Tag Archives: Spain

If Catalonia Fails, We All Fail, by Michael Krieger

This is one of Michael Krieger’s best articles. From Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

While I’ve touched on the Catalan independence movement in several recent posts, I want to make one thing clear from the start. I don’t have a strong opinion on whether or not independence is the right move for the region and its people. It would be completely inappropriate for me, a U.S. citizen living in Colorado, to lecture people 5,000 miles away on how they should organize their political lives.

While I don’t have an opinion on how Catalans should vote, I unwaveringly support their right to decide the issue for themselves. When it comes to the issue of voting and referendums, we’ve entered a topic far bigger than Catalonia, Spain, or even Europe itself. When it comes to the issue of political self-determination, we’re talking about an essential human right which should be seen as inherent to all of us, everywhere.

The Catalan push for a right for vote on independence should be seen as part of a much larger push toward greater self-determination that humans will demand in increasingly large numbers in the years ahead. The time is ripe for us as a species to insist on a transition toward a more voluntary, sane, peaceful and decentralized process of political organization. This is an idea whose time has come, and I thank the Catalan people from the bottom of my heart for brining it to the fore, and also for conducting themselves in such a noble, courageous and thoughtful manner. You are leading the way for the rest of us.

To continue reading: If Catalonia Fails, We All Fail

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The Spanish Civil War, revisited, by Pepe Escobar

Catalonia may presage all sorts of separatism in Europe. From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:

Puigdemont’s political twist could invoke a lethal response from Madrid: suspension of Catalonia’s government

Call it theatre of the absurd – with a lethal subtext. Under pressure from all corners – even Donald Tusk, president of the EU Council – in his fateful date with destiny Carles Puigdemont, President of Catalonia, came up with some last-minute judo dialectics. He issued a non-denial denial Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Spain. What was declared was immediately suspended; the Republic of Catalonia lasted for six seconds.

The deft political gambit left Madrid predictably bewildered. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a.k.a. nano-Franco, issued an ultimatum; you have five days to say if you declared independence or not.

Independent of the answer, Madrid’s nuclear option remains on the cards; infamous article 155 of the Constitution, which calls for the suspension of Catalonia’s government and parliament from six to 12 months.

Yet that may come with a twist; a 155 in slow motion, parallel to the hazy offer of starting a process, in six months maximum, leading to Spanish constitutional reform. Madrid needs Catalonia for this reform to succeed. So, essentially, Puigdemont just needs to say “no” for the train to start rolling.

It’s way more complex than it seems. The Catalan extreme left, up to the last minute, was trying to convince Puigdemont to proclaim unconditional independence. At the same time, those six seconds left Catalan unionists predictably furious. Moderates for their part prefer to see a faint light at the end of the tunnel.

The problem is that even with discreet back channels in place, Madrid’s strategy is to ultimately force a fissure in the independentist coalition; secession inside Catalonia to prevent secession from Spain. So far, the fissure has been prevented by some members of the Catalonian Parliament signing a declaration of support for the – still non-existent – republic.

To continue reading: The Spanish Civil War

The Catalan Chain Reaction, by Andrew Korybko

Here is an analysis of possible scenarios unfolding in Catalonia and Spain. From Andrew Korybko at orientalreview.com:

Catalonia’s drive for “independence” has unleashed a chain reaction of viral social media support that’s frighteningly resurrected civil war-era rhetoric, but the most dangerous consequences of this domino effect are yet to come if the separatists are ultimately successful in their quest.

Catalans rally for independence

The Nostalgia Narrative

The Catalan “independence” cause has taken the world by storm, thrown into the global spotlight by the heavily publicized referendum earlier this week and Madrid’s forceful response to this unconstitutional measure. Supporters all across the world have been energized by the recent events and have taken to describing them in civil war-era terms as a battle between “democracy” and “fascism”. Furthermore, they also accuse the Rajoy government of being “Francoists”, as they do the country’s post-Franco 1978 Constitution which returned Catalonia’s autonomy in an even more robust way than before and even bestowed this privilege to the rest of the country as well.

Although it can be safely presumed that Spain naturally retained some of the “Francoist” members of its permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) after the death of their movement’s eponymous leader, it’s an exaggeration to refer to the constitution and the present government as “Francoists” in the sense of what the term stereotypically implies. Rather, the improper use of such polarizing civil war-era terms demonstrates that the separatists are trying to capitalize on the revolutionary nostalgia that their domestic and foreign supporters have for reliving the 1936-1939 anarcho-communist experiment via a simulacrum, one which plays out differently depending on their audience.

Two Simulacra

As it relates to the Catalans themselves, this is meant to force them into the false binary choice between “standing with their ancestors against fascism” or “betraying their motherland for the Francoists”. Concerning the foreign supporters of the Catalan separatists, they’re supposed to get riled up and vent their hatred against Madrid and impassioned support for Barcelona all throughout social media, picking up on the cue that they should inaccurately compare modern-day Madrid to post-Maidan Kiev in making the Alt-Media argument that Catalonia has as much of a right to “independence” as Crimea does to its reunification with Russia.

To continue reading: The Catalan Chain Reaction

Catalonia Chaos Begins to Squeeze Spain’s Financial Markets, by Don Quijones

Spain’s financial market participants are beginning to believe that there won’t be a quiet, easy solution to the Catalonia-Spain standoff. From Don Quijones at wolfstreet.com:

Spain’s biggest political crisis of a generation, which has led to the complete breakdown of communication and understanding between its government in Madrid and the separatist region of Catalonia, is finally beginning to take its toll on the country’s financial markets.

Spain’s benchmark index, the Ibex 35, slumped nearly 3% following its worst day of trading since the Brexit vote last June. Spain’s 10-year risk premium — the differential between the yield on its 10-year bonds and the yield on Germany’s 10-year bonds — soared to 129 basis points. And that’s despite the fact that the ECB continues to buy Spanish debt hand over fist.

But it is the banks that have borne the brunt of the pain this week. On Monday, the first trading day after the independence referendum, they lost €4.84 billion in market value. Over the past five trading days, shares of the two biggest Catalan-based banks, Caixabank and Banco de Sabadell, have plunged respectively, 9% and 13%.

So tense is the situation that the CEOs of each bank felt compelled to release a statement today reassuring customers that they have all the means and tools necessary to protect their interests. Their contingency plans include the option of abandoning their base of operations in Catalonia and moving elsewhere — to Madrid in the case of Sabadell and Mallorca in the case of Caixabank.

But it wasn’t just Catalan banks that were caught up in today’s rout. Important Spanish banks with somewhat less exposure to Catalonia also saw their shares plunge. Santander, Spain’s only global systemically important bank, was down 3.8% on the day’s trading; BBVA, Spain’s second bank which has important operations in Catalonia after acquiring the failed saving bank Catalunya Caixa in 2015, fell 3.6%; and Bankia was also down 3.6%.

Standard & Poor’s today put Catalonia’s credit rating — at B+/B, it’s already deep into junk — on review for a downgrade of one notch or more, “if we believed that escalating political tensions between Catalonia’s government and Spain’s central government could put in question the full and timely refinancing of Catalonia’s short-term debt instruments or undermine the effectiveness of the central government’s financial support to Catalonia.” The threat of default moves a step closer.

To continue reading: Catalonia Chaos Begins to Squeeze Spain’s Financial Markets

 

 

Catalan Independence: Why The Collective Hates It When People Walk Away, by Brandon Smith

Spain will violently suppress Catalonia’s independence because that’s what collectivists do. From Brandon Smith at alt-market.com:

I have written many times in the past about the singular conflict at the core of most human crises and disasters, a conflict that sabotages human endeavor and retards critical thought. This conflict not only stems from social interaction, it also exists within the psyche of the average individual. It is an inherent contradiction of the human experience that at times can fuel great accomplishment, but usually leads to great tragedy. I am of course talking about the conflict between our inborn need for self determination versus our inborn desire to hand over responsibility to a community through group effort — sovereignty versus collectivism.

In my view, the source of the problem is that most people wrongly assume that “collectivism” is somehow the same as community. This is entirely false, and those who make this claim are poorly educated on what collectivism actually means. It is important to make a distinction here; the grouping of people is not necessarily or automatically collectivism unless that group seeks to subjugate the individuality of its participants. Collectivism cannot exist where individual freedom is valued. People can still group together voluntarily for mutual benefit and retain respect for the independence of members (i.e. community, rather than collectivism).

This distinction matters because there is a contingent of political and financial elites that would like us to believe that there is no middle ground between the pursuits of society and the liberties of individuals. That is to say, we are supposed to assume that all our productive energies and our safety and security belong to society. Either that, or we are extremely selfish and self serving “individualists” that are incapable of “seeing the bigger picture.” The mainstream discussion almost always revolves around these two extremes. We never hear the concept that society exists to serve individual freedom and innovation and that a community of individuals is the strongest possible environment for the security and future of humanity as a whole.

Thus, the mainstream argument becomes a kabuki theater between the “ignorantly destructive” populists/nationalists/individualists versus the more “reasonable” and supposedly forward thinking socialists/globalists/multiculturalists. The truth is, sovereignty champions can be pro-individual liberty and also pro-community or pro-nation, as long as that community is voluntary.

To continue reading: Catalan Independence: Why The Collective Hates It When People Walk Away

Catalonia To Declare Independence From Spain On Monday, by Tyler Durden

Watching the Catalonian situation evolve is like watching a scary movie unfold, except this is real life. Will the Spanish government do something stupid? From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Spanish stocks tumbled, with the IBEX index sliding into a 10% correction, following an overnight report that Catalan leader Puigdemont was set to make a statement at 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Wednesday, after an all-party committee of the region’s parliament meets to agree a date for a plenary session on independence. That concluded moments ago and CUP, the pro-secession party that is a majority in the Catalan parliament, has announced it will declared independence from Spain in plenary session on Monday, El Pais reports.

As reported last night, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont told the BBC that his government would ask the region’s parliament to declare independence after tallying votes from last weekend’s referendum, which Madrid says was illegal. “This will probably finish once we get all the votes in from abroad at the end of the week and therefore we shall probably act over the weekend or early next week,” he said in remarks published on Wednesday.

Puigdemont’s comments came after Spain’s King Felipe VI accused secessionist leaders on Tuesday of shattering democratic principles and dividing Catalan society, as tens of thousands protested against a violent police crackdown on Sunday’s vote. The Catalan leader is due to make a statement at 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Wednesday, during which he is expected to announce that Catalonia will formally announce independence on Monday.

Spain has been rocked by the Catalan vote and the Spanish police response to it, which saw batons and rubber bullets used to prevent people voting. Hundreds were injured, in scenes that brought international condemnation.
And while the constitutional crisis in Spain, the euro zone’s fourth-biggest economy, has hit Spanish stocks and bonds, raising Madrid’s borrowing costs, it has so far failed to have an adverse impact on the broader European market, or the Euro which has remained relatively steady in recent days.  As shares in Spain’s big lenders fell on Wednesday, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos tried to reassure investors and customers. “Catalan banks are Spanish banks and European banks are solid and their clients have nothing to fear,” he said on the sidelines of a conference in Madrid.

How Did Things Get So Bad in Catalonia? by Don Quijones

Will Spain send troops to Catalonia to quell the insurrection? From Don Quijones at wolfstreet.com:

Will Spain trigger Article 155 of the Constitution?

Unless concrete measures are taken to calm tensions between Madrid and Catalonia, one of Spain’s richest, safest and most visited regions could soon be plunged into chaos. With neither side willing for now to take even a small step back from the brink, the hopes of any kind of negotiated settlement being reached are virtually nil, especially with the European Commission refusing to mediate.

Since Sunday the Spanish government has even ruled out dealing with Catalonia’s president, Carles Puigdemont, and its vice president, Oriol Junqueras. In other words, the communication breakdown between Madrid and Barcelona is now complete.

But how did things get so bad in Catalonia?

The answer, to borrow from Ernest Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises, is “gradually, then suddenly.” While the standoff between Madrid and Barcelona has been on the cards for years, it’s been brewing so slowly that many people were caught off guard when riot units of Spain’s National Police and the Civil Guard began using brutal violence to prevent people from voting in Catalonia’s banned referendum.

Now, what we have on our hands is a full-frontal clash between two diametrically opposed nationalisms that has roots dating back centuries. The most recent tensions were inflamed in 2010, when Spain’s highly politicized Supreme Court, at the urging of the now governing People’s Party, annulled many of the articles of Catalonia’s recently agreed Statue of Autonomy, effectively stripping the agreement of any meaning. Gone was any chance of any fiscal autonomy. That this happened just as the Financial Crisis was beginning to bite in Catalonia hardly helped matters.

Since then, the Rajoy administration has refused to offer greater fiscal autonomy for Catalonia, or the chance to hold a legitimate referendum on national independence. The argument is always the same: the 1978 constitution forbids it from doing so and it can’t change the constitution, although the Rajoy’s party voted to change the constitution to enable Spain’s bailout of its savings banks while in opposition in 2011.

Catalonia’s regional government, the Generalitat, in the face of such intransigence and seeking to deflect public attention from the brutal austerity cuts it was making, began to take matters into its own hands. Little by little, disobedience became defiance, which gradually evolved into open rebellion.

To continue reading: How Did Things Get So Bad in Catalonia?