The Judge RANTS!
Dommage To Catalunya, or The News You're Not To Hear
Consider the following scenario:
- An ancient nation which has been under the control of a larger, more aggressive neighbour for much of its history holds an election for its 'regional' parliament.
- The winning parties in the election stood on a manifesto commitment to hold a referendum on independence from the colonial power.
- The law mandating the plebiscite is duly passed by the elected parliament by a clear majority, and the date for the vote is set.
The colonial power then:
- Gets the judiciary which it controls to declare the referendum legislation - and hence the referendum itself - illegal,
- Seizes control of the website which is advertising the referendum,
- Changes the law by ministerial fiat to make it a criminal offence for anyone to hire out any venue for any activity concerning the referendum,
- Orders banks to disclose to it all accounts and transactions which might be related to the vote,
- Puts over seven hundred elected mayors under criminal investigation for assisting the voting process,
- Orders the media not to report any story involving the plebiscite,
- Bans a march of solidarity in another of its colonies (Euskadi) (except that the people of Bilbao marched anyway; they don't mind telling Madrid to go and shit),
- Sends its armed police into the offices of printers, newspapers, magazines and broadcasters in search of posters or any other printed or electronic matter promoting the vote,
- Threatens to remove all control over the 'region''s finances and take direct control of them from the imperial centre.
Now, this is all a clear breach, not only of the United Nations declaration that all nations on Earth are entitled to determine their own destinies in accordance with their own will, but also of the fundamental principles of democracy itself. Sending goon squads in to harrass and intimidate elected politicians, journalists and printers is a pretty clear indication of extreme authoritarian action.
Something Must Be Done! There must be Condemnation from the International Community! There must be Sanctions! There must be the Promise of Humanitarian Intervention!
Except that this is not happening in some far-flung corner of the world: it's not Mad Sultan Erdoğan of Ankara, nor is it Dastardly Vlad, the bogeyman du jour of US expansionist ambitions.
It's happening right here in Western Europe; on the Iberian peninsula, to be precise.
The 'region' is the nation of Catalunya.
The colonial power is the Castilian régime in Madrid, supposedly a modern democracy. I mean, it's in the EU and everything.
But democracy in the modern Spanish State has never had the chance to take deep root. When the mass-murdering thug Francisco Franco finally slipped from decrepitude into oblivion over forty years ago, the peoples of his realm were presented with a fait accompli. The old bastard had designated Juan Carlos de Borbón y Borbón (so good they dunked him twice) as his successor as head of state, thus imposing a monarchy on the people. The poltical, judicial, military and policing élite which had prospered mightily under the Falange was to remain dominant. And - most germane to our story - the constitution was specifically designed to prevent any possibility of the 'regions' (e.g. Catalunya, Euskadi, Galicia) even attempting to take sovereign control of their own lands. The threat was clear: accept this constitution or the military would Take Back Control (as, indeed, some of them tried to do in 1981); in addition, the severe limits placed in law after the attempted golpe de estado were implemented as a clear sop to the military.
It is those restrictions which the Castilian government is using to negate democracy and self-determination in Catalunya today. Scarcely any wonder when that government is headed by Mariano Rajoy, a Galician (like Franco) and someone whose ideology, like that of the Partido Popular which he leads, follows in direct line of descent from Falangism, with its overbearing reactionary centralism and its 'God, King and State' exceptionalism.
So, we have a supposed democracy at the heart of Europe using its tame judiciary and its strutting paramilitary to prevent a democratic vote called by a democratically-elected parliament. A judicio-military coup, in effect.
You would think, therefore, that such a story would garner widespread coverage in our free, fearless and not-at-all-beholden-to-power-oh-dear-me-no-where-do-you-think-this-is-North-Korea media.
Astonishingly, coverage of the Catalan crisis has been all but absent. The Toryglyph has its sole item on the matter buried three levels down. The BBC has done the same. The Times' print edition on Saturday apparently doesn't mention it at all. And those two imposters of 'liberal' journalism, the Granadiu and the Abu bin-Dependent? Not a word. Anywhere, although they seem to be very keen to report on a sex scandal in Iceland.
It's a reminder of the late and much-missed Paul Foot who - commenting on the lack of coverage of the actions which overthrew the Caetano dictatorship in Portugal in 1975 - said, "If you don't know what's going on in Portugal, you must have been reading the papers".
For the sake of fairness (which they largely don't deserve, but give me credit for trying), I looked around the websites of some of Europe's most notable newspapers as well. Die Zeit, the FAZ and the supposedly left-leaning Tageszeitung? Keine Worte. De Telegraaf? Niets. Le Monde? Baise tout. Corriere Della Sera? Niente.
(I didn't bother with the Castilian press for obvious reasons).
I then looked further afield. The New York Times? Gedouddahere! The Washington Post ("Democracy dies in darkness", they say, as they turn the lights out)? Nodda dime. The Sydney Morning Herald? Nothin' here, mate. The Japan Times? The Asahi Shimbun? Nanimonai.
And politicians? Whilst Euro-President Juncker has said that he would respect the result of the referendum, there has been no word about the sabotaging of that vote from him or Juncker or even Verhofstadt. Apart from a strongly-worded letter from a small number of Danish parliamentarians, a similar message of support from the Prime Minister of Estonia, and a rather weak 'on the one hand this, on the other hand that' statement from the Scottish government's spokesperson on external affairs, our 'democratic' pols have been silent.
It's all very curious.
Were I prone to conspiracy theories (which on the whole I'm not, although I do sometimes wonder at the stretching of the laws of probability into pretzels), I would think that there was some sort of international 'understanding' either to under-report the story or to simply not bother mentioning it at all.
But it may after all just be down to insularity and ignorance. After all, the English media have a nice, juicy 'Muslim Bomb Outrage!' story to amuse them; the Germans are in the middle of an election campaign; the Japanese and Aussies are too far away to care; and the Yanks are having to play ring-a-roses with their President's psyche.
Whichever explanation is closer to the truth, the most astounding journalistic black hole seems to have opened up to swallow the story of a major European state threatening mass arrests and prosecutions of people for wanting the democracy they voted for. Perhaps, as with the blind eye turned to another Castilian outrage against one of its colonies eighty years ago this year, this will seem in hindsight to be significant.