Not a lot of people know it (yet) but this September will mark a turning point in European history: the first with no bloodletting, if the English and Spanish governments behave themselves. On the 18th, the citizens of Scotland will vote (or not) for independence (even if they vote against, they will obtain more autonomy than they currently enjoy). On the 11th, the third mass demonstration for independence will be held in Catalonia, marking 300 years to the day on which Barcelona capitulated to the Borbonic troops and Catalonia became, willy-nilly, nothing more than a region of a new state with a (then) new name: the Kingdom of Spain. The first two massive Catalan demos kick-started then boosted the independence process: 2012's 1.6 million strong demo and 2013's two million strong human chain dragged Catalan politicians remorselessly in their wake and continue to do so (the largest pro-secession demo in Scotland, by contrast, did not exceed 35,000 people). This month, at least a million Catalans will be needed to fill Barcelona's two longest arteries – the Gran Via and the Diagonal – to create a V visible from the sky, expressing a desire for Voting and for Victory (if you're English, a third, somewhat stronger message to Madrid might also be discerned). The remarkable thing about the two previous demonstrations was that they were open, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, convivial, celebratory and unanimously peaceful. The image transmitted (worldwide) was immaculately democratic. Well, rumours are floating around that this year the Spanish government will do whatever it takes to rock this festive boat. According to José Antich, erstwhile editor of the Vanguardia newspaper – with more contacts in Madrid than I've had cold glasses of white wine - the ruling Partido Popular (PP) has two working groups dealing with the Catalan scenario. One concentrates on placing (or inventing) legal obstructions to the independence process. The other is dedicated to creating a climate of confrontation within Catalonia, leading to possible outbreaks of violence. Indeed, the PP has declared openly (and wishfully) that said process has already created a social maelstrom, which, for those of us who live here, is notable only by its absence. In short, this party's clumsy assumption seems to be that Catalonia should be turned into something like the Basque Country in the days when ETA was active. That way, the top bananas in Madrid could dismiss the 80% of Catalan citizens who want the right to vote on independence, as potential terrorists. They wish.

Matthew Tree, Catalonia Today, setembre de 2014


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