In his book, Homage To Catalonia, the author George Orwell describes the time he spent fighting in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War. The experience would be his inspiration for Animal Farm. Orwell became disillusioned almost immediately upon describing, “the kaleidoscope of political parties and trade unions, with their tiresome names,” which he gamely invited readers to skip.. “Compared with the huge miseries of civil war, this kind of internecine squabble between parties, with its inevitable injustices and false accusations, may appear trivial ... (but) I believe that libels and press-campaigns of this kind, and the habits of mind they indicate, are capable of doing the most deadly damage.”
This was Orwell’s up close encounter with the Catalan region of Spain during a time of great political, economical and social unrest in the years 1936 - 1939.
November 2023: Echoing the streets of cities all over Spain could be heard chants of tens of thousands of protestors. “Spain is Christian not Muslim!” Some sang Ave Maria. Some prayed the rosary. Some held signs calling the current acting PM, Pedro Sanchez, a traitor.
Regardless of the signage or chant, the message was the same. The citizens of Spain have had enough of the socialist coup steadily tightening its grip on a nation that is far too familiar with the problems that come when people try to steal the deep rooted identity that is Spain’s. They protested in solidarity, as they have many times before, against forces that, regardless of the label they may use to identify themselves or shroud their intentions - Moors, socialists, totalitarianism, progressive or secularism - aim to take from Spain what is theirs - identity, nationalism, culture, religion, freedom and dignity...
The world watches as Spain rises up the way she has many times before.
The Spanish outcry comes from the actions of the socialist government's plans to secure another term in office by offering amnesty to those who took part in the illegal and failed push for Catalan independence six years ago in 2017. Sanchez first sealed a deal with one separatist party - the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) who is in power in Spain's Northeastern region. His negotiators then clinched an agreement with the more radical Together for Catalonia (Jxcat) which is led by Carlos Puigdemont, who led the breakaway independence vote, but then fled to Brussels to avoid being sent to jail. The deal will provide an amnesty for Puigdemont and all those involved in the failed bid for Catalan independence in 2017. While Puigdemont went into exile in 2017, nine other Catalan leaders were jailed for sedition before being pardoned by Sanchez in 2021. The crime of sedition has since been removed from the penal code. But Puigdemontt is still accused of disobedience and also embezzling public funds and others have faced similar allegations.
Under the agreement pages, the draft amnesty covers charges arising from the start of the Catalan push for independence in 2012 all the way to 2023 but it does not refer to any named individuals. Jxcat will propose holding a “self determination referendum on the political future of Catalonia within the terms of the Spanish Constitution,” while the Socialist Party says it will defend the "broad development” of Catalonia’s autonomy by judicial means. The text also refers to "lawfare", a word used by JxCat to refer to judicial cases it claims were used to persecute public figures politically. Puigdemont said the deal marked a step towards resolving the historic conflict between Catalonia and Spain.
Santos Cerdan, the Socialist Party negotiator, said "It is necessary to form a progressive government as soon as possible that gives stability to Spain and that fulfills the mandate of the people in the last elections."
The proposed amnesty law, which would apply to hundreds of people who participated in the unilateral effort to secede from Spain, has already led to a series of violent protests outside the Madrid headquarters of the governing Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). While the PSOE leader and caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez argues that the act of clemency would help promote coexistence after the tumultuous political and territorial crisis of 2017, his opponents have decried the move as a cynical and self-serving means of remaining in power.
The issue of an amnesty arose after July's inconclusive general election. Although the conservative People's Party (PP) finished first, it was unable to form a government even with the support of Vox, a powerful national conservative party and other smaller groupings. However, the PSOE and its partners in the far left Sumar Alliance have been able to muster the necessary backing by promising amnesty to the two main Catalan pro-independence parties in return for their support. Sanchez is now poised to win Congress's approval to be reappointed Prime Minister in a debate and vote expected to happen later this week.
Protests were held on Sunday in towns and cities across the country, including Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Valencia.
People congregating in the capital's Porta del Sol Square carried effigies of Sanchez as Pinocchio. They chanted "Prison for Pedro Sanchez" and carried banners with messages including "Democracy in Spain is at risk" and also "Sanchez is a traitor" and "No amnesty for terrorism. Europe save us."
Speaking in Porto Del Sol, the People's Party's leader, Alberto Nunez Feijoo accused Sanchez of "buying his investiture in return for giving his partners judicial impunity," and said Spaniards would not remain silent over the amnesty. "The office of the Prime Minister of Spain can't be an object to be bought and sold," said Feijoo, “Spaniards want democracy, equality, justice and dignity. Spain has never sold itself and the PSOE have tried to cover up the fact that they lost. The prime minister of Spain will always be the person that's won the elections.” His colleague, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, the populist PP president of the Madrid region went further telling the crowd that Sanchez had finally revealed his "totalitarian project," Said Ayuso of Sanchez, "He's decided that he will not lose power, whatever the cost for Spain - that nothing and no one will take it from him." Continuing, "He's decided to dynamite the rules of the game and to suppress institutions and state powers."
Vox leader Santiago Abascal described Sanchez' deal with the Catalan parties as "a coup d'etat in capital letters" and said it was the "most delicate moment in Spanish politics in the past 40 years." He also called for a "permanent and peaceful mobilization" that went far beyond Sunday's demonstrations.
Meanwhile, Sanchez himself has urged the PP to show "good sense" while characterizing the party as trying to agitate saying, "I asked them to respect the result at the ballot box and the legitimacy of the government we will soon form," he said on Friday. "I asked them to be brave and say no to the bear hug of the far right and to abandon the reactionary path that they're currently following towards the abyss. We will govern for all Spaniards for four more years of social progress and coexistence.
These actions, the latest in a long line of contemptuous decisions from the Far Left, were the final straw for Spanish Conservatives.