Catalonia: “We Are the Republic!”

750,000 People in the Streets of Barcelona on November 11

By Dominique Ferré

(reprinted from Issue No. 114 of Workers Tribune — November 15, 2017 — the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France / POID)


Barcelona, November 11: 750,000 people demonstrate behind two banners: “Release the Political Prisoners! And, above all: “We Are the Republic!”

It was the Catalan Republic that was in the streets on November 11, against all odds.

Workers, unemployed, retired, youth, small farmers and merchants … they came from all over Catalonia in response to the call of the Committees for the Defense of the Republic. These CDRs first formed as Committees for the Defense of the Referendum to ensure the holding of the referendum on October 1 against the Francoist monarchy, which had announced that it was forbidding the Catalan people to vote.

On November 11, the masses went out into the streets, affirming that the Catalan Republic is indeed standing. This mass action, however, is one that was not supposed to take place – at least not from the standpoint of the powers-that-be.

It was not supposed to take place, of course, from the standpoint of the government of the monarchy. It was Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who declared on October 1: “Today, there was no referendum on self-determination,” thereby denying the very existence of the referendum, and attempting with the unleashing of widespread repression to crush under the iron heel of the Francoist institutions the majority will of the Catalan people to break with the monarchy. But the implementation of Article 155 of the Constitution of the Spanish State, together with the brutal police repression that took place the day of the referendum October 1st, was not able to prevent the Republic from taking to the streets.

The massive November 11 demonstration was not supposed to take place, either, from the standpoint of all those who, from Trump to the European Commission via Macron, support the repressive measures of Rajoy, because they understand that the uprising of the Catalan people against the Spanish monarchy only foreshadows the revolt — from Bucharest to Paris, from Lisbon to Athens – that is brewing against the European Union’s austerity plans and counter-reforms.


Holding up signs proclaiming “VergUEnza!” (“Shame!” in Castilian, including the acronym of the European Union, UE), the workers of Barcelona expressed the wrath of workers from all over Europe against this undemocratic machine of war rejected throughout the continent. As a young CDR activist rightly pointed out at a public meeting in Paris: “It’s the very same European Union that refuses to hear the voice of the Catalans for a social and democratic Catalan Republic, that promotes State violence, and that in France encourages the French government to impose a Labor Law that 70% of French people have rejected. It is the same authoritarianism that wields batons against the people in Catalonia and that seeks to ‘normalize’ the state of emergency in France.”

The November 11 mass demonstration in Barcelona was condemned in advance by the leaders of the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and their Catalan appendix, the PSC, which have joined forces with the Rajoy government.

Also, just as occurred during the general strike of October 3, the mass demonstration on November 11 was slammed by the leaders of the main union confederations — the UGT and Workers’ Commissions (CCOO) — both of which have continued to condemn the proclamation of the Catalan Republic of October 27. The top union leaders are in favor of the release of the jailed activists and Catalan elected officials, but this is mainly because “it would facilitate the electoral process” of December 21, and “would improve the image of Spain in the world”, said Pepe Alvarez, of the UGT (El Independiente, November 12). For these labor officials, who have been widely disavowed by the rank-and-file union members, it is necessary to save the Francoist institutions of 1977-1978 at all costs.

The Proclamation of the Republic: a “Symbolic Act”?

But it’s from the very summits of the Catalan Republic and its political parties that everything is being done in recent days to attempt to “rein in” the Catalan people.

The former head of the Catalan autonomous government, Carles Puigdemont, having been forced to proclaim the Republic on October 27 under huge popular pressure, and now a refugee in Belgium, has just declared in Le Soir de Bruxelles that he is ready “to reach an agreement” with the authorities in Madrid that would recognize the legitimacy of the December 21 elections convened by the monarchy in the framework of the Spanish State.

Since November 2, eight ministers of the Catalan government have been thrown into prison – and yet, one after the other, the European Democratic Party of Catalonia (PDeCAT) of Puigdemont, the Republican Left (ERC), and Candidacies for Popular Unity (CUP) have announced their intention to participate in the monarchy’s December 21 elections. This, even though their leaders are incarcerated or prosecuted.

Those who, a fortnight ago, had been pushed by the masses to proclaim the Catalan Republic, today are giving pledges that they are willing to retreat. Thus, Forcadell, the president of the Catalan Parliament, who had been threatened with being thrown in prison, was released on bail and announced publicly that the proclamation of the Republic of October 27 had been “a symbolic act”! As for the leader of the ERC, Ponsati, she declared that the Catalan government was not “sufficiently prepared” to proclaim the Republic.

Deliberate Drive to Isolate the Catalan Republic

Are these setbacks and about-faces surprising? As we have already written in this paper, the time when the bourgeoisie was overthrowing monarchs with arms in hand is long gone. The Catalan bourgeoisie, which has closed its Catalan banks and corporate headquarters and relocated elsewhere for fear of this movement of millions of anonymous people from below, is no exception. Just like the King of Spain and the European Commission, the Catalan bourgeoisie is alarmed by the fact that the national and democratic aspirations of these millions of people are closely intertwined with their social aspirations.

And it is precisely for this reason that it should be up to the working class and its organizations to lead the movement for the defense of the Catalan Republic, for republics throughout Spain and their free union.

And this is the tragedy facing the Catalan Republic. All the leaders who claim to be the on “left” are turning their backs on the Catalan Republic and, in fact, are delivering them to the repression by the Francoist institutions. More than ever, what is happening in Catalonia highlights the absence of a genuine workers’ party, fighting for the Republic and democracy, because it fights for socialism.

And Yet, the Republic Is There . . .

And yet . . . despite these betrayals — both at the top of the labor movement and in the “independence” camp — and despite the brutal repression and obstacles of all kinds, the Catalan Republic was there, in the streets, on November 11. The laws of history are stronger than the bureaucratic apparatus.

The referendum of October 1, which hundreds of thousands imposed by protecting the voting stations against the batons of the Guardia Civil, opened a breach. It’s a breach that supporters of the established order have tried to patch for 40 days. . . . But on November 11, against their own leaders, 750,000 workers and youth from throughout Catalonia took to the streets to state: “We Are the Republic!”

Dominique Ferré

*   *   *


APTOPIX Spain Catalonia


From the leaders of the PSOE to those of the Spanish Communist Party and Izquierda Unida — not to mention the former “Indignados” of Podemos — all condemned the “illegal”, “unilateral” or “not approved by the State” referendum of October 1st and the proclamation of the Republic on October 27.

What an extraordinary argument! From the Republic of the Spartacus freed slaves, to the Republic resulting from the French Revolution, to the Black Republic of 1804 in Haiti, what possible Republic could have been proclaimed had it been necessary, in advance, to ask for the authorization of the former sovereign power? None!

And what oppressed nation would have wrested its independence had it been necessary to respect the “legality” of the oppressing power? Again, none! To invoke “legality”, in a country that is governed by a Constitution that has preserved the Francoist institutions is to protect these institutions against the will of the people.

*   *   *

The Republic in Spain … But not in Catalonia?

Let us also mention a new category in the chorus of those who have condemned the Catalan Republic; it is by those who affirmed the following:

“The unilateral declaration of independence [that is to say the proclamation of the Catalan Republic on October 27 – Ed.] is not a favorable outcome, either for the Catalan people or for the workers of the rest of the State.” And this is stated in the name of the fact that” there is only one overall solution: the Republic.”* (sic).

As if the most economical way to attain the Republic tomorrow throughout the Spanish State is to help, today, those who want to twist the neck of the Catalan Republic!

A current authentically true to the traditions of the workers’ and internationalist movements in the Spanish State should have stated, conversely:

The workers of Catalonia, on October 1 opened a breach! All workers, from Andalusia to the Basque Country, from Galicia to Asturias to Castile, are on the side of the Catalan Republic, the first step toward the Basque, Andalusian, Galician, Asturian and Castilian Republics, the first step toward the Free Union of Free Republics of the Spanish State. A free union that can only rely on a single social force, the only one that has nothing to lose by getting rid of the monarchy: the working class, and which will therefore take the form of a free union of workers’ republics of all of Spain!

* Quote taken from the POSI Newsletter (October 30), linked to the friends of Informations ouvrières in France.

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(reprinted from Issue No. 113 – Nov. 8, 2017 – of Workers Tribune, the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France)

On the Referendum of October 1st


(neo-Francoist party of Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy)

“Today there was no referendum on self-determination in Catalonia.” (Mariano Rajoy, October 1st)


Pedro Sanchez, secretary general of the PSOE:

“We must do everything possible to ensure that this scenario of unilateral rupture does not occur. (September 24)


The manifesto of coexistence promoted by Podemos calls on the Catalan and Spanish authorities to “seek democratic solutions (…) that allow the Catalan citizens to decide their future in a referendum approved in agreement with the Spanish State”.

[So, the referendum of October 1st is not valid since it was not “approved” by the monarchy. – Edit.]


(United Left), coalition led by the Spanish Communist Party (PCE)

“The call for the October 1 referendum by the government of the Generalitat of Catalonia (…) does not contain sufficient political guarantees and does not address a whole section of Catalan society. (Izquierda Unida, September 23)


POSI claims “a dialogue (…), a political negotiation for a democratic outcome that includes a real free and binding referendum” (16 October).

[So, October 1st was not “free”. As to the need for it to be “binding”, must we understand that it must be approved by Rajoy and the monarchy? – Edit.]

– – –

[* The POSI is linked to the non-democratic POI in France. – Editors]


“All workers and all peoples of Europe have the same interest: Catalonia must be allowed to decide its own future. We will not join forces with those who ask [French President] Macron to mediate! (…) It is the right of oppressed peoples to self-determination; the right to freely decide to unite or disunite is what will pave the way to the free union of workers and peoples of the Spanish State and, beyond, to all of Europe. Stop the repression! Self-determination for the people of Catalonia! Break with the institutions of the Francoist monarchy, the European Union and the Fifth Republic! (October 3 release.)

*   *   *

On the October 27 Proclamation of the Catalan Republic


Rajoy convened the Council of Ministers and enacted Article 155 of the Francoist Constitution, which suspends autonomy in Catalonia, convenes elections on December 21 in the framework of the Francoist State, and dismisses the Catalan government of President Puigdemont.


The Catalan Socialist Party, the Catalan branch of the PSOE, called upon the Constitutional Court of the Monarchy to take a stand against the vote of the Catalan Parliament.


For Pablo Iglesias (spokesperson of Podemos), the proclamation of the Catalan Republic is “illegitimate” and it “promotes the strategy of the Popular Party” of Rajoy (October 27).


“October 1 was not a referendum with guarantees that legitimize independence (…). The solution is a united Spain (…). The left should support neither independence nor nationalism. (Alberto Garzon, Izquierda unida, October 24, El Español.)


“The unilateral Declaration of Independence is not a favorable outcome either for the Catalan people or for the workers of the rest of the Spanish State. (POSI Newsletter, October 30)


“On October 27, the Parliament of Catalonia, in an adopted resolution, decreed that ‘Catalonia hereby constitutes an independent State in the form of a Republic’ and decided to initiate’ a ‘Constituent process.’ This declaration is in accordance with the result of the referendum of October 1st. It is in line with basic democratic principles: It is up to the Catalan people, and to them alone, to decide their future! (…) Hands off the Catalan people! (Communiqué of October 27, 8 pm)

*   *   *

On the Repression


The Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy threw two Catalan activist leaders in prison on October 16 and then it jailed eight Catalan government ministers. Rajoy issued a European arrest warrant targeting the president of the Catalan Generalitat, who fled to Belgium.


The leadership of the PSOE supports all the repressive measures of the Rajoy government.


Opposes Article 155 and repression.


Opposes Article 155 and repression.


Opposes Article 155 and repression.


“On October 28, trampling on the sovereign vote of the Catalan people for the Republic, the Rajoy government set into motion the implementation of Article 155 of the Francoist institutions. Since then, the repression has been unleashed. The Guardia Civil has been deployed in the streets of Barcelona. Activists are imprisoned. The President of the Generalitat of Catalonia is the subject of a European Arrest Warrant (…). The POID, which, from the beginning, has sided with the Catalan people, calls for forging the broadest unity to block the road to repression. ” (Communiqué of November 3rd)


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