Spain

For the fourth time in less than four years, Spaniards ready themselves to return to the ballot box on 10 November. The country has witnessed unprecedented political instability in the last period, as social polarisation and the extreme fragmentation of parliament has made it virtually impossible to put together working governments. At the heart of this turbulence lies the radicalisation of Spanish society in the aftermath of the economic crisis.

In July, Wellred Books will release Spain's Revolution Against Franco: The Great Betrayal (available for pre-order now!) The author, Alan Woods, was a participant in the last phase of the struggle against Franco. He explains how a revolutionary movement of the working class defeated the regime – and could have gone further but for the betrayals of the workers’ leadership. The following article by Alan provides a general overview of the events discussed in far greater detail in the book.

The municipal, regional and European elections of 26 May (26M) in Spain have once again confirmed the victory of the left in the general elections of 28 April (28A). In the municipal elections, the most relevant of the three, the left (both the Spanish as well as Basque and Catalan nationalists) got 48.7 percent, while the right (again, the Spanish as well as Basque and Catalan nationalists) received 42 percent.

The right has been thoroughly defeated in the Spanish general elections, which took place yesterday. The masses mobilised to the polling stations: voter turnout was at an impressive high of 75.8 percent – a nine percentage points increase on the 2016 elections. Voters mobilised in such a huge way in order to block the right-wing parties from forming a government.

A new scandal has emerged in Spain, concerning a group of high-ranking police officers who worked in cahoots with the former PP Minister of the Interior, Jorge Fernández Díaz, and the Rajoy government to pursue “opponents of the State" (such as the Catalan separatists and Podemos), and sabotage the investigation of major corruption cases. This so-called "cesspit of the state” is yet further confirmation of what is already common knowledge: the state and so-called “free press” are rotten to the core.

For the second consecutive year, International Working Women’s Day (8 March) was a momentous occasion in the recent history of the Spanish State. The official data show even greater participation in the demonstrations, strike action and work stoppages than in 2018, which in some places increased dramatically. As we have been saying repeatedly, there are plenty of reasons for this great mobilisation.

For International Working Women’s Day on 8 March, the unions have once again obtained legal notice for the general strike called by the feminist movement. For several months, preparations have been underway in all parts of the Spanish State for what is to be an even more successful protest than that in 2018.

The solidarity campaign for Rawal Asad (who has been held in custody since February on the scandalous charge of sedition after attending a peaceful protest in Multan, Pakistan) shows no sign of slowing down. On 4 March, comrades and supporters of the International Marxist Tendency coordinated a day of pressure against the Pakistani state by picketing, protesting and telephoning Pakistan's embassies all over the world, so the regime knows the world is watching, and we will not stop until our comrade is released. 

Image: Òmnium

On 12 February, the trial of the 12 Catalan political prisoners began, with the state prosecutor asking for sentences of between 11 and 25 years. The body in charge of passing judgment is the supreme court, which will consider the accusations presented by the prosecutor's office of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement. Their crime: having organised the 1 October 2017 referendum on Catalan independence.

Today, on Thursday 17 January 2019, at half-past-twelve local time, the mortal remains of Alberto Arregui, whose sudden death we reported yesterday, were consigned to the flames at the crematory of the Cementerio Sur, Madrid. The editor of marxist.com, comrade Alan Woods, pays tribute to the memory of a man who devoted his entire life to the cause of Marxism and the socialist revolution.

Yesterday, 16 people were arrested by Spanish police in Girona (Catalonia) without a warrant. Amongst those arrested were two local mayors of the anti-capitalist pro-independence CUP, a photojournalist and several activists of the CDRs (Committees for the Defence of the Republic), ANC (Catalan National Assembly), La Forja (pro-independence youth organisation) and SEPC (Catalan Students’ Union).

In Spain, achieving the right to self determination is a revolutionary task. Any attempt to exercise it will meet the frontal opposition of a powerful imperialist state, inherited wholesale from the Francoist dictatorship. This regime will not tolerate any attempt to put into question the sacrosanct unity of Spain. Only mass, militant struggle against the state and the capitalist system on which it rests will conquer the right of national minorities (Catalans, Basques, and Galicians) to decide their future.

40 years ago today, the Spanish Constitution was approved after decades of brutal dictatorship under Franco. But as Alan Woods (himself a witness to these historic events) explains, the so-called Transition to Democracy was a colossal betrayal cooked up by the leaders of the Spanish working-class, which left the main pillars of the reactionary old order intact.

Thousands of people marched through the streets of Malaga, Seville and Granada last night in response to the results of the Andalusia elections, which saw the far-right party VOX enter the regional parliament with 12 deputies. The demonstrations, which had been called through social media, were overwhelmingly made up of youth, with many carrying red and Republican flags, as well as the Andalusian green and white flag.

News came today of the arrest of a far-right, 63-year-old man who wanted to assassinate the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez. Despite the fact that the police found 16 guns in his possession, the Spanish National Audience refused to deal with the case as it did not consider it an instance of terrorism. This is the same tribunal that has sentenced rap artists to jail time for “glorifying terrorism” in their lyrics. A case of double standards?

The former Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, once again resides in Belgium. He first fled to the country in order to escape conviction for sedition and rebellion by the Spanish state after he (formally) declared the independence of Catalonia on 27 October 2017. Ever since, the Spanish government and judiciary have tried to convince other European states to arrest him and send him back to Spain for trial. So far, they have been unsuccessful. Following a short period during which he was under arrest in Germany, Puigdemont is now back in Belgium.

One year ago, the Catalan independence referendum on 1 October became a turning point in the whole political situation in Catalonia and throughout the Spanish state. What we call the “Republican October” was characterised by an abrupt entry of the masses into the political arena. It saw an impressive mobilisation from below that challenged the apparatus of the state and the hesitation of the leaders of the Generalitat, becoming one of the most important challenges faced by the 1978 regime in 40 years.

On 3 August, Alberto Garzón, the leader of the Spanish United Left (Izqierda Unida, or I.U.) posted an article entitled "Is Marxism a scientific method?" Under the guise of presenting a 'scientific' critique, Garzón was preparing a break with Marxism. Like every revisionist in history, he disguises this break with the excuse of 'modifying' the ideas of Marx. In reality, he was jumping on the bandwagon of those 'left' leaders who are making a dash for the 'centre ground'.

One year ago, the Catalan independence referendum on 1 October became a turning point in the whole political situation in Catalonia and throughout the Spanish state. What we call the “Republican October” was characterised by an abrupt entry of the masses into the political arena. It saw an impressive mobilisation from below that challenged the apparatus of the state and the hesitation of the leaders of the Generalitat, becoming one of the most important challenges faced by the 1978 regime in 40 years. It could have gone much further. What was missing?

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.

El domingo, el pueblo de Barcelona expresó masivamente su rechazo a la monarquía borbónica. Una monarquía que es heredera directa del franquismo, que fue utilizada por las oligarquías de la dictadura como salvaguarda de sus intereses, que está hundida en la corrupción y goza de una impunidad desvergonzada, con una fortuna nunca explicada y que, por encima de todo, se implicó de manera directa en la represión contra los derechos democráticos de los catalanes y catalanas, sobre todo a raíz del discurso autoritario y neofranquista del rey el 3 de octubre. Una monarquía que ha sido rechazada en las urnas por el pueblo catalán en tres ocasiones, el 27 de septiembre de 2015 y el 1 de octubre

...

Han pasado casi cuatro décadas desde los dramáticos acontecimientos del 23 de febrero de 1981, y aún permanecen grabados en mi memoria como si hubieran sucedido solo ayer. Había vivido en España desde enero de 1976, cuando participé en la lucha clandestina contra la dictadura de Franco.

On the anniversary of the 1981, '23-F' coup attempt in Spain, we republish a 1981 article by Alan Woods, political editor of Nuevo Claridad. This article was later translated and re-released in the Militant(UK), along with an editorial comment (also republished). Alan provides a new introduction explaining the circumstances surrounding the article's publication.

In the past few days, the level of repression, intimidation and blatant authoritarianism exercised by the rotten Spanish ‘78 regime has reached unprecedented levels. It is enough to make one’s blood boil. On 20 February, Communist rapper Valtonyc was sentenced to three years and six months in prison for "lèse majesté" (insulting the crown) and “glorifying terrorism” in the lyrics of one of his songs.

La clase dominante y su aparato de Estado están decididos a hacer cualquier cosa para dar un escarmiento al independentismo catalán e impedir la investidura de Puigdemont como President de la Generalitat. Para ello, están pisoteando sus propias leyes en una deriva autoritaria que también apunta contra los movimientos de lucha y resistencia de la clase obrera que se dibujan en el horizonte. Si la excusa para violentar su propia legalidad burguesa es la “situación excepcional” catalana, ¿cuánto más no van a justificar mañana acciones similares y más graves cuando tengan lugar, a su entender, “situaciones excepcionales” en el resto del Estado?

When the Catalan government declared a republic, the Spanish regime answered by sacking it, dismissing the Catalan Parliament and calling fresh elections on 21 December. That election was another defeat for the Spanish regime as it delivered, again, a pro-independence majority. Unable and unwilling to respect the democratic will of the Catalan people, the Spanish regime is now using all means at its disposal to prevent Carles Puigdemont from being elected as Catalan president. In the process it is revealing the profoundly undemocratic nature of the regime that was established in 1978.

El régimen neofranquista español fracasó en su objetivo de impedir la mayoría absoluta del independentismo catalán en el Parlament y desalojarlo de la Generalitat. No obstante, alardea de haber disciplinado a los dirigentes de ERC y del PDECAT para que abandonen la vía del independentismo unilateral, y se felicita por haber establecido una cabeza de puente reaccionaria en las zonas obreras de mayoría castellanohablante, principalmente a través de Ciudadanos. Sin duda, pretenden estimular un enfrentamiento entre los trabajadores catalanes en líneas nacionales. Este es un enorme peligro que los obreros españoles y catalanes deben combatir firmemente.

The Catalan elections on 21 December represent a slap in the face for the strategy of the Spanish government: of introducing direct rule to smash the independence movement. The Spanish ruling party has been reduced to 3 seats in Catalonia and the pro-independence bloc has once again won an overall majority in the Catalan Parliament.

The Catalan elections of 21 December take place in exceptional conditions of repression and limitation of democratic rights. The elections have become a battleground to legitimise (or not) a coup by the 1978 regime, in which article 155 of the Spanish constitution was used to dismiss the Catalan government and disband the Catalan parliament. With two days to go, the result of the elections is hard to predict.

The following statement was produced by comrades from the Catalan section of the International Marxist Tendency, REVOLUCIÓ. It outlines comrades’ support for the CUP in the “illegitimate and imposed” 21 December Catalan regional election, to undermine the ‘78 regime, and also outlines the tasks for the movement for a Catalan Republic.

Events in Catalonia in the last two months represent the biggest challenge ever faced by the Spanish regime since its establishment in 1978. The explosion of the masses on to the scene has acquired at points insurrectionary features. Where does this movement come from? What is its character and how can it move forward in the face of Spanish state repression?

The proclamation of the Republic by the Catalan Parliament on October 27th was short-lived. The Spanish state was ready to crush it decisively, while the Catalan government had no plans and no strategy to defend it. That, however, is not the end of the movement.

Join us