Schlagwort-Archive: #Spain

Catalonia: Alliance against Energy Poverty

Dear all,

in mainstream media the Catalan question is discussed under labels as nationalism, sectarianism or regional egoism of a wealthy region, that doesn’t want to share its fiscal revenues with the poor brothers and sisters in other regions of Spain.

Rarely focus is put on the social and democratic question, that is the main cause of the call for autonomy.

As CUP-speaker Quim Arrufat and the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont put it: The question is about democracy itself and sovereignty of the people.

For years there are lots of local initiatives, assemblies, collectives, support groups that want to ease the brutal impacts of financial and economic crisis as well as explore and practice forms of a cooperative economy, in a long lasting anarcho-syndicalist tradition of Catalonia.

A big problem in Spain is cut-offs of energy (light and gas) and even water because people can’t pay the bills. In Catalonia there founded different groups an Alliance against Energy Poverty that shows an example, how to build up a cooperative society, and grass-roots democracy.

See the article below, full text attached, emphasis added ES.

With kind regards

Elke Schenk

https://entitleblog.org/2016/09/01/energy-struggles-combating-energy-poverty-in-catalonia/

Energy struggles:

combating energy poverty in Catalonia

Posted on 1. September 2016 by mel

A diverse range of social and environmental collectives have come together in the past few years in Barcelona to form the Alliance Against Energy Poverty, successfully mobilising and fighting to stop energy and water cuts for families unable to pay their bills.* […]

Increasingly unequal distributional effects have become more visible as energy and water companies generate exorbitant profits due to deregulation, government subsidies and increasing prices. This model is based in the logic of the capitalist appropriation of nature, which results in energy poverty for the many and mammoth profits for a handful of companies and their CEOs and shareholders.

Spain is one country where energy poverty – understood here as limited or no access to basic services such as water, electricity and gas due to a person’s inability to pay – has increased dramatically with the crisis. 17% of the population have difficulties paying their electricity, gas or water bills.

Within the context of growing rates of energy poverty specifically in Catalonia, here I explore the energy struggles of the Aliança contra la pobresa energètica (the Alliance Against Energy Poverty – APE), focusing on their strategies, ways of organising and lessons learned. Their success is based on uniting historic and current street-based movements with technical entities to bridge social, ecological and political issues, creating social clamour and building solutions at grassroots as well as institutional levels.

APE, formed in 2013 by neighbourhood associations, workers’ assemblies and water and housing rights platforms, aims to guarantee universal access to basic services (water, electricity and gas), to avoid indiscriminate service cuts and to defend human rights.

A brief overview of energy inequalities in Catalonia is first outlined to contextualise the APE’s struggle. Based on an interview with two APE activists, attending a collective advising assembly in Barcelona, as well as the APE’s published materials and website, focus is then placed on APE and how they act on various fronts.

Why act? Energy inequalities in Spain, Catalonia and beyond

The Spanish electricity system is captured by a handful of powerful companies, which are impoverishing Spanish people, a situation that has become more extreme after eight years of crisis alongside increasing levels of unemployment and precariousness. The electricity oligopoly that operates in Spain – including Endesa (Enel), Gas Natural-Fenosa, Iberdrola, EON Espanya and EDP – registered €7.6 billion in profit during the first three trimesters of 2013, double that of other European electricity companies.

The University of Barcelona researcher Aurèlia Mañé Estrada highlights the depth of their power in stating that Iberdrola and Endesa control outright the legislative branch of the Ministry of Industry and Energy. Endesa alone, the main distributor of electricity in Catalonia, declared over €1.8 billion in profit in 2013. Such exorbitant profits are also fruit of a 60% increase in electricity prices since 2008. […]

The price of water has increased 65% since 2008 and the Spanish Association of Environmental Sciences notes that in the Barcelona metropolitan area alone, the number of water supply cuts rose from 27,359 in 2011 to 72,039 in 2012. […]

APE: uniting street-based social movements and technical entities

To combat and find solutions to these injustices, the Alliance Against Energy Poverty (APE) was founded in November 2013 to unite a range of entities to fight for the right of all to basic energy, gas and water supplies.

APE brings together various entities, diverse in their ideological positions and in their ways of organising, like street-based social movements, both recent and historic, and more technical entities, which have worked on electricity, gas or water issues for years. While such a strategy has its challenges, as each movement has many actions and some participants don’t have the energy to engage in everything, overall APE is made stronger through the complementarity of its groups.

The technical entities lack a movement vision, while the street-based movements lack a lot of information to really understand what is happening”, as one activist explained. In this way, “each component teaches each other and learns from one another. We are not two fronts; we work together.”

[…]

Alliance-Against-Energy-Poverty-2016_09.pdf

Ómnium Cultural: Jordi Cuixart's speech, Oct 16th, + Mike KRIEGER: If Catalonia Fails, We All Fail; 17.10.2017

globalcrisis/globalchange NEWS

Martin Zeis, 18.10.2017

 

Below Jordi CUIXART’s short, powerful and inspiring video message after “Judge Carmen Lamela of Madrid’s Audiencia Nacional —the special court of law that superseded and was inspired by General Franco’s Tribunal de Orden Público [Public Order Court in Spanish]— has ordered that ANC and Òmnium leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart be imprisoned without bail pending trial on charges of sedition, following the rallies of September 20 and 21 in Barcelona city.

The Assemblea Nacional Catalana (Catalan National Assembly, ANC in Catalan) and Òmnium Cultural are the two main grassroots groups behind the massive, peaceful pro-independence demonstrations staged in Catalonia in the last few years. On September 20 and 21 people rallied peacefully and without any incidents to protest the arrests of 14 senior Catalan government officials after Spain’s Guardia Civil raided several government buildings. Both Catalan leaders face sedition charges, which carry a prison sentence.

The public prosecutor had requested prison without bail for both grassroots leaders, as well as Catalan police Chief Constable Teresa Laplana and Commissioner Josep Lluís Trapero, the head of the Mossos d’Esquadra. The judge has chosen not to keep Laplana and Trapero in custody but has imposed some cautionary measures on them: they may not travel abroad, they have had their passports seized, both must appear in court every two weeks and must remain reachable by phone at all times.”

Quote from https://www.vilaweb.cat/noticies/pro-independence-grass-root-leaders-sent-to-prison-on-sedition-charges-independence-referendum-cuixart-sanchez-omnium-anc/

Jordi Cuixart’s speech, October 16th

YouTube, Video 1:44 min / engl. subs – URL: www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=h1djhPw-vx4

 

Òmnium Cultural

published 17.10.2017

 

Jordi Cuixart: political prisoner in today’s Europe for holding peaceful rally.

Madrid judge denies bail for Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leaders of

Catalonia’s two main grassroots groups https://www.vilaweb.cat/noticies/pro-…

Òmnium: https://omnium.cat Crida per la Democràcia: http://cridademocracia.org

 

++++

https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2017/10/17/if-catalonia-fails-we-all-fail/

If Catalonia Fails, We All Fail

By Michael Krieger

Oct 17, 2017 12:04 pm

While I’ve touched on the Catalan independence movement in several recent posts, I want to make one thing clear from the start. I don’t have a strong opinion on whether or not independence is the right move for the region and its people. It would be completely inappropriate for me, a U.S. citizen living in Colorado, to lecture people 5,000 miles away on how they should organize their political lives.

While I don’t have an opinion on how Catalans should vote, I unwaveringly support their right to decide the issue for themselves. When it comes to the issue of voting and referendums, we’ve entered a topic far bigger than Catalonia, Spain, or even Europe itself. When it comes to the issue of political self-determination, we’re talking about an essential human right which should be seen as inherent to all of us, everywhere.

The Catalan push for a right for vote on independence should be seen as part of a much larger push toward greater self-determination that humans will demand in increasingly large numbers in the years ahead. The time is ripe for us as a species to insist on a transition toward a more voluntary, sane, peaceful and decentralized process of political organization. This is an idea whose time has come, and I thank the Catalan people from the bottom of my heart for brining it to the fore, and also for conducting themselves in such a noble, courageous and thoughtful manner. You are leading the way for the rest of us.

The key reason Madrid is wrong on this issue relates to its insistence that Spain must sustain itself in its current form forever. Since Spain is a manmade political creation, this is the modern equivalent of claiming a “divine right of kings,” but rather than bestowing this archaic conception on individual rulers, it’s bestowed upon a nation-state. This is not just an absurd position, it’s patently anti-human. As I discussed in the post, It’s Time to Question the Modern Nation-State Model of Governance:

As things stand today, humans essentially have two choices when it comes to political life. We either accept the nation-state we’re born into and play the game to the best of our advantage, or we try to become citizens of another country with values that more align with our own. The only way to really shatter existing political power structures and form new ones is through violent revolution or war, which is an insane way of reorganizing matters of human governance. One of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s key arguments in casting the Catalan referendum as illegal is that Spain is an indivisible nation under the 1978 constitution. Let’s think about what this means in practice.

Anyone who’s spent any time in Spain understands how culturally and linguistically distinct many of the regions are when compared to Madrid. These are differences that go back centuries and can’t be brushed off by a constitution created a few decades ago. The idea that these various regions must be part of a centralized Spain even if the people within the regions want political autonomy is ethically preposterous, as well as authoritarian and evil in every sense of the word. If done properly, human governance should always be a voluntary arrangement. If an overwhelming majority of culturally distinct people within any nation-state decide the super state is no longer working for them, they should have every right to leave. Anything else is bondage.

If humans are going to evolve into better forms of political organization rooted in voluntary associations, we must first reject the clear authoritarian nature of our current political environments. All of us are randomly born into nation-states which we never chose in the first place and told to accept them as eternal structures. The people of Catalonia have realized the absurdity of this and are taking a brave stand on the issue. Anyone who genuinely believes in human rights must stand with the people of Catalonia and support their right to a referendum should they choose to have one.

With political philosophy out of the way, I want to move on to a discussion of strategy and why I think those leading the push for Catalan independence have played their hand brilliantly thus far.

First, leadership’s emphasis on a peaceful movement in the face of thuggish violence and aggression by the Spanish state is of the utmost importance. For an independence movement to succeed and create a better, more free society afterwards, things must be done in a conscious way. As I’ve said many times before, ends never justify the means. The means are everything. Moreover, by exposing the opposition as goons, you foster increased solidarity amongst your neighbors who may have been on the fence when it comes to independence. You also create passionate allies across the world. The Catalan people have succeeded remarkably on all these fronts

Immediately following the October 1st referendum, I was concerned that Catalan President Carles Puigdemont would make a mistake by prematurely declaring independence. This would’ve been a huge error since while 90% voted for independence, only 40% or so voted. While such a lopsided result certainly makes the case that Catalans deserve a vote for self-determination, it’s not a clear mandate given the low turnout. If the people of Catalonia want to succeed in their push, Madrid must be seen as the unreasonable — and very public — aggressor in virtually every move on the chessboard. By not prematurely declaring independence Catalonia pushed the move back into Madrid’s court, which is wise since the government there has a habit of making really stupid decisions.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for Spain to make yet another blunder with yesterday’s imprisonment without bail of two of Catalonia’s independence leaders.

Reuters reported:

Spain’s biggest political crisis in decades worsened on Monday night when Madrid’s High Court jailed the heads of Catalonia’s two main separatist groups pending an investigation for alleged sedition.

The Catalan government accused Madrid of taking “political prisoners” and one of the groups has called for peaceful demonstrations around Catalonia on Tuesday, with the biggest expected to begin in Barcelona in the evening.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, in a tweet following the detentions, said: “Sadly, we have political prisoners again.”

The phrase was an allusion to the military dictatorship under Francisco Franco, when Catalan culture and language were systematically suppressed. It carries an emotional resonance given fascism is still a living memory for many Spaniards.

Knowing that jail was a possibility, Omnium chief Jordi Cuixart had prerecorded a video message. It’s short, powerful and inspiring.

see: Jordi CUIXART’s speech, Oct 16th – 1:44 min — https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=h1djhPw-vx4

(…)

—  full text attached (pdf) —

KRIEGER_If-Catalonia-Fails-We-All-Fail171017.pdf

Catalonia/Spain – Spain's Rajoy Ready To Trigger "Nuclear Option" As Hundreds Of Thousands Protest Against Independence In Barcelona

globalcrisis/globalchange NEWS
Martin Zeis, 08.10.2017

Below a zerohedge-report on the latest events in Spain/Catalonia causing PM Rajoy threatening – if necessary – to trigger the “nuclear option” i.e. suspending Catalonia’s autonomous status: “Asked if he was ready to trigger article 155, Rajoy told El Pais (1):

“I am not ruling out anything that the law says. What I have to do is do things at the right time, which is the most important thing right now. The ideal situation would be to not have to take drastic solutions, but for that to happen there would have to be rectifications.”

“We are going to stop independence from happening. On that, I can tell you with absolute frankness, that it will not happen. It is evident that we will take whatever decision that we are permitted to by law, in view of how things are unfolding.”

(1) Independencia de Cataluña – Rajoy: “Un Gobierno de concentración podría ayudar pero bastaría con estar juntos”; El Pais, 7 Oct 2017 – URL:

https://politica.elpais.com/politica/2017/10/07/actualidad/1507394644_881357.html

more detailed: Federal police stay, no talks & no independent Catalonia – Spanish PM; https://www.rt.com/news/406022-catalonia-rajoy-no-talks-police

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-08/spains-rajoy-ready-trigger-nuclear-option-thousands-protest-against-independence-bar

Spain’s Rajoy Ready To Trigger “Nuclear Option” As Hundreds Of Thousands Protest Against Independence In Barcelona

by Tyler Durden
Oct 8, 2017 12:02 PM

One week after the historic Catalan Independence Referendum vote reopened Europe’s populist Pandora Box of nationalist secession movements, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Catalonia’s capital Barcelona on Sunday to express their opposition to any declaration of independence from Spain, which according to Reuters showed “how divided the region is on the issue.”

Last Sunday, more than 90% of the 2.3 million people who voted backed secession, according to Catalan officials. But that turnout represented only 43 percent of the region’s 5.3 million eligible voters as many opponents of independence stayed away. Now its the others’ turn to be heard.

The Spain Report @thespainreport

5.
– Long live Spain/Cat.
– I am Spanish
– Jail for Puigdemont
– THIS is the people of Catalonia@lasvocesdelpuepic.twitter.com/BIig4ol1Oe

10:51 AM – Oct 8, 2017

The protesters rallied in central Barcelona, waving Spanish and Catalan flags and banners saying “Catalonia is Spain” and “Together we are stronger”, as politicians on both sides hardened their positions in the country’s worst political crisis for decades.

As is typically the case, estimates of the crowd size varied enormously, with the range given as between 350,000 up to a million.

The Spain Report @thespainreport

So now we have three estimates for crowd size this morning:
– 350,000
– 950,000
– “more than a million”

2:53 PM – Oct 8, 2017

According to Reuters, the demonstration in Barcelona was organized by the anti-independence group Catalan Civil Society under the slogan “Let’s recover our senses” to mobilize what it believes is a “silent majority” of citizens in Catalonia who oppose independence.

It was a second day of protests after tens of thousands of people gathered in 50 cities across Spain on Saturday, some defending Spain’s national unity and others dressed in white and calling for talks to defuse the crisis.

Meanwhile, in an interview with El Pais newspaper, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he will consider taking the so-called “nuclear option” – the dramatic measure of suspending Catalonia’s autonomous status – as Catalan leaders escalate threats to declare independence from the country, which could culminate with a parliamentary announcement as soon as Monday.

Asked if he was ready to trigger article 155, Rajoy told El Pais newspaper: “ I am not ruling out anything that the law says. What I have to do is do things at the right time, which is the most important thing right now. The ideal situation would be to not have to take drastic solutions, but for that to happen there would have to be rectifications.

Until this weekend, Rajoy has remained vague on whether he would use article 155 of the constitution which enables him to sack the regional government and call a local election.

Reverting back to a hardline stance, the conservative prime minister ruled out using mediators to resolve the crisis – something Puigdemont has said he is open to – and said the issue would not force a snap national election. The Prime Minister also added the government would “prevent any declaration of independence from materializing in anything”. “Spain will continue being Spain,” he said.

Rajoy reiterated that until the regional government abandons its intention to proclaim independence, no talks can take place.

“As long as it does not go back to legality, I certainly will not negotiate,” Rajoy said, adding that while the Spanish government appreciates proposals to mediate between the national and Catalan governments, it will have to reject them. “I would like to say one thing about mediation: we do not need mediators. What we need is that whoever is breaking the law and whoever has put themselves above the law rectifies their position.”

Rajoy’s position is understandable: losing Catalonia – Spain’s wealthiest region – is unthinkable for the Spanish government. It would deprive Spain of about 16% of its people, a fifth of its economic output and more than a quarter of its exports. Catalonia is also the top destination for foreign tourists, attracting about a quarter of Spain’s total.

We are going to stop independence from happening. On that, I can tell you with absolute frankness, that it will not happen. It is evident that we will take whatever decision that we are permitted to by law, in view of how things are unfolding,” Rajoy told El Pais. He also called on “moderate” Catalans to “come back” and move away from “extremists, radicals” as well as the Popular Unity Candidacy party (CUP) spearheading the movement. It is the first time he has reached out to the Catalan people since the referendum.

Rajoy also slammed the independence bid as part of a current wave of populism sweeping across Europe, pointing to the rise of far-right parties in France, Germany and the UK. “Another form of populism, without doubt, is this nationalist populism that we are experiencing, which violates the fundamental principles of the European Union, goes against the rule of law, against law enforcement, and so it is a problem also from Europe.

“And that’s why Europeans have stuck up for us and all the governments have supported the Spanish constitution and the upholding of the law.”

Actually, the reason why European have stuck with Spain, is because if Catalonia achieves independence it will unleash a waterfall sequence of copycat referendums, where other independence movements will pursue their own secession dreams.

20171005_ind_0.jpg

It remains unclear just how the current Spain crisis is resolved: the past week in Catalonia has been nothing short of chaotic. Madrid responded to the vote with force, sending thousands of police to the region to shut down the vote. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has threatened to declare independence early next week, and hundreds of thousands of Catalan protesters marched in favor of splitting from Spain this week.

Pepe ESCOBAR: The future of the EU at stake in Catalonia; Asia Times 02.10.2017

globalcrisis/globalchange NEWS
Martin Zeis, 03.10.2017

Dear all,

below an extract of Escobar’s many-faceted op-ed article referring to the Catalonian “Battle”.

Greets,
Martin Zeis

02.10.2017 — http://www.atimes.com/article/future-eu-stake-catalonia

Catalonia independence

The future of the EU at stake in Catalonia

A new paradigm has been coined right inside the lofty European Union: ‘In the name of democracy, refrain from voting, or else’

By Pepe Escobar

Fascist Franco may have been dead for more than four decades, but Spain is still encumbered with his dictatorial corpse. A new paradigm has been coined right inside the lofty European Union, self-described home/patronizing dispenser of human rights to lesser regions across the planet: “In the name of democracy, refrain from voting, or else.” Call it democracy nano-Franco style.

Nano-Franco is Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose heroic shock troops were redeployed from a serious nationwide terrorist alert to hammer with batons and fire rubber bullets not against jihadis but … voters. At least six schools became the terrain of what was correctly called The Battle of Barcelona. (1)

Extreme right-wingers even held a demonstration inside Barcelona. Yet this was not shown on Spanish TV because it contradicted the official Madrid narrative.

The Catalan government beat the fascist goons with two very simple codes – as revealed by La Vanguardia. “I’ve got the Tupperware. Where do we meet?” was the code on a prepaid mobile phone for people to collect and protect ballot boxes. “I’m the paper traveler” was the code to protect the actual paper ballots. Julian Assange/WikiLeaks had warned about the world’s first Internet war as deployed by Madrid to smash the electronic voting system. The counterpunch was – literally – on paper. The US National Security Agency must have learned a few lessons.

So we had techno power combined with cowardly Francoist repression tactics countered by people power, as in parents conducting sit-ins in schools to make sure they were functional on referendum day. Some 90% of the 2.26 million Catalans who made it to the polls ended up voting in favor of independence from Spain, according to preliminary results. Catalonia has 5.3 million registered voters.

Roughly 770,000 votes were lost because of raids by Spanish police. Turnout at around 42% may not be high but it’s certainly not low. As the day went by, there was a growing feeling, all across Catalonia, all social classes involved, that this was not about independence any more; it was about fighting a new brand of fascism. What’s certain is there’s a Perfect Storm coming.

No pasarán

The “institutional declaration” of overwhelming mediocrity nano-Franco Rajoy, right after the polls were closed, invited disbelief. The highlight was a mediocre take on Magritte: “Ceci n’est pas un referendum.” This referendum never took place. And it could never take place because “Spain is a mature and advanced democracy, friendly and tolerant”. The day’s events proved it a lie. (…)

ESCOBAR-EU-future-at-stake-in CATALONIA171002.pdf