6 April 2018

Germany Seizes Carles Puigdemont

Free Catalan Independentistes Now!

The following article was written in collaboration with the Spartakist-Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, German section of the International Communist League.

On the morning of Sunday, March 25, the European Union (EU), which is dominated by German imperialism, showed its true, ugly face. In one of its first acts, the new German coalition government of the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union and the Social Democratic Party arrested the exiled president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, at an autobahn rest stop near Schleswig and threw him in prison. The Spanish state has charged 13 leading representatives of the Catalan independence movement, including Puigdemont, with “rebellion.” Using an EU-wide arrest warrant, Spain is demanding the extradition of not just Puigdemont but also his former ministers: Clara Ponsatí, who works at a Scottish university, and Antoni Comín, Lluís Puig and Meritxell Serret, who are in Belgium. Relying on a separate international arrest warrant, Spain is also demanding that Switzerland extradite Marta Rovira, General Secretary of the Esquerra Republicana (Republican Left party).

The SpAD and the ICL join in protesting the arrest of and charges against Carles Puigdemont, leader of the Partit Demòcrata Europeo Català, and the other leaders of the Catalan independence movement. This persecution of Catalan bourgeois nationalists is part of the broad crackdown on the oppressed Catalan nation and its working class. Indeed, protests in Catalonia demanding the release of Puigdemont and the others have been brutally suppressed by the police.

As proletarian internationalists, we demand the immediate release of Carles Puigdemont and all Catalan and Basque independence activists! Both North and South of the Pyrenees mountain range that divides Spain and France, we are for the independence of Catalonia and the Basque Country and for workers republics. As for the EU, it is a reactionary conglomerate under the leadership of German imperialism, assisted by France; it is an enemy of the working classes and the dependent countries of Europe. We say: Down with the European Arrest Warrant! Down with the EU!

Puigdemont lived in exile in Belgium for months after the Spanish central government hounded and threatened him with imprisonment of up to 30 years. His “crime” was that he organized a referendum on Catalonia’s independence last October and declared independence after some 90 percent of voters, braving the attacks of the Spanish police, voted in favor.

Puigdemont was arrested as he returned from a tour of Switzerland and Finland, where he had held discussions on support for Catalan independence. Clearly expecting that Puigdemont would be crossing Germany on his return, the Spanish government issued a new EU arrest warrant on March 23. With the Spanish and German intelligence services and police authorities closely cooperating, the secret service kept tabs on Puigdemont’s itinerary. Central to these actions was a liaison officer of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office in Madrid. The plot by the German and Spanish states serves their common purpose of beheading and smashing the Catalan independence movement, with the aim of preserving the Spanish prison house of peoples and maintaining the increasingly repressive, German-dominated EU intact. Aware that a breakup of Spain would threaten an implosion of the EU, German chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly made clear that she opposes the independence of Catalonia.

The Spanish newspaper El País reported on the good “police collaboration.” This good collaboration between German imperialism and Spain’s capitalist rulers in the suppression of Catalans has a history. In 1940, following the occupation of France, the Gestapo handed former Catalan president Lluís Companys over to Spanish dictator Generalissimo Franco. Companys was brutally tortured and executed by a firing squad. Last year, the spokesman of Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular, Pablo Casado, stated that there was “nothing to negotiate” with the Catalan government. He stated that Puigdemont could “end up like” Companys, an open threat of torture and murder (Telepolis, 10 October 2017).

Fighting against the exploitative and repressive EU is in the most fundamental interest of the workers movement in Germany. Ultimately, it will be necessary for the German proletariat to bring down its “own” imperialist rulers through socialist revolution. Throughout Europe and internationally, we seek to build Leninist-Trotskyist parties, sections of a reforged Fourth International, that champion the just struggles of oppressed nations against their oppressors as crucial levers to advance the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat against the capitalist rulers. For a Socialist United States of Europe, united on a voluntary basis!

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1131, 6 April 2018)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.