Here in Catalonia, People No Longer Feel Like They Live in a Democracy

The turmoil of the past weeks, with Catalonia proclaiming independence, and Madrid stamping it down, amid bitterness and violence, has been a reminder of dark days gone by.

By Kim Sengupta and cross-posted from The Independent 

Friends and relations had gathered together to lay flowers and light candles on the graves of their departed, as is the custom during Day of the Dead celebrations in Catalonia. The thought of many at the commemorations this year, however, was not of just the past, but what lies ahead in an uncertain future.

The Garrigo family had come to the cemetery on the slope of the Montjuic hills to pay their respect to their grandfather who was killed in a battle at Terrasa in Spain’s civil war; one among the thousands who died trying to save Barcelona from advancing fascist forces. The fall of the Catalan capital, when it took place, was a hammer blow to the country’s Republican government. Hitler and Mussolini increased air strikes, poured in more supplies for Franco to help crush remaining opposition and just a few months later Britain and France recognised the rebel general’s military regime as Spain’s legitimate government.

The turmoil of the past weeks, with Catalonia proclaiming independence, and Madrid stamping it down, amid bitterness and violence, has been a reminder of those dark days with anger at chants in the name of Franco and Nazi salutes by Spanish nationalist demonstrators – albeit a relatively small number – opposed to what they see as the dismemberment of their country.

Members of the Catalan administration, disbanded by the Spanish government, are due to present themselves before a court in Madrid on Thursday to answer charges of sedition, rebellion and embezzlement. Failure to do so would lead to them being pursued and detained. Instead of starting to rule Europe’s newest “independent” country, the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, is in exile in Belgium. His refusal to appear before judges is likely to lead to the issuing of an arrest warrant which could prevent him from running in an election called, by Madrid, in December…

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