionist parties won 39.1 percent of the votes, a clear defeat, while the rest of the votes went to parties that defend the right to self-determination but are not necessarily in favor of independence. So there can be no denying the democratic legitimacy of our current Catalonian government. For this reason, after making several unsuccessful efforts to agree on the terms of the referendum with Spanish President Mariano Rajoy, I initiated the referendum.
In stark contrast to the governments of Canada or Britain, Madrid has refused to accept this democratic challenge, and has opted instead for the path of authoritarian repression. In most parts of the developed world, police protect ballot boxes, polling stations, and voters. In Catalonia today, the situation is the opposite. Spanish security forces are confiscating ballots and ballot boxes, stripping campaign posters from the walls, and intimidating citizens. They have arrested officials of the Catalan government, tapped telephones, raided private residences, and banned political rallies.
It seems incredible that this could happen in Spain in the 21st century. One French journalist recently noted that the Spanish government is acting more like Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuelan dictatorship than a healthy European democracy. And consider the fact that Catalonia, Spain, and other European countries are currently on maximum alert against jihadi terrorism. Instead of working to prevent possible attacks, Spain’s police forces are working to prevent the exercise of democracy. This is profoundly irresponsible.
The Spanish government has also gravely violated the freedom of expression and of information. Not only has it prohibited both public and private media from broadcasting advertisements about the referendum, it has also moved to block Catalan government websites that inform the public about the vote. Madrid has even blocked proxy servers, a procedure employed by only the most totalitarian regimes. The Spanish government not only wants to keep Catalans from voting, but also to prevent them from being informed.
The Spanish government has to understand that its behavior is unacceptable from the point of view of democracy and civil rights. Four decades after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco, we still find that authoritarian instincts rule at the heart of the Madrid government. Respect for minorities is a fundamental human right, and the right of self-determination is an irrevocable right of all nations.
Our commitment to the right of self-determination and to the will of the Catalan people to decide its own future remains unshaken. The repression of the Spanish government will not be able to change that. On Oct. 1, citizens of Catalonia will exercise their right to decide whether they want to become a new independent republic, just like other peoples of the world have done before them. This is the moment of the people of Catalonia, but we are not alone in this fight. We call on democrats around the world to give support to this long struggle between freedom and authoritarianism.
I support Catalonia Independence and apparently so do most Mish readers.