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Spain On High Alert To Prevent Puigdemont From Sneaking Back “In The Boot Of A Car”

Spain’s Interior Minister Jose Ignacio Zoido has a warning for  Carles Puigdemont: “don’t try to sneak back into Barcelona, you will be caught.”

The ousted former Catalan leader and infamous separatist, Carles Puigdemont who remains in self-imposed exile in Brussels and who was again picked by the Catalan parliament to be its president, may be tempted to cross into Spain “by helicopter, light aircraft or boat” so that the regional parliament can reappoint him officially, Zoido told broadcaster Antena 3 in an interview. The police have deployed specialist teams to monitor his movements and will catch him if he tries.

“Justice will be done with Carles Puigdemont”, Zoido told Antena 3 on Tuesday morning, adding that the former First Minister had “fled” from the courts. “He has gone to countries where they’re not paying much attention to him but where he can make a lot of noise.”

As a reminder, “making a lot of noise” in Europe, especially when it goes against the establishment, is frowned upon.

Why the bizarre statement? Because, as Bloomberg notes, the Spanish media is abuzz with speculation that “Puigdemont might attempt a dramatic return for an investiture vote in the Catalan parliament this month. He fled to Brussels in October after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired him for engineering a declaration of independence from Spain and he faces arrest if he attempts to return.”

Asked about the possibility that Puigdemont might try to sneak back across the border to attempt another embarrassing media coup for the Spanish government, Zoido replied that Spanish security forces were vigilant and prepared, with Civil Guard and National Police experts working on the problem.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

750,000 Protesters Clog Barcelona Streets, Demands Release Of “Political Prisoners”

750,000 Protesters Clog Barcelona Streets, Demands Release Of “Political Prisoners”

Hundreds of thousands of people – 750,000 according to Barcelona police – backing Catalonia’s bid to secede from Spain clogged the streets in downtown Barcelona Saturday to demand the release of jailed separatist leaders.

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Close to a million people filled the length of the Avenue Marina that runs from the beach to Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia church, while the jailed leaders’ families made speeches.


Here’s what this looks like on the ground pic.twitter.com/7uZP1EUbk0


As AP reports, the rally’s grassroots organizers called for 10 prominent members of the secessionist movement in the northeastern Spanish region to be freed from prison.

Eight former members of Catalonia’s dissolved Cabinet and two activists are in jail while Spanish authorities investigate their alleged roles in promoting an illegal declaration of independence last month in violation of Spain’s Constitution.

A separate court in Madrid granted bail on Thursday to another six Catalan lawmakers – including Catalan parliament’s speaker Carme Forcadell – also being investigated over the secession push. Forcadell was released after agreeing to renounce any political activity that went against the Spanish constitution, according to the court’s ruling, in effect banning her from campaigning for independence in the December election. Those terms threaten to undermine the independence movement just as cracks are starting to appear and tensions rise between the grassroots and their leaders.

Still, there were few cracks on display Saturday: “We want to tell the world that we want freedom for our prisoners and freedom for Catalonia,” Agusti Alcoberro, the vice president of grassroots group National Catalan Assembly, told the crowd in Barcelona, the region’s capital.

Many of the protesters carried pro-independence “estelada” flags, with its white star and blue triangle superimposed over the traditional red-and-yellow Catalan colors.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Price of Chaos Rises in Spain

The Price of Chaos Rises in Spain

The longer the toxic process between Catalonia and Spain drags on, the wider the gulf grows.

During a visit yesterday to Barcelona, the organizers of the Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest mobile event, warned the City Council that unless the political situation stabilizes in Catalonia, they will be looking for an alternative venue after 2018. Barcelona has hosted the annual event every year since 2006 and it brings in billions of euros to the city each year, much of which ends up in the pockets of local taxi drivers, hoteliers, owners of bars, restaurants and brothels, Airbnb hosts and, last but not least, the thousands of professional pickpockets that flock to the city for the four day event.

John Hoffman, the chief executive of GSMA, the association that organizes the Mobile World Congress (MWC), could not have chosen a worst day to visit Barcelona. As part of a general strike to protest the incarceration of pro-independence ministers and leaders and the imposition of direct rule from Madrid, thousands of picketers had blocked dozens of roads across the region including the main freeway connecting Spain with France, causing massive traffic jams.

High-speed train links between Barcelona and France and Barcelona and Madrid were also put out of action after hundreds of protesters moved onto platforms and railway lines in Barcelona and Girona chanting ‘Freedom, Freedom.”

At midday thousands of protesters occupied Barcelona’s Sant Jaume square in front of the city’s town hall, a traditional assembly point for Catalonia’s separatist movement. The chant “Squatters, get out” rang out in allusion to the take-over by central government authorities of Catalonia’s regional government.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Devolution everywhere: Spain, Italy, Britain and the problems of complexity

Devolution everywhere: Spain, Italy, Britain and the problems of complexity

The narrative about Catalan independence is that two major cities, Madrid and Barcelona, are competing for power, and one has decided that the best path forward is to declare independence from Spain and free itself of Madrid’s dominance.

There is certainly something to this narrative. As CNN reports:

Catalonia accounts for nearly a fifth of Spain’s economy, and leads all regions in producing 25% of the country’s exports.

It contributes much more in taxes (21% of the country’s total) than it gets back from the government.

Independence supporters have seized on the imbalance, arguing that stopping transfers to Madrid would turn Catalonia’s budget deficit into a surplus.

Catalonia has a proven record of attracting investment, with nearly a third of all foreign companies in Spain choosing the regional capital of Barcelona as their base.

But the spread of independence-seeking across Europe points to something more than just sibling rivalry. In 2016 British voters shocked the world by voting narrowly to withdraw from the European Union (EU). Just this month two of Italy’s richest regions held non-binding referendums on seeking increased autonomy from the central government. More than 95 percent of those voting said yes.

The immediate effects of Britain withdrawing from the EU and of Catalonia becoming independent (if, in fact, either actually ends up happening) could be quite negative economically, cutting both off from established trade arrangements that power their economies. (The vague desire for more autonomy among the provinces of Veneto and Lombardy in Italy does not yet spell economic and political divorce.)

Given this outcome, why would the people of Britain and Catalonia seek to disconnect from central authorities? For Britain perhaps the impetus was that most of the people of Britain did not feel they were sharing in the prosperity generated by the country’s affiliation with the EU.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Spain’s Rajoy Ready To Trigger “Nuclear Option” As Thousands Protest Against Independence In Barcelona

Spain’s Rajoy Ready To Trigger “Nuclear Option” As Thousands Protest Against Independence In Barcelona

One week after the historic Catalan Independence Referendum vote reopened Europe’s populist Pandora Box of nationalist secession movements, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Catalonia’s capital Barcelona on Sunday to express their opposition to any declaration of independence from Spain, which according to Reuters showed “how divided the region is on the issue.”

Last Sunday, more than 90% of the 2.3 million people who voted backed secession, according to Catalan officials. But that turnout represented only 43 percent of the region’s 5.3 million eligible voters as many opponents of independence stayed away. Now its the others’ turn to be heard.


1. Big march in Barcelona this morning. Rally point already full of Spanish and Catalan flags.@emilialandalucepic.twitter.com/jRzd4F09ag

5.
– Long live Spain/Cat.
– I am Spanish
– Jail for Puigdemont
– THIS is the people of Catalonia@lasvocesdelpuepic.twitter.com/BIig4ol1Oe


The protesters rallied in central Barcelona, waving Spanish and Catalan flags and banners saying “Catalonia is Spain” and “Together we are stronger”, as politicians on both sides hardened their positions in the country’s worst political crisis for decades.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“A Civil War Is Coming” – EU Commissioner Urges Madrid & Barcelona To Talk

“A Civil War Is Coming” – EU Commissioner Urges Madrid & Barcelona To Talk

The EU’s budget commissioner has warned of the risk of “civil war” in Catalonia, as fears grew over a looming independence declaration and major banks prepared to relocate their headquarters.

With just 48 hours until Catalonia’s Parliament meets, defying Madrid, to debate secession, Gunther Oettinger, the Germany EU commissioner urged dialogue…

“The position is very, very alarming. Civil war is conceivable there, in the middle of Europe,” he began.

”One can only hope that a conversation will be made between Madrid and Barcelona soon,” he continued, adding that the EU could only mediate talks “if asked.”

The German commissioner’s startling remarks prompted disquiet among EU diplomats. One told VOA he thought the comments “nonsense.”

What would Spain lose if Catalonia becomes independent?

Independence for Catalonia has been a long time coming…

As VOA reports, Oettinger and the EU Commission, the European bloc’s governing body, which fears Catalan independence might stir up separatism elsewhere in Europe, have also urged the authorities in Madrid and Barcelona to start negotiations and to avoid further provocations.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Total Stoppage”: Barcelona Paralyzed By General Strike, Barricades As Protesters Take To The Streets

“Total Stoppage”: Barcelona Paralyzed By General Strike, Barricades As Protesters Take To The Streets 

The Catalan rebellion escalated on Tuesday, resulting in a day of “total stoppage” for the Catalan capital, in which Barcelona metro stations were closed, pickets blocked main roads and civil servants walked out on Tuesday in response to a strike called by pro-independence groups as separatist activists took to the streets of Barcelona to press home their demands for independence after winning an referendum on Sunday which despite a violent crackdown by the Spanish government, saw nearly 90% of the vote cast for splitting away from Madrid.

According to Bloomberg, public transport and shops were closed as demonstrators gathered in the center of the Catalan capital to protest the police violence that marked Sunday’s vote and reinforce their demands for a split with Spain. Photographs showed traffic backed up behind protesters on one of the main highways connecting Catalonia with the rest of Spain. Roads are blocked in 48 places in the region, the Spanish traffic agency said.


Demonstrators in Barcelona, Oct. 3.

Regional traffic authorities in Catalonia told The Spain Report on Tuesday morning that more than 50 barricades or protests had blocked roads across the region, including major toll roads and motorways used for commercial traffic to and from France.

Normally busy metro stations in Barcelona were deserted as services were cut back sharply, pickets blocked traffic on Gran Via street and traffic on six major highways in the region was disrupted by protests, Reuters reported. Elsewhere, the response to the strike call was patchy with some shops, supermarkets and cafes open and some closed. The Boqueria market in Barcelona was almost empty. Pro-independence groups and trade unions in Catalonia called a general strike for Tuesday after Spanish police forcibly tried to close polling stations on Sunday after a referendum on Catalan independence from Spain was banned by the constitutional court.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Catalonia Needs Its Own Central Bank”: Spain’s Black Swan Lives As New Catalan President Sworn In

“Catalonia Needs Its Own Central Bank”: Spain’s Black Swan Lives As New Catalan President Sworn In

When last we checked in on Catalonia, Spain’s black swan was splashing around in a desperate attempt to avoid snap elections just three months after the region’s parliament approved a “democratic disconnection” resolution and just four months after Catalans voted in what amounted to a referendum on secession from Spain.

The problem was that although Junts pel Si and the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) parties won a majority of the seats in parliament, and although both parties back a split from Spain, the two groups were unable to agree on who should lead the government. The choice was between then-President Artur Mas (Junts pel Si’s leader) or someone else.

Once CUP made it clear that they would not back Mas for President, the prospect of new elections reared its ugly head and the countdown was on to January 11 – the deadline for forming a government. “Lacking a majority in the 135-seat parliament, Mas had been reliant on the support of the pro-secession, far-left CUP group, which has 10 seats.” WaPo wrote in November. “But the CUP has refused to back Mas as regional president, because of his austerity policies of recent years and his party’s links to corruption scandals.”

When national elections held in December proved largely inconclusive, the stage was set for new elections both in Catalonia and for the country as a whole. Because the various parties vying for seats in the national parliament are divided on the Catalan independence bid, politics in Madrid are inextricably bound up with politics in Barcelona, creating an extraordinarily complex dynamic that admitted of no obvious solution.

Well, with the clock ticking, Catalonia resolved its stalemate on Saturday when Artur Mas agreed to stand aside so that Carles Puigdemont can assume the presidency.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Thousands of pro-independence protesters rally in Barcelona ahead of Catalan elections

Thousands of pro-independence protesters rally in Barcelona ahead of Catalan elections

© Albert Gea

A massive pro-independence demonstration in Barcelona, Spain drew thousands of people on Friday just two days before parliamentary elections in Catalonia. The Catalan president has promised to break with Spain in “18 months to 2 years” in case of a win.

Huge crowds waving red-and-yellow flags with a white star on a blue triangular – esteladas – filled the streets of Barcelona to show their commitment to Catalan independence, pictures posted on social media showed.

As the mass rally was taking place in Catalonia, Spain’s ruling conservative Popular Party (PP) issued a video in which its senior members, including Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, called on Catalans to reject the move.

“United we will win,” Rajoy said in Catalan.

Parliamentary elections will be held in Catalonia on Sunday. Supporters of Catalan independence regard the vote as a form of independence referendum. They are counting on a decisive victory for the “Junts pel Sí” (“Together for yes”) coalition that advocates secession for the region.

“Clearly, if we get a majority of the votes on September 27, then that’s the referendum done,” Artur Mas, Catalonia’s President said on Wednesday. He also promised to declare independence in 18 months to two years if the “Junts pel Sí” movement wins at the polls.

 

Mas also warned Madrid that Catalonia, which is Spain’s richest region, producing about one fifth of its entire GDP, will not help Spain pay off its debts if it blocks the referendum on Catalan independence.

“If it does not make an agreement with Catalonia, how will Spain be able to pay back its debts, which will rise to 120 percent of its output, while it loses the most productive part of its economy?” he asked.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

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