Removal of Francoist symbols from public places to be obligatory
Catalan Justice ministry to put forward historical memory law
Catalan Justice ministry to put forward historical memory law
City council announces lawsuit against those responsible for abuses against homosexual community in final days of dictatorship
The Catalan Parliament passed this Wednesday a bill aimed at annulling all the express judicial sentences of the Franco regime, known as summary court-martials. 78,000 people were condemned between 1939 and 1975, 20,000 of them through these judicial procedures, among which was the Catalan President Lluís Companys, who was executed in 1940, and the anarchist activist Salvador Puig Antich, who was one of the last victims of the Francoist garrotte executions for political reasons. Now, 41 years after Franco’s death, the victims and relatives of the victims is seeing the Parliament take action so as that all the verdicts can be declared null and void. This proposal of judicial reparation for the “dignity” of the victims was driven by the cross-party pro-independence coalition ‘Junts pel Sí’, the radical-left CUP and the alternative left-coalition ‘Catalunya Sí que es Pot' (CSQP).
The Commission for Dignity, an NGO that aims to return the documents confiscated by Franco’s troops at the end of the Spanish Civil War to their rightful owners in Catalonia,“urged” the Spanish state and the army to condemn the court-martial that executed Catalan President, Lluís Companys in 1940. The Commission also invited Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and commanding officer of the Spanish military forces stationed in Catalonia, General Boyero Delgado, to attend the commemoration events “as an action of normality”. One of its initiatives to fight for the preservation of historical memory is to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Companys’ execution. As a tribute, the Commission is also preparing a concert on the 11th of October, performed by the School of Music of Catalonia (ESMUC) and to be held at the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC).
This year is the 20th anniversary of the death of Valencian singer Ovidi Montllor who, along with other artists, promoted Catalan music during the Franco dictatorship and the transition years to democracy. Though not well-known internationally, Montllor was an important figure in the Catalan music world and especially in the opposition to the dictatorship. Back then, he started to accompany his poems with music and those of renown Catalan poets like Joan Salvat-Papasseit. For this reason, throughout the year there will be a lot of events and tributes paid to him. One of these tributes is a book to be published in March written by Catalan writer Jordi Tormo made up of photographs, poems and a review of his career.
The victims of Franco's regime have denounced before the European Parliament in Brussels crimes committed during the dictatorship and their impunity in Spain. They urged EU institutions to play “a more active and committed role” in facing the problem. Merçona Puig, sister of Salvador Puig Antich, who was one of the last victims of the Francoist garrotte executions, hopes that this action will serve “to apply pressure” so that Francoist ex-ministers can be extradited to Argentina, where there is an ongoing judicial process. Other figures also participated in the Brussels event, such as representatives of the association for babies stolen during the dictatorship and the association of the 1976 Vitoria massacre, where police fired on striking workers.
On the same day, both the Spanish Justice Minister, Rafael Català, and the 'number 2' of the governing People's Party (PP), María Dolores de Cospedal, compared Catalonia's self-determination process with the Fascist and Nazi movements of the 1930s. Such a comparison trivialises Nazism and is highly offensive for millions of Catalan citizens. The Catalan pro-independence movement mainly demands to hold a democratic vote on independence, as in Scotland, and it has always acted in a peaceful and festive way. The expert in European populism, Meindert Fennema, stated he considered that to compare Catalan self-determination with Nazism to be "ridiculous" and "nonsensical". On top of this, he highlighted that Catalonia's society is highly inclusive, since it has welcomed and integrated millions of immigrants in the last 100 years. In fact, 70% of the Catalan population has origins from outside Catalonia and 80% of the Catalan population want to hold a self-determination vote.
Comparing Catalonia's self-determination process with the Nazi regime has become one of the arguments the Spanish nationalists have used over the last two years, repeated in extreme-right television stations and even at the Spanish Parliament. Such an offensive comparison outrages most of Catalan society, for its total unfairness in describing a democratic process and for trivialising Nazism and the suffering of its victims. Now, the issue has reached the European Parliament, where the Spanish nationalist party UPyD sent a letter to all 751 MEPs comparing the situation in Catalonia with that of "Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s". The CDU MEP Ingeborg Grässle was outraged by the letter and urged UPyD "to at least apologise". "Any politician in Germany would have immediately resigned", she added. Besides, civil society organisations in Barcelona have filed a complaint to the Public Prosecutor Office against dozens of calumnies against self-determination process and its comparison to Nazism.
The Disciplinary Commission of Spain’s Judicial Power Council (CGPJ) will have to decide whether it suspends Santiago Vidal, judge of Barcelona’s High Court, for having worked in his free time on the drafting of a proposal for a future Catalan constitution in the event of independence, together with other law experts. The CGPJ judge in charge of investigating other judges, Antonio Jesús Fonseca-Herrero, recommended Vidal’s temporary suspension for “infidelity to the Constitution” of Spain. On Friday, the Catalan judge defended his freedom of expression and argued that this activity did not affect his work as he was doing it during his free time. The CGPJ decided to investigate Vidal, despite not having done the same with judges participating in activities of the People’s Party political think tank, for instance.
The Spanish Government held an extraordinary meeting this Monday morning to approve the appeals against the Catalan Law on Consultation Votes and the decree calling the 9th of November consultation vote. The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, considered the Catalan measures to be "antidemocratic" and "an attempt against the rights of all Spaniards". The appeals were filed at 1:15 pm and, after this, the Constitutional Court announced it was holding an extraordinary meeting at 6:30 pm, instead of waiting until the next regular meeting, scheduled for the 7th of October. Furthermore, the Spanish Government's main advisory body, the Council of State, gave their recommendation on Sunday evening to file the appeals. Such a recommendation came after the Spanish Government asked for it on Saturday morning, the first time in Spain's democratic history that such a body reacted so quickly. The Catalan Government advised Rajoy and the Constitutional Court to be very careful with their decisions, as they could make "the greatest mistake in Spain's democracy".
Jordi Pujol, who chaired the Catalan Government for 23 years between 1980 and 2003, has given further explanations about his fiscal fraud confession to the Catalan Parliament but he has not answered the manifold questions from the MPs. Furthermore, Pujol was visibly angry over some accusations launched by Spanish nationalist parties and alternative left MPs. There had been a lot of expectation for this parliamentary hearing for the person who used to lead the centre-right Catalan nationalism from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s, who confessed at the end of July that his family had been storing money in tax havens for the last 34 years without informing tax authorities. In the current political situation of tensions between Catalonia and Spain, with many corruption scandals emerging and with millions of people suffering from the hard effects of the economic crisis, Pujol's confession ignited the atmosphere. On top of this, the former Catalan President had referred on many occasions to the merits of hard work
Catalonia's self-government might be suspended in the coming weeks if the Catalan authorities organise the self-determination consultation vote on the 9th of November, suggested the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, José Manuel García-Margallo. The week after 1.8 million Catalans formed an 11km-long mosaic to support November's non-binding vote, García-Margallo stated that the Spanish Executive will use "all the means at its disposal" to stop such a vote from happening; all the means "within the Law, but using all the Law", he added. A few hours later, before the Spanish Parliament, García-Margallo was asked about this statement, which he confirmed. He also dared to talk about an armed intervention but ruled out the possibility of "putting out the tanks", because "that does not seem to be within the Constitution". Catalonia's autonomy was restored in Autumn 1977 and it was one of the most essential pillars of Spain's democratic transition and of the Constitution approved in December 1978.
Two days before the massive pro-independence demonstration will take place in Barcelona on Catalonia's National Day, more than 500,000 citizens have already signed up for participating in it. This year's pro-independence rally is likely to break all records, even though in last year's event demonstrators managed to form a 400km-long human chain spanning from north to south along all of Catalonia, attracting the world's attention. In 2013, more than 1.6 million people participated in the demonstration that was imitating the 1989 Baltic Way, according to the Catalan Police. Back then, 455,000 people had previously registered to participate in one of the human chain's 788 stretches. Now, as for last year's event, registration is not obligatory but recommended in order to guarantee that all the rally stretches will be full and a gigantic Catalan flag will be formed along the 11km itinerary. The demonstration will take place along Barcelona's two main avenues, forming a colossal V-shape to symbolise 'Vote', 'Victory' and 'Will', all three which start with a 'V' in Catalan.