The revolution of twisted smiles

We will vote or we will not: that is the question. With two days to go before 1 October, the focus is no longer on independence, but rather the reinstatement of fundamental rights that were thought to be well-established but, in a blink of an eye, have been rendered void. That sad, and that serious. The most fundamental common denominators of basic freedoms have been crushed by means of arrests, legal charges, and even the confusion of demonstrations with sedition. In the name of the Spanish Constitution, hundreds of websites have been blocked, gatherings have been banned, frightening fines have been imposed, business premises have been searched without a warrant, people hanging posters have been detained ... They have opened postal envelopes searching for definitive clues, and in their fervor to disembowel democracy, now they want to seal off schools and sports centers so that neither ballot boxes nor people can enter. In light of all this, the organization of the referendum (and the determination of Puigdemont and his courageous government, despite many errors and footnotes that should be acknowledged), has opened our eyes to reality: in aspiring to our own independent State we have come to realize that we were less than an autonomous region. The word was a trick, an illusion. For decades we have lived with the appearance of doing it ourselves, with our schools, the Mossos and our own language and TV; but it turns out that we were just a branch office of Spain. It only took one prosecutor and two officials from the Moncloa to take over our financial system, and to have the Guardia Civil return to camp out in villages and streets to remind us that we are a mere franchise of Spain. So as not to send the army, they sent, as if heroes, all the police they had available instead. We have taken it all peacefully, proud of being examples in the eyes of the world. We decided to be the revolution of smiles, and we like the phrase. Perhaps, in the end, we only laugh so as not to cry. There are plenty of reasons for that.

There will always be a Spain

Evidence --once again-- that they have understood nothing is what Juan Ignacio Zoido said on Monday. The Spanish Interior Minister said "the Guardia Civil has become, together with the National Police, an essential element to ensure order, reestablish normality, and guarantee the enjoyment of rights and freedoms". I'm left with the phrase "reestablish normality". Welcome to the country where nothing ever happens and it's convenient for them that nothing continues to happen. Catalan normality is to stand for hours in the passport control queue in El Prat airport, or lose patience and miss your flight because of the security checks at departure. Normality is to have a train system with an incident rate that goes back to the times of Adolfo Suárez nearly 40 years ago, and to accumulate a deficit of infrastructure investments with many zeros to the right. Normality is to continue paying tolls, at prices and barriers, that don't apply anywhere else. Or to not even be able to set our own trading hours. Or to not regulate, in our own way, energy poverty policies. Normality must mean to maintain an inter-territorial solidarity that tips the balance, from those who pay in to those who receive, to the point where it becomes a joke. Normality is having to hear a resounding NO to any call for a better finance system, whether proposed by Montilla or Mas. Normality is having to fight against a mountain of rulings that aim to undermine the use of Catalan and language immersion. Normality is hearing a Spanish TV reporter for Telecinco say, standing outside the Pedrera, that those who are not pro-independence are locked away in their homes because they can't go out into the streets. Normality is not listening to the 82% of the population that are calling for the right to vote. They haven't understood anything because they have no desire to do so and have drawn for themselves a made-to-order reality. Event by event, it serves them to maintain the status quo, to impose their vision of "normality", and to ensure that there will always be a Spain.

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