Spain

The following is the latest editorial from Revolució: magazine of the IMT in Catalonia. The Catalan Marxists offer a balance sheet of the political situation in Catalonia and the rest of the Spanish state, and explain the tasks ahead for the left wing of the Republican movement.

Over the past weekend, nearly 2,000 people arrived in Spain by sea, most travelling in totally inadequate boats for the journey, risking their lives in the process. The vessel Aquarius drew media attention after the newly installed president, Pedro Sánchez, decided to allow its passengers in after Italy refused to let them shore up. The ship was carrying 629 people, 123 of them under 18, who were mainly travelling on their own.

The leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Pedro Sanchez, has become prime minister after defeating corruption-tainted Mariano Rajoy in a parliamentary vote of no confidence. Sanchez has promised a few cosmetic changes but will keep the budget approved by Rajoy’s Popular Party (PP) and has vowed to “guarantee economic and fiscal responsibility” as well as to fulfill “European duties”.

On 24 May, the Spanish National Court finally ruled on the Gürtel corruption scandal. The verdict condemned the former treasurer of the ruling Popular Party (PP) and other high-ranking members for an illegal ‘kickbacks-for-contracts’ scheme, and also determined the party as a whole had benefited from corruption. The Socialist Party (PSOE) responded by filing a no-confidence motion, which will be discussed on 31 May and 1 June and could bring the government down after seven years in power.

On Thursday 24 May, rap artist Josep Miquel Arenas, better-known as Valtonyc, was supposed to turn himself in to Spanish police to start his three-and-a-half-year jail sentence. He had been condemned for “glorifying terrorism” and “injuries to the Crown” over the lyrics of several of his songs. Rather than spend time in jail for his opinions he decided to flee the country and go into exile. Spain’s list of political exiles just acquired another name.

A wave of mass protests has spread across Spain in response to yet another display of crass sexism by the Spanish state. In an unambiguous case of brutal gang rape, the so-called La Manadaaffair, a Spanish court has delivered a verdict of “sexual abuse”, not rape. One of the three members of the jury even called for the acquittal of the accused. As a result, the defendants have received shockingly lenient sentences.

Hundreds-of-thousands took to the streets of Barcelona once again on Sunday 15 April to reject Spanish state repression. A key demand was freedom for Catalan political prisoners – the demonstrators marched under the slogan “Us Volem a Casa” (“We want you home”). This came at the end of a week in which the state attempted (and failed) to charge members of the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDRs) with terrorism. The massive demonstration revealed the resilience of the movement, despite a leadership that is failing to show the way forward.

The Catalan Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CRDs) have come under a sustained campaign of criminalisation. The state prosecutor, the mass media and the political parties of the Spanish regime have all ganged up to brand them as “violent”, demanding that “action should be taken” against them and threatening them with prosecution for “rebellion”. Why are they so afraid of the CDRs?

Yesterday, the Spanish regime’s strategy of repression against the Catalan independence movement suffered a serious blow, when a German court in Schleswig-Holstein decided there were no grounds to extradite Catalan President Carles Puigdemont for rebellion. Additionally, a series of decisions by the Belgian justice system further undermined the position of the Spanish regime.

Lucha de Clases (section of the International Marxist Tendency in the Spanish state) opposes the arrest of Carles Puigdemont in Germany and demands his immediate release. We also demand the release of five Catalan independence leaders arrested on Friday, including the last candidate for the presidency of the Generalitat, Jordi Turull; along with all Catalan political prisoners. Original statement in Spanish here.

The arrest of Carles Puigdemont in Germany on Sunday morning was an escalation of a strategy of repression against those who dared call an independence referendum in Catalonia on 1 October. On Friday, five other politicians were jailed and another went into exile. These moves were met with a surge of anger from below, with mass demonstrations and road blockades on Friday and Sunday. Tens-of-thousands in the streets had two main slogans: "General strike" and "Parliament should decide who’s president".

For weeks pensioners have been protesting across the Spanish state against the government’s decision to increase state pensions by a paltry 0.25 percent (against a 1.6 percent inflation rate). The largely spontaneous movement has been growing and is now calling on other sectors of society to join in mass demonstrations on Saturday, 17 March.

What happened in Spain on International Working Women’s Day was remarkable. A commentator in the Barcelona daily El Periódico described it as “more than a strike, almost a revolution”. Over 6 million workers, mainly women but also men, came out on strike, the first time a strike had ever been called to mark 8 March. Hundreds-of-thousands participated in huge demonstrations in over 120 cities in a mass movement that can only be compared to the indignados in 2011 or the huge anti-war marches of 2003.

Ahead of the 8 March International Working Women's Day strike, Lucha de Clases published this article explaining that the struggle for women's liberation is also a fight against capitalism, which entrenches gender inequality. The article calls for a general strike and unified action by men and women workers to overthrow the chauvenistic capitalist system. The incredible success of the women's strike has changed the entire situation in Spain, as Jorge Martin explains; and such unified struggle against exploitation and oppression must be adopted going forward.