Showdown in Catalonia: Popular Assemblies Organize the Fight for Independence and the Republic

March for the Republic, Democracy and to Free Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart

LAST MINUTE: As this series of articles is posted to our website, we have  just learned from an Associated Press dispatch that Spanish State Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has announced that he will hold a special Cabinet meeting on Saturday, October 21, to “start the process of stripping Catalonia’s regional government of its semi-autonomy. The decision to invoke Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 Constitution for the first time came after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont failed to clearly drop any plan to declare independence, and instead called for negotiations with the national government. Puigdemont said in a letter to Rajoy that if Madrid refuses to enter talks ‘and continues with the repression, the Catalan Parliament could proceed, if it is considered opportune, to vote on a formal declaration of independence'” (AP, Oct. 19). A showdown with major international consequences is clearly underway in Catalonia. — The Editors


(1) Catalonia: Popular Assemblies Organize the Fight for Independence and the Republic

(2) The Popular Assembly in the Village of Vilamajor

(3) Halt the Repression!: Statement by the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID) of France

* * * * * * * * * *

Vaga General

Banner and march of the Committee in Defense of the Referendum in Vilamajor supporting  General Strike and fight against police brutality!

(1) Catalonia: Popular Assemblies Organize the Fight for Independence and the Republic

In his long-awaited speech on October 10, Carles Puigdemont, president of the regional Parliament of Catalonia (or Generalitat), fell short of declaring Independence and the Republic – which was the overwhelming mandate of the Catalan people in the October 1 referendum and in the massive October 3 general strike. Puigdemont stated that the landslide victory of the “Yes” vote gave his regional government the grounds to declare independence from the Spanish State — but he proposed that the regional parliament suspend the effects of the declaration of independence to commence a dialogue – or “mediation” — with Spanish State Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, the European Union, and King Felipe VI.

The reply from the Francoist monarchy and its institutions was immediate: There can be no dialogue, declared Rajoy, so long as the call for independence is on the table. Puigdemont’s “tacit” declaration of independence must be withdrawn and repudiated,” Rajoy insisted, or else “special forces will be sent in to arrest the Catalan president … and Article 155 of the Spanish State’s Constitution will be implemented.” Article 155 allows the Francoist monarchy to take some or total control of any of the Spanish State’s 17 regions if they don’t comply with their “legal obligations” under the Francoist Constitution.

The spokespersons of the European Union (EU) — who weeks earlier had denounced the “illegal” character of the October 1 referendum while calling for a “measured use of force to preserve the constitutional order” — followed suit. In Brussels, Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission, said that, “the call for a dialogue is well over-due, but dialogue can only take place based on respecting the Constitution of the Spanish State.” Echoing this view, heads of State from across Europe called on the leaders of the Catalan Generalitat to “renounce their call for independence.” The Trump administration also chimed in to denounce the October 1 referendum and urge support for the Spanish State.

The refusal to grant self-determination to the Catalan people has also been expressed forthrightly by the top leadership of the PSOE (the Spanish Socialist Party), which has stood side by side with Rajoy as the latter issues his dictates. Likewise, the top leaders of the trade unions in the Spanish State (CCOO and UGT), as well as the leadership of Podemos and Izquierda Unida, have taken a stance against Catalan independence, while adding a call for “mediation and dialogue” under the Constitution of the Spanish State and with the participation of the European Union.


Verguenza = Shame. The letters “UE” at the center stand for Unión Europea, or European Union.

Rajoy, buoyed by all this EU and domestic support, presented an ultimatum to Puigdemont and the Catalan Generalitat: Either you renounce the October 1 referendum by Monday, October 16, or Catalonia will be placed under receivership, with the enactment of a State of Emergency, in keeping with Article 116 of the Francoist Constitution. Spanish Armed Forces General Fernando Alejandre announced that Army convoys were readying to enter Catalonia.

October 16 came and went, with Puigdemont reiterating his call for “dialogue” and “mediation” but failing to take a stand one way or another on Catalonia’s declaration of Independence. In response, Rajoy issued a new ultimatum: If Puigdemont does not issue his denunciation by Thursday, October 19, the Armed Forces of the Spanish State will have no choice but to intervene in force.

Response from the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy)

This constant equivocating and backsliding by Puigdemont and the top officials of the Catalan Generalitat has not sat well with the people of Catalonia.

One of the Catalan political parties (with 10 elected deputies in the Generalitat), the Popular Unity Candidacy, or CUP, sent an Open Letter to Puigdemont affirming that the call to proclaim Independence and the Republic is the mandate of more than 2 million people. The letter stated, in part:

“It was, and still is, necessary to proclaim the Republic. Such a proclamation is the mandate of the more than 2 million people who, despite the intervention by the judiciary and the repressive offensive by the State, said YES to Independence.

“It is only with the proclamation of the Republic that we will be able to respect what the majority expressed in the ballot boxes. To respond otherwise to Rajoy’s ultimatum would be to legitimize and endorse his threats, his contempt, and his repression. It would mean returning to the constitutional ‘legality’ of the Spanish State, with which the social majority has decided to break.

“The State – with its judicial system, its military, and its police powers, but above all with its political parties, which in recent days have been absolutely opposed to the right to self-determination — is continuing to deny us our rights and our freedoms, taking refuge behind an illegitimate Spanish Constitution, with the full support of the European Union. If they want to implement Article 155 of the Spanish State’s Constitution, and if they want to continue to threaten us and gag us, then let them do so with a proclaimed Republic.”

Popular Assemblies and Committees in Defense of the Referendum

Most important, the people of Catalonia are forming their own popular assemblies and committees to defend the referendum and their liberties – and to pursue their fight for Independence and the Republic. [See report below on the Popular Assembly in the village of Vilamajor.]

In the town of Sabadell, on Saturday, October 14, delegates from 80 committees in defense of the referendum (CDR) gathered clandestinely. These committees — and the popular assemblies that they convene – bring together the thousands of volunteers who organized both the October 1 referendum and the October 3 general strike.

One of the Catalan correspondents of Tribune des Travailleurs/Workers Tribune, who was delegated by his CDR to the Sabadell meeting, sent in this report:

“Many CDRs are not yet part of this national [that is, all Catalonia—Ed.] structure, but we are beginning to create a network to coordinate our next actions. The threat of Article 155 is being raised by the powers-that-be, and the suspension of Catalan autonomy is getting closer and closer, which is why we are developing a structure of autonomous resistance with the committees in the self-management and cooperation of the working classes.

“From this meeting in Sabadell, what clearly emerged is the understanding that the committees represent spaces of active resistance. Our assemblies are attended by people with different political sensitivities and militant traditions, but what unites us is the firm will to exercise independence from below, and to defend ourselves against the attacks and repression of the Spanish State, as we witnessed on October 1.” 

[See story below on the repression against two militant organizers of the October 1 referendum.]

What is also significant is that during this meeting in Sabadell various delegates proposed that the committees should be renamed the Committees in Defense of the Catalan Republic, thereby expressing the powerful will that is gathering strength to proclaim the Republic.

The report from the village of Vilamajor underscores the point that, “a powerful force [in Catalonia] is coming together from below, taking affairs into its own hands, and organizing itself to continue the fight for Independence and the Republic.” It is a force that is heading for a head-on confrontation with all the counter-revolutionary institutions and political parties tied to the Francoist monarchy, beginning with the European Union.

(This article was written based on reports and articles published in Tribune des Travailleurs/Workers Tribune, the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party, POID, of France.)

* * * * * * * * * *

CDRL Vilamajor

CDRL banner calls on townspeople in Vilamajor to attend Popular Assembly on Sunday, October 8 to “defend the results of the Referendum and to demand Independence”

(2) The Popular Assembly in the Village of Vilamajor

The leaflet calling to assemble in defense of the October 1 referendum was plastered all over the village of Vilamajor in Catalonia. It reads: “What next? In Vilamajor, we continue to fight to defend the results of the referendum that affirmed the Catalan people’s overwhelming aspiration to independence and the Republic. Come to a People’s Assembly convened by the Committee for the Defense of the Referendum and Liberties (CDRL) on Sunday, October 8.”

On the town square, a large banner announces the Popular Assembly. Hundreds of people in this small village responded. They are workers, peasants, unemployed, retirees, youth, storekeepers. The oldest are there to recall the memories of the Civil War and Francoism. The younger ones, who are a majority in the assembly, had monitored the referendum and coordinated the security teams on October 1, the day of the vote.

One townsperson, who is a member of the CDRL, explains:

The Committee is the people who organized the referendum — the people who organized the polling stations, defended the polls, and allowed people to vote when the Guardia Civil was clubbing them to prevent them from voting. It’s a committee that is separate and apart from the Catalan Parliament. Our Committee, like countless others across Catalonia, was created spontaneously. It is independent of the political parties, though members of the different parties fighting for the Republic can act openly in our assemblies, because everyone in the village knows them. After the referendum, it seemed necessary for us to continue meeting and organizing to defend the results expressed on October 1st: Independence and Republic.

On October 3, during the general strike, banners signed by similar committees in defense of the referendum appeared across Catalonia. Hug, an activist of the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy, a formation represented in the Catalan Parliament that advocates for the Catalan Republic and socialism), explains:

Committees have been created in villages like Vilamajor, as well as in the neighborhoods of Barcelona and other big cities. In the larger towns, they meet by sector, with each workplace or neighborhood committee sending 10 delegates to the sector-wide assemblies. The committees are all united around one main demand: Independence and the Republic, Now! That is what makes them strong and effective.”

An elder tells us:

These committees have arisen spontaneously, but there are precedents for such collective organization in our history: the committees of poor peasants, and the anti-fascist militias of Catalonia from 1936 to 1939.”

At the committee meeting in Vilamajor on October 8, the convener calls for a vote on the agenda and opens the discussion. Everyone comments on the declarations and hesitations of the leaders of the Catalan Parliament. “What should we do now to establish our independence and start the process toward creating the Republic?” The concern is generalized among the participants.

All want to remain mobilized. All are focused on the next moment in the struggle: On Tuesday [October 10], the Catalan Parliament will meet at 6 pm, and Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont is scheduled to make his statement. It is widely believed that the Catalan government must not continue retreating.

A powerful force is coming together from below, taking affairs into its own hands, and organizing itself to continue the fight for Independence and the Republic.

-— Correspondent in Catalonia, reported filed on October 8 (published in Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party/POID on October 11, 2017)

* * * * * * * * * *

Paris rally on Catalonia

Speakers podium at Oct. 13 rally in Paris organized by the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France. Banner reads: The fate of Catalonia must not be decided in Madrid, Paris, Brussels or Washington! Freedom for the Catalan people to decide their own destiny! No to Repression! Catalan Republic, Republic throughout all of Spain!

(3) Halt the Repression in Catalonia: Statement by the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID) of France

A few hours ago, during the evening of 16 October, Jordi Sanchez (Catalan National Assembly) and Jordi Cuixart (Omnium), two representatives of democratic organisations in Catalonia who had declared themselves in favour of proclaiming the Catalan Republic, in line with the clear-cut result of the referendum on 1 October, were thrown in prison by the government of the Spanish monarchy.


Freedom for Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart! Bring them home!

After the police brutality on 1 October against the Catalan people, who – despite the obstacles put in their way – voted to freely decide their own destiny, once again we are seeing the Francoist monarchy unleashing repression that is a grim reminder of the past for all the workers and peoples of the Spanish State.

The Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID) reaffirms, as it has continued to do for weeks in its weekly newspaper, also from the platform of the rally it held in Paris on 13 October:

  • The fate of the Catalan people should not be decided in Madrid, or Paris, or Brussels or Washington!
  • YES to the right of the people of Catalonia to self-determination!
  • YES to the right of the people of Catalonia to proclaim the Catalan Republic now, as it has decided to do!
  • YES to the right of the peoples of Spain to proclaim a Republic, if they so decide to do!
  • Down with Francoist repression! Release the political prisoners immediately!
  • Rajoy, Macron, European Union: Hands off the Catalan people!
  • Long live the unity of the workers and peoples of the Spanish State and the whole of Europe!

The Democratic Independent Workers Party calls on its committees, members and activists to be ready to respond to any appeal to rally on these slogans.

1.00 p.m., 17 October 2017




%d bloggers like this: