Wednesday, 13 December 2017


A struggle for regional autonomy

by Martin Gilbert

MY wife Joan and I were there from 12th November till 19th on a brief holiday. Easy to find:- interesting food, beautiful buildings especially the and amazing Gaudi ones and cosmopolitania.  Much less easy to find:- developments in the conflict there, their root causes and possible lessons for left libertarians.

Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia. It has it’s own culture and language, distinct from Spain.  It is the wealthiest of Spain’s regions. Catalonia has been a part of that country for hundreds of years but time has not stopped the longing for independence from Madrid.  Many Catalonians oppose independence citing gloomy prophesies of economic suffering. Equally worrying forecasts were made about Brexit ruining London’s financial district.  Doubting such fears a multi-million pound office block is planned for “the city” by one such firm.  Another worry for the anti-independence people is that other provinces might also fall from Madrid’s power. Brussels is as much to blame for that reaction as Madrid.

Feeling sorry for the locals, Joan and I found that tourist bookings were 40% down on previous years.  Great bars and restaurants almost empty. We can blame media hype about cops beating up those trying to have a referendum months ago.  What happened was that Madrid sent in it’s own cops to do it.  That is because the central government could not trust the local Barcelona cops who are paid by that city.

Then as now both both sides have been using increasingly hostile language. Pro-independence Catalonians feel that their contribution to the civil war was all about that struggle.  Maybe what we heard was too emotive but I can only report what I heard. But the problem comes as much from Brussels as Madrid.

On the t.v. we saw big Euro boss Jean Claude Juncker. His body language and the subtitles clearly showed one message “there will be no regional autonomy, there can be none – I have spoken”.  Arrogant, pig headed or just doing his job???  

Throughout Europe there are requests and demands for regional autonomy in different forms, Solidarity is needed across the continent for these struggles.  We need a new international brigade. This time with anti-militarists, thinkers, negotiators and street performers.  Please visit Barcelona soon to up-date the above report. 
Also, take a look at who share some ideas raised

martin gilbert, December 2017

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