Sunday, September 24, 2017

Statement from Catalan home affairs minister Joaquim Forn

Yesterday, reports in Madrid newspapers said that Spain was taking over Catalan police. Home Affairs Minister Joaquim Forn made a statement at 3pm to dispel the rumors:

“Good morning. This morning there was a meeting at the Head Prosecutor's office in Catalonia between the security forces and corps of the State, the Municipal Police of Barcelona and the Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan police force). The legal department of the home affairs ministry is studying the edict in order to offer a legal response. In addition to the commander of the legal police, also present for the second time, was a high-ranking officer of the Spanish State Government, Mr. Diego Pérez de los Cobos, director of the Coordination and Studies of the Secretariat of State for Security of the Ministry.

As was explained yesterday by the home affairs Ministry, the Spanish state is attempting to apply Article 46 of Law 2/1985 regarding the Security Forces and Corps of the State in order to take over the direction of the Catalan police Mossos d'Esquadra.

We denounce this attempt to take over the Mossos d'Esquadra in the same fashion that we decry the attempt to take over the Catalan Government's finances. From the Catalan Government, we do not accept this interference from the State, since it bypasses all of the organs that the current legal framework has for coordinating security in Catalonia. The State is trying to direct police operations in Catalonia through a high-ranking official in the Spanish government and this is unacceptable.

Catalonia already has the organisms necessary to technically coordinate all of the actions of the police forces in Catalonia in the framework of the Security Board and that is what was explained in the meeting with the Prosecutor's Office.

The Catalan police Mossos d'Esquadra have explained in this meeting that they cannot accept, under the umbrella of the coordinator, an attempt to direct the corps. The Chief of the Mossos d'Esquadra corps has expressed the desire of the corps to not accept the coordination from the Spanish State representative. We ask for maximum calm from the citizenry because the Mossos d'Esquadra corps will never renounce the exercise of its responsibilities.”

Original in Catalan:

“Bon dia, aquest matí, s'ha celebrat una reunió a la Fiscalía Superior de Catalunya en la que han participat les forces i cossos de seguretat de l'Estat, la Guardia Urbana i els Mossos d'Esquadra. Els serveis jurídics del Departament d'Interior estan estudiant aquest instrucció per tal de donar una resposta jurídica. A part del comandament de les policies judicials ha assistit també i per segona vegada un alt càrrec del govern de l'Estat espanyol, el senyor Diego Pérez de los Cobos, director del gabinet de coordinación y estudios de la Secretaría de Estado de Seguridad del Ministerio.

Tal i com van avançar ahir des del Departament d'Interior, l'Estat espanyol pretén aplicar el Article 46 de la Llei 2/1985 de Fuerzas y Cuerpos de Seguridad del Estado per dirigir des de l'Estat els Mossos d'Esquadra.

Denunciem la voluntat d'intervenir als Mossos d'Esquadra tal i com s'ha fet amb les finances de la Generalitat de Catalunya. Des del Govern de la Generalitat, no acceptem aquesta ingerència de l'Estat perquè se salta tots els òrgans que el marc jurídic actual disposa per coordinar la seguretat a Catalunya. L'Estat pretén dirigir els operatius policials a Catalunya a través d'un alt càrrec del Ministeri del Govern espanyol i aquest és un fet inacceptable.

Catalunya ja disposa d'organismes per coordinar tècnicament les actuacions dels cossos policials de Catalunya en el marc de la Junta de Seguretat i així s'ha informat en la mateixa reunió a la Fiscalia.

Els Mossos d'Esquadra han explicat en aquesta reunió que no poden acceptar que sota el paraigües de la coordinació es pretengui dirigir el cos. El major del cos dels Mossos d'Esquadra ha expressat la voluntat del cos de no acceptar la coordinació del representant de l'Estat espanyol. Demanem molta tranquil·litat a la ciutadania perquè el cos dels Mossos d'Esquadra no renunciarà mai exercir les competències que li són pròpies.

Thank you very much. ”

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Catalonia's debt to Twitter

How do you change the world peacefully and democratically in the 21st century? By connecting, educating, and getting the outside world to listen. Catalans have spent the last six years determined to have their say in a country that neither listens to them nor respects them, and they have done so in the most exemplary fashion: with five massive peaceful, smiling demonstrations, with debates, conferences, and canvassing, with citizen-led and government-supported though non-binding referenda, and by simply and steadfastly demanding the most basic of democratic rights which Spain refuses to grant: to vote on their political future.

At this moment when people are questioning Twitter's future, I love explaining how Twitter is a key tool for helping us forge the democratic, informed future of Catalonia in a state with one of the most regressive freedom of speech laws in Europe (Spain's 'gag law') by helping us translate our struggle to the outside world, by connecting us directly with our political leaders, and by giving us a place to debate the issues surrounding independence in public, with documented information. We simply would not be where we are without Twitter.

I have spent the last six years on Twitter, forging these connections, first between ebook production artists and more recently between Catalan politicians, journalists and activists. I started out translating Catalan tweets into English. I wanted the world to hear firsthand what a million plus Catalans had to say as they marched peacefully for independence that first September 11, back in 2012. I was tired of the mainstream media calling Catalonia the “northeast region of Spain” and talking only about soccer, paella and Gaudí. Frustrated with Madrid-based foreign correspondents blaming Catalonia's desire for self-rule on selfishness.

I, and many other activists, began to follow journalists and call them out about the inaccuracies in their articles, pointing them to new sources of information. We also follow politicians and community leaders and routinely ask them about their policies and positions. Of the 14 top officials in the Catalan Government—the President and his 13 ministers—10 have active Twitter accounts. Journalists, broadcasters and pundits are almost universally present as well.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal underscored the importance of connecting with people abroad to give direct, unfiltered information about Catalonia's struggle for independence. Another article in Madrid daily El País complained that activists harass foreign journalists. Instead, I believe that Twitter has not only been essential for gaining support for independence but is a fundamental building block for Catalonia's new democracy. It gives us an essential tool for demanding forthrightness and accuracy from both journalists and political leaders, and allows ordinary citizens, like an immigrant American computer book writer like me, to be active participants in determining the policies of our new country. (The Catalan President and eight of his 13 ministers follow me on Twitter.)

And where have we arrived? After six years of massive demonstrations, Twitter campaigns, and many other individual initiatives, we have the first pro-independence majority in the history of the Catalan Parliament. Today, newly elected Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said in Parliament, “We are serious about independence, and you all have realized it too late.” Perhaps those folks don't follow him on Twitter.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Catalan President accused of aiding non-official independence vote

Several thousand people demonstrated in front of Spain's Superior Court of Justice in Catalonia this morning, while current president Artur Mas arrived, flanked by 400 mayors from all over Catalonia, and gave testimony on charges that he misused his office in order to allow a 'participatory process' that allowed Catalans to overwhelming vote in favor of Catalan independence last November 9, 2014. About 2.3 million people (out of 5.5 million) voted, despite scorn and threats from the government, as well as its non-official nature.

The testimony comes on the 75th anniversary, to the day, of the execution by firing squad of Catalonia's earlier president Lluís Companys, who was dragged back from France by the Gestapo and then summarily tried and executed by Francisco Franco's troops. These had the gall to try the president for rebellion, despite that it was Franco and his followers who took up arms against their own government, and that Companys was a democratically elected president, indeed the only incumbent president in Europe to ever be executed. France and Germany apologized for their part in capturing Companys; Spain has repeatedly refused to annul the sentence or apologize for its actions. Whether calling the current president to testify on this date was intentional or not, we do not know, but they evidently saw no need to change the date, once they learned of its significance.

President Mas made a statement at the Catalan Government building a little while later in which he took full responsibility for the vote, but refused to accept that any criminal charges should be brought in consequence. He explained that the Catalan government's actions on the vote could be divided into three periods: First, the government had passed legislation allowing for a non-binding referendum and that he had signed a decree to hold the vote on September 27, but that the Spanish Constitutional Court had suspended the legislation and the decree in record time on September 28 and 29.

On October 14, the president announced that the government would carry out a 'participatory process' with the help of citizen volunteers, and the Spanish government limited itself to scornful comments about said process over the course of the next 15 days. The Catalan government did help organize during those 15 days, but there was no prohibition against it.

When the Spanish government realized that the vote would be successful, the Constitutional Court disallowed the new format as well, but that didn't happen until four or five days before the vote. The President said that after that point, the Catalan government issued no additional orders nor instructions, thereby complying with the prohibition, and that it was volunteers who carried out all actions related to the vote. He also asked whether any Spanish government body had made any move to stop the participatory process and wondered why only the Catalan government was being held to account. He also noted that the Spanish government had disobeyed the Constitutional Court rulings on many occasions with no consequences.

You can find my Storify of the President's remarks.

Former Vice President Joana Ortega, and current Education Minister Irene Rigau gave testimony on Tuesday, another infamous day, the anniversary of the execution of Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, the promoter of the Modern School (Escola Modern) in Barcelona.

It's enough to make you think Spain is itching for a confrontation. And to convince you that it doesn't know a lot about democracy.