- By Aisha Butt
Catalan Crisis | Cataluña wiped off the map
Spain has said it will impose direct rule over the Catalan region now the deadline has passed.
Spanish government will meet on Saturday to trigger article 155, withdrawing Catalonia’s right to self-governance and autonomy.
Spain has announced it will impose direct rule over Cataluña, after the region’s leaders failed to meet a deadline to withdraw an illegal declaration of independence.
The government of Mariano Rajoy will trigger article 155 of the constitution, revoking Cataluña’s right partially govern itself, in a cabinet meeting on Saturday, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
It came after Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont wrote a letter to Rajoy, minutes before a deadline on Thursday morning to clarify Catalonia’s position, yet only stating that independence was something to be pushed ahead with.
Many Catalan politicians and public sector workers including the chief of police have been arrested and jailed.
In his letter, Puigdemont accused the Spanish government of obstructing progress. He said that if Madrid continued to “impede dialogue and continues its repression”, Cataluña would proceed to a formal declaration.
Under international law declaring independence was an illegal move.
In an illegal and nonbimding vote only 36%* of Catalan citizens voted for independence with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets in Barcelona in support of remaining part of Spain.
* 9/10 of the 39% turn out.
The Prime Minister’s Office responded by saying the government would hold the special Cabinet meeting and “approve the measures that will be sent to the Senate to protect the general interest of all Spaniards”.
The measure falls under article 155 of Spain’s 1978 Constitution, but has never been used in the four decades since democracy was restored at the end of General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.
Catalans have previously described the imposition of direct rule as an “invasion” of the region’s autonomy, while Spain’s central authorities are portraying it as an undesired move, yet a necessary one, to restore legality after Puigdemont’s government pushed ahead with a banned referendum that violated the country’s constitution and international law.
Many Catalans enjoyed their high level of autonomy whilst remaining proudly Spanish have reacted to the loss of their Catalan status by blaming the separatists and calling them out as “criminals” and “not speaking for the people”.
France, which borders the Catalan region had vowed not to recognise any independence declaration and to close all borders to the region.
The Catalan Crisis has seen a mass exodus of multinational companies from Barcelona, which was before the crisis began the wealthiest region in Spain.
Spain’s highest court, which delayed judgement in the run-up to the 1 October vote, this week confirmed any referendum vote on independence of declaration of such is illegal under the 1978 constitution which restored democracy at the end of General Francisco Franco’s fascist dictatorship.
The vote went ahead anyway, coupled with far right nationalist riots mass violence and thousands of people injured.
Spain’s government has said it would be willing to hold off on applying article 155 if the Catalan separatist leader were to step down and call a snap regional election. But the unpopular regional leader refuses to leave with his officials stating that he “has ruled that out.”
Article 155 of Spain’s Constitution allows for central authorities to take over the semi-autonomous powers of any of the country’s 17 regions, including the three highly autonomous regions of Al-Andaluz, Basque and Cataluña.
The measure has never been used in the four decades since the end of General Franco’s rule.
The article grants the national government the right to “take all measures necessary” to force a region to meet its obligations to the wider state, and fall in line with the rule of law, if it is deemed to have acted in any way to undermine the interests of Spain.
Spain’s government needs to outline the exact measures it wants to apply in Cataluña and submit them for a vote in Spain’s Senate.
The wording of Article 155 translates as follows: “If a self-governing community does not fulfill the obligations imposed upon it by the constitution or other laws, or acts in a way that is seriously prejudicial to the general interest of Spain, the government, after having lodged a complaint with the president of the self-governing community and failed to receive satisfaction therefore, may, following approval granted by the overall majority of the senate, take all measures necessary to compel the community to meet said obligations, or to protect the above mentioned general interest. With a view to implementing the measures provided for in the foregoing paragraph, the government may issue instructions to all the authorities of the self-governing communities.”
Put bluntly the Cataluñan police would be replaced with national Spanish police all public sector jobs would answer to central government and Spain would reserve the right to enforce Spanish law by force if necessary.
Spain’s Risk Alpert remains at level 5, the highest level, indicating that it is believed that public disorder and violence is probable and imminent.
Travel advice is to avoid the Catalan region at this time.
Barcelona burns as the region looks more and more like a civil war zone.
The right wing pro independence activists have also turned on tourists, in particular British tourists with hate crime and violence rising rapidly.
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