Sunday, 1 October 2017

If this was happening in Venezuela or Cuba the UK media would be spinning a very different story

The hard-right Spanish government in Madrid shipped thousands of police from across other regions of Spain into Catalonia in an attempt to forcibly and violently repress the Catalan independence referendum, resulting in hundreds of injuries and a social media tsunami of appalling clips and images.

The Guardia Civil (the "civil police" who operated as Franco's paramilitary bully boys during the 1939-1975 fascist dictatorship) and the Spanish federal police have been filmed attacking peaceful citizens with batons, tear gas and rubber bullets, dragging women around by their hair, deliberately breaking people's fingers, throwing people down stairs, confiscating ballot boxes, and even attacking fire fighters who were attempting to defend the public from their brutality (see embedded video clips).

Mainstream media bias

We all know that if such scenes of repression were coming out of countries like Venezuela, Cuba or Bolivia the UK mainstream media would have been howling condemnation.

However because Spain is ruled by the hard-right neoliberal PP (the Spanish version of the Tory party) the British media have repeatedly attempted to downplay the levels of violence and the deliberate repression of democracy.

The BBC tried to sanitise the violence with an ludicrously Orwellian headline casting voters as "protesters" and using the term "rubber projectiles" instead of "rubber bullets".
Sky News even posted a disgraceful (and now sneakily deleted) Tweet claiming that the peaceful victims of police brutality were getting what they deserved for daring to defy the Spanish nationalist government in Madrid.

Even the supposedly left-leaning Guardian continued to run an extraordinary opinion piece casting doubt on the legitimacy of the referendum as one of their leading articles for hours after the scale of the Spanish nationalist violence had become all too clear on social media.

If these displays of state violence had been committed by a left-wing regime like Venezuela or Cuba we all know the "look at the evils of socialism" spin UK corporate hacks would have put on it, but nobody in the UK mainstream media is using these disgraceful displays of state violence to say "look at the evils of this brutal right-wing government right on our doorstep" or to raise concerns that the increasingly dictatorial government in Madrid is driven by the exact same virulent form of hard-right neoliberal economic dogma as the Tory party in the UK.

Spanish fascism

As police shipped in from the rest of Spain were repressing democracy, dragging women around by their hair and deliberately breaking their fingers supporters of Mariano Rajoy's increasingly tyrannical regime gathered in Madrid to make Nazi salutes and sing right-wing Falangist songs from the Franco era, which is absolutely outrageous given horrors that all regions of Spain suffered under the brutal fascist government of Francisco Franco between 1939 and 1975. 

Again, as with the police brutality, these disgusting outburst of extreme-right Spanish nationalism received muted, or non-existent criticism from most of the UK mainstream media.

In their efforts to paint the disorder as a product solely of Catalan nationalism the UK mainstream media have absolutely failed to observe that the violence is actually a product of a grotesque form of dictatorial and rabidly right-wing Spanish nationalism.

Rajoy's ineptitude

You don't need to be any kind of supporter of Catalan independence to recognise that Rajoy has handled the situation dismally. Instead of sending in police from across Spain to attack the polling stations, undermine democracy and brutalise peaceful voters, he could simply have let the referendum go ahead unmolested and then simply refused to accept the result.

The repressive tactics of arresting the referendum organisers on trumped up charges, confiscating ballot papers, shutting down pro-independence media outlets, launching cyber attacks on the polling station software, and the orgy of repressive state violence on the day of the vote have dramatically escalated the situation.

Only the most partisan of observers could look at the countless clips and images of Spanish police beating and abusing peaceful Catalan citizens as they attempted to vote and fail to see how these images will inevitably be interpreted by many as the violent and repressive face of right-wing Spanish nationalism as it attempts to disrupt and destroy the peaceful and democratic civic nationalism of the Catalans.

Just as the brutal and merciless repression of the 1916 Easter Rising fuelled the Irish independence cause resulting in the declaration of the Irish Free state just seven years later, the bombardment of violent and repressive images is sure to fuel the fightback against Spain's fanatically right-wing and increasingly dictatorial government, not just in Catalonia, but in other regions of Spain too (especially the Basque Country).

The blame game

Even people who strongly oppose Catalan independence should be horrified at the images, because this level of violence and repression by the Spanish state can only increase the probability of Catalan independence happening eventually. 

But we all know that a lot of people are so easily led that they can be distracted by us vs them blame games, so that they end up actually believing Spanish government ministers who claimed that the police behaved "professionally and proportionately", and totally ignoring Rajoy's catastrophically inept handling of the situation.

People will actually swallow the propaganda that the victims of the violence are to blame for bringing it upon themselves.

Of course flag-waving Spanish nationalists will delight in seeing the Catalans "put in their place" once again by the systematic brutality of the Spanish state, but sadly an awful lot of British people will fall for the biased mainstream media framing of events and end up believing that this savage right-wing state repression of non-violent citizens was somehow proportionate and justified when they would have undoubtedly been herded like sheep towards hysterical condemnation had these exact same events played out in left-wing countries like Venezuela or Cuba, rather than in hard-right Spain.

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