Today will be a key moment in modern Spain’s history. If you are following events here – and I presume you are if you are reading Part 4 of this week’s blog – there are important updates to some points mentioned in yesterday’s blog.
- Carles Puigdemont has said he will NOT go to Madrid to explain to the Senate his objections to Article 155, on the basis that he believes 155 will be implemented regardless of any contribution he makes… by an “authoritarian quasi-franquista regime” (as the Catalan nationalists view constitutional democracy in Spain).
- He will instead be in the Catalan Parlament where the plenary session will debate the imminent use of 155, and there are also clear signs from other leaders (such as Junqueras) that an official declaration of independence is on the table.
- The key moment for both these events today is five o’clock in the afternoon, the traditional time to start a bullfight. The theatricality of this timing reminds me Llorca’s poem
A las cinco de la tarde.
Eran las cinco en punto de la tarde.
Un niño trajo la blanca sábana
a las cinco de la tarde.
Una espuerta de cal ya prevenida
a las cinco de la tarde.
Lo demás era muerte y sólo muerte
a las cinco de la tarde.
In Madrid they see the dream object of the exercise as a clean kill and President Carles Puigdemont is quickly removed from the arena and judged in the High Court, so that nobody is left in doubt that Prime Minister Rajoy is a skilled matador. In reality is is going to be a messy business, I think, and Rajoy could be mortally gored if he is not careful, taking a number of government banderilleros with him as he leaves the arena on a stretcher, still waving to his admirers in the front seats of the sombra side of the audience. Then a number of lesser bulls will be killed messily by even more inept toreros before fighting breaks out among the crowd and the world’s press has a front-page field day.
Meanwhile the whole Spanish economy begins to go down the road to the mataderos. Alternatively… with the prospect of a mass rally outside the Catalan parlament – also scheduled for las cinco de la tarde – things could get surreal and unpredictable.
But you don’t need to wait until five o’clock, as this is another rolling blog day.
Update: 11.00 Thursday 26 October
According to El Periodico, the Catalan govern has met and has “presented its objections to Article 155 direct to the Senate by burofax ” (The idea of a burrofax appeals to me more, as you may guess, but clearly a burro as a means of communication between Barcelona and Madrid would be too slow for the deadline.) They have said that 155 is an “aberration” and will cause a “grave crisis” in Catalonia.
An incident reported in the same paper gives you an idea of the current strains on the police in Barcelona. In the old El Born market in the Barrio Gotico, seven off-duty national police officers started an argument with some customers they took to be locals, telling them to “Speak Castellano and not Catalan!” because “Barcelona is Spain!”
It turned out the customers in question were Italian tourists… I presume the (non-linguistically skilled) officers were from one of the barrack-boats moored in the harbour, walking distance from El Born. The Catalan police, the mossos, turned up and were called putos Catalanes and ratas by the national police, who left, refusing to pay for their drinks, saying, “¡Somos la puta ley aquí en Barcelona!” (Trs. roughly: we are the f___ing law here in Barcelona.)
This bodes well for inter-security cooperation and sensitivity to the local populance when these guys are let loose on Barcelona in riot gear, doesn’t it? More news later. I have to teach a Geography lesson after break.
Update: 13.00 Thursday 26 October
It is expected that the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has caved in under pressure from sensible people (!) and will not declare independence, instead announcing elections in Cataluña (i.e. legal elections). This will stop the Madrid government implementing Article 155 because he has chosen to act within the legal parameters of the Constitution. If this is the case, a whole mass of people who have been called onto the streets of Barcelona expecting to welcome a declaration of independence are going to be very unhappy bunnies… (What a messy business this is!)
Delayed till 14.30
At lunch time today the Year 7 children were playing “Puigdemont tag”. They chant aggressively “Puigdemont, Puigdemont we don’t like you Puigdemont…” then point to a pupil who is tagged… etc. (Aaaaaarrrrrggggh!)
Delayed till 17.00
This man is having a larf, mate.
Update: 18.30 Thursday 26 October 2017
It is extraordinary. Still nobody knows what is happening. There is a plenary session in the parlament but nobody knows what it is leading up to. The expected declaration of elections didn’t happen. Various sources report the tital unravelling of the left/right nationalist alliance. More news when they have all taken their medication.
Update: 20.45 Thursday 26 October 2017
My Catalan friend Francesc, speaking passionately in the Bar Cantonet after his fourth bottle of Estrella Galicia, said Puigdemont is a complete arse. I found that surprising coming from Francesc as he is usually in support of anything Catalan. (To translate, he means Puigdemont is a complete arse.)
We still have no idea what is happening. But what is not happening is very big news.
Inés Arrimadas (Ciudadanos opposition party in the Catalan parliament) lays into Puigdemont and the whole separatist nationalist project. If you never saw an effective intervention by a rising star in European politics before, watch this. See how Puigdemont is writhing uncomfortably in his seat (with stupid Junqueras his deputy looking like “It’s game over, mate” next to him.) This needs no translation: it is a logical step-by-step demolition of the nationalist cause. Arrimadas is brilliant.
I think my final thought tonight is this. I was a little complacent thinking I was lucky to live in a country that was not committing economic suicide like the Brits with Brexit. And as I seek Spanish nationality and a Spanish passport – as the UK has left us all marooned – I find it very disappointing that the selfish Catalan nationalists have plunged this country into such a crisis. They are politically immoral and economically illiterate, which is surprising, given the advanced culture that they achieved as a result of the industrial revolution.
In my view Catalonia is a region of Spain that has announced its decline, in these sad weeks of autumn 2017, and taking its mother ship Spain towards recession. Millions of Spaniards will not forgive Catalonia for this, for it has been a long and painful struggle to balance the books and re-start the economy since the financial crisis began.
Sadly, some people’s ambitions can be played out at the expense of a whole country, and as a simple democrat I fail to see why political safeguards are not in place to prevent such blatant violations.