Case 16

Unchecked Fascist Violence

Virtually none of the hundreds of violent, politically motivated ultra-nationalist aggressions (tyre slashing, airgun pellet shooting, physical aggression...) have ended up in prosecutions.

As the day of the referendum (1 October 2017) approached, and even more so after the result, sectors opposed to Catalonia’s independence became more and more heated. There are hundreds of well-attested reports of incidents, often involving well-planned attacks by gangs and more and more so by people wearing masks. Even some MPs are not loath to aggressive gestures in some cases.

Description

According to one detailed report, En nom d’Espanya («In the name of Spain») only between September 8 and December 11 2017 in Catalonia there were at least 139 attested violent incidents, including 86 physical attacks, politically motivated to defend the unity of Spain (excluding the Spanish police attacks on voting day). Documented examples of ultra-right violence, largely in Catalonia (also in Valencia and Madrid), between September 22, 2017 and February 9 2018 are available on a special website (https://spanishradicals.github.io) which adds videos of the neo-Fascist attack during an official event in the Catalan Government’s Blanquerna centre in Madrid, in September 2013, arguably the only case where there has been a conviction to date.

In January 2019 the Catalan government said there had been at least 328 incidents since January 2017.

A social centre was burnt down one night in Barcelona in March 2018: threatening and Nazi graffiti were painted on the walls. Another study shows that months later, between May and July 2018, there were at least 178 Fascist-style attacks in Catalonia.

In very few of these cases has anyone been charged by the police, public prosecutors or judges. An exception was one of the eight cases, at least, of pellet shots at balconies and windows (displaying Catalan symbols), from 30 September 2017 to 17 February 2018: the public prosecutor called for a gunman in Palamós to be fined €60.

Over 150 car tyres were slashed in Verges (95), Sarrià de Ter (16), Medinyà (13), Girona (13) and Llagostera during the night on April 3, 2018.  The only person taken to court for this was the mayor of Verges, Ignasi Sabater, for speculating that the Spanish police might be behind this quasi paramilitary operation. In several other night-time razzias in Verges dozens of independence flags have been torn down and stolen

Click on the map to check all the agressions (ComuniCATs)

Before

On November 26 2012, not long after the Constitutional Court Judgment on the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, former prime minister José María Aznar said: “The unity of Catalonia will be broken before the unity of Spain: it is up to all of us to decide the future of the country [Spain]”.

The progression and electoral victories of the Catalan independence movement led its opponents to increasingly radical and aggressive language, and the number of incidents of radical Spanish nationalist violence grew until it peaked during and after the referendum on October 1 2017, and especially immediately after independence was voted in Parliament on October 27 2017. These incidents have even been mapped by a private cooperative initiative, Comunicats.cat (see map above, and references).

 

The outcome

 

The general opinion of the population is that all such acts of Fascist violence have gone without any punitive measures being taken against any suspects (e.g. in Blanes, Palamós and elsewhere banners calling for political prisoners to be freed have been ripped down). This also goes for cases in which unmarked Spanish police cars and policemen have been identified in nocturnal sorties, for instance to remove independence flags or yellow ribbons.

The main opposition party in the Catalan Parliament, Ciudadanos, has taken the baton of pro-Spanish nationalism from the People’s party (4 seats out of 135 in the December 21 2017 election) and has even called on the general public to remove yellow ribbons from public spaces. They have openly taken part in such activities themselves and in the destruction of other symbols. Thus in Alella their two main leaders ripped down yellow ribbons in front of the cameras, and their parliamentary spokesman provocatively removed a yellow ribbon from the seat of one of the political prisoners in the Catalan Parliament. In Amer, hometown of Mr. Carles Puigdemont (February 2019) they did so openly. And a former Ciudadanos parliamentary candidate was identified as a member of a night squad acting in Girona (April 2018) and removing material from Sant Julià, Sant Gregori i Sarrià town halls (February 2019).

In August 2018, after an incident, they called an anti-independence demonstration (despite it transpiring that this particular case of aggression was not politically motivated) during which there was a violent incident, when a Tele-Madrid cameraman was mistaken for a Catalan TV reporter and hit and threatened by a small group.

Other deliberately-aimed violence includes a plain clothes policeman who punched photojournalist Jordi Borràs in the face and body several times, to cries of “Viva Franco!”, in broad daylight and before shocked witnesses (see WeReport case). This, at least, will presumably not go unpunished, though the police officer has not to our knowledge been suspended from active service.

In general, demonstrations in Barcelona in favour of the unity of Spain have been used by Spanish ultra-nationalists to violently intimidate citizens as well as parading Nazi-style symbols. Citizens of foreign origin have been attacked in such occasions too, as on 29 October 2017 when a citizen wearing a Sikh turban was assaulted and insulted. 

On Twitter, the hashtag #AlertaUltra is used to label such incidents.

References

 

Franco’s fascism is alive and kicking in Spain (in English). The Spectator

Former PM Aznar: “Catalonia’s unity will be broken before that of Spain, the future of the country we all decide together” (in Spanish), El Imparcial:  

There were at least 139 violent incidents by defenders of Spain’s unity, in Catalonia, between 8 September 2017 and 11 December 2017: physical aggression, vandalism, threats. (in English)

There were at least 178 Fascist-style attacks in Catalonia between May and July 2018 (in Catalan), Nació Digital: 

28 examples of Fascist violence in Catalonia, posted in April 2018, twitter: 

One of the four people identified by police as having destroyed posters in support of the Catalan political prisoners in Girona was a former candidate of the Ciudadanos political party to the Spanish Senate (in Catalan), Llibertat: 

Spanish ultra-nationalism in Catalonia, after 31 October 2017 (post dated June 24 2018)

There were at least eight cases of airgun pellets being shot at balconies and windows, from 30 September 2017 to 17 February 2018. The public prosecutor called for one of them to be fined €60 (Palamós), twitter: 

A social centre was burnt down overnight in Barcelona: Threatening and Nazi graffiti were painted on the walls (in Spanish), Público

Tension In Paliament between Sr. Carrizosa (Ciudadanos) and Speaker Torrent fo emoving a yellow ribbon (in Spanish), La Vanguardia

A thousand people support the mayor of the city of Verges, charged with a hate crime against the Spanish police. Ignasi Sabater is “grateful for the warmth of the people”, El Punt Avui:

Cases of airgun pellets being shot at balconies with Estelada flags in recent months, Twitter

Based on a false incident, Ciudadanos call a demonstration in Barcelona to defend those who remove yellow ribbons (in Spanish), El País:

A TeleMadrid TV cameraman is mistaken for a Catalan TV journalist at a Ciudadanos event, and manhandled (in Spanish), La Vanguardia: 

The Generalitat, through the Office of Civil and Political Rights, puts the number of attacks by ultra-radical [Spanish nationalists] since January 2017 at 328, and warns that about twenty ‘very well organized’ groups, that act with ‘the same parameters’ and in ‘paramilitary fashion’ (in Catalan), VilaWeb

Eight people ae identified for stealing flags and banners from town councils.  They ripped down and spoiled material from the balconies of Sant Julià, Sant Gregori and Sarrià town halls. Among those caught in the act there is a former Ciudadanos candidate:  (in Catalan)

Documented examples of ultra-right violence, largely in Catalonia (also in Valencia and Madrid), from September 22, 2017 to February 9 2018. 

Attacks by Spanish radicals in response to the Republic. Groups react violently in the streets after the proclamation of the Republic in Parliament (videos), El Món

A Unionist demonstration called by Societat Civil Catalana ended up with violence against  citizens and police officers (with video), VilaWeb

After a Unionist demonstration called by Societat Civil Catalana, violence was recorded against a Sikh gentleman – who was racially insulted – and a taxi driver (with video), Nació Digital:  

A former Ciudadanos party Senate candidate tears down Tarragona CDR posters with a neonazi» (with video). Nació Digital:  

Spanish nationalists go wild reacting violently to yellow ribbons and crosses (videos). Twitter: 

A group of unionists rips down the independence banner from the «Casa del poble» in Blanes, a private organisation that proclaimed Blanes «as a municipality of the Catalan Republic» (with video). Nació Digital: 

Geolocation of violent incidents by Spanish nationalists [MAP]. Incidents with political motivation in favour of the unity of Spain registered in the Catalan Countries. 

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