The Spanish state has decided to suspend Catalonia's home rule. This is the only possible headline following the measures announced this Saturday by the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, in a public appearance from his official Moncloa residence which will go down in history. With Spanish king Felip VI before him, and with the presence as faithful and loyal servants of Pedro Sánchez and Albert Rivera, leaders of the Spanish socialists and Citizens parties respectively, the Spanish government has proceeded to reduce its Catalan counterpart to rubble, acting against Catalonia's self-government institution the Generalitat, against the Catalan government itself, the Catalan Parliament, Catalan public media, and the Catalan police force, the Mossos. Everything. With no niceties. It is not just that they have decapitated Catalonia's government by proposing that the Senate dismiss the Catalan president and his 13 cabinet ministers, but also that the Spanish PM has positioned himself to be the 131st President of Catalonia. No-one has dared to go this far; nobody has defied the laws of gravity to this extent. The act of attacking Catalonia's democratic institutions will lead to resistance by masses of Catalans, as has been seen in the huge demonstrations produced over recent years. Power in Catalonia today resides in many places and it is not just in the governments and the political parties as it once was.
It is difficult, very difficult, in these moments, for people to avoid being overtaken by sensations of rage and indignation. The same feelings that were provoked in a good part of Catalan society on October 1st - without looking any further back - as a reaction to the sordid images of the police crackdown, directed against ordinary people who had peacefully turned up at their polling stations to cast a vote. In this case, though, there is the aggravating factor that Spain is now penetrating into the path typical of another type of regime, even if the measures it is adopting are under the auspices of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. It is obvious that this article is simply being used as an umbrella to put into practice measures that have been desired for many years, but which have not been possible under the ballot box. The Spanishization of Catalonia. This puts the well-being of Catalans at risk, and it does not, as is erroneously claimed, preserve it. The ideas of former Spanish PM José María Aznar have won the day among Spanish decision makers, in the face of the acquiescence of the Spanish socialists in the PSOE, who are complicit, mute and disoriented. And a part of the Catalan left is in the same category - and not just the Catalan socialist party, the PSC.
The measures approved by the Spanish government shift the conflict between Catalonia and Spain to a new dimension. The Spanish state has now shown all its cards and the final play is left in the hands of the Catalan president and his government. As they are due to stripped of their responsibilities next Friday, this provides the time limit for the decision and probably means that they can only be studying three alternatives: a declaration of independence with all its consequences; a declaration of independence and the calling of constituent elections; or the holding of elections under Catalonia's status up till now, as an autonomous Spanish region. A fourth option, for example, remaining motionless, seems unrealistic at the moment.
In the face of those who have attempted to toy with Catalonia's dignity, the answer has to be soundly based in the restoration of that dignity. Because dignity will never be subject to preventive measures or actions under article 155. It is that dignity that former Catalan president Josep Tarradellas preserved in his Franco-era exile in France and which he brought back on October 23rd 1977 - a date that will be 40 years ago next Monday. Four decades later, the Spanish state has preferred, in the middle of a deafening silence from Spain - with the exception of Podemos-, to put its full machine into action.