The Spirit of Franco never really left the Spanish state. Sometimes it is hard to see from the outside world but in the run-up to the Catalan referendum the Spanish Government are clearly trampling over basic human rights in their efforts to prevent the referendum from even taking place.
In newsrooms armed police came with a warning to editors that they will face prosecution if they publish adverts for the referendum.
The Spanish authorities have ordered that the referendum website be shut down.
A letter from Danish MPs is particularly damning saying that they, as “MPs representing a democratic country, are increasingly puzzled and concerned about this apparent lack of political skills to address what is, essentially, a political challenge.”
The power of persuasion rather than the pressure of the jackboot? Don’t expect Madrid to listen.
Criminal charges are already being drawn up against members of the Catalan Parliament and Government . To understand how repressive Spain is, a nearby equivalent would be Theresa May ensuring that criminal charges be placed against Nicola Sturgeon & the SNP government whilst sending outside police into Scotland to prevent a potential ballot from taking place.
The Catalans however are pressing ahead. More than 700 Mayors including the Mayor of Barcelona have been called in for questioning after ‘collaborating’ with the referendum.
Some of the Mayors gathered outside the Generalitat Palace with the Catalan President on Saturday as the crowds chanted ‘We will vote’.
The Partido Popular Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is confident that he will crush this democratic exercise, speaking today to the party faithful : “I say this both calmly and firmly: there will be no referendum, it won’t happen.”
The spirit of Franco is alive and well in the Madrid government. Should it not seek compromise however, even at this late stage, it will be the pro-independence camp in Barcelona that will be the ultimate benefactors.