On Friday 18 October, Catalonia experienced a new day that will go down in history. Faced with the greatest campaign of lies, disinformation and criminalization ever remembered, the Catalan people have once again taught a lesson in dignity and determination. The general strike paralyzed the whole territory, and the demonstrations have once again broken a record for participation: more than one million only in Barcelona , and another million throughout the day in the rest of Catalan capitals and in hundreds of localities - a tremendous force that shows the potential to transform society, sweep away the 78 regime and conquer the Catalan republic of workers and youth!
The images of the Marxes per la Llibertat, organized by the National Catalan Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural from Vic, Tàrrega, Tarragona, Girona, and Berga which converged on Barcelona in the early afternoon, say it all. The human waves that received the marches are a reality much more faithful to the truth than the harangues of the Minister of the Interior or the calumnies of the TV journalist of the establishment. In the morning, hundreds of thousands of young students, responding to the call of the Sindicat d'Estudiants, once again emptied the classrooms and staged a massive demonstration that toured the centre of Barcelona in an electric and combative atmosphere.
The facts of the general strike are clear. Strike has been massive in public education and administration; in commerce, where Catalan Government itself says has stopped between 60 and 80%; in passenger transport that has felt very strongly in the subway, in the regional trains of the Generalitat (FGC), in buses and in the port of the capital, where longshoremen have come out in a massive column to join the big demonstration. Generalitat data speak of a spectacular fall in the influx of passengers, 50% less in the subway, 47.6% in the FGC and 40% in the Tram. The most important streets of Barcelona, Tarragona, Lleida and Girona with hardly any vehicle circulation, and massive cuts organised by pickets on more than a dozen roads, such as the A-2, the AP-7 or the N-340.
According to PIMEC (Medium a small business association of Catalonia) figures, 30% of companies in the industry have closed and 68% of workers have not gone to work due to strike action, while in the service sector 40% of companies have closed and 83.8% of workers have been stopped. Another index that measures the dimensions of the strike is the fall in electricity consumption, which was 10.11%, one-tenth more than in the general strike of October 3 2017.
These figures of the general strike become more relevant if we consider that it has been called by minority unions like Intersindical-CSC, Intersindical Alternativa de Catalunya (IAC), USTEC, and by the Sindicat d'Estudiants, SEPC and other social collectives and the militant left. In no case, they received the support of the larger unions, UGT and CCOO leaderships, which called for the strike, albeit half-heartedly, on October 3 2017. On this occasion, they have hidden in the skirts of the 78's regime, the PSOE government and the bourgeois mass media.
That's why this general strike is even more important. Faced with a formidable boycott from all angles, it has overcome the obstacles, demonstrating that CCOO and UGT leaderships can be widely overwhelmed, and that the campaign of criminalization and repression unleashed by Spanish nationalism and a state apparatus inherited from the dictatorship, have not made an impact on millions of workers and young people in Catalonia who have gone out to fight for democratic rights, against repression and for the republic.
In the afternoon, the demonstration in Barcelona was again a massive protest, where the indignation at the Supreme Court's ruling and the police repression of these days joined the firm determination to continue the struggle until the end. Hundreds of thousands of people could not even reach the route of the protest and several points (from Diagonal to Gran Vía passing through the Passeig Gràcia a good part of Rambla and Plaza Catalunya) were completely overflowing with people. More than a million people, nothing to do with the apocalyptic picture painted by the PSOE government and the media to divert attention, demonstrated peacefully making it clear that the revolutionary crisis opened with the first of October 2017 referendum is still open.
Police repression and infiltration
We have to say things clearly. These days we have witnessed an uprising of an entire people, who are fighting not only against the infamous sentence of a court inherited from Franco's regime, but also claim their legitimate right to decide and their commitment to a republic that overcomes the nightmare represented by the regime of 1978.
We will never be tired of repeating that in recent days, as in recent years, we have witnessed a massive and peaceful response from millions of workers, from young people, from a population that is fed up with being gagged and denied basic social and democratic rights. And this demonstration of force has nothing to do with the actions of a few hundred hooded youths, who believe that burning containers and confronting police repression with stones is the shortest way to win.
This type of marginal and individual violence is a dead end and does not serve to fight the massive violence of the state apparatus and its police forces. On the contrary, with this way of acting, the hooded, many of them encouraged by police infiltrators and provocateurs, play into the campaign of criminalization that the Government of Pedro Sánchez, the PP and the Cs have planned from the very beginning to give the idea that the Catalan people are terrorist.
We are living a sickening campaign of lies, calumnies and propaganda of Spanish nationalism. They are conscious of the wide and massive mobilizations of these days, that why the bourgeois media put the still photo on the burned containers, many of them by the action of the infiltrators, to be able to accuse with impunity the Catalan people and youth of exerting a compulsive "violence".
It is not the first time in history that this kind of manoeuvres take place. The objective of the 78 regime, of the Government of the PSOE surrendered to it, of Cs and the PP, is none other than to try to isolate the struggle of the people of Catalonia from the rest of the State, introducing maximum confusion. They have to do so in order to hide the fact that they are the only ones who, making use of what they call "legitimate violence", prevent democracy by violence, imprison those who organise a referendum to 9, 10 or 13 years, and give wings to the actions of the fascists who sympathise with the Mossos (Catalan police) and the national police.
And this repressive escalation will harden and will be launched against all those organizations, whatever they may be, that threaten the current capitalist order. The decision of the National High Court to close the "democratic tsunami" websites under the accusation of "terrorism" is not only brutal aggression against the freedom of expression, but it is also a warning to everyone. The so-called democracy for the ruling class and its state is only tolerable if it does not contradict their interests. If it enters into contradiction, it is suppressed without a further problem and the totalitarian tendencies, usually hidden in the sewers of the state, become much more visible and evident. But, to impose them, they need to introduce a speech based on manipulation and lies and to have a sector of the population to accept it.
The Catalan people and the youth at the forefront have taught everyone a lesson. To those who cry out for more police repression or ask for a state of emergency. To the right Catalan nationalist that are in the Govern and fills its mouth with "disobedience" but at the same time sends the Mossos to beat us to leave the streets, and that maintains in its position a Catalan Ministry of Interior that should have been removed.
Also, the millions of workers and young people who today are the protagonists of this political and social uprising, point to the Spanish parliamentary left that hides and washes its hands like Pontius Pilate and gives us sermons to be submissive and accept the injustices of the system.
We can only regret the position of the leaders of the Unidas Podemos, which has once again missed a great opportunity to denounce those responsible for this situation, to demand an end to repression, to defend the right to self-determination and the republic, and to fight this campaign of lies and criminalisation. Instead of leading solidarity mobilizations throughout the state, calling on the working class and youth in support of their Catalan brothers and sisters, Pablo Iglesias and Alberto Garzón lecture us to accept the legality of the monarchical order.
It is incredible that those who came to "fight against establishment" and "assault the skies", are positioned with the "constitutional order" of truncheons, rubber balls, smoke cans and the sentence of the Supreme Court. Then, on April 14 (anniversary of the 2ª Spanish Republic), many of these leaders will go out with the republican tricolour flag (the flag of the Second Republic), but when it's time to support an entire people fighting for the republic, they hide behind their seats.
The truth is concrete. The "sacred unity of the fatherland" was enshrined in the Constitution of 78 as a requirement of the heirs of Francoism. The Catalan people or anyone else was never asked if they wanted this unity imposed by the sound of sabres from the military. Now, the state apparatus inherited directly from the dictatorship has declared war on the people of Catalonia, denying them their legitimate right to decide.
What we are experiencing is the massive rejection of the 78's regime, which is turning on very serious authoritarian and reactionary stances, starting with the same monarchy that was hand-picked by the dictator, and which has led the workers and young people of Catalonia and the rest of the State to a nightmare situation. Years of brutal social cuts, of evictions, of chronic unemployment, of precarious jobs and miserable wages, of marginalisation in our neighbourhoods, of the privatisation of education and public health... while the banks are saved with public money, the corrupt politicians are amnestied, the rapers are condemned to ridiculous penalties by a classist and patriarchal justice, and our democratic rights are repressed by the Gag Law.
For a Plan of Struggle to Conquer the Republic of the Workers and Youth
It is more than evident that in the Catalan national liberation movement there is a growing clash between the hundreds of thousands of young people, workers and broad sectors of the population that want to carry to the end the struggle for a republic, and the programme of the right-wing Catalan nationalist that has a decisive weight in the Catalan Government, and of those political parties, such as ERC, that seek an agreement with the State and the government of the PSOE to empty the streets and return to a "normality" that allows them to do the same policy as always.
This contradiction has become evident these days with the repression of the Mossos and the demands for the resignation of the Catalan Ministry of Interior Buch, or in the opposition to the same policies of cuts and privatizations that are also supported by the leadership of ERC. That is why we must draw the lessons from the experience of these years.
It is necessary that all the militant political and trade union left, and all the social movements, raise a plan of action in time, with a clear calendar of general strikes that obtains the massive support of the population.
Achieving a resistance movement of this magnitude requires making it clear that we are fighting for a socialist republic for the benefit of the exploited and the excluded, and not so that the usual economic oligarchy will continue in power, even if it is enveloped with the Estelada (Catalan independent flag). A republic that nationalises the fundamental levers of the economy, the banks and the big monopolies and that puts a definitive end to the nightmare of cuts, to the lack of public and affordable housing, to precariousness and miserable wages, to patriarchal violence and the destruction of the environment. In this way, we will also convince the workers and youth of the rest of the State, and many others in Catalonia, that this republic and this cause is also theirs.
The movement demands a clear strategy to confront state repression and make the Catalan republic a reality. The fundamental element that prevents it is the decisive weight in the leadership of the movement of those sectors that accept capitalism as the only possible system and refuse to unite national liberation with the socialist transformation of society. To overcome this obstacle, it is not enough just to have the will to fight, it is necessary to act consciously to build a party of workers and youth that will raise this revolutionary and internationalist program.
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