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Democracy in Madrid

The final message of Saturday’s march by supporters of Catalan independence was not the one that pro-secessionist forces proclaimed in Madrid, but the one that they took home with them to Catalonia

Saturday’s demonstration in Madrid.
Saturday’s demonstration in Madrid.Borja B Hojas (GTRES)

Two Catalan pro-independence associations called a march in Madrid on Saturday under the slogan: “Self-determination is not a crime. Democracy means deciding.” With this display in the capital of a state that they revile, the separatists once again demonstrated the exact opposite of what they meant to, which is that Spain is a dictatorship that subjugates the citizens of Catalonia, and that the leaders on trial at the Supreme Court are there because of their ideas.

Each and every one of the citizens who marched in the streets of Madrid on Saturday proclaimed their ideas freely, exercising their rights as established in the very same Constitution that the leaders on trial attempted to repeal by force of facts on the ground. It is these actions, and not their ideas, that are being tried before a court of justice, with all the guarantees of the rule of law.

Democracy reaffirmed itself in Madrid on Saturday

What has become patent after days of trial, inside and outside Spain, is that the Supreme Court does not have a verdict mapped out in advance, and that the limits of propaganda lie in reality itself. Given the impossibility of waving the caricature of a political trial, pro-independence forces on Saturday attempted to do politics with the trial, but the only result was to evidence the unlofty inner workings of a political creed that is gambling everything it has on manipulation.

Self-determination is not a crime, a banner rightly proclaimed at the march. But nor is it a right, as the orators slipped in, trusting in a definitive and generalized amnesia when it comes to international law. The same goes for the assertion that democracy means deciding. It certainly does, except when what’s being decided is how to deprive a majority of their rights. The march organizers did not care to bring that up on Saturday, yet it cannot be ignored, because the events of September 6 and 7, 2017 – when separatist parties in the Catalan parliament used irregular procedures to pass legislation to facilitate a referendum and a breakaway from Spain – did just that, ignoring the will of a majority of citizens.

The Supreme Court does not have a verdict mapped out in advance

Democracy reaffirmed itself in Madrid on Saturday – not because of the way the concept was invoked by the separatist forces who wish to sequester democracy in Catalonia, but because it was evident, once again, that the 1978 Constitution guarantees everyone’s rights, even the rights of those who, like the separatists, want to destroy them and who offer as alternative freedoms what is nothing more than a unilateral imposition of their own political program.

The final message of the march was not the one that pro-independence forces proclaimed in Madrid, but the one that they took home with them to Catalonia. They should admit it, and have the courage to admit it in front of their supporters: the freedoms that separatist demonstrators enjoyed on Saturday in the Spanish capital are the freedoms enjoyed by any citizen in a free country ruled by the law.

English version by Susana Urra.


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