Friday, November 7, 2014

Tensions rise as day for independence 'vote' nears

Things are becoming very exciting here in the Port. Sunday is the day that people in Catalunya  "vote" to become an autonomous country. I say vote but it isn't going to be a legal vote because Spain will not permit it, rather it will be a symbolic vote. For the past three years the momentum has increased with mass rallies, linking of hands across Catalonia and torchlight parades. This has given the Catalunyan government incentive to push ahead with the vote.

The government views the vote as illegal and has forbidden it with the threat of sending the head of the Catalunyan government, Arturo Mas, to jail. The vote is going ahead anyway. Last week the communities did not have access to the voter lists but this week they have managed to do this. The vote will be held in the community ballroom on Sunday or at least that is the hope.

This vote will be non-binding since Spain's constitution does not allow it. Here the people have taken hope from Scotland's constitutionally sanctioned  independence vote. We have heard people say that they do not feel that they are part of a democracy because Spain will not allow the vote. Some people do not even consider themselves Spanish at all.

The vote is not supported with government money but by revenues coming purely from members' subscriptions and selling merchandise — such as the masses of red and yellow T-shirts worn in its last mass rally on September 11th.

So far we have enjoyed the many activities showing support for Catalunyan independence but now things may be turning more sinister. Forty troops were on exercises above the town at the Monastir de Pere de Rodas. Above the monastery are the ruins of the castle, from which a Catalunyan flag has been flying in recent weeks. One of the soldiers wrecked the flag, I think by burning it. Apologies were made to the town and the mayor but it does raise the questions,  "Who burns a flag? Where were the other 39 soldiers and where was the commanding officer?" Rumours have it that additional Guardia Civil and perhaps even military personnel will be sent to Catalunya on Sunday, perhaps trying to prevent the vote. Even if all these people don't come it is felt that there will be some government presence. Certainly this will be the case in larger towns.

For anyone who knows anything about Spanish history this is quite alarming. Passive resistance is the order of the day for the Catalunyans but what happens if hotheads stir things up?

Everyone is positive about the voting. Everywhere you go balconies, bridges and roundabouts are festooned with yellow plastic bunting and the red and yellow Catalunyan flags signifying support  for Catalunyan independence.

We wonder what will happen on Sunday but unfortunately we will be traveling so we won't be here for firsthand reporting of the events.

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