To Defend the Referendum, Catalans are Building a Republic From Street Assemblies Up

Els Carrers Seran Sempre Nostres

When Catalans numbering in the hundreds of thousands chant “The street will always be ours,” it is hard to discount their voices — or their promise. I heard this chant in Barcelona on Oct. 3, 2017, two days after the referendum that was violently attacked by Spanish police and paramilitaries.

The Latest Political Impasse

Rajoy and the Spanish Supreme Court have made it clear that Puigdemont will be arrested if he returns to Catalonia from his exile in Brussels. Madrid has openly threatened the newly elected speaker of the Catalonia Parliament. On Jan. 30, the threats meant the investiture of Puigdemont was delayed.

Local Committees in Defense of the Republic

“Everyone has a reason that moves us to fight for democracy, independence and freedom. I have a daughter. I want her to be able to tweet what she wants, sing what she wants. But they are arresting people simply for tweeting, imprisoning people for simply signing a song against the police suppression,” explained Elisenda from a CDR in Barcelona.

CDRs Have Self-Organization in Their DNA

From the outset the CDRs were autonomous, which meant that Spanish authorities couldn’t shut down the referendum since each group organized in its own way. The bottom-up nature also means that the independence movement is crowd-sourcing its strategy and tactics.

Building the Republic from Below

“Collective gesture and mutual support, mass protests, hundreds of assemblies and cassolades [10pm nationwide noise protests] have dignified the struggle for self-determination and political freedoms. They have also opened a space for struggle,” reads the opening statement of Aixequem la República, a people-powered movement that formed in December. It translates as “Building the Republic from below”.

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Steve Rushton

Steve Rushton

Freelance journalist focused on political alternatives, universal rights and ecological survival