Spanish government resorts to violence in an effort to prevent Catalonia Independence Vote

William Watkins – October 3, 2017

In Spain, the central government resorted to violence to stop the people of Catalonia from participating in a vote on independence. The violence from agents of the national government is distressing. According to The Telegraph:

Video footage showed officers from Spain’s national police—4,000 of whom had been brought in by the government to help quash the ballot—fighting with elderly voters, some of whom were left bleeding, and dragging young women away from polling stations by their hair.

Spanish officials shrugged off the violence and candidly stated that a few cracked heads were necessary to maintain the full authority of the central government. According to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy: “We did what we had to do” to thwart the “premeditated attack on the legality of the Spanish state.” Mr. Rajoy has described the referendum as a “coup” and refused to accept the right of the people of Catalonia to chart their own destiny and choose whether to be an independent nation or remain under the thumb of Madrid. Mr. Rajoy’s actions and sentiments are similar to those of General Francisco Franco who attempted to destroy Catalan separatism and killed 3,500 people when he took control of the region in 1938.

Catalonia has its own language, laws, and customs. It is a fairly wealthy region that Madrid plunders to keep itself afloat.

According to The Guardian:

90% of the 2.26 million Catalans who voted on Sunday voted in favour of independence, according to preliminary results released by the region’s government. The region has 5.3 million voters. Officials said 770,000 votes were lost due to disruption which resulted in polling stations being raided by Spanish police.

Overwhelmingly, the people want independence. It is disappointing that Madrid will not listen to their voices and allow the region to go its own way. This reminds me of Abraham Lincoln’s use of federal troops to stop the Maryland legislature from deliberating on the issue of secession.

This article was originally published by the Independent Institute. William Watkins is a research fellow at the Independent Institute and the author of the book, Crossroads for Liberty: Recovering the Anti-Federalist Values of America’s First Constitution.    


3 thoughts on “Spanish government resorts to violence in an effort to prevent Catalonia Independence Vote

  1. Javier Bardavio says:

    Dear Mr Watkins

    I am afraid things are not as clear in the theory might indicate. I use to live on Barcelona but we run away from both Spanish national and Catalan autonomous governments. Both nasty. A smaller government did not improve liberty of Catalans, but otherwise it made it worse. We left because we could not choose our children educational language. Effectively only Catalan is the language in both public and private schools. We wanted Spanish and English. Catalan governments are intensely interventionist, high taxing and of course terribly corrupt. Is therefore independence better for Catalans’ freedom? I doubt it. Is there risk of making all poorer and less free? There is.

    The last thirty years of Catalan government has been a drive to convert Catalans into independence advocates by doctrinal methods. The reason of such success is that individuals did not care about it and did nothing to avoid it. It has been a politically driven evolution, not a popular movement. Because is not popular in nature it is unlikely to improve matters to all but only a few. Believe me, the guys leading this do not care about people’s freedom. Did Chavez revolution aim to improve freedom for Venezuelans? Half the ones behind independence are radical leftist ready to expropriate all they find on their way, the other half have already stolen most of what they owe.

    If you searched a bit you could be surprised.


    • Javier, you raise some very interesting and important points, but these are not the subject of the article. Watkins was not commenting on the political, economic, or social issues which drive the Catalan government toward independence.

      While these issues are certainly worthy of discussion, the most important issue is the freedom to choose, and that is all Watkins was writing about. When he wrote “the right of the people of Catalonia to chart their own destiny”, he offered no opinion about whether independence would increase or decrease the freedom of Catalans.

      As Jennifer Maffessanti wrote in this article :

      “. . . if we’re serious about encouraging personal agency and self-determination, which are hallmarks of liberty, that’s going to inevitably mean that some people are going to make choices that we don’t necessarily agree with. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to choose them. Because if we don’t have the right to choose poorly, then we don’t really have the right to choose at all.”

      • Javier Bardavio says:

        Thanks very much Lee. That was exactly my point. The right to choose. Catalan government, the one that now claims the right to choose for independence, never gave the right to choose others the language to raise their children. Or what school programs. Or what school. We are talking hundreds of thousands of families.

        Do you think that 35 years of educational freedom would have evolved to the present situation? Are we sure we are talking about free choice? Wouldn’t that be conditional choice? Wouldn’t it be a choice as when a voter votes for a politician that will rise someone else’s taxes for his own benefit? Is that legitimate? Would the guy that does not want independence be a one that simply disagrees or a victim?

        I am just glad I am no longer there.

        By the way, I enjoyed your article on London roads. Agree. In fact so much public intervention will harm the next transport revolution. Something we desperately need. But I actually cycle to work.

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