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.