General strike against state repression in Catalonia

Road blockade in Catalonia

Workers in Catalonia have launched a general strike today in response to the brutal police repression following Sunday's Catalan independence referendum.

Originally called by a group of alternative unions including the anarcho-syndicalist CNT, who represent the majority of linesman at the Port of Barcelona, the revolutionary syndicalist CGT and Catalan unions the IAC and the COS, the strike is now also being supported by the dockworkers' Coordinadora as well as mainstream trade unions the CCOO and UGT.

They are also being joined by a wide range of student groups, social centres and Catalan nationalist organisations such as La Taula per la Democràcia, an organism created just before the referéndum, the ANC (Catalan National Assembly), FAPAC (the Federation of Catalan Neighbourhood Assemblies) and UFEC (Union of Catalan Sports Associations).

Neighbourhood defense committees which have been developing alongside the repression of the referendum vote met last night in squares around Catalonia to prepare for the strike. Many neighbourhoods held protests outside hotels at Calella, Pineda de Mar and Figueres to protest the hospitality given to National Police and Civil Guard, successfully forcing the hotels to end their stay.

Neighbourhood assembly meeting
image - twitter/@cntolot

Demonstrations involving tens of thousands have broken out in the streets this morning. Central Barcelona has an ongoing march of thousands led by the 'bombers' firefighters who were brutally attacked by police last week when they tried to protect demonstrators. Around Barcelona different groups have blocked roads and motorways both with throngs of people and barricades of tires. Tractors have driven into town from local villages to block roundabouts.

Road blockadge
image - twitter/@CGTCatalunya

Strikes are taking place on Barcelona public transport, and ports at Barcelona and Tarragona are completely shut down. The University of Barcelona has been in occupation since September 22nd with most schools closed for the day. Flying pickets along demonstration routes have been calling on shops to strike for the day.

Mercadona closure during general strike
Image - twitter/@elpesolnegre

In a statement, the CNT said: "the unity of Spain has always been a rallying flag for the far right here. Therefore, any calls for self-determination from any part of it, as is the case now in Catalonia, spark a vicious response. We are already seeing an increase in the presence of fascist groups in many towns across Spain and the conservative government is taking an increasingly authoritarian stance, trampling on many fundamental freedoms. These are ominous signs of what might lie ahead for us. Repression is only likely to worsen on many fronts, maybe even involving the military.

"Make no mistake, while we firmly oppose repression from an increasingly authoritarian state and their fascist allies, we are in no way supportive of the nationalist agenda."

The statement also explained that CNT activists have "been busy making things uncomfortable for the nationalists, bringing economic and social issues to the fore, reminding people that the Catalan government was very keen to introduce social cuts only a few years ago.

"This should not be a fight between nations, but between classes. Between an oppressive regime and its fascist allies (as much a part of the “people” as anyone else) and those of us who stand for freedom and rebellious dignity.

We expect repression to increase during the following weeks and days and we will use our weapon of choice, the general strike, to make it difficult for police to move around, get supplies and do their work in general.

The statement concludes: "As revolutionaries, we don't believe we can just remain idle, while the police attack the people in the streets and fascist gangs roam our towns freely."

On Sunday, what should have been a peaceful referendum turned into a carnage. Ten thousand police officers from the Guardia Civil, sent by the central government in Madrid, surged against the peaceful voters, trying to thwart the referendum, by shutting down polling stations and seizing ballot boxes.

Guardia Civil attack voters during the referendum
Image - twitter/@unicornunbound

Violence erupted quickly, and the Sunday turned bloody. More than 800 hundred people were hurt. Everyone from young children to pensioners were victims of an unnecessary display of police brutality. Female protestors have also complained of police sexually assaulting them during arrests.

All in all, police actions in Catalonia have felt to many like a revival of the ghost of Franco still alive in the Spanish right. At least 884 people were injured, after the police savagely attacked the people who were trying to cast their votes. Police officers resorted to rubber bullets (forbidden in Catalonia since 2013), truncheons and even tossed people away from polling booths. The gruesome images of police officers dragging by the hair several women, using tear gas on voters and brutally clashing their batons on even elder people, are available in the internet for everyone to see the strength that fascism has nowadays in Europe.

President Mariano Rajoy, of the right-wing Partido Popular, refuses to recognise the referendum, even declaring that “there has been no independence referendum”, before paying tribute to the Spanish Police, that responded with “firmness and serenity”.

The referendum bill was turned into law by Catalan President Carles Puigdemont on September 6, after being voted in the Catalan Parliament, with 72 votes in favour and 11 abstentions, in the 135-seat chamber in Barcelona. This law stated that 48 hours after the referendum, a yes vote would be followed by the declaration of independence, but was quickly suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court the day after, with the Spanish government claiming the vote illegal and unconstitutional.

The Catalan government declared that the referendum had been approved by 90% of the 2.3 million people who voted out of a total voter pool of 5,343,358. This means that the turnout was of 42%, with 58% abstaining.

The EU still remains largely silent, and hasn’t condemned the police violence in Spain. This represents the tension in the EU as a whole, where national independence campaigns in Scotland, Flanders, Veneto and elsewhere in other EU member states as well as the Basque Country in Spain. Catalonia is a major player in the Spanish economy and growth, accounting for around 19 percent of its GDP.

Lead image: twitter/@janinavilana

Posted By

Cipo Fraioli
Oct 3 2017 12:14

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  • We expect repression to increase during the following weeks and days and we will use our weapon of choice, the general strike, to make it difficult for police to move around, get supplies and do their work in general.

    CNT

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Comments

robot
Oct 3 2017 14:03

Olot, 3rd october, 2017

robot
Oct 3 2017 14:13

Düsseldorf, Germany. 3rd of october, 2017 in front of the Spanish consulate. More than 70 comrades from FAU Düsseldorf, FAU Duisburg / Ruhrgebiet, Merea Granate NRW and GAS NRW picketing the consulate and leafleting the area. @faudsseldorf, @FAU_Duisburg, @GasNrw, @MareaGranateNRW

München, Germany. 3rd of october, 2017 in front of the Spanish consulate @FAU_Muenchen

Stuttgart, Germany. 3rd of october, 2017 in front of the Spanish consulate @FAUStuttgart

nization
Oct 3 2017 14:53

Sorry, but the narrative about the strike's "origins" is utter bullshit, mere self-aggrandizement on the part of the CNT & co., who have been tail-ending the nationalist Generalitat from the very first minute. Bluffing as usual... and pretending they have some sort of imaginary mass following...

Ed
Oct 3 2017 15:30
nization wrote:
the narrative about the strike's "origins" is utter bullshit, mere self-aggrandizement on the part of the CNT & co.

How so? A bunch of relatively small 'base unions' called a strike at the end of last month. Then the events of the referendum happened, which gave added strength to their strike call as the mainstream unions and Catalan nationalist civil society orgs swung behind it. What part is bullshit? Or are you saying the Catalan nationalists were the real people who made the strike call?

nization wrote:
Bluffing as usual

Perhaps, but it seems to have worked this time and these smaller unions have found themselves riding the crest of a wave. Whether they'll be able to extricate the class content (anti-state repression) from the nationalist (pro-Catalan independence) in this struggle (or even if they have the desire to) remains to be seen but it seems more likely they'd be able to do this by participating in actions against state repression than by doing nothing. Or do you think the general strike call was a regressive step?

nization wrote:
pretending they have some sort of imaginary mass following...

I can't help but feel this comment (about who: CNT? CGT? The Catalan unions? All of them?) says more about your resentment at your own lack of relevance than it does about what these groups think or say about themselves. I may be wrong but that's how it reads to me.

Mark.
Oct 3 2017 17:05
nization wrote:
Sorry, but the narrative about the strike's "origins" is utter bullshit, mere self-aggrandizement on the part of the CNT & co., who have been tail-ending the nationalist Generalitat from the very first minute. Bluffing as usual... and pretending they have some sort of imaginary mass following...

The initiative came from the CGT. There's been talk for a few years about how the minority unions could call a general strike without just following call outs from the majority UGT and CCOO. The idea didn't just come from nowhere. They've now seized the opportunity, which may of course bring its own problems.

rooieravotr
Oct 3 2017 16:54

Interesting liveblog from anarchist website: Live Blog #3Oct : General Strike in #Catalonia

RobberBurns88
Oct 3 2017 17:25

https://www.iww.org/node/9037

Statement from the CNT on the situation in Catalonia
Open letter from CNT’s International Secretary

Our position on Catalonia

Dear comrades,

First of all, thanks for the support that so many of you have provided with translations, putting statements up on social media, planning actions, etc. CNT, as a whole, and the comrades in Catalonia, particularly, are really grateful for your support.

As you know the days are momentous in Catalonia and, to a lesser extent, in the rest of Spain. As I write these lines, riot police and the infamous military police, Guardia Civil, are attacking masses of people in the streets of many towns across Catalonia. CNT, together with other unions, is calling for a general strike on the 3rd of October against this repressive wave.

You probably know that the unity of Spain has always been a rallying flag for the far right here. Therefore, any calls for self-determination from any part of it, as is the case now in Catalonia, spark a vicious response. We are already seeing an increase in the presence of fascist groups in many towns across Spain and the conservative government is taking an increasingly authoritarian stance, trampling on many fundamental freedoms. These are ominous signs of what might lie ahead for us. Repression is only likely to worsen on many fronts, may be even involving the military.

On some international forums, CNT is being criticised for, allegedly, playing into the hands of the nationalists with our call for a general strike. That’s understandable. As we've said somewhere else, it's a fine line we're trying to walk here and it's only normal that its nuances are lost in the distance (or in translation). It is also difficult for us, and there are lots of internal discussions/debates going on about our strategy, as you would expect in an open and plural organisation like CNT.

Make no mistake, while we firmly oppose repression from an increasingly authoritarian state and their fascist allies, we are in no way supportive of the nationalist agenda. All along this week there have been countless demonstrations in Catalonia to defend today's referendum, independence, self-determination…you name it. CNT has not called for or supported any of these. In fact, where comrades have a local presence, they've been busy making themselves uncomfortable for the nationalists, bringing economic and social issues to the fore, reminding people that the Catalan government was very keen to introduce social cuts only a few years ago, etc. This, in fact, is stated in our call for the general strike, in a very similar wording.

So much so, that the call for a strike is not directed only to Catalonia, the only place where, for obvious reasons, the strike will actually take place. No, the text makes it abundantly clear that it is addressed to the whole of the Spanish state. It is understood that, in this situation, to achieve our goals as a class, we have to spread resistance everywhere. This should not be a fight between nations, but between classes. Between an oppressive regime and its fascist allies (as much a part of the “people” as anyone else) and those of us who stand for freedom and rebellious dignity.

We expect repression to increase during the following weeks and days and we will use our weapon of choice, the general strike, to make it difficult for police to move around, get supplies and do their work in general. We'll see how things move forward from today on, but an already difficult situation can actually get nasty, in terms of repression. As revolutionaries, we don't believe we can just remain idle, while the police attack the people in the streets and fascist gangs roam our towns freely.

Again, thank you for your support. We'll keep you updated.

Miguel Pérez, International secretary, CNT.

AFnA

furbi
Oct 3 2017 19:40
Quote:
the strike is now also being supported by the dockworkers' Coordinadora as well as mainstream trade unions the CCOO and UGT.

This is no longer accurate - the regional Catalan branches of CCOO and UGT declared they would join the general strike, but yesterday the national union leadership cancelled their participation. They have called on their members to reach an agreement with their bosses to join a "civic stoppage", because 1. they are afraid to be seen as supporting Catalan independence and thus breaking with the regime of 78 and the Moncloa pact, and 2. their bourgeois partners in Catalonia are much more comfortable with a "civic work stoppage" hand in hand with the chamber of commerce and the bosses, instead of a general strike that could get out of their hands.

Of course as we can see the strike is being followed massively across Catalonia, and the only visible union presence has been left to CNT and CGT and the other radical minority unions. Nobody is trying to "bluff" and claim that the tens of thousands of people in the streets are the massed ranks of the CNT. Most of them are not members of any union (although certainly UGT and CCOO rank and file are striking too), but "ordinary people" whose motivations for striking are a mixture of anger at police repression, Catalan nationalism, anger at the right-wing neoliberal Rajoy government, etc.

But our members were doing organizing work for this strike weeks ago, in neighborhood strike committees, preparing for barricades, etc. And we have been front and center in the day's actions - CNT locals were setting up barricades on highways early this morning, and CNT Barcelona were the first to begin gathering outside the PP party headquarters there, which has now swelled to tens of thousands. And we are also taking a central role in solidarity demonstrations around the country.

So we have a tremendous opportunity to push the terms of this strike and the discourse around it against the state and capital in general. And there are going to be thousands of people in contact with CNT members and our ideas in the streets and at the barricades, and seeing that we are backing up our ideological positions with concrete action and commitment. Obviously we are not going to get the crowd of tens of thousands to start chanting "muerte al estado y viva la anarquia!" and tearing down Catalan flags in a repudiation of all nationalism, but we can organize, educate, and build our presence. So we have lots to gain from participating in the strike. are the nationalist political parties also gaining something? Of course, but there would have been clashes and demonstrations today regardless. So I think that in this case we are using them more than they are using us.

-edit-
Also hello! This is my first time posting on Libcom, although I have been reading for a long time.

Khawaga
Oct 3 2017 20:03

Thanks for that Furbi and welcome!

Ed
Oct 3 2017 21:20

Hi furbi, thanks for your post! Always great to have reports from on the ground. On another thread, another posted this:

Quote:
There have been reports that all three automotive plants (Nissan, SEAT and Volkswagen) had production reductions today, because workers did not show up or just-in-time material did not arrive due to the traffic shortages. The ports at Tarragona and Barcelona seem to have been paralyzed because the dock workers were on strike. Public transport in Barcelona and other towns had only minimal services early in the morning and in the afternoon. Flying pickets forced a lot of shops to close during the whole day.

Is that an accurate description of the strikes today? Were there any others?

furbi
Oct 3 2017 21:55

To clarify, I am not in Catalonia, but am getting updates from comrades there. I have heard reports stating that most independently owned shops are closed in Barcelona and in other towns, and that demonstrations and pickets have forced a number of supermarket chain stores to close as well. Lots of stores also preemptively closed in anticipation of major demonstrations and clashes with the police. I also hear that the main wholesale market in Barcelona was closed this morning as all of the providers were striking (and due to the road closures), so I imagine that restaurants and grocers will be affected by this. In Spain general strikes provide coverage for everyone to strike, not only union members, so stoppages are not confined to heavily unionized sectors or shops.