Why don’t Catalans defy Spain once and for all? Sooner or later we will have to say NO to Spain…

(An adaptation of the opinion article written by Pilar Rahola in La Vanguardia 19th July 2012)

I would like to illustrate that the first campaign ever done for achieving a tax agreement with the Spanish kingdom happened already in 1898 under the rule of regent queen Maria Cristina; it was led by Sebastià Torres with the support of Lliga de la Defensa Industrial i Comercial de Barcelona (League for the defense of commercial and industrial activities from Barcelona). However, many people may not know this fact since they are completely ignorant of our own history and may think now it is the first time something like this happens and our current government is the first one to promote the idea just lately.

Queen regent Maria Cristina

The idea (maybe it rings some bells…) was to have an economical agreement with Spain like the Basque country got, with the main purpose to stop the abusive and arbitrary plundering of the Spanish government in Madrid upon Catalonia. But in the Basque country, the initiative was unanimous: all town-halls, councils and all civilians without exception supported it at that time. Unfortunately the Spanish government disregarded the request from the Catalan people; further on, they even increased the taxes instead, as they needed to overcome the crisis of 98 and once more Catalonia was going to pay for it.

So, after doing a useless effort to explain the situation and try to negotiate a way out of the Spanish systematic plundering, the business league decided to force Catalan companies to close down. That means Catalan companies stopped paying their council taxes and shut down business and factories; a very Catalan way indeed of not obeying the law without disobeying it. The result was that the Spanish press labeled Catalans as separatist and anti-Spanish, while the major of Barcelona city, the well-known doctor Robert, resigned from his position with the aim to avoid that Spanish police agents would break into the houses of the supposed tax offenders, even although he had previously received royal orders to send the agents anyway. All shops closed as a signal of protest against the Spanish decision, but Madrid government finally dissolved the business league and declared war state: authorities announced that the tax offenders would be considered guilty of promoting the serious crime of sedition. So they also put in prison many business men and dismantled offices and companies, keeping up with the repression until they suffocated the Catalan resistance, which eventually gave up the fight.

The business shut-down or “tancament de caixes” was a direct consequence of the colonial crisis of 1898. The Spanish minister Villaverde imposed restrictive budget and increased taxes to compensate the war deficit.

As you can see, this story comes from old…from very old actually. In fact what I explained above was just another episode of the Spanish oppression. The Catalan protest against the Spanish plundering is 300 years old and has persisted through time, surviving each repression that tried to stifle it. Nonetheless, Catalonia keeps on singing the same discourse in vain, again and again, that is why we all have this asphyxia sensation constantly, because we have been in the same place for too long. Precisely this passionate but useless initiative is what will eventually force Catalan politicians to put this to an end, though they still have not done anything yet.

Having said this, I do not really understand this public announcement of taking to the Constitutional Court those Spanish laws that are abusive towards Catalonia: cannot they understand the Spanish authorities will never accept their proposal? And they want to take this to the Constitutional Court while they are applying those laws upon us? Excuse me? Are we really in a moment when we must swallow hard and continue to apply laws that abuse and discriminate us every day, while we keep on beating around the bush in the Spanish courts to trim the already miserable autonomy that Catalonia enjoys today?

Solidaritat catalana per la independència (SI) will not support the tax agreement all the others political parties are promoting and discussing as of today.

Why don’t we defy the Spanish? Sooner or later we will have to say NO to Spain and put this to an end. We need to tell them that their oppressive laws will not be applied in our country any more, and let’s see what happens then. It is not only a question of dignity, but also of usefulness. Despite defiance may be a winding and difficult road to drive, we know perfectly that the other way is a dead-end. And so, what are we doing now but transiting this old dead-road back and forth? That is so foolish.