The legendary (in these parts anyway) Catalan leader Josep Tarradellas once said something along the lines of ‘in politics anything goes except being ridiculous’ (“En política ‘espot fer tot, menys el ridícul‘” in Catalan). Radical Catalan separatists, who are now pressing their territorial claims in France, and promise “independence or barbarism” for Catalonia, are long past the ridiculous.
For weeks now catalan separatists have been causing trouble, mainly by blocking roads and burning rubbish containers, plus a bit of rioting. Last week radical separatists from the shadowy ‘Democratic Tsunami’ world and the ‘Committees for the Defence of the Republic’ blocked a motorway on the French side of the border, but were kicked out by French police when France returned to work after a public holiday. Following that, radical separatists have warned Paris, or at least the French consulate in Barcelona, that they intend to liberate what they call Northern Catalonia, which the rest of us know as the Roussillon region of Southern France (see their propaganda picture above).
The riots in Barcelona have died down, and the disruption campaign in the rest of Catalonia looks like petering out. On Saturday the radicals called for a “total blockade” of Barcelona, but in the end just a small crowd tried and failed to shut down a train station.
But much damage has been done in the process so far, and tales of woe abound. I’ve read of sick people having to soil themselves in bed because carers can’t reach them, lorry drivers attacking protesters because their jobs are on the line, and many businesses under pressure. Economic damage is inevitable, and many families will find themselves in trouble as breadwinners lose their jobs and can’t pay the mortgage. It can’t be good for the local property market.
Living in the centre of Barcelona, in the heart of the small area where most of the rioting has taken place, I’ve had my fair share of inconveniences to deal with in the last month, but none more so than being stuck in a massive traffic jam on a rainy night in the Pyrenees thanks to a separatist road-block on a wooded road. It was distressing for my family, especially my wife, who is not well, and no way to win people over to your cause. Seething in the traffic jam I also found myself blaming David Cameron for fueling the independence movement in Catalonia by caving into nationalist demands for a referendum in Scotland. Funny how the mind works when looking for someone to blame.