Catalan Rebellion Episode IV – the flight to Belgium

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far away…

One man stood up for his people.

Against all odds, he defended the freedom of his tiny planet against the Evil Empire to the south.

His name?

Carles Puigdemont.

He escaped after instagramming a “good morning” to his followers. Just hours later, the press began reporting that he’d turned up far away.

Far from his home planet of Catalonia.

Even further from the Evil Empire called Spain.

With nothing more than he could carry on his back, the iPhone in the pocket of his suit and his silly-ass haircut, he got off the plane. Breathed the sweet air of the Free Cities of the North. Steeled his resolve for the challenge that lay ahead of him.

Then, he checked into a 3-star hotel.

The Rebel Alliance was setting up camp in Brussels.

An update on the Catalan Rebellion

Sup, y’all?

It’s your favorite overseas correspondent here. Just checking in.

We’re about 6 weeks into the story of Catalonian independence… or at least 6 weeks since the now-infamous referendum. And things just keep getting weirder.

All that stuff I just talked about?

It actually happened.

The rulers of the Evil Empire (known down here as a bunch of grey-skinned incompetents, but whatever) activated article 155 of the constitution soon after I published my last article.

Article 155 dissolved the regional government – new elections will be held in December.

The courts then ordered the detention of several prominent figures in the independence movement. More about them later.

Here’s Puigdemont’s Insta good morning on that fateful day – supposedly from his office in Barcelona. In fact, he and his cronies had escaped by car to Marseille, where they caught a flight to Brussels.

Why Brussels?

Well, two reasons…

One: there’s an independence movement up there, too. And at least one local politician had suggested they might get asylum. (The Belgian PM says no way… but the rebels aren’t the kind of people who take no for an answer.)

And two: it’s where the headquarters of the EU Parliament and European Commission are located. Still no sign of the EU wanting anything to do with an independent Catalonia.

But hey…

How many other rebellions have succeeded on the power of a dream?

(Put a stupid inspirational meme here.)

catalonian rebellion flight to belgium

Fearless “journalist” and your humble author looks off into the distance, contemplating an uncertain future.

And the story doesn’t end there…

Meanwhile, deep in a Spanish prison

Like I said earlier, several Catalonian politicians have already been put in prison on the orders of a judge.

I’m not sure how independent Spanish courts are – they seem to be very slow to prosecute members of government or the royal family for corruption.

But they moved really fast in this case.

Shockingly fast.

Anyway, as far as I can tell, this was done by the courts themselves… not on orders of Rajoy’s government.

Meanwhile, Oriol Junqueras (whoever that is) plus a couple of guys named Jordi and few hangers-on are in prison here in Madrid, where apparently the authorities are torturing them with 3,69€ worth of fine Spanish cuisine a day.

On the menu? Churros, gazpacho, and… Spanish omelette.

(Clearly the food is part of the Empire’s plan to take away their dignity. Anyone up for a hunger strike? I doubt it.)

catalonian independence movement

Equestrian statue of Felipe III here in Plaza Mayor. A Spanish King who knew a thing or two about Evil Empires.

In the meantime, Arthur Mas, the expresident of Catalonia who’s now prohibited from holding public office, is passing a hat to pay his fines…

Okay, okay. Not literally a hat.

But apparently he owes more than 5 million euros in fines to pay back the public funds used for the previous 2014 independence referendum.

Now, he’s asking the Catalonian people for “a little bit of generosity” to help pay the money back. He says he and his friends will have to sell their houses if they can’t scrape together another 2.8 million euros very soon.

At which point, I suppose, they’ll become part of the mass of people living in AirBnBs in Barcelona, pissing off the locals who think tourism is ruining the city.

Puigdemont and his friends (in the end there’s seven of them, and they’re all wanted for rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of public funds) had to check into the police station up in Brussels as well.

Ironically, Puigdemont had hired a lawyer known back in the day for defending Basque terrorists / freedom fighters (choose the term that suits you best) from extradition.

After a ten-hour hearing they were released on bail.

And the rebellion continues.

Will the Empire strike back? Probably…

Belgian courts are deciding the Rebels’ fate as we speak.

Dun dun dun dun dun DUN dun dun DUUUUUUNNN

(Ha ha ha. Get it?)

You can say what you want about Catalonia’s right to independence. About the historical precedents. About whatever.

I’m not talking about that, ’cause I don’t know much. But here’s a link to a well-informed article in English.

Here’s what seems certain: if Catalonia becomes independent, every other region of a couple million people all over Europe is going to want the same thing.

Spain’s got the Basque Country and Galicia, both with independence movements, their own language, etc.

And hey, why not Valencia too? Why not the Balearic Islands?

Brussels has those Flemish who don’t want to be part of French-speaking Belgium. The Netherlands have something similar.

Italy has a sort of split-the-country-in-half party as well – I think theirs is more like “kick out the south and let them deal with their own problems”.

And there are dozens of other peoples or linguistic groups all over Europe who could, with some encouragement, declare independence and break the union up into tiny pieces. Check out the list of active separatist movements for more on that.

I’m personally not pro- or anti-Spain, but I am pro-Europe, and I think the splintering of the EU would be bad for basically everyone.

Up in Brussels, I guess Puigdemont and company feel like this could be their moment of greatness. Their George Washington moment.

Down here in Spain, Emperor Darth Rajoy (ahem!) I mean Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is probably hoping not to be remembered by history as the guy who let Europe be destroyed.

spanish flags and catalan independence

Spanish flags at the recent celebration of “Día de la Hispanidad” in Madrid.

He’s coming down as hard as he can on the Rebel Alliance – which in civilized modern Europe, basically means that a bunch of lawyers and judges are going to decide the whole thing. On the taxpayers’ dime, of course.

Final question of the day…

What are we really witnessing here?

Is this really a noble stand for freedom and justice against a foreign oppressor?

Or is it a bunch of former private school kids having an adventure… knowing their worst case is a cushy pension or an escape to live off their Swiss bank accounts in Tahiti?

I have my suspicions and secret opinions about the matter.

But as the weeks pass, I’m starting to have my doubts, too.

Could the Rebels actually pull this thing off?

Only time will tell.

Here’s to the Rebels and to the Empire. Here’s to Spain, my adopted homeland. Here’s to freedom. Or democracy. Or justice. Or whatever the fuck you’ve got.

I’m gonna go get tipsy.

Cheers,

Mr Chorizo AKA Mr Daniel.

P.S. Last time I asked for your help in maintaining the high quality of “journalism” here on The Chorizo Chronicles – the finest news source created anywhere in the 28020 zip code of Madrid. And damn. I was shocked and amazed by the support I received. If you want to read more news type stuff, consider making a donation. Unlike the New York Times, I won’t bore you to tears. And I promise to use punctuation and grammar that would give the editors at The New Yorker a heart attack.

P.P.S. I just fact-checked this article and was all ready to change my sarcastic remark about a 3-star hotel for something more accurate. But guess what… it was actually a 3-star hotel! According to El País, it was Hotel Chambord. That means you can also support this blog by booking a stay there (or anywhere else) using my affiliate link.

P.P.P.S. Check out Puigdemont’s haircut and tell me he’s not going for the Luke Skywalker look.

Daniel
 

How did I end up in Madrid? Why am I still here 12 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer… Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there’s that. Drop me a line, I’m happy to hear from you.

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