Another twist and turn to the Catalan story

I want to follow up on my last post about the Catalan situation.

It’s not very clear what is happening. It’s one of those moments in history when you imagine there is lots of activity behind the scenes which it’s impossible for the interested observer to know about.

However, there is plenty to think about.

Yesterday in the end President Puigdemont (I continue to call him this as he was never thrown out by the voting public and has now been voted back in even though he has not been able to take office), in the end he didn’t arrive by boat nor plane nor parachute. He is still in Belgium.

The President of the Parliament (that is confusing I know but this position is held by Roger Torrent and is like our Speaker, sort of)…… he decided to postpone the investiture of the Catalan President as it wasn’t possible to guarantee it would happen in a normal fashion.

All the people who were ready to protect the parliament from the streets and with peaceful protest and vocal support, eventually went back home.

I felt somehow enraged at the delay. It seemed yet another twist in this complicated story and it was hard to see how it would solve anything.

Was it a decision from timidity?  To avoid having to confront the wrath of the Spanish Government yet again. They had gone to the courts and found they were unable legally to ban Puigdemont from taking office but they were also told they could take action afterwards and declare it illegal.

Or was it more of a betrayal?  There are two parties  – Puigdemont is from Junts per Catalunya (JuntsxSi) and Torrent is from Esquerra Republicana (ERC)  What power battles might be playing out here. What deals, or threats?

This is what I mean when I say it’s difficult to know what is happening. It is like a scene from Alice in Wonderland – strange, nonsensical, dark and rather menacing.

Then a Spanish TV station reported some private messages that Puigdemont sent to his colleague Toni Comin.  Apparently he said, ” “El pla de Moncloa triomfa. Això s’ha acabat. Els nostres ens han sacrificat, almenys a mi”.

“The Moncloa plan is triumphant. It’s over. Our people have sacrificed us, or at least me”

A later statement from Puigdemont said this:  ‘Sóc periodista i sempre he entès que hi ha límits, com la privacitat, que mai s’han de violar. Sóc humà i hi ha moments que també jo dubto. També sóc el President i no m’arronsaré ni em faré enrere, per respecte, agraïment i compromís amb els ciutadans i el país. Seguim!

“I am a journalist and I have always understood that there are limits, such as privacy, which should never be violated. I am human and there are times that I also doubt. I am also the President and I will not cower or go backwards, because of my respect, gratitude and commitment  to the citizens and the country. We continue!”

So the Spanish media as well as the government and the courts are determined to annihilate Puigdemont and the independent parties. They are willing to cross a border here of respect for privacy and stalk people with long lensed cameras to grab images from their mobile phones.

Even if the TV company was condemned for reporting information stolen in this way, you can’t stop the message going out. The war of information is very savage. How would it be if these same TV stations decided to attack the Spanish ruling party the PP who are immersed in several serious trials for corruption?  But they wouldn’t would they?  I imagine they receive good payment for what they do report.

I don’t have a problem with presidents or any politicans or other human beings having doubts. Quite the contrary.  Yesterday when I heard the inauguration was postponed I too thought, they are abandonning him.

I’m not sure who ‘they’ are, though.

What will happen next?

I really have no idea.

I wish for surprises.  How wonderful if the Spanish Left started to organise against the ruling PP.  What a relief if someone big in Europe started to speak out, to actually put pressure on Rajoy to resolve this. To let the prisoners return home and the exiles come back.  What I dread is that patience will run out, that someone will get hurt, that people will just have had enough of the endless attempts to humiliate them.

But what I dread most is that people give up, go home, get back to shopping and shrugging their shoulders with the feeling that ‘what can you do?  nothing changes’

And so I end with this, some responses on Twitter to Puigdemont’s statement on his determination to continue. In the end Presidents and politicians, journalists or lawyers will not matter. If the people of Catalunya remain firm and stay together in this battle then nothing will stop them from success.

Translated from Catalan on Twitter

“With you more than ever President”

“You are human, it is understandable that you have doubts, we all make mistakes. But I also know that you are the First President of the Republic who is willing to go right to the end in the promise to create an independent state and it is a shame that this isn’t understood by all. You are my President!”

“He is obeying the mandate of the ballot box, we are 2,200,000 Catalans who want to be independent and stop being a colony. If we have stayed with Spain it is from the use of the force that they have been doing for centuries … but it is enough. No more. Will they come this to kill us all?”

It is normal Mr President, the situation is frustrating and very difficult. We have all lost hope at some point, but if we work well and stay united we will leave sooner or later. Awesome and Strong !!!

“We are with you”  “We are with you”   ‘We are with you”

‘What’s happening in Catalunya now?’ I am asked

There is no news about Catalunya now on the BBC.

It’s not that there is no news – oh no, there is a lot happening but it seems we are not to be told about it.

Luckily we have the benefit of the internet and the ability to read Catalan so I hope here to give you an update on what is happening now.

First thing to know is that tomorrow January 30th is an important date.

The Parliament will convene and vote in the President for Catalunya.

Carles Puigdemont is the President elect because he is the leader of the pro-independence group – Junts per Catalunya, ERC and CUP – and as that alliance won the majority of votes in the election of December 21st (called by M. Rajoy if you remember)  that makes him the democratically elected President.

But first he needs to be sworn in. Therein lies a story.

We are now entering the bizarre world of Spanish politics. Note that I say Spanish, not Catalan, because although the Parliament is Catalan it is still under the legal jurisdiction of the Spanish government. Now more than ever since Spain applied Article 155 and took over/grabbed power.

Carles Puigdemont is in Belgium. Or is he? More of that later.

The Spanish want to arrest him on charges of sedition, rebellion and mismanagement of funds but have been thwarted since they couldn’t risk a trial in Brussels which they might lose. But if he appears on Catalan soil then they want to arrest him and put him in prison along with the other four prisoners.

(Reminder in case you have forgotten. Oriol Junqueres, leader of ERC, Quim    Forn, Cabinet Minister, and Jordi Cuixart and Jordi  Sanchez,  leaders of cultural organisations are all still in prison in Madrid. They have not been tried and are being held as political prisoners.

Using the courts as an arm of government has become the Spanish norm and this has resulted in a decree saying that Puigdemont cannot be invested when he is not in Parliament.  This is normally allowed if the President elect cannot be present in person. In this situation, he is banned from coming and also banned from being sworn in by Skype.

So, and now we reach the importance of tomorrow, the big question is whether he will arrive in Parliament in person to adopt his office.

They seek him here, they seek him there, they seek that Puigdemont everywhere…

The Spanish have been searching cars at the borders, checking boots and putting on an armed show of strength to dare anyone who might like to give Puigdemont a lift to Barcelona.

Ports are being watched.

Police from the Guardia Civil were seen lifting manhole covers to check the drains – might Puigdemont swim in underground?

Airports obviously are under scrutiny but it’s not imaginable that he would just be able to board a flight and fly like any other normal politician.

There are cartoons showing him arriving as the back legs of a pantomime pony.

What about a parachute?

I wanted to suggest dressing as a nun and coming in on a coach from Lourdes.

I am joking here but the situation is serious and it is incredible how little the rest of Europe seems to care about this threat to democracy right under their eyes. They are turning away, closing their eyes, blocking their ears while humming the theme to Titanic.

Even Jeremy Corbyn who I have backed without question for the last two years seems to have switched off his inner compass which normally points directly at anything anti-democratic, Fascist,  right wing, bullying, thuggish and oppressive.

Again and again the Catalans offer to talk, to discuss options, even to have a Spain-wide referendum but the answer is always the same. Threats and violence and intimidation and court orders followed by more of the same.

Tonight you can imagine that the Spanish establishment is on high alert. They don’t know what Puigdemont will do and nor do I. They have said he won’t be elected but surely they won’t have forgotten that Referendum on October 1st which they said ‘wouldn’t happen’. And it did!

Not all wars are about strength. Some are about brains.

I don’t know who my readers are.  Nor what you want to know.  Just a brief update or are you someone interested in the details of this fascinating process?

For those who want a bit more then read on….

  • Puigdemont has also gone on the attack. His party, Junts per Catalunya wants the Spanish Counsel of Ministers to be investigated by the European Court of Human Rights for their attempts to prevent the investiture of the elected President. They believe the Spanish government is  intimidating and robbing the public representatives of Catalunya with their decisions to stop the investiture at all costs.


  • In all Catalan towns there are meetings and protests and demonstrations calling for the prisoners to be released and for the government to be returned to democracy.  Small prisons have been erected in many town centres and people have spent time inside to show to the world that locking people up for their political beliefs is wrong.

Is the world watching?  Some people are. There is a lot of support from Scotland and Ireland too. But politicians remain terrified to intervene.

  • The ruling party in Spain is the PP and one of its minsters has threatened the President of Parliament Roger Torrent (not to be confused with the President of Catalunya. This one is more like the chair of the house)       The PP spokesperson said “Torrent has two children. He knows what might happen if he continues to support Puigdemont”

Still no-one in the UK or Europe speaks out.

I am going to stop now. I don’t want to be like the ancient Mariner and to detain you too long with my tale of threats, violence, lies, manipulation, political cowardice and disdain for rights and democracy.

It’s sometimes quite hard to read about for me. Or to write. That’s why I have been so silent recently.

I have friends who are living through this terrible experience.  For me the worse thing is not the behaviour of the Spanish government – you could say that is predictable. What drives me crazy is the silence of Europe.

Someone suggested to me that European leaders even support the Spanish repression of Catalunya because they want to see how far it is possible to go before people actually rise up and demand a return to democracy.

Could it be a nightmarish European experiment in oppression?

Tomorrow just please think about Catalunya and about the people who will be travelling to Barcelona to stand up for their rights, for democracy and for their country.  If this can happen there, it can happen anywhere.




Why I believe we should care about what’s happening in Catalunya.

I’m sitting here in Cornwall trying to write a post about what’s going on in Catalunya and I keep having false starts and long pauses while I read more and more on Twitter, on Facebook, in the news.

For the past two months I’ve been battling a cold virus – I can’t seem to clear my head. It’s all a muddle in there. Hopefully writing some of my thoughts down will help. I can’t carry all this around too much longer.

As I said my last post, today is a big day. And a sad one. I feel it physically like a vibration in my own body. I don’t know why it affects me so much. I wish I could switch off and stop reading the news or caring about what is happening. But it seems to have entered my psyche and so all I can do is write as much and as honestly as I can.

I can’t help imagining the sorrow of the families of the politicians who remain in prison – the two Jordis, Oriol Junqueres and Joaquim Forn.  The men themselves send out messages of determination, calm and inner resolve but it isn’t hard to imagine how hard it must be to be imprisoned in a very hostile atmosphere, with limited access to means of communication, without having had a fair trial and knowing that they are being punished for their beliefs and not their actions.

Over in Brussels Carles Puigdemont and his fellow ministers are speaking this morning in the hope of avoiding being extradited to Spain.  I feel they are doing the right thing in a dangerous and unpredictable situation. At least they are able to speak freely and have a chance to put their case.

Is the world listening?

For me it’s about more than Catalunya – it’s about democracy and whether we care enough about it to fight against oppression and to support all those who are doing the same.

I can’t help feeling that there is a battle going on all over the world which has recently increased in intensity. Now more than ever it is important to take your place and choose a side. There are millions of people fighting for justice and for human rights and for animal rights and for the future of our planet. And there are a smaller number who want to defeat us. They have power and money and state apparatus to back them up but they are not as many as we are.  All they want is to keep control and they work together and are ruthless in their methods even if they appear to be smiling on the surface.

Everything that we instinctively feel is crazy and wrong – is just that. We know it in our hearts.

Yesterday I was in the kitchen and on the edge of my awareness I heard a piece of news about a small protest, somewhere, about something. Perhaps it was to save a nature reserve, or to protect a hospital. My body responded while my full attention was elsewhere. My body thrilled to the sound of their chanting. Those are my people, I support them and always will.

Some people want to create a better world and some only want power. And in between there are millions of people who are asleep. Who believe that world leaders are democratic.   Who  fondly think that ‘someone else’ will take care of everything.

How can anyone now say ‘I’m not interested in politics’?   It’s not politics – it’s life!  It’s your life and mine and all life on this beautiful precious planet. Those who seek to keep us down are also very busy destroying our world.

Maybe this sounds strange but it is what I privately believe.

There is a new world trying to come through and the old one is dying but is fighting back with all its might. Of course I believe in the power of love and that it is important to fight the demons inside us as well as those we meet outside. Forgiveness is important and self care and working in small ways for our communities. And being friendly to those we don’t like. And taking time to breathe and to rest.

But I find myself more and more impatient with those who are still asleep.

Wake up to why you were born. We are not all separate beings. We are part of an unimaginably huge universe and everything we do, think and say is important.  It is time to chose how to use our lives. What energy to feed in the world?  Which wolf do you feed in your own heart?  I can’t find the words to describe the two sides in this battle – it isn’t Light and Dark, it isn’t positive and negative, it isn’t creation and destruction…..  those all are vital for life not to stagnate. Maybe I am talking about Love and Hate.  Or even Love and Fear.

And to return to Catalunya.

This peaceful revolution is happening now.

It’s not easy. It takes courage. It is a creative act. It is hard work.

  • In the streets people are decking the walls and lamppost and bridges and statues with yellow ribbons. This is a symbol of solidarity with the prisoners and with everyone who is living under the invading force of the Spanish Article 155.
  • Pensioners in Reus are demonstrating every midday wearing yellow scarves. They call themselves Grandmothers and Grandfathers for Liberty. The Electoral Commission has told them to stop but they continue. Wearing yellow scarves and fighting for the release of the prisoners could affect the election?  Why doesn’t the Electoral Commission say that having candidates in prison and other in exile also could affect the election?
  • Another group of pensioners were told to take off their scarves and yellow ribbons because M. Rajoy was visiting Mataro and might be offended.
  • The Catalan TV and Radio is under pressure from the new regime – they want to replace the journalists and presenters with ‘normal’ people.
  • The famous Barcelona fountains have been stopped because they were flowing with the colour yellow.
  • All public buildings in Catalunya have been told to remove any banners which say ‘Freedom’ or ‘Democracy’
  • A bartender was visited by the police because he replied in Catalan when a customer spoke to him in Spanish.

The stories go on and on….. people in Catalunya are awake and standing up for democracy. Not the pretend democracy which we all know from our own countries where politicians use us to vote for them every few years and then go ahead and do what they wanted anyway like destroy natural habitats, sell off our health service for profit, sell arms to brutal dictatorships. But a true democracy where people actually matter.

This is a fight and while we want to keep a moral compass and to be honest and peaceful the other side has no such qualms.

There are lies and provocations, there is bullying, intimidation and a determined attempt to silence people by fear.

  • Teachers are taken to court for discussing the Catalan situation in Galicia.
  • Students are arrested for sharing tweets about police violence in the October 1st referendum
  • Some ultra-right Spanish nationalists burnt some papers in their own flat and accused the Catalan independence movement of setting fire to their flat for having a Spanish flag on the balcony. They got a sympathy phone call from M.Rajoy but they didn’t want to make a formal complaint to the police – because it was all propaganda and not true.

It’s a funny thing to care a lot about something and see that others are not too bothered. It happens to us all at some time in our lives. Sometimes other people just don’t get so excited about the things that we care about.  But what if we could all decide to open our hearts to care about everything?  To remove the buffers that stop us feeling it when others – humans and animals – need help?   Perhaps our hearts are strong enough to feel it!

I remember when I was about 7, driving through Ireland with my parents and my sister. We saw some gypsies on a country lane and my father had to slow down to pass their wagon. A couple of the children came towards our car begging for money. I was shocked at their appearance and wanted to stop and give them something. But my father drove on and seemed to me to be totally uncaring and cruel.  But maybe he was scared. Or hardened after years of seeing poverty.  He wasn’t a mean or a cruel man. For me it was fresh and terrible and in some ways this memory has always kept me active. I decided on that day ‘I don’t want ever to grow up into someone who doesn’t care’

And this is how I am today. I can’t change it. I feel an inner directive that tells me I must help if I can and if not, then at least I must support those who do.

I would really love to know the answers to these questions. How do others manage?

Are there world issues that touch your heart and others that leave you cold?

Do you feel that there is so much pain in the world that you can’t cope with letting it in?

Is it possible to be open to the suffering of others and not be overwhelmed by it or made ill?

How do you think we can best deal with our own painful feelings when we become aware of injustice or cruelty in the world?





Catalan prisoners and exiles

Court hearings in Spain and Brussels

Today is a big day – several important court cases all are happening now.

It has just this moment been announced that four of the Catalan prisoners will remain in jail – the two Jordis, Oriol Junqueres and Joaquim Forn. The others have been released on 100.000 euros bail each.

The case was being held because of a change in jurisdiction from one court to another and the hope was that this latest court would be less political and more judicial. Hundreds of lawyers from all over Spain have written to state their opinion that the charges of sedition were unlawful because they can be used only when there was violence involved.

As we all know by now the only violence has been on the part of the Spanish state through their police the Guardia Civil and also from the ultra-right demonstrators when they have been encouraged to protest that they want one united Spain.

The Catalan independence campaign has been completely peaceful and democratic, even though it was taking a stand against what the Spanish government considered legal.

But, in the last five minutes, surprise surprise, the new judge has accused the four who remain in prison of…..violence.

Meanwhile in Brussels

Carles Puigdemont and four members of his government are now appearing in a Belgian court for the hearing on their case against extradition.

Puigdemont and the four ministers of his administration will be able to speak and advance the arguments against being sent to Spain. Clearly no trial they faced there would be free of political influence.

I just hope that those long fingers from the Spanish government haven’t managed to meddle in Belgian justice.


Postcards For Catalunya

Ten people are in prison in Spain right now who should not be there.

Two of them are the ‘Jordis’ – the leaders of two pro-independence Catalan civic groups and eight of them are members of the Catalan government.

As we know, the President and four other members of the cabinet are now in exile in Belgium awaiting a fair hearing from a Belgian court as they know this would be impossible in Spain.

None of these people have been tried or found guilty but are in prison under harsh conditions because they are considered to be a threat to the state of Spain.  They are elected representatives of the Catalan people.

We decided to start a Friends of Catalunya group here in Cornwall and our first action is to organise a flow of postcards to be delivered to these people in prison.

  • What a surprise to receive a short postcard, from outside Catalunya, showing that there are many people who care and who are watching the situation!
  • What a message to send to the prison itself ! There are people around the world who care about civil rights and democracy.

It doesn’t matter if you are in support of independence or not – the question now is about the right to free expression, self determination and most importantly democracy and how to deal with differences.

We sent off ten postcards from Cornwall.

If you would like to join in then here is what to do

Below are the ten names and addresses.  The two women are first.

  • Buy a postcard from your neck of the woods – Greetings from Skegness or whatever!
  • Write your message of support in whatever language you chose. We have given suggestions in English and Catalan but only for guidance.
  • Let us know in the comments who you chose to write to

It may be a good idea to write your full name so that the cards are not anonymous and will be delivered safely.

As for cost – I paid 30p per card and £1.17 for postage per card

After writing please put a comment below saying who you sent a card (or cards) to. We want all ten to receive several cards.

  1. Dolors Bassa Coll

Centro Penitenciario,

Madrid I, Mujeres,

Ctra.Alcala-Meco, km 4.5,

28803, Alcala de Henares, Madrid, Spain

2. Meritxell Borras Sole

Centro Penitenciario,

Madrid 1, Mujeres,

Ctra.Alcala-Meco, km4.5,

28803, Alcala de Henares, Madrid, Spain

3. Jordi Cuixart i Navarro

Centro Penitenciario,

Madrid V,

Ctra. M-609, km 5.75

29791, Soto del Real, Madrid, Spain

4. Jordi Sanchez Picanyol

Centro Penitenciario,

Madrid V,

Ctra. M-609,  km3.5,

29791, Soto del Real, Madrid, Spain

5. Joaquim Forn Chiariello

Centro Penitenciario,

Madrid VII,

Ctra. M-241,   km5.75,

28595 Estremera, Madrid, Spain

6. Oriol Junqueras i Vies

Centro Penitenciario

Madrid VII,

Ctra. M-241,   km5.75,

28595 Estremera, Madrid, Spain

7. Carles Mundo Blanch

Centro Penitenciario,

Madrid VII,

Ctra. M-241,  km5.75,

28595 Estremera, Madrid, Spain

8. Raul Romeva i Rueda

Centro Penitenciario,

Madrid VII,

Ctra. M-241,   km5.75,

28595 Estremera, Madrid, Spain

9. Josep Rull i Andreu

Centro Penitenciario,

Madrid VII,

Ctra. M-241,     km5.75,

28595 Estremera, Madrid, Spain

10. Jordi Turull i Negre

Centro Penitenciario,

Madrid VII,

Ctra. M-241,   km5.75,

28595 Estremera, Madrid, Spain


Sending you support and good wishes from ……….

We are thinking of you

You are not alone

We want you free again

Pensem en tu

No estas sol/a

Et tenim present cada dia


Us volem lliures


Thank you!  Gracies!