Last Monday, 14 October, violence erupted in Spain’s Northeast province of Catalonia following the sentencing of pro-independence leaders.

Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan politicians to nine-to-13 years in prison. The longest jail term was given to Oriol Junqueras, former vice president of the region and the most prominent politician on trial, who had been arrested for rebellion and prevented by the court from assuming his post in the European Parliament.

The current crisis, considered the worst in over 40 years, was ignited by the failed bid to gain full independence in 2017, which led to the arrest of the pro-independence leaders recently handed down.  

The former president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, who fled Spain to Belgium after the failed Catalan unilateral declaration of independence, condemned the court’s decision as an act of “repression and revenge.”

Following Monday’s sentencing, the Spanish government issued a new warrant for Puigdemont’s arrest. 

Taking it to the Streets

Immediately after the verdicts were handed down, a group called Tsunami Democràtic used apps and social media to call for non-violent civil disobedience to protest the sentencing. 

Demonstrations spread from the airport in Barcelona, which had to cancel dozens of flights, to smaller cities and towns across the entire region, closing down a number of roads and railway stations.

“We are not a new organization, we are a continuing and inexhaustible campaign,” Tsunami Democratic tweeted and posted. “We can fight back. There’s a strategy. A wave is beginning and you are the protagonist. You are the Tsunami.”

The Violence Escalates 

After three days of primarily peaceful demonstrations, last Thursday, confrontations between protestors and police erupted with close to 100 protesters injured, most from blows by police batons and rubber bullets. 

In response, Quim Torra, the pro-independence president of Catalonia’s regional government, called for an end to the violence and promised to support a new referendum for Catalan independence.  He tweeted: “All support for mobilisations and massive and peaceful marches. No violence represents us.”

Torra blamed the violence on infiltrators looking to undermine the pro-independence movement, stating, “We cannot allow such groups who infiltrate and provoke to harm the image of a movement which counts millions of Catalans.” 

Indeed, Meritxell Budo, spokeswomen for the Catalan government, said the violence “has been caused by isolated groups” and called on protestors to act peacefully.  The appeals for non-violence came from the Catalan leader so as not to give the government any excuse to impose harsh security measures.

By Friday, a general strike swept through Catalonia, and protesters blocked major roads as they marched towards Barcelona for a mass rally.

More flights were canceled at the city’s El Prat airport, and rail and tram networks were disrupted.

The current crisis and escalating street confrontations come just weeks away from the Spanish general election on 10 November… the fourth in four years.

Running for office again after failing to get a parliamentary majority, Pedro Sanchez, Spain’s caretaker prime minister since April’s election, is under pressure to impose national security laws and crackdown on the growing protests.

The current violence is part of a long-standing conflict between the region and the national government.  The situation in Catalonia is somewhat analogous to Hong Kong, as both exist as semi-autonomous areas.  

Catalonia has its own parliament and police force, but it has had a confrontational relationship with the national government going back over a thousand years.

Catalan nationalists want to break Madrid’s power to control taxes, which they claim are used for policies not in the region’s interest. 

Critical of Madrid’s attempts to lessen their autonomy, some 92 percent of Catalonians had voted in September 2017 for the independence referendum. 

While voter turnout was only 43 percent, calling it a violation of the Spanish Constitution, Madrid sent in national paramilitary police to prevent people from voting. 

The police attacked voters at polling stations and mass civil disobedience rallies quickly followed. 

The Spanish Supreme Court ruled that the police violence was justified and leaders, such as former Vice President Oriol Junqueras and other pro-independence advocates, could be tried for supporting an unconstitutional action… for which they have now been convicted and sentenced.

General Strike in Barcelona

Last Saturday, the fifth consecutive day of protests, hundreds of thousands marched in Barcelona as a general work strike was announced.

Protesters shutdown many of the highways leading into the city and train service was severely reduced. Tens of thousands more assembled in the center of the city, many carrying banners that read “Free Catalan Prisoners Now.”

The strike imposed involved over 50 percent of schoolteachers and over 90 percent of university staff.  

Almost three-quarters of all stores closed.  

Approximately one third of all civil servants went on strike.

Work stoppage affected the Port of Barcelona, the major Port of Spain and one of the most important in all of Europe.

TREND FORECAST: The current mass protest in Spain and the violent reaction by the country’s police are part of the growing “Social Unrest” trend we’ve been covering that is sweeping the globe. 
As the “Greatest Depression” worsens, uprisings will escalate. In an attempt to quell protests, government crackdowns will intensify.  It will be the People vs. State: police will become more militarized and governments will use all means of intelligence and censorship to monitor and control the masses.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Marketers and advertisers should be aware of the “Great Divide” trend of the People vs. State and develop strategies that promote their products with a unifying message of peace, togetherness, liberty, and joy in an atmosphere of rising turmoil.  
The message of “perfect harmony” can be effectively promoted with music, as evidenced by the popular song, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” used by Coca Cola during the Vietnam War era that divided America.


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