music by The Beatles: Revolution
I like Spain. It's beautiful and ugly, lush and austere, it's open and closed, wild and ruled, it's an endless theatre of contradictions played out by everyday actors. Yet beneath the rumour and the rumble there's a conscious people, quite bourgeois in fact, as most try to stay out of trouble. Spain's cities are comparatively pleasant places to live in, with having enough work the main headache. Food is still abundant and a beer at your local pub not much over a euro. As long as there is income, there is hope. In their staying out of trouble though, the Spanish unluckily seem to have let corruption creep up the totem pole without condemning it, so that by now the whole government apparatus is involved in corruption cases yet all go indemne. This has negatively influenced the way business and politics are conducted in the country. Corruption is the rule and most of its fruits befall Madrid, it seems.
I am a resident of Barcelona. I live off the local economy and I can feel its pulse. I feel it in my income and I know we have a good thing going. Though it's mostly tourism related, we seem to be hot in the world and we would like to cash in while it lasts. To do so we need freedom to act. We need to make wise investment decisions. Here is where the problem starts. Madrid won't allow us our share of the spoils. It has forced us into debt so that it can control our money flow to the last euro, it refuses to build the most necessary of infrastructure while spending endlessly on its own shining city in the sand, it is stealing our companies with tax deals we can't compete with as we have no say over our finances, it denies us every rule we locally invent to garner us some income, in a show of sadism more than anything else, it is cooking the books and spreading lies so as to create the impression whatever is wrong up here is to blame on our own powerless executive branch. Things were okayish under Zapatero, but ever since we have been getting slowly suffocated. In this key moment of our existence, we have had enough of that.
Now that the multitudes have taken to the streets of Barcelona, protecting their right, or rather their desire, to hold a referendum on their future, the government shows its darkest face. Instead of talking to the crowds, addressing their claims with whatever joke for an excuse, the government of Madrid locks down companies, shuts off internet and banking access, arrests key people in Catalunya's administration and sends the army and military police on stand-by. And when the crowds stay out on the street, they threaten with violence, already laying the blame with the protesters, of course. Who are these people? What is going on in their heads? Have they no brains?
I have been living in Barcelona for twelve years and I have travelled a sizeable portion of the peninsula by train, car and bus, and I have never come to feel my town as Spanish. Barcelona is part Catalan, part foreign, more Spanish blood than Spanish ways, it's not French or Italian, though those cultures certainly feel near. It's whatever it is at any given time, it is a city on its own in between other major centres of human activity. Barcelona belongs to nobody but its citizens. It's a thriving place. It's a harsh city when you're out of work, with its high costs of living. For commuters it's a stressful city, for well to do inhabitants it's the perfect place to live, full of entertainment and only a short winter. Barcelona is a serious town. People here don't celebrate life quite as lavishly as they do in Spain. It has brought Catalans the wrath of their fellow peninsulars. They were called jews, though the jewish community here is rather small. Whatever the reason, it wasn't meant friendly.
It is quite clear the trouble started when the people of Spain in a show of political ingenuity chose the fascist Aznar to follow up a discredited Felipe González and begin his grand project of recentralization, slowly nibbling away at regional competences and concentrating all power in the hands of his own clique of friends and protégés. Suddenly the trust between the two main cities, the foundation on which the new democratic society was built, evaporated. The refusal to accept our new statute was the hair that broke the camel's back. Why weren't we allowed to do well? Were all those old fears of Madrid's tendency to abuse its powers correct? When the unrest was channelled into the independence movement, a step many people didn't approve of but reluctantly followed so as not to lose the tick of time, we suddenly became nazis. That one felt quite bizarre. From jews to nazis in one step, it certainly was a giant leap for any human. We took it on the chin because we didn't take it seriously. We were busy pushing forward the idea of an independent republic, dealing directly with Brussels and Berlin. No more obstructing by Madrid. It started to become a likely idea for many of the reluctant, if there were no other solution at hand (and the government made damn sure there was nothing noteworthy coming out of it) then why not give it a go. It would definitively relieve us of a lot of bullshit and assorted bullying. Even an initial economic downfall should be worth the adventure. Barcelona by now had seriously lost faith in Madrid. The appearance of Carmena as mayor could only masquerade the underlying ill feelings.
Let's make clear here that we love madrileños, we really do, we just have a hard time dealing with the structures of state, especially now that they are all submersed in corrupt popular rule. The stench is getting unbearable. Mister Rajoy, who is telling us we can't claim our right to be free, has dumped 40 billion of our euros in a bank hole, has lied about his campaign promises in a most blatant way, keeping none of them and doing everything he had kept silent about; he has destroyed evidence in a judicial trial, an act which alone should send him to jail, he has stolen twenty seats from Podemos in last year's elections, claiming that both final census and exit poll getting it outrageously wrong was just a lack of professionalism, I kid you not. Now this man is telling us what to do? Really? We have come so sick of Mr Rajoy and his crew of smart ass nitwits, we can't stand him no longer. We believe the Spanish government to be repulsive. We feel ashamed to be associated.
Spain, we love you, but we can't handle your government one day longer. We know you have a hard time too with this band of crooks. We have never voted them, never wanted them, so I guess it's up to you to free us all of them. All we can do is give you courage by showing you how far we are willing to go in our resistance. If you want to keep us in, you will have to kick your government out. Get rid of the cast, all of them lying bastards. Ban them for life and choose a new concept of state. Be wise in these trying times. Your rulers, unfortunately, are insane.