Catalonia after the sentence: the tsunami of protest driving Spanish politics

By Dick Nichols

October 28, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The emotional gap between the 75%-80% of Catalans who uphold their country’s right to self-determination and the Spanish elites and parts of Spanish society that just want to see it wiped out was already enormous before October 14. But on that day, when the Spanish Supreme Court condemned nine Catalan political and social movement leaders to a total of 99.5 years jail, it probably became unbridgeable.

Since October 14, in bars, restaurants and public transport across Catalonia, there has been practically no other topic of conversation than the Spanish court’s vindictive sentences against the twelve leaders of the October 1, 2017 independence referendum and the torrents of protest that the verdict has provoked.

An immediate indicator of the profound indignation the verdict caused was that every last social, recreational, scientific, artistic and sporting organisation— from the most to the least political, from Barcelona Football Club to the Catalan Association for the Defence and Study of Nature— immediately issued statements condemning the sentences.

Only one business association, the ultra-establishment Development of National Labour, called for the verdict to be respected. The Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, now run by a pro-sovereignty group that had a shock victory in its most recent management elections, not only condemned the sentence but called for a “forthright response” from citizens, saying it would respect strike action protesting the judges’ decision.

The popular outrage exploded in demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people. By the end of a tumultuous first week of revolt (October 14-21) they had occupied Barcelona airport, imposed road blocks on major highways, demonstrated in massive numbers outside Spanish government offices and marched on Barcelona from five provincial cities in columns up to five kilometres long. The most notable feature of these actions was the involvement of young people—the so-called “sons and daughters of October”.

The final act in the first week of anger was a general strike that was followed by many more workers than those directly affiliated to the pro-independence unions calling it, and a mass demonstration in the Catalan capital’s city centre, estimated by the municipal police at 525,000 but in all likelihood even larger.

The initial week of demonstrations was also marked by battles in central Barcelona between the Catalan Police, (the Mossos d’Esquadra) and Spanish National Police (CNP) on one side and groups of mainly young people, infuriated with the verdict and frustrated with the strategy of the mainstream independence movement and parties, seen by them as “getting nowhere”. By October 16, a double dynamic seemed to have set in: peaceful mass protest by day and clashes between police and demonstrators by night.

The pictures of burning rubbish containers and police charges against the demonstrators provided the screens and pages of the Spanish national media with practically all its coverage. At the same time, it described Francoist groups who attacked pro-independence demonstrators in Barcelona as “constitutionalists”, “citizens with Spanish flags” or “citizens defending the unity of Spain”.  

After seven days of these convulsions, news began to emerge of the state of mind of the CNP officers who had been thrown into Barcelona to help quell the protests. In the words of one of their Whatsapp messages, cited by the radio Canal SER: “This is a bloody war. You can’t imagine what’s going on here, it’s a bloody war.”

However, the Spanish media’s coverage of burning barricades and police charges—perfect distraction from peaceful marches of hundreds of thousands of people—also helped stir a counter-impulse within the Catalan sovereignty movement itself.  It led to the emergence of peaceful sit-downs as a tactic to separate the police from the groups behind the burning barricades.

Political impact


Political reactions to the protests came thick and fast. On October 16, Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez appeared on television to warn that security forces would act “firmly, serenely and proportionately” in the face of violence.  To his right, People’s Party (PP) leader Pablo Casado demanded the declaration of a state of emergency in Catalonia while Citizens’ leader Albert Rivera called for an end to Catalan self-rule under article 155 of the Spanish constitution.

With Spanish general elections set for November 10, Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo, the PP’s pathologically Spanish-unionist candidate for Barcelona and Inés Arrimades, Citizens’ lead Catalanophobe, raced to the scene of the clashes on October 18 to do media conferences against a backdrop of still smouldering rubbish containers.

On the same day, on the order of a National High Court judge who is also investigating nine members of the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) on possible terrorism charges, the Civil Guard closed down the web site of the Democratic Tsunami platform. This self-described “citizen response to the Supreme Court decision”, anonymously run by activists from the October 1 referendum, is coordinated via Signal and a Telegram channel that at the time of writing has attracted 370,000 subscribers. Also on October 18, Spanish interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska announced that “we will soon find out who’s behind them” and that “violent independence supporters” would be countered with the full force of the law.

Meanwhile, the pro-independence majority in the Catalan parliament—Together for Catalonia (JxCat), the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the People’s Unity lists (CUP)—struggled for and failed to find a united response to the sentence, presenting no motion to the October 17 session of the chamber. This was only to change on October 22, when these parties tabled a joint resolution condemning the sentences and indicating that the parliament would not abide by Constitutional Court rulings as to what it could and could not discuss. The resolution sets the scene for a new round of conflict between Catalonia’s legislators and the Spanish legal system.

What follows is a summary of the first intense week of protest actions and how, as Catalonia’s movement for sovereignty and independence recovered something of “the spirit of October”, the Catalan revolt is once again the main force driving politics in the Spanish state.

A week of turmoil


Sunday, October 13: ‘Picnic for the Republic’ emerges: On the day before the announcement of the sentence, the collective Picnic for the Republic, which is dedicated to organising non-violent mass performances announces an occupation of the central Barcelona railway station. Police remove a sit-down of about 500 demonstrators.

Monday, October 14: Taking Barcelona airport:  The serious opening shot in a week of protest comes only three hours after the announcement of the sentence. This is also the first test of strength of the Democratic Tsunami platform, which calls on its subscribers to occupy Barcelona’s El Prat airport, 15 kilometres from the city centre.

The reaction is immediate and massive. Twenty five thousand university and high school students who have already gathered in Catalonia Square in the city centre dissolve their demonstration and set off to the airport, joining a crowd that is already overwhelming the bus, train and metro services. The result is that thousands have to walk the full distance to El Prat. There, despite the desperate efforts of the Catalan and Spanish police to defend its many entrances and exits, the airport is soon besieged. A series of police attacks gets unleashed, including police vehicles being driven directly against demonstrators. Over 100 flights have to be cancelled on the day.

At 2200 hours Tsunami Democratic announces the end of the blockade, but in what is to become the pattern for the rest of the week, some protestors continue to confront the police. Their attack, which consists in throwing any movable object they can lay their hands on and spraying fire extinguishers, is met with rubber bullets and baton charges. The day ends with 115 people, including 11 journalists, needing medical attention and protestor denunciation of the police, especially the Catalan police’s riot squad.

Tsunami Democratic also manages to simultaneously organise 1200 cars to drive from Barcelona to Madrid, with the goal of collapsing the Spanish capital’s Barajas airport with a “slow drive” around the perimeter of its major terminal. The plan fails, partly because of bad weather, but it demonstrates the capacity of Democratic Tsunami to mobilise people to go elsewhere in the Spanish state to carry out actions coordinated with its initiatives in Catalonia. It also reveals the problems involved in calling actions without being able to organise or control them.

The day also sees near-spontaneous demonstrations in Catalonia’s major provincial cities, with the biggest concentrations in Girona (25,000) and Sabadell (11,000) while over 40 road blocks are set up, both by the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) but also by groups of neighbours outraged with the sentence coordinating over social networks.

Tuesday, October 15: blazing barricades and rampaging police: Demonstrations against the sentence, called by the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural in Catalonia’s four provincial capitals (Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona and Lleida), end in violent clashes. The Spanish government issues a statement claiming the events prove that the Catalan independence movement is not peaceful, while the Catalan vice-president Pere Aragonès (ERC) makes a call for those fighting the police to be isolated by the movement: “Let’s not hand them what they want, a disguised 155 [the 2017-18 suspension of Catalan self-rule carried out under article 155 of the Spanish constitution].”

The pattern of the clashes becomes clearer. In Barcelona, in front of the Spanish government building in the city centre, a peaceful rally of 44,000 takes place: people have brought candles to it to show solidarity with the political prisoners. Nearby another rally built by the CDRs is also protesting the sentences. As it finishes, small groups, often masked, break off from the crowd, set up makeshift barricades with the portable fencing used on building sites and around roadworks, drag rubbish containers behind the barricades and then set them on fire. The police attack by driving their riot-control vehicles over the barricades: from behind the cover provided by these vans they fire rubber and hardened foam bullets. The barricade-builders scatter and then counterattack with rocks and paving stones. The police drive their vans at full speed after the retreating groups, while firefighters come in to extinguish the burning barricades. The crowd, including some of those who have been on the barricades, applaud the firefighters—seen as heroes for their role in defending polling stations against police attack during the 2017 referendum—while chanting “Out with the forces of occupation!” and “The Mossos are forces of occupation too.”

This scene is repeated with greater or lesser intensity across Catalonia. In the industrial city of Sabadell the rally outside the Spanish National Police headquarters ends in an outright street battle with the police, while clashes also take place in Lleida, Tarragona and Girona.

Catalan president Quim Torra tells a media conference for foreign correspondents that his government has a “difficult balancing act” to carry out between encouraging protest against the sentence and defending public order, and announces an internal inquiry into the behaviour of the Mossos at Barcelona airport the previous day. Catalonia Together (CeC) demands the resignation of Catalan interior minister Miquel Buch, while the CUP calls for Buch, Grande-Marlaska and Teresa Cunillera, the Spanish government representative in Catalonia, to be called before the Catalan parliament.

Wednesday, October 16: Political prisoners condemn violence: Clashes increase on the third day of protests, fed by demonstrator indignation at police operations on the first two days. After a CDR demonstration against police violence, barricades are thrown up in central Barcelona and those behind them now add Molotov cocktails and fireworks to the rocks and paving stones they have been throwing against the police. Besides rubbish containers parked cars now get set alight.

A three-day student strike is declared, with the Autonomous University of Barcelona suspending classes on the demand of the students who have occupied the vice-chancellor’s office. Striking students also cut off one of Barcelona’s major ring roads.

Road blocks continued to be set up across all of Catalonia, and various train services also have to be suspended.

The first day of the three-day Freedom Marches, starting from five provincial cities, and heading for Barcelona, involves at least twice as many participants as the organisers, Òmnium Cultural and the ANC, had envisaged. With people of all ages participating, the marches become a walking mass discussion about the divisions within the Catalan sovereignty and independence movement and the pros and cons of the physical confrontations of the past two days, These would introduce into a movement committed to non-violent civil disobedience tactics previously associated with the anti-eviction and squatters movement and with other forces expounding “direct action”.

Four hundred local councillors and 600 others meet in the town of Xerta, birthplace of jailed former speaker Carme Forcadell, to pay homage to her contribution and protest her imprisonment. The meeting turns into a march through the town to express indignation with her 11.5 year jail term.

The first of many demonstrations in the rest of the Spanish state against the sentence and in support of Catalonia’s right of self-determination is held in Madrid’s Plaza del Sol. Clashes break out with a small far-right counter protest that the police fail to keep away from the rally.

Courts start to charge those arrested at the previous two nights’ disturbances, while Carlos Lesmes, the president of the General Council of the Judicial Power (effectively chief judge of the Spanish legal system) warns Catalan president Torra of his duty to maintain law and order. The Constitutional Court also warns the Catalan government and parliament of the risk of penal sanction if its prohibitions regarding Catalonia are disobeyed.

The political prisoners issue a joint statement: “All support to massive and peaceful mobilisations and marches. Any violence does not represent us.”

Thursday, October 17: ‘Peace, amnesty, self-determination’: Second day of the Freedom Marches, with 27,000 marching (according to the ANC). The five marches combine into three in preparation for their entry into Barcelona tomorrow.

Massive student marches take place in the four provincial capitals on the second day of the three-day student strike, with groups of students reinforcing roadblocks on major tollways.

A further night of street clashes in Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona.

The CDRs organise a “People’s Games” in central Barcelona, in memory of the 1936 People’s Olympics that coincided with Franco’s military coup that began the Spanish Civil War.

The Mossos allow a self-styled fascist “hunting expedition” to approach an antifascist march in Barcelona, leading to a brutal assault on a pro-independence youth activist by a group of 20 fascists.

Former education minister Clara Ponsati proposes three immediate demands for the Catalan movement: “Peace” [remove the Spanish police forces], “Amnesty” [for the political prisoners] and “Self-determination” [compel the Spanish state to accept a Scottish-style referendum].

President Torra raises the possibility of conducting another unilateral referendum in the present legislature.

Friday, October 18: General strike, half a million plus occupy Barcelona: The Freedom Marches enter Barcelona to applause, chanting and singing from people lining the streets and watching on from the balconies of their flats. The marches seem endless, stretching for as far as five kilometres and taking up to 70 minutes to pass.

General strike: According to the Alternative Union Alliance of Catalonia (IAC) and Intersindical, the Catalan Union Confederation (I-CSC), the independentist unions calling the strike, adherence to the strike is the same as for the 2010 and 2012 general strikes against the labour market “reforms” of PP and PSOE governments and the general stoppage of October 3, 2017 against the police violence against the referendum. This judgment is confirmed by Catalan government figures on the decline in electricity use.

Adherence is highest in the Port of Barcelona (100%) and the universities (90%), with 43% going out in secondary and primary schools. The most notable figure in a strike where adherence by industry and sector generally follows the historical pattern, is the bigger number of small businesses that close for the day (50%).

The largest union confederations, the Workers Commissions (CC.OO.) and the General Union of Labour (UGT), do not formally back the strike but centres where they have majority support still do not work, most notably the 9000-worker SEAT car factory.

The mass protest rally in central Barcelona involves at least 525,000, bringing the entire city to a halt. 60,000 demonstrate in Girona, equal to the biggest demonstration in the city’s history (on October 3, 2017).

Burning barricades are set up in the central Barcelona square of Urquinaona, heralding the most violent and prolonged clashes yet between police and demonstrators. Ambulance officers have to attend to 182 persons, including 80 police.

The roadblock on the main highway into France is maintained with the support of the French yellow jackets.

Saturday, October 19: The protest spreads inside the Spanish state: 45,000 demonstrate in Donostia (San Sebastian) in support of Catalonia’s right to decide and against the sentences. A second Madrid demonstration in solidarity with Catalonia takes place, as well as demonstrations in other parts of the Spanish state (Oviedo, Granada, Málaga, Valencia, Valladolid, Palma and Caceres).

A demonstration demanding the release of those arrested during the week is held behind a cordon of volunteers interposed between the police and the protestors. The presence of the collective On a Peaceful Footing and other respected organisations  like the refugee rescue collective Open Arms, the Street-sellers Union and the Firefighters for the Republic has a dissuasive effect on those who want to repeat the previous nights’ confrontation with the police. When some people start to hurl bottles and smoke bombs at the police they are called to order by the demonstrators.

This is the first night without serious clashes or arrests.

Who’s on the barricades?


The sudden eruption of street fighting and burning barricades into the Catalan independence scene disconcerted and alarmed the vast majority for whom its strategic line of peaceful, mass civil disobedience is its critical asset. The arrival of violence has set off the predictable reactions of the Spanish-patriotic right: the Madrid media led off with comparisons to the “street struggle" (kale borroka) of the 1980s Basque Country, the parties of the right called for the imposition of a state of emergency or the suspension of Catalan self-rule, and Pedro Sánchez has reacted with crude threats against the Catalan government if they don’t get the situation under control (“all options are on the table”) plus a refusal to even talk to Catalan president Torra.

Catalan government spokespeople, caught between the threats from Madrid and the fact that the youth on the barricades were getting some public support, denounced the violence in general terms, dodged the question of police responsibility and, when pressed to assign blame, ascribed it to “infiltrators”.

For all these political players the least pertinent question of all seemed to be who the people on the barricades actually were, what they were thinking and why they had made the choice to confront the police. It was far easier to ascribe the situation to foreign members of the “black bloc” (there were a few) and provocateurs. Yet, the overwhelming majority of the young people who have been confronting the police were Catalans, the “sons and daughters of the referendum: they were fed up with the movement’s “getting nowhere” and outraged by the police attacks on the peaceful blockade of Barcelona airport.

Vicent Partal, editor of the online journal Vilaweb, came to their defence in an October 19 comment piece, in which he decried the campaign of criminalising young people who are standing up against “indescribable police violence”.

“Are there agents provocateurs among the protestors? Sure. Are there other people who do not support independence and are merely joining them for the ride? Of course there are. What kind of world do you think we are living in? Agents provocateurs are doing their job and we must at all times remember that. But that is not the point. The point is that the vast majority of youths who are standing up to the police in order to defend us all are actually our own children. And we cannot desert them, nor do we have the right to criminalise them. They don’t deserve that at all.”

Partal asked: can we be surprised that our young people—whom we took to all the vast demonstrations, whom we taught to shout “October 1, not forgotten, not forgiven!” —have become frustrated with the non-violent civil disobedience that has not moved the Spanish state nor the European Commission a millimetre?

This intense frustration was the real source of the violence of October 14-19, a fact already widely grasped in Catalonia and reflected on October 24 in a thousands–strong “Hands of our Youth” Barcelona march and rally that demanded the release of all Catalan political detainees and denounced the repression. The initiative was sponsored by the pro- independence and class-struggle union confederations, the main teachers’ union, the main student unions, the ANC and the newly constituted Mothers and Grandmothers for the Catalan Republic.

Solidarity in the Spanish state

The wave of outrage against the sentencing of the Catalan leaders has spread beyond Catalonia to other parts of the Spanish state as never before. The biggest mobilisations, proportional to population, have been in the regions where variants of Catalan are spoken, the Valencian Country and the Balearic Islands (part of the so-called Catalan Countries or Catalan Lands).

In the Valencian Country, demonstrations spread well beyond the three provincial capitals (València, Alacant and Castelló) to smaller cities and towns like Elx, Vinaròs, Benicarló, Vila-real, Gandia and Pedreguer. In València itself, three demonstrations of over 3000 were held within a week of the announcement of the sentences. The meaning of the demonstrations in a region of Spain where Francoist groups are organised and violent and where an entrenched anti-Catalanism gets practised by both PP and PSOE, has gone beyond that of solidarity with Catalonia. In the words of Daniel Castillo, a member of the anti-repression collective Solidàries: “Seeing the images of the neo-Nazi attacks in Barcelona, we had to get out and mobilise on the streets. [...] We stand in solidarity with Catalonia, but now it’s no longer just an issue of independence, but of democracy, of overthrowing the regime, of ending the repression and being the seed of building a real alternative.”

On the Balearic Islands, Palma, capital of Mallorca, stood out for a demonstration of 5000 on the day the sentence was announced, followed by a 9000-strong demonstration on the following Sunday, October 20. On October 14 on Menorca, 500 protested in the capital Maó, while another 350 came out in the island’s second city, Ciutadella.

In the rest of the Spanish state, besides the 45,000 strong demonstration of solidarity with Catalonia in Donostia (San Sebastian) and the demonstrations already noted in Madrid, the wave of condemnation got expressed in the following centres:

  • Galiza (Galicia): on the day of the sentence the platform Galiza with Catalonia organised protests in the country’s seven major cities—Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Pontevedra, Lugo, Ourense, Ferrol and Vigo—as well as in a number smaller centres. The hundreds-strong demonstrations attracted the presence of mayors and councillors from parties supporting Galician sovereignty and independence.
  • Andalusia: demonstrations took place in Seville, Granada (attacked by fascists) and Málaga (abused by fascists) Prominent in supporting these initiatives were the Andalusian Workers Union (SAT), the platform Andalusians for the Right to Decide and Republican Alternative.
  • Castilla y León: A demonstration called by the Castilian Left in Valladolid drew 300 to demand the release of the political prisoners and express support for the right to self-determination while a counterdemonstration of the ultra-right of similar size was kept at a distance by the police.
  • Asturias: On the evening of October 18, King Philip and his wife Letizia were met by an Astrurianist republican demonstration outside the Oviedo theatre where the Princess of Asturias prizes were to be awarded. Unreported in the Spanish media, the demonstrators sang the Catalan national anthem The Reapers, called for the release of the political prisoners and shouted out their rejection of the Borbon monarchy.
  • Aragon: In the region’s capital Zaragoza several hundred answered the call to protest the sentences of the local CDR:  the square where their demonstration took place was later filled by 2000 right-wing Spanish unionists, including far-rightists waving Franco-era flags.

Other demonstrations took place in Murcia (capital of the Region of Murcia) and Cáceres (Extremadura), both of which were contested by Spanish-unionist counter-demonstrations.

International solidarity and pressure


There have also  been scores of international solidarity protests against the sentences, of which  most important to date took place in Hong Kong, (on October 25, with 4000 present). In addition, the denunciations of police violence by organisations such as Amnesty International and the International Federation of Journalists and the expressions of concern and support for Spain-Catalonia dialogue from individuals like Dunja Mijatovic, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, the speaker of the Icelandic parliament, and the Slovenian prime minister Marjan Sarec, have left the intransigence of the Spanish government increasingly exposed.

The October 22 declaration of YvesFrançois Blanchet the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, calling on the re-elected Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau to demand the release of the Catalan political prisoners, has also increased the international profile of the struggle.

However, this rising international pressure is still insufficient to produce a break in the European Commission line of regarding Catalonia as a matter of internal Spanish politics. On October 21, the European Parliament voted 299 to 118 with 21 abstentions against having a debate on the situation in Catalonia after the sentences, with the parliamentary groups to which the PP, PSOE and Citizens are affiliated lining up to defeat the left and green groups moving the motion.

Catalonia to decide another Spanish election


That result is a measure of how far the Catalan struggle has still to go before the chance of victory appears on the horizon. The precondition of any shift in the position of the European establishment and of the majority political bloc on which it rests is a crisis in the Spanish state so deep that it simply can no longer be ignored.

Will the coming general elections take Spain closer to such a crisis? At the time of writing all the polls are showing that the political balance that emerged for the April 28 election will not change much after November 10—the PSOE will remain the relatively largest party, but still needing the support of others, left or right, to govern. Moreover, Sánchez’s preferred option of a coalition with Citizens looks increasingly impossible as these new right Catalanophobes start to fall beneath the ultra-right Vox in the polls.

Such is the result of the revolt in Catalonia over the vindictive sentences of October 14: it is polarising Spanish politics over the right to self-determination and has converted the coming election into a fight between Spain’s anti-democratic parties as to can best manage the revived revolt. Spain’s voters will be able to choose from: the PSOE’s line of entrusting the job to the legal system (a direct continuation of the line of Sánchez’s PP predecessor Mariano Rajoy); the PP’s proposal for a declaration of a state of emergency (putting the Catalan police directly under Madrid’s control); Citizens’ call for the reimposition of the suspension of Catalan self-government; or Vox’s neo-Francoist dream of eliminating all self-government by Spain’s “historic nationalities”..

The other option is  Unidas Podemos’s latest proposal to set up tables of dialogue between the Spanish Congress and Catalan parliament, with a view to finding areas of agreement that could lead to a new proposal for how Catalonia might fit into Spain: it would—eventually—be put to the vote in Catalonia. This project would be a new Statute of Autonomy by another name, would only be feasible on the back of a defeat of the Catalan movement, and would put any idea of a Scottish-style referendum into indefinite cold storage.

Given the collapse of Citizens, the preferred option of the Spanish economic, judicial and media elites is now a German style PP-PSOE grand coalition, but such an operation, hard enough to pull off in Germany, would be very difficult to bring about in a Spain in which politics is still coloured by the blocs that fought the Civil War. The present impasse is so intractable, however, that this “miracle solution” cannot be discarded.

In this context, the critical variable is the ongoing morale and level of organisation of the Catalan sovereignty movement itself.  It was disoriented by the week of street-fighting and police repression, which pushed outrage over the Supreme Court sentence into the background, cast doubt on the peaceful nature of the Catalan sovereignty movement, and gave the PSOE government a useful lever with which to work on the tensions within the Catalan government and the independence camp more broadly—threatening a new suspension of self-rule if Barcelona didn’t behave.

The situation was made worse by the failure of any Catalan spokesperson of authority to express understanding for the young people who were engaging in “direct action”, even when disagreeing with their tactics. President Torra obviously felt some sympathy, as revealed by his 24-hour delay in joining the chorus of denunciation of the violence. However, this gave the PSOE and Sánchez the chance to demand a “real, sincere” apology from the Catalan president and ban him as an interlocutor, hoping in this way to stir a palace revolt in Barcelona that would replace him with a hopefully more pliable ERC substitute.

The coming weeks will be decisive. A successful October 26 mass rally in Barcelona, called by the ANC and Omnium Cultural with the single demand of “Freedom!”, can, when combined with new initiatives of the Democratic Tsunami and other platforms, stabilise and restart mass resistance. That, in turn, can boost the number and radicality of the Catalan MPs elected on November 10, making the Spanish state even more ungovernable. That would create a situation that would confirm Jordi Sànchez’s judgment on the Supreme Court’s vindictive sentence: “They believe that they will terminate people’s sentiments by beheading those they think are leaders of the process. They are having the opposite effect.”

Dick Nichols is Green Left Weekly European correspondent, based in Barcelona. Earlier versions of parts of this article have appeared on its web site.