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Catalan separatists and anarchists are still fighting

One year after the referendum in Barcelona, ​​100 people are still fighting for a future republic. Ny Tid recently met a leading separatist and asks him why.


(Barcelona) It is one year since the Catalans in Spain arranged a vote to free themselves from the rest of the country  - the so-called referendum. The vote was totally rejected by the Spanish authorities in Madrid and by the monarch of King Felipe VI. Imprisoned Catalan politicians are still being held without trial, and Catalonia's President Carles Puigdemont is living in exile in Brussels.

Catalonia's population corresponds to the entire population of Sweden. The Declaration of Independence has been prepared for action for almost a decade. Spain – with its 17 different, semi-autonomous provinces or regions – is united under Spanish political and administrative leadership. In the past, the Basque ETA was the "useful" enemy of the central government – today it is the Catalans. Around Spain, the attempt to vote out of the Spanish kingdom was met with disgust, and last year the government sent out 10 000 police officers to crush the vote.

To Barcelona

My motivation for seeking out separatist communities and modern anarchists came after a few years of extra "editorial office" in Karl-Marx-Strasse in Berlin. Now I'm probably not a Marxist believer, especially when it comes to the functioning of the state, so this winter cold Berlin was exchanged with Barcelona this year – an area of ​​anarchist traditions for freedom of socialism (see below). I was no less motivated to take part in a demonstration this spring along with nearly 150 people down Avenida del Paralelo, one of Barcelona's main streets. The Spanish temperament is probably more warm-blooded than the German or Norwegian: The power of thousands of roars against police helicopters circling over us is felt in the body. Red yellow Catalan independence flags were hoisted against the sky as we sang and held hands as we descended into rows – sweating in the heat. It was almost impossible to get out of the stream once inside its core. But why is it so important to disengage from the Spanish central government? What are the specific fights for here in Barcelona, ​​where the flag of independence also hangs on the city's porches, on people's suits and is attached around like stickers? Couldn't they just continue with semi-autonomous Catalonia and its regional government?

To understand more specifically what Catalonia's President Puigdemont and a large part of the Catalans would achieve, I arranged through a few contacts a meeting with representatives of the most active Catalan resistance groups – the so-called CDR (see side case). 

“The two major parties have appointed each other's representatives in the Supreme Court for 40 years. They have the judges on many levels. " Anonymous separatist 

The CDR has around 100 people involved in protests, with almost 000 CDR assemblies around the region – half in Barcelona. CDR has local leaders who organize rallies and protests, but also leaders regionally and nationally. I'm able to arrange a meeting with one of the national secret leaders. He shows up for a conversation, but insists on being anonymous. He demands to sit with his back to the camera, and the video recording must have a distorted sound if it is to be published: 

"I can't risk being arrested and charged with terrorism with up to 30 years in prison," he says. 

Terrorism? I don't understand, but he explains to me that as a result of one of the roadblocks they had set up as part of a peaceful campaign, Tamara CG
- one of the infantry of street activists in the CDR – convicted of terrorism. Just because she had obstructed traffic during rush hour. Authorities are criticized for such harsh reactions in an attempt to paralyze possible protests. They want to call the actions violent, while the protesters are clear that all protests are peaceful. According to the CDR groups, the police and others have constantly tried to provoke violence, only to react again with harsher means.

What exactly?

I continue to ask our anonymous CDR leader what they really want to change. Does he have any examples?
He replies: "More democracy. Spain is not a full democracy. ”
And what does that mean, I ask, "That we don't want a monarchy." And what difference would a republic make?
"Gaining more control over your own finances."
Okay, we're approaching something. He explains that Catalonia pays NOK 100-150 billion annually to the central Spanish authorities: 

Photo: Truls Lie

"Catalonia is in second or third place when it comes to transfers central to Madrid, but in tenth place when it comes to getting something back." If Catalonia (including Barcelona's nearly 5 million people) contributes to almost 15 percent of the national budget, he explains, it is clear that Spanish authorities do not want to lose this. Our anonymous informant explains that the Catalan money of a republic would be used directly for their health, education and to improve workers' wages. He also mentions an increase in the minimum wage.
I ask if wages are worse than in Madrid, but according to him they are not. So where does Spanish solidarity come from, I ask.
The answer is that Spain is worse off after the financial crisis than the rest of Europe.


Following last year's referendum, workers' unions such as the CGT and the CNT – the latter as an anarcho-syndicalist union – called for a general strike in Catalonia. One could find a partial split between "independentistas" and "anarco-independentis-tas", where the members and activists are differently organized – some vertical others horizontal – like Cooperativa Integral Catalana. The latter is based on non-hierarchical assemblies and consensus. They work for self-organized economic networks and small non-hierarchical projects in Catalonia. And you have Oca Negra and Procés Embat with "anarco-independentista" who support the fight. In addition, we have the newer Federació Anarquista de Catalunya. And apart from the left-wing Podemos, who want to remove the monarchy, Spain has the more locally-oriented CUP (Candidatura de Unidad Popular), which supports the independence movement. What about the more self-proclaimed anarchists in Barcelona? Most support independence, although they woke up somewhat late in the referendum. They went to the polls and protested against the huge police riot from Madrid. The anarchists also set up food stations and charging stations for mobile phones. Yet, as anarchists oppose centralized state power, they are skeptical of a Catalan state – they prefer self-governing, smaller communities. A Catalan state is possibly promoting new nationalism, which can quickly end in hierarchy and corruption. As one Catalan anarchist wrote in his blog:

"The point is not to help a new state, but rather to show through practice that self-organization, networks with mutual help and local assemblies are real alternatives to state operation. Government hierarchies are easily replaced by others. […] My enemy is still capitalism, the military, the church, farcical politicians and the banking system. "


One year ago, as is well known, the Spanish authorities, with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the helm, voted in total rejection of the Catalan referendum. They were not at all open to possible negotiations or discussions. But Rajoy himself had to resign as prime minister on June 1 this year because of corruption charges and mistrust.
Back to our anonymous opponent: I ask if there is a lot of camaraderie in Spain's top management: 

“Of course, this is a nepotistic business. The two major parties have appointed each other's representatives in the Supreme Court for 40 years. They have the judges on many levels. " 

"My enemy is still capitalism, the military, the church, far-right politicians and the banking system." Spanish anarchist 

He suggests that the state's security apparatus and exception laws also serve power. The CDR leader points out the lack of a power-sharing principle between government, judges, executive police and perhaps the fourth state power, the press, as little real:
"The king, the politicians of the big parties, the judges and a large part of society are nationalists and not very democratic." Many from the fascist Franco era still hold important positions.
How, then, can they be heard by such an established power apparatus, I ask: “We can have financial influence. We may be able to stop financial transfers. Or hit the most important major companies in Spain. We can influence the stock exchange. And continue to display civil disobedience by blocking roads, railways and airports during rush hour. ”
He also adds that they must join the labor movement by promising them better conditions.

Photo: Truls Lie

A desire for federalism is not popular in Spain. They have a long culture of national unity. People in the underground movement tell me that. The foundation of the Spanish monarchy was established as early as 1469. The likelihood of a "United States of Spain" – a federation of several small states or republics – seems far away today.

I end the conversation with the CDR by asking if they might be perceived as a somewhat naïve romantic movement, since they believe that the state's concentration of power would voluntarily divert revenues from Catalonia's 7,5 million inhabitants? And is CDR willing – as the Basques with ETA have long sought – to use violent means? "We have no other way than the Democrat. We will not end up like Ireland or Palestine. Our policy is what people vote for. Perhaps the EU will have to mediate between us. For if the Spanish authorities become even more oppressive, Europe will probably react. ” 

Clip from the conversation (an extended version with "distorted sound" for the sake of anonymity, is on its way):

See Spain's anarchist roots og
Heading for a new Northern Ireland?

Truls Lie
Truls Liehttp: /
Editor-in-chief in MODERN TIMES. See previous articles by Lie i Le Monde diplomatique (2003–2013) and Morgenbladet (1993-2003) See also part video work by Lie here.

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