Over 500 people attended the international rally organised by Esquerra Revolucionaria (CWI in Catalonia), on 17 July, in defence of a Catalan Republic of workers and youth.
Gallery of photos here:
In an electric atmosphere, the rally was opened by a video which relived the heroic resistance of 1 October against brutal repression by the forces of occupation sent by the PP government to stop the referendum.
For almost two hours, the solidarity from around world with the people of Catalonia was on display in the speeches from the platform.
Sinead Daly, representing the Socialist Party Scotland, explained how 1 October was followed with great interest by the Scottish people, who had lived through their own self-determination referendum in 2014. In the same way as Esquerra Revolucionaria defends a socialist Catalan republic, the Socialist Party Scotland launched a campaign with this same slogan, connecting with the mood of hundreds of thousands of youth and workers in struggle against cuts and austerity.
Iker Otermin from Ezker Irautzaileak (CWI in the Basque Country) told of how the brutal repression in Catalonia did not go unnoticed in the Basque Country. Here, for years, a laboratory of repression by Spanish governments and the state apparatus was a carried out, which has now been exported to Catalonia and elsewhere. Iker also emphasized the example which the uprising of the people in Catalonia was for those fighting for freedom in the Basque Country. He described the disgraceful role played by Basque parties in alliances with right-wing parties, like the PNV (Basque Nationalist Party). The PNV does not hesitate to make deals with those who are imprisoning politicians, applying article 155 of the notorious constitution, and criminalizing CDR (commitees in the defence of the republic) activists.
The intervention by Ana Garcia, General Secretary of the Sindicato de Estudiantes (SE), underlined the role of the youth in the front line of this struggle, and the six general student strikes called by the Catalan Sindicat d’Estudiants. Ana said that the right wing demand youth respect their system and Spanish nationalism and try to impose this with violence. But we were not born to be slaves, we want to be free, Ana said.
In Ireland, as well as in Catalonia, the youth and working class have shown their strength when they decide to fight for their rights. We saw a great example of this in the referendum for the right to abortion, which was a crushing blow to the oppression of the Catholic Church in Irish society. This was explained by Ruth Coppinger, TD [member of the Irish parliament] for Solidarity and also a member of the Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland). Ruth quoted the Irish Marxist leader, James Connolly, to link the struggle for national and democratic rights in Catalonia with Ireland.
Juan Ignacio Ramos, General Secretary of Izquierda Revolucionaria (CWI in the Spanish state) explained the crucial role of the Catalan people in the recent fall of the reactionary PP government. He described how the revolutionary explosion in Catalonia put the capitalist “regime of 1978” and capitalist oligarchy on the ropes, in a way unprecedented over 40 years of “democracy”. Juan Ignacio also denounced the position of the parliamentary Left, the submission of PSOE (social democrats) to the repressive strategy of the PP and the false “equi-distance” which the leadership of Podemos tried to maintain. Juan Ignacio compared this with the millions of workers and youth who filled the streets fighting for the republic against a state that tried to crush them.
Borja Latorre, from Esquerra Revolucionaria (CWI in Catalonia), explained that there are two wings of the national liberation movement in Catalonia: the minority represented by the right wing nationalists who fear the revolutionary initiative of the people and the immense majority who want to end with the regime of 1978. This second wing is that which we are part of and the only one that can achieve real freedom by carrying out the mandate of 1 October and building a socialist republic.
To close the rally, Peter Taaffe, General Secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) explained the depth of the crisis of the system and how this is the real basis for the frustration among the working class and oppressed nations of the world, and the motor force of the struggle for self determination. He also reminded us of the position of the Bolsheviks on the national question, which was crucial for the triumph of the Russian Revolution in 1917.
This is our heritage and we are prepared to continue to struggle to free the world from all oppression.
To finish, the hundreds present sung rousing rendition of the Internationale.