Despite growing expectations that Catalan separatist fervor had abated in the aftermath of the post-independence fiasco, consensus was once again set for disappointment and on Thursday night, Spain was thrown back into chaos after the three Catalan separatist parties, Junts per Catalunya, Republican Catalan Left and the CUP, held on to a small but critical majority in the Catalan regional parliamentary election, dealing a stunning rebuke to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his attempt to bury the Catalan independence movement. With virtually all of the vote counted, the separatists held on to 70 seats, down from 72 in the 2015 election and 1 less than the initial exit polls predicted, just weeks after PM Mariano Rajoy fired the former first minister, Carles Puigdement and his entire government after the held what Madrid dubbed an “illegal referendum” and declared independence on October 27. Yet while the separatists won as a group, the biggest individual winner was the Ciudadanos party, which gained 300,000 more votes and 12 more seats compared to its 2015 position. It was also the single biggest party to emerge from today’s election with a total of 37 seats. Meanwhile for Rajoy’s People’s Party, the result was a disaster as it finished in last place among the mainstream parties with just three seats.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 21, 2017.
It’s far from easy to do business without the financial support of any bank. But Uruguay, in its efforts to create a legal, regulated market for the recreational use of marijuana, is trying. In August it was revealed that some of the pharmacies that had agreed to sell the two varieties of cannabis distributed by the Uruguayan State had received threats from their respective banks, including the local subsidiary of Spain’s Santander, that they would close their accounts unless they stopped participating in the state-controlled sales. To fill the funding void, the state-owned lender Banco Repblica (BROU) announced that it would provide credit to the pharmacies involved in the scheme as well as producers and clubs. But within days, it too was given a stark ultimatum, this time from two of Wall Street’s biggest hitters, Bank of America and Citi: Either it stopped providing financing for Uruguay’s licensed marijuana producers and vendors or it’s dollar operations could be at risk – a very serious threat in a country where US dollars are used so widely that they can even be withdrawn from ATMs. Why Drug Lords Love the Patriot Act The main reason why this is all happening is that under the US Patriot Act, handling money from marijuana is illegal and violates measures to control money laundering and terrorist acts. Despite the fact that US regulators have made it clear that banks will not be prosecuted for providing services to businesses that are lawfully selling cannabis in states where pot has been legalized for recreational use, major banks have shied away from the expanding industry, deciding that the burdens and risks of doing business with marijuana sellers, both within and beyond U. S. borders, are not worth the bother.
This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 18, 2017.
EU leaders formerly endorsed the harmless sounding Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, pact on Thursday evening in Brussels. After the shock of Brexit, the goal of defence integration was revived by former military foes, Germany and France, supported by Italy and Spain, in a show of EU unity. A similar proposal was blocked by the French parliament in the 1950s (see below). Now a treaty has been signed which sees the defence union complete by 2025 in what has been described as ‘one of the most tangible steps in EU integration since Brexit’. Britain, thanks to Brexit, Malta and Denmark, which has an ‘opt out’ on EU defence issues did not sign the agreement. Standing in the front row on the left of the group photo was the President of the undemocratic European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, who has been calling for an EU army for many years. In 2015, The Guardian reported. The European Union needs its own army to help address the problem that it is not ‘taken entirely seriously’ as an international force, the president of the European commission has said. Jean-Claude Juncker said such a move would help the EU to persuade Russia that it was serious about defending its values in the face of the threat posed by Moscow. ‘You would not create a European army to use it immediately,’ Juncker told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper in Germany in an interview published on Sunday.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.
Here's what this looks like on the ground pic.twitter.com/7uZP1EUbk0 — Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) November 11, 2017
Hundreds of thousands of people – 750,000 according to Barcelona police – backing Catalonia’s bid to secede from Spain clogged the streets in downtown Barcelona Saturday to demand the release of jailed separatist leaders. *** Close to a million people filled the length of the Avenue Marina that runs from the beach to Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia church, while the jailed leaders’ families made speeches.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 11, 2017.
The longer the toxic process between Catalonia and Spain drags on, the wider the gulf grows. During a visit yesterday to Barcelona, the organizers of the Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest mobile event, warned the City Council that unless the political situation stabilizes in Catalonia, they will be looking for an alternative venue after 2018. Barcelona has hosted the annual event every year since 2006 and it brings in billions of euros to the city each year, much of which ends up in the pockets of local taxi drivers, hoteliers, owners of bars, restaurants and brothels, Airbnb hosts and, last but not least, the thousands of professional pickpockets that flock to the city for the four day event. John Hoffman, the chief executive of GSMA, the association that organizes the Mobile World Congress (MWC), could not have chosen a worst day to visit Barcelona. As part of a general strike to protest the incarceration of pro-independence ministers and leaders and the imposition of direct rule from Madrid, thousands of picketers had blocked dozens of roads across the region including the main freeway connecting Spain with France, causing massive traffic jams. High-speed train links between Barcelona and France and Barcelona and Madrid were also put out of action after hundreds of protesters moved onto platforms and railway lines in Barcelona and Girona chanting ‘Freedom, Freedom.’
Ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and four ex-ministers on Sunday turned themselves in to Belgian authorities to start the process of their possible extradition to Spain. Puigdemont was accompanied by four other former Catalan officials who are also wanted by Spanish authorities after they fled to Belgium last week after their removed from power by Spanish authorities as part of an extraordinary crackdown to impede the region’s illegal declaration of independence. *** According to AP, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office, Gilles Dejemeppe, said the five presented themselves to federal police and have been in custody since 9 a.m. (0800 GMT; 3 a.m. EST). He said that they have not been arrested and that Puigdemont and the four ex-ministers will be heard by an investigative judge Sunday afternoon. The judge will have to decide what the next steps are within 24 hours. They could vary from arrest and imprisonment to conditional release. On Saturday, Belgian federal prosecutors said that they were studying the warrants and that they had shared them with city counterparts in Brussels.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 5, 2017.
Twenty-two earthquake in four days have rocked a famous tourist location. This recent swarm has sparked more fears that yet another volcano could be on the verge of erupting. Mount Teide last erupted in 1909 and is the highest mountain in Spain and a huge tourist attraction. The flurry of tremors struck the village of Vilaflor on the slopes of the 12,000-foot mountain volcano between October 28 and October 31. Mount Teide’s summit is the highest point in Spain and a major tourist attraction located in the Canary Islands. Mount Teide boasts around three million tourists visiting every year. Several days ago, officials were monitoring a separate volcano on the Canary Islands after thousands of earthquakes rocked the La Palma island sparking fears that the Cumbre Vieja volcano would violently erupt soon. The Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan) have been trying to calm people over the fears that Cumbre Vieja or Mount Teide could explode.
This post was published at shtfplan on November 2nd, 2017.
The Spanish Police have invaded Catalonia and the rigged high court of Spain nullifies its independence. It really is astonishing when you compare these actions to Russia and Crimea. At least Crimea the population were Russian speaking and not Ukrainian. Here we have Catalonia has had its own language from before the existence of Spain and have always regarded itself as separate and autonomous.
Authored by Wayne Madsen via The Strategic Culture Foundation, The Spanish government decided to reach back into its history and borrow from the playbook of longtime Spanish fascist dictator Francisco Franco in dealing with Catalonia’s decision to declare independence from the Spanish Kingdom as the Republic of Catalonia. The Catalan government’s decision to declare independence followed an October 1 referendum in the region that resulted in a ‘yes’ for independence. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose Popular Party is a direct political descendant of Franco’s fascist Falangist Party, wasted no time in invoking, for the first time, Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which allows the Spanish Kingdom to impose direct rule on regions not adhering to the whiplashing from Madrid. Catalonia is the first, but possible not the last victim, of Spain’s neo-fascism on display for the entire world.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 31, 2017.
Madrid has seized Catalonia by force and the EU, of course, backs Madrid saying they do not recognize Catalonia as a free state. This is demonstrating that human rights in Europe mean nothing when it comes to protecting the jobs of those in Brussels. This is clearly sending a statement to the rest of Europe – shut up or you are next. That statement should surprise nobody since the rising separatist movements in Europe are against the power of Brussels. Meanwhile, Spain is proposing to change the President of Catalonia with treason. They threatened him before that he would end up like the last attempt to break away – dead. The Catalan regional president, Carles Puigdemont, who has been deposed by the central government in Madrid, has called on the population to ‘democratically resist’ the seizure by Madrid. In a televised address on Saturday, Puigdemont said he would continue to work to build a ‘free country’.
Catalonia is vying to become Europe’s newest nation-state, but this is a battle Catalonia ultimately can’t win. On Oct. 27, Catalan lawmakers voted to declare independence – barely. Only 51.8% of members in the Catalan parliament supported the declaration. That means even Catalans themselves are divided over whether Catalonia should secede from Spain. Spain has threatened to do whatever is necessary to maintain the rule of law in Catalonia, and it has both the will and the means to follow through on that threat. Catalonia also has very little international support it can depend on. Even so, the Catalan revolt of 2017 will have ramifications in Spain and in Europe that will be felt for generations to come. For many observers outside of Europe, the Catalan issue came out of left field. Sure, the Catalan government said it would hold an independence referendum, but it held a similar referendum in 2014 and nothing came of that. Surely, all the Catalan government wanted was a bargaining chip it could use in its negotiations with the Spanish government over taxes and other issues related to the region’s political autonomy. Catalonia has more to gain economically by remaining a part of Spain, so why would it want to embark on the arduous and violent process that usually accompanies declarations of independence? But no one should be surprised that Catalan independence has become a major issue – it has been for many centuries now.
The Madrid government sacked Catalonia’s president and dismissed its parliament on Friday, hours after the region declared itself an independent nation in Spain’s gravest political crisis since the return of democracy four decades ago. The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who seems to think he has the power of Franco, called for new elections and fired the Catalan police chief. The crisis in Spain is a reflection of the crisis in the EU as a whole. This unprecedented dictatorial array of measures to seize control of the administration in Barcelona is so undemocratic, it is guaranteed to send warning signals to many other regions of the EU especially Italy. Armstrong Economics
Earlier in the week, The Express reported that Spain’s ‘attorney general’ gave a blunt message that if he declares independence for Catalonia he will be charged with ‘rebellion’ and could face 30 years in prison, to the President of the north east region and said he would call on the Catalan police – Mossos d’Esquadra – to detain Mr Puigdemont, who has been the focal figures in the region’s push to break away from the rest of Spain. Mr Maza, speaking at an event on cybersecurity in Madrid, said: ‘I am surprised that this is surprising. This is normal and natural in a state of law and, therefore, it is logical to pursue. The rebellion crime is punishable by 30 years in prison if it is a crime of considerable gravity, of course.” And now that Independence has been proclaimed, The Independent reports that Spain’s top prosecutor will seek rebellion charges for those responsible for a vote in favor of declaring an independent Catalan republic, an official spokesman said. The spokesman said the prosecutor is looking to determine if the charges should be limited to the Catalan cabinet, including President Carles Puigdemont and Vice President Oriol Junqueras, or if they should also include members of the parliament’s governing board and lawmakers.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 27, 2017.
Update 4: In a live TV address to the nation, Spain’s PM Rajoy just announced that it is a “sad day” in which Catalans showed “contempt” for democracy, and ignored the general interest; that the Catalan declaration is unacceptable to majority of Catalans, and that, as a result and as expected, he is firing Catalan president Carles Puigdment, the Catalan police chief, and the entire Catalan government as “prudence” and “serenity” are now needed: “we never wanted to reach this situation”. Ministries in the central government will assume powers of the Catalan administration. The Prime Minister also announced he has dissolved the Catalan Parliament and called for snap elections to be held on December 21 which will be “free, legal and clean”. As The Spain Report adds, the central government also ordered all of Catalonia’s “embassies” abroad closed, along with the region’s publicly funded Diplocat diplomacy service, and sacked the director general of the Catalan Police (Mossos), Pere Soler. Rajoy also said Spain has enough resources to “recover normality” in Catalonia within the law and thanked the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and Ciudadanos for their support. * * * Update 3: Spain’s top prosecutor will seek rebellion charges for those responsible for a vote in favor of declaring an independent Catalan republic, an official Spanish spokesman said according to The Independent. The spokesman said the prosecutor is looking to determine if the charges should be limited to the Catalan cabinet, including President Carles Puigdemont and Vice President Oriol Junqueras, or if they should also include members of the parliament’s governing board and lawmakers.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 27, 2017.
Emotions are high on both sides of the divide. Today was one of the strangest days of my life. I woke up in a constitutional monarchy called Spain and will go to bed, the same bed, in a newly proclaimed republic. Catalonia’s impossible dream has finally come true, but it could be extremely short lived, and it could have very damaging long lasting consequences. Spain’s Senate responded to the Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence this afternoon by ratifying the activation of Article 155 of Spain’s Constitution, the nuclear button everyone has been waiting for. This will allow the central government to take full rein of the region’s institutions and levers of power, including parliament, the police force, the exchequer (already done), public media, the Internet, the education system, and telecommunications – at least in theory. There is no telling just yet how Mariano Rajoy’s government intends to stamp its authority on 2.5 million of the Catalans now in open rebellion, or for how long. Given the law’s ambiguity, there are few constraints on its application, but trying to subdue a region where most of the 7.5 million-strong population are hostile to the basic notion of direct rule from Madrid is going to be a tall order, especially if the EU, which refuses to recognize Catalonia, expects Rajoy’s government to bring Catalonia back into line through ‘the force of argument rather than the argument of force.’
This post was published at Wolf Street by Don Quijones ‘ Oct 27, 2017.
S. Hem guanyat la llibertat per construir un nou pas. — Oriol Junqueras (@junqueras) October 27, 2017
Update 3: Spain’s top prosecutor will seek rebellion charges for those responsible for a vote in favor of declaring an independent Catalan republic, an official Spanish spokesman said according to The Independent. The spokesman said the prosecutor is looking to determine if the charges should be limited to the Catalan cabinet, including President Carles Puigdemont and Vice President Oriol Junqueras, or if they should also include members of the parliament’s governing board and lawmakers. The official, who spoke under condition of anonymity in line with internal rules, said the charges could be brought as early as Monday. As Mr. Maza warned,“The rebellion crime is punishable by 30 years in prison if it is a crime of considerable gravity, of course…if the Catalan police did not comply with the order, Spain would take over control of the force.” As a reminder, and as The Spain Report tweeted what happened the last time the Catalan republic was declared, in 1934:, there was i) State of war; ii) Lasted 10 hours and iii) led to 46 dead in Barcelona. Puigdemont has called on fellow separatists to remain peaceful ahead of the expected crackdown by Spanish authorities. Facing a crowd of hundreds of supporters packing Catalonia’s parliament building, he said: ‘In the days ahead we must keep to our values of pacificism and dignity. It’s in our, in your hands to build the republic.’ Good luck.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 27, 2017.
A dramatic rollercoaster of a day for Catalonia and Spain is ending ominously, with the Catalan president Puigdemont announcing that he would let the region’s parliament decide the fate of the Catalan declaration of independence from Spain, capping off a day of furious reversals. The announcement follows a dramatic reversal from the Catalan leader who until just a few hours ago, was expected to announce that he’d call an early election in the region to avoid Spain’s takeover of the Catalan government. In the last moment he decided against it, saying there were no guarantees from the Spanish government it would be implemented while facing rebellion from his separatist allies at home; as a result he has washed his hands and decided to leave a decision on independence to his parliament. Puigdemont made the announcement before a scheduled appearance before the Catalan Parliament on Thursday evening. According to the NYT, he said he made the decision after he had failed to secure a commitment from the central government that it would not take control of the region if he called early elections.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 26, 2017.
Some of you may be confused as to why a U. S. citizen living in Colorado has become so completely obsessed with what’s going on in Spain. Bear with me, there’s a method to my madness. I believe what’s currently happening in Spain represents a crucial microcosm for what we’ll see sweep across the entire planet over the next ten years. Some of you will want to have a discussion about who’s right and who’s wrong in this particular affair, but that’s besides the point. It doesn’t matter which side you favor, what matters is that Madrid/Catalonia is an example of the forces of centralization duking it out with forces of decentralization. Madrid represents the nation-state as we know it, with its leaders claiming Spain is forever indivisible according to the constitution. Madrid has essentially proclaimed there’s no possible avenue to independence from a centralized Spain even if various regions decide in large number they wish to be independent. This sort of attitude will be seen as unacceptable and primitive by increasingly large numbers of humans in the years ahead. Catalonia should be seen as a canary in the coal mine. The forces of decentralization are rising, but entrenched centralized institutions and the bureaucrats running them will become increasingly terrified, panicked and oppressive. As I’ve discussed, this isn’t coming out of nowhere. Humanity’s current established centralized institutions and nation-states have become clownishly corrupt, merely existing to protect and enrich the powerful/connected as opposed to benefiting the population at large. As such, legitimacy has been shattered and people have begun to demand a new way. Whether we see this with the rising popularity of Bitcoin, or the UK decision to leave the EU, evidence is everywhere and we’ve already passed the point of no return. This is precisely why EU leaders are rallying around Madrid. They’re scared to death and fear they might be next. They’re probably right.
#Catalonia will be governed from Madrid by ministers of a party that got 8.5% of the vote at last Catalan elections. pic.twitter.com/W6avedq3ZS — Kate Shea Baird (@KateSB) October 21, 2017
Following Catalan President Puigdemont’s address yesterday accusing Madrid of “the worst attack since Franco,” the Spanish government has urged Catalonians to accept direct control from Madrid and ignore seditious instructions from the pro-independence leaders. Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis responded on Sunday with the call to obey Madrid. ‘We are going to establish the authorities who are going to rule the day-to-day affairs of Catalonia according to the Catalan laws and norms … I hope everyone will disregard whatever instructions they will be planning to give because they will not have the legal authority to do that.’ However, Dastis sought to calm nerves in the region, saying Madrid would not conduct arrests among the pro-independence leadership, though two prominent secessionists were detained on court order this month on allegations of sedition. ‘All the government is trying to do, and reluctantly, is to reinstate the legal order, to restore the constitution but also the Catalan rules and proceed from there,’ Dastis told BBC TV. “We are not going to arrest anyone.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 22, 2017.