The ARA Editorial: 'A disgrace, an act of revenge, an injustice'

Jailing a democratically elected government is unbecoming of a European nation governed by the rule of law

Half of Catalonia’s legitimate government has been jailed, in a fast-track judicial process, resulting from a new, abusive interpretation of the law, as was the dismissal of the same government following the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. Spanish democracy is losing its grip on reality and the legitimacy it obtained from the pacts arising from the political Transition [after Franco’s death], it is ruining the rule of law and it is losing Catalonia. As has repeatedly been the case throughout its history, Spain is only capable of responding to Catalonia’s democratic demands with authoritarianism and a desire for revenge. It does not aim to persuade, only to win: it does not know how to listen, it does not know how to conduct politics, it is unable to compromise. What happened this Thursday is an injustice, it is a disgrace, it is an outrage. Nine people have been detained and in no other democratic country would they find themselves in prison. Nine democratically-elected officials imprisoned for their ideas. Their crime: to have defended through clearly peaceful means, through the ballot box, the right of the Catalans to decide their political future following repeated, frustrated attempts to hold a referendum in agreement with Spain. Their crime is to have declared the embryo of a Republic, in a show of resistance.

They have imprisoned political leaders who have more than two million votes behind them. Does anyone think this will end in a conflict of a political nature? Or, rather, that that the situation will only worsen? Is it possible to prohibit the will of a whole people? For Catalonia, Spanish democracy appears increasingly like a prison. And justice appears arbitrary, lacking in guarantees. It is highly questionable whether the crime of rebellion brought against the members of Puigdemont’s government is applicable, and so too the charge of sedition brought against the leaders of the civil society independence movement, Jordi Sànchez (ANC) and Jordi Cuixart (Òmnium), who have also been unfairly imprisoned. Both crimes require the existence of some form of violence or the use of force, a precondition that bears no relation whatsoever to Catalan independence, which is explicitly non-violent and exemplary in nature. In all these years of mobilisations, with millions of citizens repeatedly taking to the streets in a festive manner, there has never been the smallest incident. The only violence that has been seen in Catalonia was carried out by Spain’s National Police and Guardia Civil on 1 October against defenceless voters, and during unionist demonstrations, when neo-Nazis and the extreme right were given a free rein.

Jailing a democratically elected government is unbecoming of a state governed by the rule of law. Spain has sunk to a new low. What will Europe do? Will it not intervene when there is an attempt to put an end to the political demands of those who favour independence, even when they are peaceful?

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