Whilst writing this week’s blog, some very sad news came in. The body of 8 year old, Gabriel Cruz, was found near Níjar, Almeria. He’d been missing for 12 days. His body was found in the car boot of the girlfriend of the boy’s father. RIP.
This time last week, Carles Puigdemont, already exiled in Brussels, was ‘himself to blame’, according to a report from an office of the Spanish Interior Ministry, of being threatened by someone riding on top of a Spanish Army tank. Yes, you read that correctly. It was Puigdemont’s own fault that someone on top of a tank had threatened him. As Puigdemont himself pointed out, in Spain there are “innocent people in preventive detention for their ideology”, and “MPs, mayors, singers, car mechanics and clowns being prosecuted” – indeed, it is a country right now where art has been censored, rappers receive long prison sentences for criticising the royal family, yet fascism is rife and political corruption goes mainly unpunished … oh, and you can threaten Puigdemont from the top of a tank and get away with it.
It’s been one of those weeks again. The deputy Prime Minister of Spain, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, labelled as ‘foreign robots’ those people who published and circulated photos of Spanish police brutality against innocent Catalan voters on 1st October. Yes, you read that correctly, too. Foreign robots. That includes me. I’m a foreign robot. It also includes the BBC, CNN, Sky News – actually, it includes every media outlet in the world – and every human rights observer, too. They’re all foreign robots, according to little Soraya. You probably thought she was a robot, but no – it’s the other way round.
The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, is clearly a foreign robot, too. He won’t be receiving a Christmas card from Soraya. Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council this week, he criticised the use of Spanish police violence on 1st October. “I was dismayed by the violence which broke out during October’s referendum on independence in Catalonia,” he said. “Given what appeared to be excessive use of force by police, the government’s characterization of police action on 1st October as ‘legal, legitimate and necessary’ is questionable.” He also reminded the Spanish government that “pre-trial detention should be considered a measure of last resort” – and he also encouraged “resolution of the situation through political dialogue”.
What else happened? Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the PSOE (once upon a time a political party and/or an ‘opposition’) announced that Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, should table a motion of no confidence in himself if he fails to pass the budget on 23rd March. Yes, you read that correctly again: he should, not must. Sánchez didn’t say he’d force a motion of no confidence, only that Rajoy should volunteer to do so. Gosh, crikey … really strong words from Sánchez, therefore. Rajoy, meanwhile, continued to say some crazy stuff. And I mean really crazy stuff. This week, it was: “I will speak with absolute clarity. I will do everything I can and a little more than I can, if that is possible, and I will do everything possible and even the impossible, if the impossible is also possible.” Don’t forget, he’s being paid to say stuff like that.
Martin Glenn, Chief Executive of the Football Association (FA), said in reference to the yellow ribbon worn by Pep Guardiola in support of political prisoners: “I can tell you there are many more Spaniards, non-Catalans, who are pissed off by it.” Yes, Martin, but what Spaniards actually told you they were pissed off? Anyone ‘high up’? Were you pressured to do something about it? Pep was eventually fined £20,000 by the FA … for wearing a yellow ribbon in support of political prisoners, although Spain insists there aren’t any political prisoners.
Four judicial associations in Spain called for stoppages, without ruling out an indefinite strike, if the Spanish government doesn’t improve upon “professional conditions and the separation of powers”. Media entrepreneur, Jaume Roures, himself ‘under suspicion’ for allegedly helping the Catalan independence movement, stated in an interview that, “It’s like MacCarthyism, but in Europe – or like when they separated people on buses by the colour of their skin.”
Around 5.3m people joined the International Women’s Day strike across Spain on Thursday 8th March – a truly historic event. Clara Ponsati, former Catalan education minister, and who has been in self-imposed exile in Brussels (alongside Carles Puigdemont, Meritxell Serret, Toni Comín and Lluís Puig), has announced that she is returning to teach at the University of St.Andrews in Scotland. It seems that she is already in Scotland.
Catalan Parliament speaker, Roger Torrent, announced that he’d signed a resolution to formally propose Jordi Sánchez, currently one of Spain’s political prisoners (yes, he is a political prisoner), for investiture as Catalan president – with the debate scheduled for 12th March. This came about after Carles Puigdemont’s annoucement last week to ‘provisionally’ renounce his own candidacy as Catalan president – as well as his decision to take the Spanish state to the Committee of Human Rights of the United Nations. Jordi Sánchez petitioned to a Spanish judge to be released in order to attend the investiture debate … but you can guess the rest: Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled to keep him in prison. The investiture debate has been postponed whilst Sànchez appeals to the European Court of Human Rights. Spanish government members have cleverly observed that ‘you can’t run the Catalan government from prison’ … which is exactly why Sànchez is being kept in prison (and without any trial), so that he can’t run the Catalan government. It’s Catch 22. Or Catch 155.
A major pro-independence rally calling for the implementation of the Catalan Republic has just got underway here in Barcelona. I’ve just also seen a report that Spain has announced the appointment of a ‘Fake News Ambassador’. I don’t know if that is to combat fake news (or news they claim is fake), or to create fake news, but I’ll try to find out …