Catalans stand on their balconies late into the night banging metal pans with spatulas and wooden spoons snatched from their kitchen drawers. The collective rattle of utensils echoes throughout Barcelona.
Spain has imprisoned two leading Catalan Independence leaders in a move that only serves to deepen and harden the current divisions between Barcelona and Madrid.
Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart are being held without bail for arranging protests in front of local government buildings that Spanish police were ransacking.
In response the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has tweeted
“Spain jails Catalonia’s civil society leaders for organising peaceful demonstrations. Sadly, we have political prisoners again”
The Commission for the Defence of Human Rights, of the Barcelona Bar Association described the charges being levelled towards ‘the two Jordis’ as “a different kind of legal” asserting that it in no way justified a prison sentence.
Major Trapero the head of the Mossos (Catalan police) received an emotional hero’s welcome on his return home from Madrid this week. He has been accused of sedition after allegedly refusing to carry out judicial orders in the run-up to the recent independence referendum.
His passport has been seized and he is still under investigation. However there will rightly be allegations of hypocrisy directed at the judiciary who, along with the PP Government and indeed the King of Spain have failed to recognise the brutal violence directed at voters on referendum day by the Guardia Civil as a crime.
Imprisoning Trapero would be a huge mistake by the Rajoy administration. The police chief is hugely popular with Catalans of all shades of political opinion. A son of a Barcelona taxi driver Trapero rose to prominence by leading the investigation into the recent attacks in the area by a jihadist cell that claimed 16 lives.
The Puigdemont – Rajoy game of political ping-pong will continue later this week as the deadline approaches for the Catalan President to indicate whether or not he will withdraw his plan to declare independence. Madrid stands ready to impose Direct Rule and shut down the Catalan administration. Puigdemont dare not take a step back lest he lose the support of the CUP party who wish to see independence declared immediately as Rajoy has not responded positively by indicating that the Spanish Government will enter into dialogue.
Catalans and Catalan institutions ( including the Mossos) are becoming more detached and more alienated from the Spanish Government and the state as this crisis continues. 200,000 took to the streets of Barcelona on Tuesday evening to demand that the two Jordis be released. It is difficult to predict how this will all play out and whether Catalans will be allowed to have an independent state by Rajoy or other EU leaders that seem to have a diplomatic deaf ear. What is clear however is that an increasing number of Catalans already see themselves as independent of the Spanish state.