Tuesday 3 October 2017

Spain/Catalonia: Savage police violence met with resistance from Catalan people

Statement by Izquierda Revolucionaria (Revolutionary Left)

Thousands of police and civil guards carried out savage repression in Catalonia to try to prevent the right to vote in the referendum on 1 October. The state forces smashed glass doors of schools used as polling stations and stole ballot boxes. The riot police were sent by the Partido Popular (PP) government and the State against tens of thousands of citizens, families, children and old people. They were sent to occupy Catalonia but met with huge, exemplary resistance of the people.

Despite the campaign of fear that for days has tried to intimidate those who wanted to vote (arrests, massive fines, and website closures) the overwhelming response by the masses was an exemplary display of struggle. This is the way foward. The mobilizations must continue with a general strike in Catalonia on 3 October, and in the following days with massive mobilizations of the fighting left and the workers’ unions in the Spanish state. It is now time to throw out the PP government.

Franco’s repression

The images of the Franco regime have returned with all their force in the guise of Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy and his government of thieves, reactionaries and Spanish chauvinists. The heirs of the dictatorship have tried teaching a lesson to the population of Catalonia, but what they are going to harvest is a complete failure. The rage, indignation and fury of millions of young people and workers will grow into a wall against which the Francoist right and its repressive state will crash.

It is evident that as the hours pass, the number of injured and the violence due to police violence will only increase, as will the response in the streets. The political lessons of what is happening today are very important and will be recorded in the consciousness of millions of people, both from Catalonia and the rest of the state and internationally. The justification that the PP and its government that they only applying the law, cannot hide the fact that that law is unfair, undemocratic and goes directly against the aspirations of millions of Catalans who the government are trying to muzzle. These actions make even more shameful the capitulation of the leadership of the PSOE [Partido Socialista Obrero Español – a social democratic party] which has preferred to weave an alliance with the heirs of Franco rather than recognise the right to decide by the people of Catalonia.

The 1978 Constitution

In fact, what has been called into question thanks to the mobilisation of millions of young people, workers and citizens of Catalonia, is the authoritarian and oligarchical character of the capitalist regime that was enacted in 1978 [after the end of Franco rule]. To abort a revolutionary situation – in which the working class and the youth of all the territories of the State put the dictatorship and Spanish capitalism on the ropes – the Spanish bourgeoisie and the reformist leaderships of the organizations of the left (PCE [Spanish Communist Party] and PSOE) agreed the reform of the dictatorship in exchange for recognizing legally the democratic freedoms that had already been conquered in the streets through the mobilisation of the masses. In this way, the socialist transformation of society was prevented, and the bourgeoisie maintained control of the situation through a monarchical and parliamentary regime that accused included huge authoritarian aspects.

The 1978 Constitution enacted many things: a law that allowed impunity for the crimes of Francoism, the state apparatus was never purged; the judiciary, police and military remained in the hands of the same reactionaries. Of course, the “free market” economy and the unquestioned power of the capitalists were guaranteed, and the right to self-determination refused to Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia denied, inscribed in the Constitution with the language of the Franco dictatorship: ‘Spain, large and free’.

The mass movement unleashed in Catalonia in favour of national-democratic rights has placed the debate at an essential point. The denial that Catalonia is a nation has been reiterated by the centralist bourgeoisie and the right wing and enacted through repression or simple military conquest. This has been combined with widespread frustration at the terrible consequences of capitalist crisis; mass unemployment, evictions, job precariousness and low wages, and the lack of a future for the youth. The struggle against national oppression and class oppression have intertwined, as in other times in Spain (1909, 1931, 1934, 1936, 1977 …) generating a revolutionary potential that has defied the forms of political domination of the Spanish capitalist regime.

The working class and the youth of the whole State must understand that the cause of the people of Catalonia is also ours. “A people who oppress another can never be free,” said Karl Marx. That is why the labour movement throughout its history always inscribed on its flag the struggle for national liberation, for the self-determination of oppressed nations, as part of the struggle for the socialist transformation of society. Today in Catalonia we are fighting for the democratic freedoms that cost so to be won in the 1970s. If today the government act against the people of Catalonia, what will happen tomorrow? The answer is not difficult to work out. Tomorrow they will intensify the repression against all those who rise up against injustice and call into question their oppression and their rule. They will approve new gagging laws, more exceptional measures of repression, more Francoist impunity.

The people of Catalonia have courageously challenged the PP and its regime. That is why we must take advantage of this opening gap to achieve the immediate resignation of Rajoy and defeat this repressive onslaught. And to do so is only possible with the entrance of the organized working class, paralyzing production and filling the streets with the youth and the citizenship that is already massively mobilized.

The leadership of the CCOO and UGT [union federations] are maintaining a deplorable silence. Will you continue with this attitude after such brutal repression that recalls what was experienced under the dictatorship of Franco or Pinochet? Have they forgotten the verses of Bertolt Brecht: “First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Socialists and the trade unionists, and I did not speak because it was neither. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one who could speak for me ?"

The CCOO and UGT should immediately rectify its position and call a general strike in Catalonia on 3 October, and promote the mobilization of the working class in the rest of Spain. If they do not, they will be compromised once more, appearing next to those who today have trampled on the most scandalous democratic rights of all.

From Izquierda Revolucionaria we call on all formations on the left to struggle. In Catalonia we urge the Comú, ERC [Republican Left of Catalonia], CUP [Popular Unity Candidacy] and working class unions, social movements to establish a broad front of resistance against repression and to organize the 3 October general strike, and to extend the mobilization over the next days to conquer the right, to force the withdrawal of repressive forces in Catalonia and to bring down the PP government.

The youth are showing outstanding exemplary bravery and dedication in this battle: they did so in the massive student mobilisation on 28 September, and are doing so today in the streets, suffering the blows of the riot police. The Sindicat d’Estudiants has called a student general strike on 3 October and for the solidarity mobilization of student youth from the rest of the state.

We are facing a rise in the class struggle. From Izquierda Revolucionaria, we wish to express, once again, our commitment to the struggle of the Catalan people for their national-democratic rights, and we call for massive participation in the polls on 1 October, voting in favour of the Catalan republic as a way of hitting the capitalist regime Spanish and centralist state. This will encourage the class struggle for a Catalan socialist republic, against austerity policies and cuts, as a step forward towards the defeat of the PP and the immediate departure of the Catalan nationalist rightwing PDeCAT [Catalan European Democratic Party].

Now is the moment to offer a real working class alternative that is both internationalist and revolutionary, not subordinated to the nationalist bourgeoisie of Catalonia, or the PDeCAT or Puigdemont [Carles Puigdemont, the president of the Catalan Generalitat]. We cannot forget that even though they now suffer the reactionary onslaught of the PP, these political leaders have applied savage social cuts that have caused immense suffering, and defend their own privileges and very concrete class interests: those of the economic elite of Catalonia.

Izquierda Revolucionaria is committed to working to build a consistent left-wing alternative, which will seek the unity of the workers and the youth of Catalonia with their class brothers of the Spanish state, in a common struggle for socialism.

Ending the national oppression of Catalonia, Euskal Herria, Galiza, can only be realized in this epoch of imperialist decay if it is linked firmly to the overthrow of capitalism and the struggle for the socialist transformation of society, with the establishment of a Federal Socialist Republic, based on the voluntary free union of peoples and nations that make up the Spanish state.

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