Un observador inglés (18) – When protest is a rebellion, and choosing your government is a ‘provocation’.

‘Provocation’ is normally defined as an action or speech, carried out deliberately, that makes someone else feel or respond in a certain way, usually becoming angry or offended. Let’s come back to that, after a quick look at some of the rest of the week’s news.

The European Parliament is to request in writing explanations from the Spanish government about manipulation and censorship on RTVE. Meanwhile Ciudadanos politician Inés Arrimadas said that if people only watched TV3, nobody would vote for her. Despite the PP government in Madrid (and its PSOE and Cs allies) claiming that over 3,000 companies have left Catalonia – Facebook, Lidl, Chartboost, Satellogic and Moodle have all recently confirmed that they’re investing further in Catalonia, as well as Robert de Niro with his Nobu Hotel chain.

Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, visited Bulgaria, but it was ahead of Thursday’s EU-Balkan summit, where Spain was the only absentee among the 28 nations of the EU. Why? Because Rajoy didn’t want any link between ‘unrecognised Kosovo’ and Catalonia.

Protests took place in Barcelona to mark the 7 months (since 16th October) that Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart (the two leaders of Catalan civic organisations, ANC and Omnium) have been held in pre-trial detention without bail near Madrid (in addition to several Catalan politicians). The two Jordis are accused of inciting a ‘rebellion’ last September … although video footage clearly shows that a rebellion did not take place, and nor did they try to incite one.

Belgium rejected the extradition orders for Catalan politicians Toni Comín, Mertixell Serret and Lluís Puig, due to ‘flagrant flaws’. According to Carles Puigdemont’s lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, this should also apply in Scotland (where former Catalan minister Clara Ponsati is fighting an extradition request), Germany (the same for Carles Puigdemont) and Switzerland (Rovira and Gabriel). The Spanish Supreme Court accused Belgium of its ‘lack of commitment’ in cooperating with Spain following the dismissal of the European Arrest Warrants. Spanish judge Llarena went further, insisting in a letter to the German prosecutor that the EAW for Puigdemont ‘complied with all requirements’ and also warned Germany not to make the same ‘error’ as Belgium. Meanwhile, PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez said his party would work to modify the Criminal Code to bring the ‘definition of rebellion’ in line with Spain of the 21st century. A ‘rebellion’ is a ‘rebellion’, though, surely? Changing the Criminal Code to try and define a ‘protest’ as a ‘rebellion’, for example, still doesn’t make it a rebellion. It remains a protest.

The president of the Royal Spanish Federation of Motorsports complained that the anthem of Catalonia (‘Els Segadors’) lasted longer than Spain’s before the start of the Spanish Grand Prix at Montmeló. An investigation began as to how PP politician Pablo Casado obtained a masters degree in such a short period of time. Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias and Irene Montero (expecting twins) announced a ‘consulation’ within their party, regarding whether they should resign their posts following news that they are purchasing a property valued at €600,000.

The ‘right-wing radio guru’, Jiménez Losantos, who’d previously suggested taking Germans hostage in Mallorca, or setting off explosions in Bavarian bars (after Germany refused to extradite Puigdemont on charges of rebellion), last week suggested Barcelona should be bombed again. Yes, you read that correctly: he suggested Barcelona should be bombed again. On radio. Publicly. Now, you might think that’s why I mentioned the definition of ‘provocation’ above … although what he said is more than ‘provocative’, it is evil, it’s an incitement to violence, to war, even. But was there any official government or police condemnation of what he said? Nope. Nada.

No, I mentioned ‘provocation’ because of today’s news. Spain plans to maintain central government control over Catalonia. Why? Because the new Catalan President is trying to form his democratically elected government, and the Spanish government (who called the elections of 21st December) has denounced the list of names to be included in his cabinet as a ‘provocation’. A provocation.

It is not even a week since Quim Torra was officially appointed the 131st President of Catalonia. Despite calling those elections on 21st December, the Spanish government is clearly very unhappy that Torra has been voted in. Even during the investiture debates, it stated that his speech was ‘sectarian’ and he ‘should be careful with the things he says and does’. It also stated that Torra has not presented himself as ‘the president that Catalans need and deserve’. As if the Spanish government in Madrid should know …

Since being sworn in as president in a discreet ceremony, and since he has also pledged to eventually reinstate Carles Puigdemont as president, Torra has been described as a ‘hardline nationalist’, a ‘fanatic’, ‘imbecile’, ‘racist’, ‘supremacist’, ‘pyscopath’, ‘xenophobe’ and also Puigdemont’s ‘little whore’. His family, and specifically his daughter, have suffered abuse on social media. La Razon newspaper went as far as publishing a headline stating that “Torra wants to exterminate the Spanish” – although they put it in quotation marks, suggesting it would be the ‘offensive’ that the PP, PSOE and Cs would be pitching to the European Union. It’s true that Torra has been heavily criticised for a ‘xenophobic article’ he wrote in 2009, in which he apparently ‘dehumanised Spaniards as beasts with defective DNA’. Some also describe it all as a ‘disinformation campaign’ about Torra, the fact that quotes from his articles have been taken out of context, and that his ‘Language and the Beasts’ article did not really call all Spaniards beasts at all, but those Spaniards who in 2008 launched a campaign for Swissair not to speak Catalan through their loudspeaker system.

Torra has issued an invitation to Rajoy to hold talks: ‘Please, Mr.Rajoy, fix a time and place. We’ll be there. Without preconditions, let’s talk.’ Rajoy finally said something about him being willing to talk to Torra, as long as it was ‘within the law’. Torra’s cabinet choices of Jordi Turull and Josep Rull, who are both in prison on remand, awaiting trial, and Toni Comin and Lluis Puig (mentioned above and now in Brussels) means that the Spanish government has said it would have to ‘analyse the viability of the new Catalan government’, which must be ratified by Madrid before it can take power. These men are all innocent until proven guilty … surely? But for Torra right now, however, choosing his democratically elected Catalan government is simply a ‘provocation’ in the eyes of Madrid.

9 thoughts on “Un observador inglés (18) – When protest is a rebellion, and choosing your government is a ‘provocation’.

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Juli Costa-Esteban

    May 20, 2018 at 10:16pm

    I would add that Spanish politicians are simply rotten and the same is true about all Spaniards that vote PP, C’s, PSOE and the like. Quite a few millions.

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    Susan Koller

    May 20, 2018 at 10:42pm

    Tim’s posts should be compulsory reading for all MEPs. Surely by now it is obvious to everyone in the EU – apart from the pitifully misled Spaniards themselves – that Spain is just a poorly disguised dictatorship? If so, why isn’t anyone doing anything about it?

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply


      May 21, 2018 at 1:54pm

      because spaim is in grand money debt wit EU, and they take the money from Catalonia, so if Catalunya becomes independent, they have no way to return money back to Germany, etc.

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    Carole olfers van der horst

    May 21, 2018 at 12:15am

    your article is absolutely correct.
    when Spain has to do something with regard to Cataloñia I can assure you that there is no democracy in their acting at all. it is all humilia tion and insults. it is like an illness their behaviour towards Cataloñia. there is only one solution: Cataloñia has to become an independent state in order to get on and start working in freedom and peace.

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    May 21, 2018 at 5:50am

    I strongly suspect that, if/when Catalonia gains her independence – even if it is only after internationally/EU/UN pressure – Spain’s immediate response will be a military attack. They will invade, and ‘reclaim’ the ‘stolen’ territory. I see no evidence from them that they would not consider this perfectly justifiable – *especially* if independence comes from international ‘interference’.

    May be bleak times ahead for the Catalans.

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    Carles Delospi

    May 21, 2018 at 1:18pm

    The main problem is that this lack of democracy and broken human rights in Spain happens in an European Union also. Where are the rights of the catalan people as european citizens? Is that the meaning of being European citizen? Spain is becoming the shame of Europe, and if Ciudadanos win the next elections, you will see true fascists in the European parlament too. On the other side, I say that Catalonia, nowadays, is part of Sapin by force, and that a country is obliged to be a part of another one with threaten acts and by the force of the weapons, means that in Europe something is going very wrong.

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    May 21, 2018 at 4:40pm

    The Catalan Government should negotiate with the European Union the payment of part of Spain’s debt in exchange for protection of its people. Spain is a finished country, a dead country with a non existent level of ethical and/or democratic behavior. It is not only the Spanish government but Spanish society at large that lacks in democratic principles. After October 1st, it was clear to me that the wide majority of Spaniards are complicit with the actions of the military (beating our grandmothers on the head, pulling women by the hair and throwing rubber bullets at the population with the unfortunate result for the Catalan man who lost an eye) as there was no public outcry. In my mind there is a before and an after to this situation. My mother is Castilian and my father was born in Barcelona and of Basque origin and I was born in Barcelona but have lived abroad for most of my life. I now know for sure that I will never set foot in Spain again, but I will be going to Catalonia. The current situation is the SHAME of European politicians and institutions. Thankfully, many Europeans like yourself Tim have been raising their voices in opposition to what it is transpiring in Spain. I consider Spain the greatest threat to European democracy. The speeches from the king, Albert Rivera, Rajoy, Sanchez, Arrimadas and the long list of incompetent, humanity devoid monsters showcases that there is not hope for Catalans within the current Spanish framework. I recently nominated the Catalan People for an MIT Disobedience Award stating that Catalans risked their physical and professional well being in order to defend the ballot boxes and the principle of self-determination. If anything, I am in awe of Catalan resilience, intelligence, integrity and collective goals. I wish Catalonia and Catalans the best possible outcome. Visca Catalunya.

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Mike Pritchard

    May 21, 2018 at 10:50pm

    Well said, Tim.

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Carole olfers van der horst

    May 28, 2018 at 7:37am

    very good analisis Tim it is all very serious but your way of telling it and bringing it to us readers is marvellous because in stead of crying our eyes out we can even laugh and try to survive all that happens here in the country of Guijotte.
    The worst aspect is that no european authority seems to care which means they are all to blame
    Thank God there still remai persons like you.
    pls do continue with yr work as it helps to face the day.

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