PSOE-Podemos discusses pardon for Catalan-nationalist political prisoners
In the coming weeks, the Socialist Party (PSOE) -Podemos government is expected to offer pardons to nine Catalan separatist leaders, fraudulently sentenced to between nine and thirteen years in prison for their role in the Catalan secessionist referendum of October 1, 2017.
Last week, anticipating a report on pardons from the Spanish Supreme Court, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told a press conference in Brussels that “revenge and revenge” are not among the “constitutional values” that ‘he defends. Instead, with reference to graces, he defended “concord, understanding, dialogue and respect for the law”.
During the coming week, Sánchez continued to insinuate that the pardons would be offered in the weeks to come. Yesterday he said: “We will take the decision in conscience, without thinking of those affected, but of the millions and millions of Catalans and Spaniards who want to live in peace.”
The discussion of pardons, however, has nothing to do with “peace” and “dialogue”. This is part of the back door negotiations between factions of the ruling class in Madrid, led by the PSOE and Podemos, backed by liberal media like El Pais, and the Catalan nationalist forces that run the region, the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and Ensemble pour la Catalunya, for disbursing billions of euros in European Union rescue funds and attacks on the working class to pay.
It comes just weeks after the PSOE-Podemos government submitted to the European Commission the ‘Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan’ on how Madrid will pay billions of euros to its banks and businesses. It also happened the same week that all 27 EU countries ratified the legal instrument behind the bailout fund, paving the way for money to reach national governments by July.
The Spanish regions will play a leading role in the disbursement of funds. In 2021, regions are expected to manage around 54% of the rescue fund allocated to Madrid, or around € 18.7 billion. Catalonia is the second region on the list.
The Brussels rescue funds are drenched in blood. Last July, as European governments ended the initial lockdown imposed across much of Europe in the spring of 2020 due to a wave of wildcat strikes across Italy that spilled over to other countries, including Spain, France and Great Britain, they have devised multi-trillion euro bailouts. , transferring massive amounts of public wealth to the financial aristocracy.
While they were all screaming in unison that there was no money for a virus home refuge policy, including subsidizing workers and small businesses, they agreed to funnel $ 750 billion euros to banks and businesses, and bank bailouts of 1.25 trillion euros. from the European Central Bank, as well as a new EU budget of EUR 1,000 billion over seven years. Spain was one of the biggest beneficiaries, receiving 140 billion euros.
The initial price to pay was the reopening of the economy and the opening of schools, prioritizing profits over human lives. What British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said bitterly: “No more f *** ing lockdowns, the bodies pile up by the thousands!” has become official EU policy.
So far, it has claimed the lives of over 1.1 million people across Europe. Meanwhile, as millions of workers suffer hardship, unemployment, poverty, mass deaths, social isolation, grief and suffering, European billionaires have raised $ 1 trillion according to Forbes.
Capitalist governments are preparing a new round of austerity against claims by unions and pseudo-left forces like Podemos that these funds have come without “conditions attached.” France is preparing to reduce unemployment benefits by 240 euros. In Spain, the PSOE-Podemos government is at an advanced stage of a pension reform that will increase the retirement age, a labor reform facilitating layoffs and VAT increases disproportionately affecting the working class.
The Pardons are an attempt to reconcile with the new Catalan regional government which rules the second richest region in the country. The PSOE-Podemos government has hired Catalan nationalists to implement the draconian social cuts that, along with the massive deaths, underpin this massive bailout of the financial aristocracy and big business.
The Catalan government recently formed by the coalition of the ERC and Together for Catalonia has pledged to implement austerity, attacks on the working class and de facto abandon secessionism, keeping it for purely rhetorical purposes . Its new Minister of the Economy is Jaume Giró, a former Caixabank banker.
The new Catalan regional prime minister, Pere Aragonès, made it clear what was behind the debate on pardon. On Wednesday, Aragonès said: “Our proposal is an amnesty, but we are also convinced that we will not oppose any measure that can alleviate the pain of the prisoners, their families and Catalan society.” He then indicated that he would phone Sánchez in the coming days to discuss the round table on the Catalan crisis and the management of European funds.
On Sunday, interviewed by the Catalan nationalist daily ARA, Aragonès insisted that his government’s priority was rescue funds. He said that “this is one of the issues that will be on the agenda of my meeting with the Prime Minister of the Spanish government. The distribution should be made according to objective criteria and, if this is the case, Catalonia will obtain a significant share of the resources.
Basque nationalists are now starting to demand a new arrangement with Madrid, to have better access to funds. On Sunday, the president of the Basque Nationalist Party Andoni Ortuzar, who heads the wealthy Basque Country, said El Correo that forgiveness “is not enough”. He wanted the PSOE-Podemos government to speak “clearly of the problem that the Spanish state has with its territorial model” and called for a new Basque statute which establishes the main powers it has vis-à-vis Madrid.
Workers and young people must be warned that these pardons will not reduce the fascist anti-Catalan campaign.
In its contemporary form, Catalan separatism was born from the economic crisis of 2008 which exploded the class tensions of the post-Franco regime. After the courts in Madrid made it clear that Catalonia’s regional powers would be limited in 2010, Catalan nationalists responded by stoking Catalan separatism while implementing billions of euros in cuts. These tensions exploded in 2017, when Madrid seized on the pseudo referendum organized by Catalan nationalists to quickly turn to the right, implementing mass repression, stoking Spanish chauvinism and rehabilitating Francoism.
With full media coverage, the direct product of this was the fascist Vox, who although representing just under 15 percent of the vote, is increasingly dictating the national agenda of the PSOE-Podemos government as evidenced by the deployment of the army. illegally deport tens of thousands of migrants and children. Channeling billions of euros to the financial aristocracy on the backs of the workers, while carrying out mass attacks and restricting democratic rights, will only intensify class tensions.
The pardons are already seized by the Right People’s Party (PP) and the fascist Vox to continue their coup plots to bring down the PSOE-Podemos government and establish an authoritarian right-wing police state regime. On Sunday June 13, they organize a demonstration in Madrid against pardons. The PP has also started collecting signatures from the population.
In this they will be aided by the Supreme Court which emerged last year as a bastion of fascism rehabilitation and the chief executioner of the anti-Catalan campaign. Last week he gave his advisory opinion on pardons, calling them “unacceptable”. The same judicial institution that accepted pardons for putschists convicted in the fascist coup of 1981, now declares pardons not possible because imprisoned Catalan nationalists do not “repent of their crimes”. He also said it would be a “self-forgiveness” because Catalan nationalists were supporting the installation of a PSOE-Podemos government in parliament.
The grace debate confirms the warnings of the WSWS. Fighting the ruling class’s turn towards dictatorship and fascism requires a break with the PSOE, the “left-wing populist” Podemos and pro-austerity, the Catalan nationalists, and a shift towards the international working class.
Workers who struggle to defend their social and democratic rights must appeal to their class brothers and sisters all over Europe, in a common struggle for the socialist transformation of society and the struggle for the United Socialist States of Europe. This is inseparable from the struggle to build sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) in Europe and around the world.