The report prepared by the Catalan government's Office of Civil and Political Rights on the activity of extreme right groups in Catalonia - and the aggressions they have carried out - could not have been better timed. Above all, the report's well-documented statistics leave little room for dispute. Around 20 groups which have carried out actions in Catalonia, committing a total of 328 attacks in the last two years, have been recorded. That's a little less than one attack every two days, a figure that is clearly concerning. The methods used by these groups are quite systematic: they are organized on a paramilitary basis and act mainly in municipalities with a pro-independence majority with the intention of intimidating the population.
Although the documentation compiled only goes back to January 2017 and sets down in black and white an issue that has been largely considered taboo, or brushed off, by the police forces, the data only confirms an already-existing public concern. The phenomenon needs to be addressed as a police and security problem, not a political one. These violent actions which are often able to occur without further consequences do nothing but create the necessary breeding ground for subsequent reproduction in other places. Worse still, they propagate the sensation that a certain impunity exists towards violent individuals if they belong to a particular ideology.
The extreme right has to be fought democratically at the ballot box; when it behaves with violence, police action must be used. Yet the electoral appearance of a party like Vox and some of the attitudes shown towards it by the leaders of Ciudadanos (Cs) and the Popular Party (PP) have lent a certain air of normality to extremist actions. Let's not hide from the truth: the official violence carried out on October 1st, 2017, and the continuous choruses of "Go get 'em!" were the best possible free pass for the far right, allowing it to move with a license that it simply did not have previously in many Catalan towns. The application of article 155 reinforced this public perception and members of these far-right groups have sowed terror in many streets around the country. Cs, the PP and, obviously, Vox, lend a certain protection to these groups while their own policies are converging more and more towards the extreme right.
That is why it is not surprising that the UN's Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, a resident of Canada, is currently working on his report on the violation of rights in Catalonia. As well as announcing his rejection of the rebellion charges against the Catalan political prisoners, he is analyzing the issue of victims of intolerance and the great number of incidents related to Catalans. Something that for him is surprising, since although these situations usually affect minorities such as the Gypsy community or immigrants, as a result of the events that took place in Catalonia in 2017, the focus has also been directed on behaviour here.