Catalonia: Protests Mark 3 Years Since Suppression of Independence Vote

By David Martinez

On October 1, protesters across the autonomous region of Catalonia took to the streets to commemorate three years since an independence referendum vote took place which the Spanish state immediately deemed illegitimate and moved to violently suppress. In Barcelona, the anniversary demonstrations turned combative, erecting barricades, lighting fires and clashing with police.

The protesters demanded the release of political prisoners, the Catalan government leaders who have remained in jail since the vote, and burned Spanish flags to demonstrate their resistance to Spain’s repression of the region. The protests come on the heels of the dismissal of the regional president, Quim Torra, by the Spanish state for refusing to take down a banner reading, “Free All Political Prisoners and Exiles,” that was flying at the regional government building.

The region’s police force, Mossos D’Esquadra, which at the time of the referendum acted in sympathy with the Catalan people, were the main forces repressing them this past week. Fifteen people and a police officer were injured in the clashes.

The banner at a government building that the former regional president refused to remove.

In 2017, Catalans cast a vote in support of independence from Spain, with thousands more unable to vote as Spanish authorities shut down and blocked polling stations in a violent police crackdown headed by the Civil Guard and national police. The vote and repression were followed by massive general strikes.

The independence movement, while backed by many of the Catalan people, is currently headed by the Catalan bourgeoisie, who primarily want a greater portion of the resources of the old Spanish state. Catalan has historically been an economic powerhouse of Spain, but the independence movement has spurred the movement of many major companies out of the region, showing the limits of the Catalan bourgeoisie’s strength.

With the unification of the Spanish state throughout history, various regions came under its rule: Galicia, Basque Country, Catalonia, and others, which have persistently fought for self-determination. The people of autonomous regions like Catalonia seek independence from Spanish domination, but independence under their local bourgeoisie would not change the conditions of exploitation and oppression.

Within imperialist countries such as Spain, the struggles of oppressed and dominated peoples must be linked to the fight for a socialist revolution, led by a Communist Party at the head of a People’s War.

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