Amnesty for Catalan political prisoners! Fight right and reactionary justice with mass mobilization!
The intention of the Spanish government to partially pardon the political prisoners of the Catalan independence movement has provoked an angry reaction from the right, which is trying to stir up its social base to exhaust the President of the Socialist Party (PSOE) Pedro Sánchez. However, key sectors of the ruling class support the amnesty, behind the scenes, convinced that their interests are better defended by making this small concession to the Catalan independence movement. What should be the position of the left?
To begin with, we want to clarify that we unconditionally defend the right to self-determination of the Catalan people, a right that is supported by 75.1 percent of the Catalan population, according to the latest survey by the Center d’Estudis d ‘Opinion de la Generalitat (CEO). It must be the Catalan people who decide whether they want to form their own state or stay within the Spanish state.
Forced union only succeeds in increasing national mistrust and hatred, which runs counter to the brotherhood and unity of the Catalan and Spanish working classes. Only the reactionary Spanish state apparatus, with its heads of the army, police, civil guard, justice, the monarch at the helm, and the big capitalists who support it, are interested in imposing the unity of the Spanish State for the enormous privileges and interests it affords them.
The Spanish state and its constitution are implacably opposed to the exercise of the right to self-determination, which contravenes the will of the majority of the Catalan people. We therefore consider as legitimate any action that attempts to exercise this right through direct mass action, such as the referendum of October 1, 2017.
We recognize the referendum and its result, and therefore we consider the 12 leaders of the movement to be political prisoners. We therefore demand their unconditional release and the cancellation of their sentences. Likewise, we demand the lifting of all charges against the more than 3,000 Catalan Republican activists, prosecuted on various charges, and that the Catalan political representatives in exile be free to return without threats or coercion.
Regarding the issue, and the release of prisoners from the point of view of legal formality, we have always defended their amnesty. But to the extent that the central government grants them a grace, with no obligation to repent or apologize on their part, we also support it.
Our position has nothing to do with the cynical calculations of bourgeois politics which seek to channel the return of the majority independence parties, ERC and Junts, to the path of constitutional autonomy in exchange for these graces. We defend the unconditional release of prisoners, by all means, on the basis of elementary considerations of democracy and justice.
The reaction strikes back
Certainly, the forces of reaction wereted no time and set in motion all their machines to mobilize their base in the reactionary petty bourgeoisie, this mass of professionals, independents, retirees, rentiers, traders and others. small exploiting bosses: a hysterical and ignorant mass. The reactionary state apparatus is not to be outdone, with an opposition mobilized through the police, the civil guard, the army and above all the judicial caste.
| Ahead of possible pardons for jailed independence leaders, Spain’s right-wing parties are preparing political and legal battles against this potential decision, including a demonstration on June 13.
– Catalan News (@catalannews) May 31, 2021
Unfortunately, a layer of workers, contaminated by Spanish chauvinism, also wants to reject pardons. This sentiment has been cultivated in part by the policy of “national unity” with the right, shamefully practiced by the PSOE, and embodied in the ambiguous attitude of the leaders of Unidas Podemos. The latter were intimidated by the dominant pressure of Spanish public opinion after the application of article 155 of the Constitution, which temporarily dissolved Catalan autonomy at the end of 2017, which established for a few months a climate of semi- reaction in society.
The first measure of the reaction was to call a rally in Madrid on June 13, with the support of the right-wing parties PP, Vox and Ciudadanos, to demonstrate their rejection of the pardons. This was followed by a report from the Supreme Court, that reactionary mob of privileged individuals who escape popular control. Bursting with a vengeful attitude, they declared pardons “an unacceptable solution”.
The rejection of pardons by the Supreme Court legally obliges the government to grant a partial, not a total, pardon consisting of lowering the sentence, but not canceling it, and will eventually include a ban on holding public office. Despite this, political prisoners will likely be released in a matter of weeks, if not months.
Why key sectors of the ruling class favor pardons
One of the most important points to highlight is that key sectors of the ruling class, linked to Ibex35 (the Madrid stock exchange), are in favor of the measure. In reality, the granting of pardons is the only measure that makes sense from the point of view of the Spanish capitalist regime, as an attempt to appease the Catalan situation and to facilitate the integration of the leaders of ERC and Junts into a plot of autonomism sanctioned in Catalonia.
The ERC and the Catalan Junts must offer something to their social base and to their voters to justify the freezing of the so-called unilateral struggle for independence, and to return to the situation before the independence movement. Although in their speeches and proclamations, they assure their supporters that the postponement of unilateral measures towards independence is only a temporary truce, while waiting for a more favorable time to resume.
The editorial published on May 30 in El País, the main spokesperson for banks and part of large Spanish companies, is interesting in this regard because he sets his own position on pardons. After severely attacking the Catalan independence movement, he gets straight to the heart of the matter:
“The convictions helped overcome the most acute phase of the crisis, but they did not definitively resolve the issue. existential challenge for the Spanish democracy represented by the independence movement “(emphasis added).
“Yes, there is sufficient evidence that opposition to any of the previous governments has fostered the growth of independence over the past decade. The situation is already difficult. But it would become an unmanageable catastrophe if a qualitative leap transformed the positions in favor of secession into a large majority “(our emphasis).
The big bourgeoisie understands the same thing as the Marxists. The Catalan question is an “existential challenge” for the Spanish bourgeois regime, because the independence of Catalonia would deal a devastating blow to the Spanish state apparatus: its prestige, its undefeated mysticism, its advantages and privileges, and centralist ideology which facilitates its authority over the petty bourgeoisie. It would also deal a severe blow to the prestige of the army and the monarch if they were unable to prevent the break-up of the state by the revolutionary movement of the Catalan masses.
Moreover, it would attack the heart of the ruling class, because the independence of Catalonia, in addition to removing its direct control over a territory that contains 20 percent of the state’s wealth, markets and vast industrial resources, would considerably weaken the state’s authority over Spain. society. This would alleviate the fear of the working masses towards the apparatus of repression.
This serious sector of the bourgeoisie understands better than its mediocre representatives in the state apparatus and the right-wing parties, that the indefinite capture of the independence movement, in a context of crisis of the regime and social discontent, is what it has given vitality in recent years. The prospect of a rebound in this movement, making the independence position a position shared by “the vast majority”, is not excluded in the future. It would indeed become “an unmanageable catastrophe”; that is, a full-fledged revolutionary movement in Catalonia, requiring military intervention, with unforeseeable consequences.
And, of course, if in its irrepressible madness the law were to get the Constitutional Court, close to the PP, to declare pardons illegal, the prospect of an “unmanageable catastrophe” would be quite immediate. Hence the strength of this more clairvoyant sector of the bourgeoisie, demonstrated by El País, by specifying to the state apparatus that it should not play with fire.
This position of prudence, and of showing the carrot to the independence movement, at a time when the Generalitat of ERC-Junts is heading towards “autonomy”, is also shared by the most far-sighted representatives of the European bourgeoisie. Thus, the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Council of Europe has also called for the release of Catalan political prisoners.
Fight against the Spanish reaction in the streets
In reality, the right-wing and far-right crisis has the sole objective of preserving the prestige of the repressive state apparatus (its police and its judges) and of trying to weaken the government as much as possible in order to bring it down. . They were joined by “former leaders” of the PSOE of the “felipista” era during the Transition, such as Felipe González himself, who has completely degenerated politically and personally.
These characters act as direct agents of the reaction and of the state apparatus. They do not hide their personal hatred for Pedro Sánchez and would like to see him fall, to be replaced even by the right, without any remorse. These individuals have been completely transformed and can only be classified as class enemies (Felipe González, Guerra, Corcuera, Leguina, Redondo Terreros, etc.).
Even so, we are not in the fall of 2017. The large sector of the working class which was confused, disoriented and temporarily plagued by the siren songs of reactionary Spanish nationalism has already settled its accounts with this past period. He understands the danger of the right and the way it manipulates national sentiments for its evil ends. Many workers, in fact, will breathe a sigh of relief, believing that the pardons could calm the situation in Catalonia and return to a situation of greater stability.
In this context, the left must fight against the right-wing crowds and challenge their presence in the streets. In Catalonia, and in the rest of the State, without ceasing to ask for amnesty, it is necessary to organize mobilizations to demand the immediate and unconditional release of the prisoners, the annulment of their sentences and the withdrawal of the Euro-ordinances of the Supreme Court. and the Audiencia Nacional against the exiles.
It would be a mistake to remain passive, for the government’s decision to grant these pardons seems within reach, even with its limitations. These mobilizations must also aim to gain recognition in public opinion, and in the streets, to fight head-on against Spanish nationalism, with its Francoist and oppressive character, not only in Catalonia but throughout the State. We must demand the purge of the state apparatus of all Francoists and reactionaries, and once again firmly hoist the banner of Catalan self-determination.