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44 years later, the dictator's remains have been moved, but Francoism lives on. The validity of the summary trials and the impossibility to put Franco on trial for crimes against humanity show that what was really pardoned by the 1977 amnesty law was the regime's crimes. Instead of dignifying the memory of the victims of the dictatorships and recovering their bodies from shallow graves, many of the regime's privileges remain unalterable and Francoist structures are present in many branches of the state. Without going any further, in the heart of Barcelona we find the police headquarters on Via Laietana, a symbol of Francoist torture which is maintained today as an icon of police brutality.

It's this context, with neo-Francoists making electoral use of private prosecutions in the Supreme Court and the High Court of Justice of Catalonia, which explains the growth of the far right in Spain's institutions and the impunity of fascist violence in the streets. As such, it's enormously irresponsible to accuse the independence movement of stoking fascism, when it's precisely with the broader collective demand for greater democracy that the latent rhetoric of hate surfaces, far-right populism, both in Spain and around the world. As Rosa Luxemburg said: "Those who do not move, do not notice their chains." We're living through an authoritarian spiral with political prisoners and exiles. And if there wasn't enough with the 2015 "gag law", now they want to close websites without legal orders.

We're living through an authoritarian spiral with political prisoners and exiles.

Just yesterday, Amnesty International denounced the criminalisation of the rights and freedoms which the anti-Franco movement fought so hard for, like the democratic conquests of freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest. And the only response from the state to the demands of pro-human rights organisations and other international voices is indifference or disdain, like Turkey or Russia would do. A position supported by the monarchy, which in fact reflects the continuation of Francoism and is the tip of a pyramid where the separation of powers has gone up in smoke in favour of the sacred unity of Spain; for that reason it's the institution given the lowest rating in Catalonia.

However, the current authoritarian wave won't be able to avoid a democratic solution to the political conflict. Defending the legitimate right to self-determination of all Catalans also means tearing down dictatorial obstacles and constructing a more worthy future for all the citizens of the Spanish state. And as the anti-Francoist fighters taught us, from the 1951 tram strike to the 1976 march for liberty, through the "insubordinate movement", the power of democratic convictions can come through. The inaction of the Spanish state merely perpetuates intolerance against those who think differently, institutional violence which attacks social harmony. History also teaches us that the state cannot systematically disregard the non-violent strength of the public when they are organised and without fear.

Today, with the commitment of more than 180,000 members, at Òmnium Cultural we have the historic responsibility to construct a more worthy future, a present which does justice to the men and women who came before us in circumstances of far greater adversity. For that reason, we will continue to strengthen basic freedoms, with the enormous privilege of projecting culture as an instrument of social cohesion, united in diversity. As Montserrat Roig said: "Our task is to clear up the dark areas of collective memory."

 

Jordi Cuixart, president of Òmnium Cultural

Lledoners prison, 19th November 2019

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