What I saw when voting in the referendum


By Pau Castellvi Canet


05/10 @ 09:12 - "We need to be ready"

At 5am there were 300 people present at the voting station I've been assigned to, safeguarding it. As the morning develops, more and more people get here, to keep it safe. Multiply this by over 2,000 voting stations all over. This is our democracy, they won't steal it from us. We have a long day before us; it won't be easy: Spanish police convoys keep leaving from their 10,000-agents strong Barcelona headquarters... the question isn't whether they'll act, but when and how. And we need to be ready.

05/10 @ 19:22 - "We are who we are"

893 civilians injured by the Spanish Police in Catalonia (one of whom, very badly) in 12 hours throughout 400+ voting centers all over the territory. This was mostly carried out by agents sent from other parts of Spain: as we've learnt from many empires in history, repression is carried out more easily when practiced by people feeling no connection with locals. The aim of this mobilization was to prevent us from voting and to impede the free and peaceful exercise of our inalienable right of self-determination; one which may be exercised without permission, but for which we have spent years trying to negotiate... in vain. 

No one ever greeted us at the other end of the table. Many suffered. Our online electronic census system was subject to hundreds of cyberattacks by the State of Spain. Many of the voting centers were closed by the Police, following the use of violence. People were frightened in the most despicable manners (not only by the use of violence against peaceful civilians, but also by lies such as "if you go you'll be fined 300,000€"). 

In spite of all of this, we were able to vote. In my hometown and in many places, more than 50% of the electorate finally managed to cast their vote. Regardless of what the result turns out to be (and I'm looking forward to hearing it), The People have already won this day. We suffered and many of us were injured (my family, friends and I are well). But we looked in the eye of our oppressor and all of us were clear: we do not fear you and we won't stop until our will is respected. If you disagree with us, that's fine: your opinion isn't relevant in the exercise of our right of self-determination. 

We are who we are and we're fed up of being told that we should be ashamed for being who we are: we're fed up of being told that we need to ask for permission from others for determining who we want to be. We have self-determined and this cannot be altered or erased from the face of the Earth. And that's not all: we have been hurt and we will not forget. Many of us are keen on forgiving, but we will not forget that we were beaten to the ground just because a declining Empire thought we should not be able to decide for ourselves.

05/10 @21:15 - "Natural justice wins every time"

I'm all for finding solutions. For that reason I really appreciate The Economist's wise, timely change of position: a must-read, if you ask me. I can only hope voices in the Spanish establishment pay any attention to it. The Catalan Government has been waiting for negotiation for years and a last chance in this direction must be given. But not without a deadline.
"WHEN a democracy sends riot police to beat old ladies over the head with batons and stop them voting, something has gone badly wrong. (...) Aggression against crowds of peaceful citizens may work in Tibet but cannot be sustained in a Western democracy. In the contest between formal justice and natural justice, natural justice wins eventually every time. Constitutions exist to serve citizens, not the other way around. Rather than uphold the rule of law as he intended, Mr Rajoy ended up tarnishing the legitimacy of the Spanish state. (...) Any settlement, though, must include the option of a referendum on independence."

05/10 @23:11 - "We're realizing who we always were"

Some of you might have found out about the Spanish King's speech on Tuesday, which basically came to reinforce completely the Spanish Government's violent approach to the conflict. I'd like to quote the words Catalan 11th Century-old House of Lords used to pronounce when swearing allegiance to the Count/King, up to when Catalonia lost its freedoms and Constitutions in the 18th Century.

"We, who are worth as much as you, swear before you that you are not better than us; that together we are worth more than you, and that we accept you as king and sovereign as long as you respect our freedoms and laws, but if you do not, then we do not [accept you either]."
It's not that we're going radical or mad: we're just realizing who we actually are, who we always were.