Stupid Spanish machismo bad for their future
The face of modern Spain
Machismo is exaggerated displays of masculinity, toughness and strength. It is designed to deny that you are a "Momma's boy" and assert your masculinity. So macho men are quick to take offence at any perceived slight.
And the Madrid government is lamentably and foolishly macho -- presumably reflecting what Spaniards tend to vote for. The folly of their approach is most easily seen in the case of Gibraltar. It seems to be perceived by them as a wound in the body of the nation, a slight to their manliness. So they never cease demanding that Britain cede it to them.
But they unintentionally make it easy for Britain to deny that. The first step in "recovering" Gibraltar should surely be to get Gibraltarians on side. Spain should make nice to Gibraltarians in every possible way, including substantial special concessions such as reduced taxes. So does Madrid do that? No way! They go out of their way to make life difficult on Gibraltar. So, when given a vote on the matter, something like 98% of Gibraltarians voted to remain part of Britain.
And the shocking treatment of Catalans during their independence referendum described below is another example of stupidity inspired by machismo.
There were once some less emotional Catalans who saw advantage in remaining part of Spain. And given a proper opportunity for discussion, they might have been in the majority.
Consider how Britain treated the call for Scottish independence. Instead of trying to suppress a referendum they called one and enabled a proper and peaceful democratic discussion of the matter in Scotland. And despite the long-standing and vociferous calls for independence in Scotland, how did the vote turn out? The majority of Scots voted to stay in the UK! Had Spain treated the Catalans as resctfully as the Scots were treated, the Catalan question might by now have been resolved in Spain's favour. But brute force rather than respectful discussion is the macho way
So what will happen now? Anti-Spanish attitudes in Catalonia will have become rock-solid and virtually universal. And perceiving themselves as oppressed by Spain, Catalans will go down the well-trodden way to express that feeling: Terrorism. Spain will soon have a fresh lot of domestic terrorists to deal with. Clever!
Catalan officials claimed 90% of 2.2million voters had called for independence in an 'illegal' referendum blighted by violent scenes which left at least 888 people injured.
World leaders condemned the brutal scenes after officials revealed that hundreds of protesters have been injured so far.
Officers were seen stamping and kicking protesters as they stormed buildings and seized ballot boxes.
Footage captured in the village of Sarria de Ter in the province of Girona showed authorities using an axe to smash down the doors of a polling station where Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was due to cast his vote.
He said the region had won the right to become an independent state with the referendum results due in a few days.
And in Barcelona, the region's capital, officers fired rubber bullets at thousands of protesters demonstrating against their votes being denied.
Boris Johnson condemned the violent clashes but said that the UK saw the vote as unconstitutional.
The Foreign Secretary said: 'We are obviously worried by any violence but clearly the referendum, as I understand it, is not constitutional so a balance needs to be struck. We hope very much that things will calm down.'
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn earlier called on Theresa May to intervene with the Spanish government over the police crackdown.
Mr Corbyn condemned the 'shocking police violence' being used as he tweeted: 'I urge Theresa May to appeal directly to Rajoy to end police violence in Catalonia & find political solution to this constitutional crisis.'
Pope Francis also urged Europeans not to fear unity and to put aside nationalistic and other self-interests during a speech in Bologna in Italy.
He did not mention the police violence during Catalonia's independence referendum - but in a speech to university students, he recalled that the European Union was borne out of the ashes of war to guarantee peace.
He warned that conflicts and other interests were now threatening those founding ideals.
Francis said: 'Don't be afraid of unity! May special interests and nationalism not render the courageous dreams of the founders of the European Union in vain.'
Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon – who has campaigned for independence for Scotland – tweeted: 'Some of the scenes in Catalonia are quite shocking and surely unnecessary. Just let people vote.'
European leaders also voiced their disquiet over the degree of violence used, and called for dialogue between regional and national leaders.
Belgian prime minister Charles Michel tweeted: 'Violence can never be the answer. We condemn all forms of violence and reaffirm our call for political dialogue.'
Spain's Prime Minister claimed the Catalonian referendum had been prevented amid the scenes of violent chaos across the country.
And tens of thousands of fans were banned from attending FC Barcelona's football match with Las Palmas in a protest against the violence.
Spain's Constitutional Court has suspended the referendum and the central government says it is illegal.
But regional separatist leaders pledged to hold it anyway and called on the area's 5.3million eligible voters to show up to cast their ballots. They later said 90-% of 2.2million voters had opted for an independent Catalonia.
Mr Puidgemont condemned the Spanish government's crackdown. He said: 'Police brutality will shame forever the Spanish state.'
But the Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said officers in Catalonia are acting 'in a proportionate manner'. She added that the Catalan government 'has behaved with absolute irresponsibility' by going ahead with the referendum.
Shocking footage from Barcelona shows police officers throwing voters down a flight of stairs and stamping on people as they raid a polling station.
FC Barcelona condemned the violence on the streets as it announced that its game today would be 'played behind closed doors'.
The club has long supported Catalonia's right for a vote on independence, without throwing its weight behind the yes or no camp.
It said in a statement: 'FC Barcelona condemns the events which have taken part in many parts of Catalonia today in order to prevent its citizens exercising their democratic right to free expression.
'Given the exceptional nature of events the Board of Directors have decided that the FC Barcelona first team game against Las Palmas will be played behind closed doors following the Professional Football League's refusal to postpone the game.'
The club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu said: 'It wasn't done for security, the security was guaranteed. 'We have done it behind closed doors so that everyone can see our opposition at what is happening.'
This morning in Barcelona, police forcefully removed a few hundred would-be voters from a polling station at a school.
Daniel Riano was inside when the police busted in the building's front door.
The 54-year-old said: 'We were waiting inside to vote when the National Police used force to enter, they used a mace to break in the glass door and they took everything.
'One policeman put me in a headlock to drag me out, while I was holding my wife's hand. It was incredible. They didn't give any warning.'
Ferran Miralles said a crowd scuffled with police outside as they formed a tight perimeter around the door. Miralles said: 'They were very aggressive. They pushed me out of the way.'
Elsewhere in the city, police arrested several people outside the Treball voting centre amid scuffles on the street. Officers dragged some of the protesters away and detained them.