Tuesday 17 October 2017

Spain is taking political prisoners while allowing convicted fraudsters to walk free

A lot of people tend to get very angry when you point out that the Spanish political establishment is rapidly descending towards right-wing tyranny.

"But the vote was illegal" they say to excuse the shocking wave of brutal police repression against non-violent Catalan citizens that the whole world witnessed on October 1st. "But they don't represent all Spanish nationalists" they say about the Franco-worshipping fascist-saluting Falangists thugs who are gleefully celebrating the violent repression of Catalonia. "But everyone knows he's a nasty piece of work" they say about the Spanish government minister who wasn't even sacked for issuing a veiled death threat against the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont ...

And now they have something else to make excuses for. The Spanish establishment has resorted to taking Catalan civic leaders as political prisoners.

Jordi Sanchez, the leader of the ANC movement, and Jordi Cuixart, who heads the Ómnium Cultural association have been arrested and are being held without bail on possible charges of sedition because of their involvement in a spontaneous political protest on September 20th.

Jailing non-violent citizens without trial is obviously bad enough in its own right, but then if you look at some of the criminals from the Spanish political establishment who have been let off for massive corruption and fraud scandals, the shocking bias of the Spanish legal establishment becomes absolutely clear.

Rodrigo Rato (a former finance minister for the ruling Partido Popular) was found guilty of embezzlement from the Spanish bank Bankia, but was released on a technicality instead of serving a single day of his four year jail sentence.

Iñaki Urdangarín (the Spanish king's brother-in-law) was found guilty of tax fraud and corruption in Mallorca, but was released on a technicality instead of serving any of his six year jail sentence.

The Spanish nationalist establishment have got a proven track record of refusing to jail their own, even when they've actually been found guilty of incredible levels of corruption, fraud, and embezzlement. But when it comes to Catalan secessionists, they lock them up and throw away the key before there's even been a proper investigation, let alone a trial!

The crazy thing is that supporters of Spanish nationalism will immediately begin making excuses for the taking of political prisoners. They'll claim "it's for the good of Spain", and spread Orwellian propaganda about what a wonderful liberal place Spain is (while they're simultaneously excusing imprisonment without trial!). They'll turn a blind eye to the double standard that allows the convicted fraudsters Rato and Urdangarín to walk free, while Catalan civic leaders who haven't been found guilty of anything are locked up.

The big problem with this Spanish nationalist attitude is that it's massively counter-productive.

Their refusal to condemn the images we all saw of Spanish police brutalising pensioners, stealing ballot boxes, wading into unarmed and non-violent crowds with batons, and dragging women around by their hair; their blind acceptance of the belligerent escalations by the Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the king of Spain; their excuse-making over the taking of political prisoners ...

These people don't even seem to realise that all of this violence,oppression and Spanish nationalist rhetoric has the appearance of a Francoist resurgence, and their blind support for it terrifies people who remember the same kind of blind support that millions of Spanish nationalists gave to the savage Franco dictatorship until his death in 1975.

If people are unwilling to condemn the wave of police brutality against non-violent citizens, Spanish government ministers making death threats (and not even getting sacked for it), and the taking of political prisoners, how far will they actually go in their appeasement? 

Would anything actually be too much for them? 

Would they still be making excuses and attempting to glorify Spain as a wonderful "liberal democracy" if the government in Madrid scrapped the democratically elected Catalan parliament? If the Spanish political establishment abolished free speech to make talking of Catalan independence a crime? If they sent the army in to occupy Barcelona? If they reintroduced Francoist concentration camps to punish political thought crime?

As far as I'm concerned, they've already gone way too far if they're making excuses for the state violence and political repression that's already happening.

If they can watch a video clip of a Spanish police officer violently dragging a woman around by her hair and believe that "she deserved it" because she was trying to vote in a referendum they didn't want to happen ... or if they're prepared to actively celebrate imprisonment without trial for Catalan civic leaders while establishment fraudsters like Rato and Urdangarín still walk free, then they'll likely find an excuse for pretty much anything the Spanish ruling elite do.

But what is worse, from a pragmatic perspective, is the sheer self-defeating idiocy of it. Every step the Spanish political establishment takes towards the resurrection of the Franco dictatorship is another step towards the eventual secession of Catalonia.

When the king of Spain refuses to condemn the violent oppression of his own people, when the Prime Minister of Spain refuses to discipline his own government minister for making death threats against the elected Catalan President, and when the corrupt Spanish establishment turn Catalan civic leaders into high-profile political prisoners while allowing convicted fraudsters from their own class to walk free, they're not dampening Catalan secessionism, they're wilfully pouring fuel on the fire.

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