By: Carlos Aznarez / Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / January 17, 2018
Today was not just another day in Barcelona, nor in Catalonia as a whole. The headquarters of the Parliament chose its new Bureau, which will in turn inaugurate, by the end of this month, the new President of the Catalan government. The result had already been predicted: if all independence supporters voted together, they could twist the arm of the right-wing Spanish government presided by Mariano Rajoy.
The surrounding areas of the Parliament were hermetically sealed to the public by the autonomous police to “prevent pressure from the street”. The fences that surrounded it were adorned by the people with thousands of yellow ribbons—signifying freedom for the four Catalan leaders imprisoned by Spain. Several thousands of independence supporters gathered 300 meters away from the Parliament, in the Paseo Lluis Companys, waving esteladas (a variant of the Catalan flag used by independentists) and chanting their slogans. A giant screen showed what was happening inside the Parliament.
Although the chants of “not one step back” weren’t heard by the deputies inside the Parliamentary house, they nevertheless expressed the mood of a large number of Catalan people, who don’t want institutions to co-opt the battles they won on the streets.
Each vote by the republican deputies was met with cheers by the crowd, while every mention of the pro-Spain deputies of “Ciudadanos” was booed.
The wait ended with a celebration when it was announced that Roger Torrent, young leader of the Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, or ERC) will be the new President of the Parliament, leading a majority of independentist deputies. This sends a new message to the government of the Spanish People’s Party (PP) and their allies, the PSOE. It says something they already know, but won’t accept: that Catalonia wants to free itself from the chains that tie it to an empire that is as cruel as it is authoritarian.
Finally, the crowd marched through nearby streets singing Catalonia’s anthem, Els Segadors, and demanding freedom for political prisoners, until they reached the headquarters of the Parliament, where they greeted the deputies who had kept their word and secured this victory as they exited the building. These deputies have laid the ground for the bigger battle, which will take place in a few days (most likely on January 31): the election and the inauguration of the new President of the Generalitat. The main contender is Carles Puigdemont, who is currently exiled in Brussels after being removed from office by the repressive Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, enacted by Rajoy and his thugs.
Now we will have to wait and see what is to come. Meanwhile, Madrid continues to not acknowledge the steps taken by Catalonia, and warns that Puigdemont can’t become President of Catalonia as long as he’s in exile—if he sets foot in Spain, he will be arrested by the Spanish authorities.
The Catalan Candidacy of Unity of the People (CUP), which is the most important expression of the revolutionary left and believes in the unity of the independentist movement, demands that we think beyond individuals and agree upon an agenda to keep pushing forward in the creation of the Catalan Republic. This idea is not only sensible but also urgent, if we want to prevent an involution in this important stage of the process, which is threatened by the bigger enemy, Spanish fascism on one hand. On the other, the dilution of the political agenda by Catalan reformists. The antidote against this, according to the young people of the CUP, is to keep taking the streets, where the Catalan people demand the right to self-govern and protects the rights that they have won.