July highlights: Catalan Government walking decidedly towards referendum

Things are going so fast that it’s hard to keep track but below you can find a timeline of what’s happened in the last month. The most important bit is the absolute determination of the Catalan Government to carry on with the referendum in spite of the threats coming from Spain.

If you want to be updated on the progress of what is going on regarding Catalonia’s independence process in english I recommend following my twitter account

July 1st: 500 Mayors from all over Catalonia gathered in Barcelona and showed their committment to support the referendum and its logistics

July 3rd: The President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, attended the meeting of the APPG on Catalonia at the Westminster Parliament. This shows that the interest in the Catalan independence movement is gaining momentum internationally.

July 4th: The referendum law is unveiled. It hasn’t been passed yet in order to avoid activatin the repressive mechanisms of Spain but merely presenting it to the media was enough to create the expected results. The international media covered the event extensively. As a retaliation the Spanish Constitutional Court nullified Catalan laws that regulate the use of Catalan in media and consumer goods, amongst others.

July 6th: Catalan Home Office goes ahead and announced 500 new Catalan Police Officer vacancies even though Spain only authorised 50.

July 7th: President Puigdemont announced tax collection system update so the Catalan Tax Agency is ready to collect all taxes paid in Catalonia (currently it only collects about 10%, the rest are collected directly by Madrid)

July 9th: Unionist newspaper El Periódico contributing to the broad strategy of fear published an article detailing how Spain could seize Catalan Ministers assets as punishment for organising the referendum.

July 13th: Spanish police officers from militarised Guardia Civil showed up at the National Theatre of Catalonia looking for documentation from the presentation of the Referendum Law which had taken place a few days earlier to use it as evidence in future charges against the Catalan Government.

July 14th: President Puigdemont rearranged the Government by appointing 3 new Ministers (the previous Ministers had been appointed by President Mas before Puigdemont arrived) and reshuffling the referendum organisation responsibilities to the vicepresident Junqueras. It seemed that some of the Ministers were not entirely comfortable with the possible repressive actions that could be taken by Spain and this action dissipated any doubts over Puigdemont’s determination to go ahead with the referendum in spite of Spain’s repression.

July 16th: Catalonia’s prospects of independence seems to be having a positive impact in its economy with the latest data showing it is breaking previous foreign investment records and leading unemployment reduction and economic growth.

July 17th: Director of Catalan Police resigns following last weeks Government rearrangement. The previous director, Albert Batlle, was against independence and one concern was that Spain could try to use the Catalan Police to hinder the referendum organisation. With this change those doubts were dissipated.

July 19th: The video “The State’s secret Cesspit” is available with english subtitles here. This video denounces how the Spanish Minister of Home Office Fernández Díaz was part of a network to fabricate incriminating evidence about political enemies with the collaboration of the Spanish police and media. Amongst the targets of this network were several pro independence political leaders like former Barcelona Mayor Xavier Trias, who was falsely accused of having undeclared accounts in Switzerland. Even though this shows the degree of corruption within the Spanish State and Government, no charges have been pressed by the public prosecutors or further resignations have taken place.

July 20th: Spanish Police Guardia Civil show up without a court order at the Catalan Parliament and Government building requesting access to the building to look for information about a corruption case. Access was not allowed and instead they had to give up their weapons and showed to a waiting room and wait for the relevant information for several hours. The Guardia Civil was looking to humiliate the Catalan institutions by showing up as if they owned the place as part of their intimidation strategy  but instead they met with the new ways of the Catalan Government of not allowing further abuse.

July 21st: The periodical public poll published by the Catalan statistics department, the CEO, showed that the Selfdetermination Referendum of October the 1st would have a 67.5% turnout. The Yes would win with 62.4% of the vote and the No would get 37.6%. These results are in line with other recent polls published by different entities. One interesting fact is that most of the unionist voters have the intention of voting against the advice of their political leaders.

The Spanish Government announced later that day that from then onwards the Catalan Government will have to send a weekly report of all the expenses (it was ) to make sure no funds were spent on the referendum or else it would stop the transfers to some of the Catalan Government providers. I’m surprised the Spanish Government didn’t realise that this decision makes absolutely no sense since Spain stopping payments to providers could be interpreted as a default by the markets but we will let them figure it out. In the meantime the New York Times explained to them that those threats may not be the best idea.

July 24th: Yoko Ono amongst others supports the referendum. A Spanish Newspaper publishes the news with the following headline: “Yoko Ono split The Beatles, now is trying to split Spain” sounds like something a satirical newspaper would publish  but they were absolutely serious about it.

July 26th: Spanish Government President Mariano Rajoy declares as a witness in a corruption related case. Simultaneously, two high ranking Catalan Government officers were questioned at the Guardia Civil barracks regarding the referendum preparations.

July 27th: Guardia Civil continues with the questioning, now for expanding the targets to a non independentist, Joan Ignasi Elena, the director of the Pacte Nacional pel Referendum who gathered 400k signatures for the referendum but without positioning for either side. Later that day it would be known that the police were acting without a court order even though they claimed they did.

The Parliament approves the new regulations (which already exist in other Spanish Parliaments) to “fast-track” laws with the aim of using it to fast-track the Referendum Law in the second half of August. The Spanish Constitutional Court will likely suspend it but the Government has already said this will not interfere with the referendum organisation.

July 28th: Parliament passes the new Tax Code which sets the framework for the Catalan Tax Agency. This is one of the key laws that had to be passed before the independence.

Also last friday the Referendum Law was signed by all pro independence MPs, that includes all MPs from Junts pel Sí and CUP. The law has been registered at the Parliament today and will be passed during the second half of the month. (update: the english translation of the law is avaiable here)

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