Workers Vanguard No. 1164
1 November 2019
Free All Imprisoned Catalan Independentistes Now!
Independence for Catalonia! For a Workers Republic!
The following article is a translation of a supplement issued on October 19 by our comrades of the Ligue trotskyste de France and published in French, Spanish and Catalan. The Catalan version was distributed at a protest of at least 350,000 on October 26 in Barcelona against the jailing of Catalan nationalist leaders.
Massive demonstrations that erupted on October 14 in Catalonia expressed anger over the sentencing of Catalan politicians and activists to prison terms ranging from nine to 13 years. In a show trial that triggered a wave of Castilian chauvinism against the Catalans, leaders of Catalan nationalist parties, including Oriol Junqueras, former vice president of the Generalitat of Catalonia (the autonomous government), and Carme Forcadell, former president of the Parlament, were convicted for having organized the October 2017 referendum on independence [when 90 percent voted for an independent republic]. The charges are outrageous: “sedition,” “disobedience,” “embezzlement.” Not only were nine of the 12 defendants sentenced to prison, but the Supreme Court renewed a European arrest warrant against Carles Puigdemont, the former president of the Generalitat, who fled to Belgium in October 2017. These convictions and the persecution of prominent Catalan bourgeois politicians are an ominous warning to the oppressed Catalan, Basque and Galician nations that the “indissoluble unity” of the Spanish prison house of peoples is not negotiable.
In the hours following the convictions, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Barcelona and other cities in Catalonia, including Perpinyà (Perpignan) [in France]. Solidarity demonstrations also took place in Donostia (Basque Country), Corsica and Brittany. A huge rally aiming to block the Barcelona airport was brutally attacked by joint units of the Spanish national police and the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan autonomous police. Dozens of protesters were injured; a 22-year-old lost an eye when he was hit by a flash-ball fired by the cops. The pro-independence demonstrations culminated in a general strike—the fourth in two years—with a demonstration on October 18 of more than 500,000 people in Barcelona. It was also attacked by the cops; nearly 200 people had to be hospitalized. Half of all public transportation was blocked by the strike, which was particularly strong at the university and in the public services. Notably, the dockers struck and demonstrated.
In the spirit of proletarian internationalism, the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) demands the immediate release of all those who have been imprisoned and arrested because they support the just cause of independence for Catalonia. Free all Basque and Catalan nationalist prisoners imprisoned in Spain and France! Hands off Carles Puigdemont! There is a single Basque nation and a single Catalan nation, which are divided and oppressed by the Spanish and French states. The movement for the independence of Catalonia in the “Spanish” part also threatens the “one and indivisible Republic” of French imperialism. Thus, the French bourgeoisie is no less hostile to the independence of these two nations than the Spanish bourgeoisie. In October 2017 [French president Emmanuel] Macron declared: “The rule of law exists in Spain, with constitutional statutes. He [the Spanish prime minister] wants to enforce them and he has my full support” (Libération, 14 October). Independence for Catalonia and Euskal Herria [the Basque Country], in the North and South! For the right to independence of Galicia!
The Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), led by Pedro Sánchez, who is currently the head of the Spanish state, is the main orchestrator of the repression. In recent weeks, he has carried out preventive arrests under the absurd pretext of fighting terrorism. The Audiencia Nacional (organ of the Ministry of Justice) has brought charges of “terrorism” against the group Tsunami Democràtic, whose only “crime” is to have played a major role in the recent demonstrations. Sánchez is threatening to invoke Article 155 of the Constitution to suppress any trace of Catalan autonomy, as his predecessor of the neo-Francoist Popular Party, Mariano Rajoy, had done in 2017. The social democrats, faithful unto death to the Spanish monarchy, have consistently played a central role in fanning anti-Catalan chauvinism among workers and the oppressed throughout the Spanish state. Down with the monarchy! The Spanish misleaders of the CCOO and UGT union federations also play a central role in spreading Castilian chauvinism. They refused to support the general strike in Catalonia!
For Political Independence of the Workers Movement!
Catalan bourgeois politicians have full confidence in the European Union [EU], but workers must have no illusions that it might support Catalonia against the repression of the Spanish state. The EU is not a supranational state, but a consortium of bankers and bosses dominated by German (and secondarily French) imperialism. It serves to maximize capitalist profits by maximizing the exploitation of workers throughout Europe. The imperialists are also determined to trample on the national sovereignty of the weaker member countries. The EU is inherently deeply hostile to the struggles of oppressed nations for their emancipation. In response to the sentencing of the Catalan leaders, the European Commission declared that it fully respects the Spanish constitutional order, “including Spanish judicial decisions” (euobserver.com, 15 October). Down with the EU! For a Socialist United States of Europe, united on a voluntary basis!
Catalonia has none of the attributes of a state—essentially, armed forces—that would enable it to resist the Spanish state. The cause of Catalan independence cannot be entrusted to the Catalan bourgeoisie, which advocates for “dialogue” with the Spanish government. The successive Catalan governments, led by the right-wing bourgeois party PDeCAT (Catalan European Democratic Party) and its predecessor, the CiU, have acted in concert with Madrid and occasionally in collusion with the Esquerra Republicana (Republican Left party) and the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy), to implement anti-labor austerity and ruthlessly attack unions. These attacks included unleashing the Mossos against striking workers and pro-independence activists.
We fight to make the struggle for national emancipation a motor force for proletarian revolution. The working class, by mobilizing its enormous social power at the head of all the oppressed, can make independence a reality. We seek to imbue the workers throughout both Spain and France with the understanding that the fight for Catalan independence and Basque independence is crucial for their own emancipation from capitalist wage slavery. This battle must be waged against the current misleadership of the working class, as part of the struggle to forge Leninist-Trotskyist parties, sections of a reforged Fourth International, the necessary instrument to lead the working class to power.