During the lead-up to the Independence Referendum (Referendum 1-0), Rajoy declared the Referendum illegal and unconstitutional.
Ships of Police from Madrid arrived and occupied the cities. Granted, those ships had cartoons on them, but don’t let that fool you. Inside were real policemen with real weapons.
You could feel the build-up of tension in the city. Every night at 10 PM, the entire city erupted in noise as a reminder of the vote to come.
Then, on Octobter 1st, the vote took place despite violent and aggressive attempts by police to stop the vote. The police successfully close a number of voting stations and confiscated other voting boxes containing the paper votes. 900 people were injured by police in the process. You can see videos of police pulling women by the hair, shooting rubber bullets, and physically removing people from polling stations.
Whether you believe in the Catalonians’ right to independence or not, let’s evaluate the relative unsuccessfulness of Rajoy and the central government’s attempts to smother the flames of the referendum.
- This referendum has been in the works for about 3 years. Simply declaring the referendum illegal clearly wasn’t going to discourage the organisers from holding the vote. If the central government wanted to prevent the “illegal” referendum, they should have opened up diplomatic talks much sooner. Now it looks too late to compromise.
- In addition to declaring the vote illegal, Rajoy encourage those who would have voted “no” to not vote at all. Surely that only creates the effect of having an end poll result far more skewed toward “yes” than “no.” In the end, it was publicised that some 2 million people voted out of 5.3 million registered voters with an end result of 90% for independence. I firmly believe that an uninhibited vote where the entire population had been encourage to cast votes would have had a much more balanced result.
- The actions taken by the police go against human rights and transgress the values upheld in the European Union. There should be diplomatic backlash for taking those sorts of measures against citizens.
One result of the violence is that yesterday, October 3rd, the entire city of Barcelona held a strike against Police brutality. More on yesterday’s strike in the post to come.