2007 - 2021

Scotland in Solidarity with Catalunya

I don’t know much about Catalunya. I’ve never been there; I have no friends from there. I’ve read, obviously, books coming out of the experience of the Spanish Civil War – George Orwell, Laurie Lee, and anarcho-syndicalist texts: Murray Bookchin, Robert Alexander and others. But that’s all a long time ago; and my interest was in political theory and in how you build a good society, not particularly in the place itself. I don’t know much about Catalunya.

But that is beside the point. The point, in Catalunya now, is the right of people in a place to define themselves as a community and a polis, and to achieve self determination for that polis. Chapter One, Article One of the Charter of the United Nations – which all members have signed up to – asserts the right to self determination. So does Article One of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Spain is also a signatory. It is a basic, fundamental right.

And it is a right we in Scotland claim. It is core to our Claim of Right. It is core to our right to choose whether we wish Scotland to become a nation again.

In Catalunya, at this moment, four people are in prison for peacefully asserting this right. They are:

Jordi Cuixart i Navarro is a civil society activist, not a politician. He leads a cultural organisation, Omnium Cultural, which promotes the Catalan language. He is, effectively, equivalent to the chair of An Comunn Gàidhealach. He’s accused of organising passive resistance to the attempts by the Guardia Civil – the Spanish national police – to destroy the infrastructure for the first of October referendum on Catalan independence.

His address in prison is:

Jordi Cuixart i Navarro
Centro Penitenciario
Madrid V
Ctra. M-609, km 3,5
28791 Soto del Real
Madrid, Spain

Jordi Sanchez Picanyol is President of the Assemblea Nacional Catalana, which might be seen as roughly equivalent to the Scottish Independence Convention; so again, although he is a political activist, he’s not a party politician. His closest Scottish equivalent might be Leslie Riddoch. Like Jordi Cuixart, he’s accused of organising passive resistance to the attempts by the Guardia Civil to destroy the infrastructure for the referendum.

His address in prison is:

Jordi Sànchez Picanyo
Centro Penitenciario
Madrid V
Ctra. M-609, km 3,5
28791 Soto del Real
Madrid, Spain

Oriel Junqueras i Vies is a historian by profession, but he’s an elected politician and serves as Vice-President of the Government of Catalonia; his nearest Scottish equivalent might be John Swinney. He leads the Republican Left party in the Catalan Parliament, and led the ‘Yes Coalition‘ campaign in the last parliamentary elections – so he’s also a bit like Blair Jenkins. He’s accused of  rebelliousness and sedition for responsibility for the unilateral declaration of Catalan independence.

His address in prison is:

Oriol Junqueras i Vies
Centro Penitenciario
Madrid VII
Ctra. M-241, km 5.750
28595 Estremera
Madrid, Spain

Joachim Forn Chiariello is a lawyer turned liberal politician. He leads the Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya party, and is Minister of the Interior in the Catalan Government. In Scottish terms he’s somewhere between Willie Rennie and Michael Matheson. He’s in prison largely because his ministry was responsible for the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan regional police (equivalent to Police Scotland) and for the Catalan firefighters, who together defended voters from the violence of the Guardia Civil on the first of October.

His address in prison is:

Joaquim Forn Chiariello
Centro Penitenciario
Madrid VII
Ctra. M-241, km 5.750
28595 Estremera
Madrid, Spain

So, four men. None of them revolutionaries. None of them have espoused violence. Each serving in roles which are quite familiar in Scotland. And each, imprisoned for doing so. 

If the Westminster Government sent the Metropolitan Police to smash up the baby boxes that the Scottish Government are distributing, wouldn’t you hope that someone in Scottish civil society – Jonathon Shafi, perhaps, or Lesley Riddoch – would organise a peaceful demonstration to prevent them?

If the Holyrood parliament votes to organise a second independence referendum, and, if that referendum returns a strong ‘Yes’ vote, votes again to declare Scotland independent, wouldn’t you hope that the Scottish Government would act on that mandate? 

Of course you would.

And let’s put to bed the claim that the referendum was ‘illegal’. The right to self determination is guaranteed by binding international agreements to which Spain is a voluntary signatory. Therefore it is legal in Spain to vote for self determination. Self determination cannot be legally protected if all the means to express self determination are forbidden. The referendum cannot have been illegal. As Spain claims that its national law trumps Catalunya’s regional law, so international law trumps Spain’s national law. 

I don’t know much about Catalunya. I don’t know whether Catalunya should be independent. That’s none of my business; it’s for the people of Catalunya to decide. But I do know this: if Scotland will not stand in solidarity with the Catalans, if we will not stand up to assert Catalunya’s right to self determination, why should anyone stand up for ours? 

Libertat Presos Politics. They aren’t just Catalunya’s political prisoners; they’re also ours.

You can order postcards showing Scotland’s solidarity with Catalunya here.

Comments (6)

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  1. w.b.robertson says:

    The 4 deserve support from all of Scotland. Meanwhile the silence from the EU is remarkable – since not so long ago Nicola and the SNP were impressing on us that the EU would support Scotland`s independence. Now, there is a sudden silence from the SNP leaders on that subject.

  2. Kenny Smith says:

    Hear hear, great article. We have not forgotten Catalonia and I personally will be keeping an eye on elections coming up. I want them to achieve it for their own sake but part of me is watching how it plays out in reference to Scotland and if we push ahead without a section 30. I know it’s slightly different here as Holyrood can hold a consultative referendum but we,d face the same claims illegality. As for the EU, I totally feel the anger and frustration towards their attitude like I did during our indy ref. The article on Monday by George keervan in the national hit the spot and summed up what a lot of us are thinking but I agree with Stu Campbell that we are better of remaining a member till free of the UK then have the debate over membership. Wishing Catalans aw the best

  3. Brian MacIver says:

    Well, you made a truthful start, “You don’t know much about Catalunya”

    So, let’s start Catalunya is part of Spain, which is a Constitutional Democracy, the Spanish Constitution was approved, by Referendum, by a 90% favourable vote. Including the overwhelming Majority of Catalans. Sovereignty, rest with the Constitution, not the King, President or Government. The Catalan Autonomous Government came into being via the Constitution, it is older [by 20 years] than Holyrood, and has more powers especially in Fiscal autonomy. The autonomous Government has its own Statutes, voted and Approved by he Catalan people, and agreed by the Constitutional Tribunal.

    So, at this point it is clear that Spain is NOT a Parliamentary Democracy, like UK and Unlike Scotland Catalunya is a Constitutional Region of Spain.

    It is NOT within the Gift of Spain’s President, or parliament to ‘grant’ a referendum to any part, or Region of Spain on Independence. Constitutionally. It was not within the power of the now ceased Catalan Government to call a Referendum on Independence. It was certainly NOT within the Ability of 70 Voters, by Secret ballot, to UDI. The broke, and were aware they were breaking, Constitutional law.

    11 EU countries have Constitutions which state their Country is Indivisible. It is not within the EU power to act AGAINST the Constitution of any of its members. It has Not failed.

    4 people are being held pending trial for offenses they were well aware of. 11 others are bailed, and 6 others will be charged when they return to Spain. All knew what they were doing and the consequences were repeatedly spelt out.

    But, what of ‘independence’? Well, which one? There are multiple views of Catalan Independence from a Social Civic Democracy, to a Stalinist Republic.

    How could independence be obtained? By reforming the Spanish Constitution. Many ideologies within Spain want Constitutional Reform, Basques, Catalans and Gallegos for increased self-determination, other Parts for Economic or Social change.

    The ART 155 which ceased the Catalan Gov’t was approved by Spain’s Socialist Opposition on the BASIS of Constitutional Review within 6 months. The Minority Gov’t {conservative] Cannot pass its 2018 Budget WITHOUT the Support of the Basques!

    Finally, 21Dec will see a free, fair and SAFE Regional Election {its NOT an Independence Referendum} the result will be the expressed will of ALL Catalans. Unlike, the 1 Oct referendum which was boycotted by many as it had been declared ‘unconstitutional’.

    After, the Regional Election MOST Spaniards want DIALOGUE, they see this as an internal Political ‘Mess’, and they are quite capable of Resolving it, politically! After all, Spain liberated itself, without outside help, from a 40 year Dictatorship, transitioned to Democracy , and for the last 40 years has manly been ruled by Socialists, including Communists, in Coalition.

    I trust Spain, ALL of Spain, to sort it out, and only they can!

  4. ScotsCanuck says:

    …… failing that, or the Catalans not returning the vote Madrid wants, we will be treated to the sceptical of the Garda Civil “clubbing” men & Women trying to exercise their Democratic Right to vote on their future in the “Democratic Spain” you quote Mr. MacIvor ….. not one word in your epistle regarding that wee episode I note ….. selective amnesia perchance ?

  5. John Stuart Wilson says:

    The coalition of Catalonian separatist parties found themselves in control of the regional assembly after the 2015 election despite the fact that they did not receive even a simple majority of the votes cast. They then proceeded to declare that they would decide which parts of the Spanish constitution would apply in “their” territory. They looted millions of euros from the public purse to pay for their propaganda campaign for the referendum. And, of course, made no provision for an opposition campaign.

    That is why people are in jail. Not for their political beliefs, but for their brazen law breaking. And no, these are bad, thought-police laws. They are sensible laws like “it is a crime to steal money”.

    Last month there was another set of elections. Once again, the separatist parties failed to muster even a simple majority of the votes.

    So spare a thought for the people of Catalonia who do not support the separatist cause. They appear to be the majority.

    1. José Luis Muniz says:

      Did you know that economic minister Montoro said that Catalans did not use public money for anything about referendum?

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