Spain

The Spanish government has proven itself powerless to deal with the spread of the coronavirus. It urges the population to “prepare for hard times”, a forecast which data from the Ministry of Health confirms. On the other hand, the right wing lacks alternatives and simply engages in demagoguery. In fact, their austerity and privatising policies under Rajoy have, for decades, largely been responsible for the pitiful state of public health in the Community of Madrid, as well as in other regions.

The global coronavirus epidemic and the declaration of the state of emergency have caused the most drastic change in the life of the Spanish population since the first days and weeks of the 2008-2009 crisis. Millions of people remain secluded in their homes and it was announced that more than a million will, temporarily or permanently, lose their job. We agree with the need to take bold and vigorous measures against this. But is the plan approved by the government the most effective way to fight the epidemic and ensure the employment and living conditions of working families, or is it just "bread for today"?

The 10 November Spanish elections have left a more unstable situation than the 28 April elections. Although the right has been defeated again, the PSOE leadership failed in its political calculation that it would emerge strengthened, and the tactics of the UP leadership – to ruin Sanchez's investiture and risk new elections – were also an error that lost them votes and seats. Political polarisation, agitated by the Catalan national question, is reflected in the strengthening of the extreme right, of Catalan independence parties, and Basque and Galician nationalism.

Yesterday's general strike marked a qualitative leap in the political situation in Catalonia. For the past four days, mass peaceful demonstrations for the release of the political prisoners have been brutally attacked by Spanish and Catalan police. On Thursday, protesters were also attacked by neo-Nazis protected by police, who brutally beat up an anti-fascist militant. The youth have retaliated setting up barricades.

Today there is a general strike planned in Catalonia and a massive mobilisation, with five columns marching throughout Catalonia to converge in Barcelona. This day of action is organised under slogans rejecting the judgement of "Procés", and calling for the freedom of the Catalan political prisoners and the right to self-determination. The International Marxist Tendency in the Spanish State, Lucha de Clases, unconditionally supports this day of struggle.

"Barcelona has seen more barricade fighting than any other city in the world", wrote Engels in 1873. Yesterday, Barcelona stood by this reputation. Various republican and democratic organisations called peaceful vigils across Catalonia to protest against the sentences faced by the political prisoners. In Barcelona, as well as in other localities, the demonstrators – including families, elderly people, and children – were attacked by Spanish and Catalan riot police, charging at them with truncheons, rubber bullets, and stun devices.

Yesterday, the Spanish Supreme Court issued sentences against twelve Catalan political prisoners involved in the October 2017 referendum, including nine former ministers, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, and two popular civil society leaders. The proceedings went on for almost two years, during which nine of them were held in pre-trial detention. As expected, the sentences were harsh: between nine and 13 years in jail for the nine held on remand, and fines and disqualification from public office for the other three.

Nine Catalan political prisoners, who have been held in remand for almost two years, have been given lengthy jail sentences of between 9 and 13 years by the Spanish Supreme Court for sedition and misuse of public funds. And what was their “crime?” The organisation of the Catalan independence referendum on 1 October 2017. This is a scandalous, undemocratic ruling that reveals the rottenness of the Spanish 1978 regime. The International Marxist Tendency rejects these outrageous sentences and calls on the labour, socialist and democratic forces of the world to mobilise against them with all their might.

Lucha de Clases (IMT section in the Spanish state) rejects the sentencing of the “Procés” trial, issued by the supreme court, which includes jail sentences of 9-13 years and disqualification from public office for the nine Catalan political prisoners and three other defendants. These sentences again show the authoritarian character of the monarchical regime of ‘78.

In the coming days, the Spanish Supreme Court will issue sentences against nine Catalan politicians involved in the referendum of 1 October 2017. Seven of them have been on remand for almost two years. This includes five ministers from the previous Catalan government, as well as two prominent civil society leaders. In addition, a number of prominent politicians and activists are in exile in Belgium, the UK, and Switzerland, which have refused to extradite them.

On Monday 9 September, in an operation involving 500 Civil Guard police, nine activists of the Catalan Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDRs) were arrested, and 10 properties were searched. By the end of the day, two of those arrested had been released and the seven others were transported to Madrid, where they will be presented to the National Court on Thursday. What we are witnessing is an attempt to criminalise the CDRs ahead of the sentencing of Catalan political prisoners, and the expected protests against these sentences in the next few days or weeks.

For the fourth time in less than four years, Spaniards ready themselves to return to the ballot box on 10 November. The country has witnessed unprecedented political instability in the last period, as social polarisation and the extreme fragmentation of parliament has made it virtually impossible to put together working governments. At the heart of this turbulence lies the radicalisation of Spanish society in the aftermath of the economic crisis.

In July, Wellred Books will release Spain's Revolution Against Franco: The Great Betrayal (available for pre-order now!) The author, Alan Woods, was a participant in the last phase of the struggle against Franco. He explains how a revolutionary movement of the working class defeated the regime – and could have gone further but for the betrayals of the workers’ leadership. The following article by Alan provides a general overview of the events discussed in far greater detail in the book.

The municipal, regional and European elections of 26 May (26M) in Spain have once again confirmed the victory of the left in the general elections of 28 April (28A). In the municipal elections, the most relevant of the three, the left (both the Spanish as well as Basque and Catalan nationalists) got 48.7 percent, while the right (again, the Spanish as well as Basque and Catalan nationalists) received 42 percent.