Chronicle of a Death Foretold: Catalonian self-determination

BY NICOLAS RUFO MENA

Democracy is dead, and we have killed it. This sentence was originally dedicated to God by Nietzsche, but that could have easily been said by the Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, and his cabinet.

Democracy has been defeated. As police officers hit the crowds, the young Spanish democracy has expired. Everything that happened today in Catalonia has been a complete failure. Rajoy said that there wouldn’t be voting, and yet the ballots are inside the boxes; he said the response to the referendum would be proportional, and now the streets are stained with blood.

The referendum called by the Generalitat, the regional government of Catalonia, was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and the Spanish Government. In fact, it is against the Spanish Constitution and against the law—and therefore, undemocratic. That is the excuse and justification that Rajoy’s administration has used to forbid the referendum. In the last few days, newspapers and magazines have been registered and censored, ballot boxes and propaganda have been seized, and even some politicians have been arrested.

However, all of this—although serious— is nothing compared to what the world saw last Sunday. The Spanish security forces, commanded by the conservative government of Spain, have burst into polling stations hitting those who resisted, both children and elders, showing the same lack of compassion and consideration that the central government has. Punches against voters. Violence against democracy. What we have witnessed today is not only the defeat of an entire government, but the collapse of a young, adolescent democracy like the Spanish one. Spain, whose 40 years old democracy has always been an example of how to transit from totalitarianism to freedom, has demonstrated to the world that its seeds are yet rooted in the violence and intolerance where it once grew. It has become a country where is easier to sing a fascist anthem and raise Franco’s flag than to cast a vote for freedom.

After Sunday, a whole people is in sorrow, Catalonians and Spaniards together. Catalonia might not be independent, borders might be the same, children might go back to school as usual; but the Spanish society is more divided than ever. Because its government has decided that there is no room for dialogue, only for oppression and violence; because the Generalitat is compliant with that, and will go on stubbornly. And between those two titans, the Spaniards and the Catalonians have been pressed to choose a side. The injury in the society is now deeper than ever, and its covered with blood. Spain has become a country where a referendum leaves more injured people than a terrorist attack, and its government must show a bit of statesmanship and resign, for its ineptitude, incompetence and cruelty have been evidenced by all the Spanish people and the international community.

When violence is the only tool you have, when you choose the weapon over the word, then your legitimacy is over. The Spanish government cannot continue saying that is acting against an illegal referendum, because its actions are now as illegitimate and illegal as those from the Generalitat. They are no longer the democratic government of Spain, for democracy is dead, and they have killed it.

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