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Demonstration in Barcelona demanding the release of political prisoners. Picture Esquerra Revolucionaria

Free the political prisoners – For a Catalan republic of workers and the people

Esquerra Revolucionària, Spanish state

The trial against political prisoners accused of organising the 1 October referendum once again highlights the anti-democratic and reactionary nature of the Spanish state and the decision of the PSOE government to disregard the democratic aspirations of the people of Catalonia.

By jumping on the bandwagon of reactionary Spanish nationalism they have acted as the staunchest defender of the monarchical regime of 1978.

Freedom for political prisoners

The Prosecutor General’s office and the Attorney General’s office appointed by the government of Pedro Sánchez have not only endorsed the arguments of the prosecutors of the PP [People’s Party] – considering the exercising of the right to decide in a democratic referendum a crime – but also the sentences applied by the Supreme Court for the prosecuted – between 7 and 25 years in prison, as well as other sentences including debarment from office.

These decisions have scandalised lawyers and human rights organisations around the world. The PP and Cs (Cuidadanos) gave the green light but the government of Pedro Sánchez will go down in history as the government that allowed this political judgement to be enforced, similar to those organised by the Francoist dictatorship.

We are faced with a full-fledged judicial farce. The verdict is already decided and the only objective is to send a message to the millions of people who voted for the republic on 1st October.

This is also directed at all those who, inside and outside Catalonia, are fighting the regime of 78. An attack of such magnitude can only be answered with a massive mobilisation in the streets similar to the one which paralyzed Catalunya on October 1 and 3, 2017.

The best way to ensure that the general strike convened for the day that the trial begins (as well as mass mobilisation for the freedom of political prisoners and the recognition of the republic) achieves its objectives is to link these demands to the struggle against cuts, evictions, energy poverty, against machismo, patriarchal justice and racism, for job creation in dignified conditions, in defence of better salaries and quality public health and education.

This would widen the battle to include not only those who fight for national democratic rights and the republic but also young people and workers who reject Vox, PP and Cs, and who do not trust the government of PSOE but also remain suspicious of the process because of the policies of cuts, privatisations and attacks on their rights, implemented over years by the Catalan right of the CiU, now known as PDeCAT, and now even by the social democratic leaders of ERC in the government.

For a united front of the left in favour of struggle. Fight for the republic with a socialist programme!

The government headed up by Torra, the PDeCAT and many leaders of Esquerra, demand freedom for the political prisoners in their speeches and call for unity in order to achieve the republic in an abstract way.

In practice however, they are doing everything possible to prevent the growth of the mass movement in the streets.

Its aim is to reach an agreement with Pedro Sánchez and the leaders of PSOE and although they have made it clear that they consider the right of self-determination non-negotiable they are allowing the repression initiated by the PP to continue.

A successful general strike for the freedom of the prisoners and the recognition of the republic linked to a sustained plan of struggle to achieve these objectives, would have a huge impact on the current social context.

A context marked by the imminent feminist general strike and the 8 March demonstrations, which will be massive again, and by the fact that more and more workers, both inside and outside Catalonia, are drawing the conclusion that in the face of the empty promises of PSOE and the threat of a government of PP-Cs with support of Vox, the only alternative is to take to the streets and unify the struggles for all our rights and demands and against all forms of oppression: gender, race, national, class…

Therefore it is essential to build a single front of the left: CUP, CDRs, alternative unions, the rank and file of ANC and Òmnium, sections of Podemos and Catalunya in Comú.

All should be prepared to fight for the republic alongside feminist and student organisations… A single front that can brush aside the right-wing sections within the movement who want to stop the fight.

We must arm the movement with a socialist programme. The Catalan republic that we are fighting for is not a republic where everything remains the same, the republic that we are fighting for is a socialist republic of the workers and the people, that brings about a real national and social liberation and puts an end to all the ills in society and forms of oppression which capitalism forces upon us.

From Esquerra Revolucionària (Catalan Revolutionary Left) we support this strike and call for as wide a mobilisation as possible, determined and widespread.

The leaders of ANC and Òmnium, as well as those of trade unions like IAC, CGT, COS… must also support this and put all the necessary means behind it to ensure maximum support.

At the same time, the leaders of CCOO and UGT of Catalonia must be forced to stop averting their gaze, they must break with their policy of pacts and unequivocally join the call for a general strike and the fight for the defence of democratic rights, including the recognition of the republic for which the people of Catalonia voted on 1st October.