State of Independence V
More protest images from Barcelona as surging nationalism continues to polarise Catalunya and Spain, leading towards ever increasing tension. Shown here are images from street protests against police violence, and a protest calling for dialogue rather than confrontation between the two opposing political factions – one of the few politically neutral responses to the escalating violence and division.
The last few days have been marked by an almost continuous stream of different protests with distinct themes: pro-independence, anti-violence, calls for dialogue, and pro-Spanish unity (the latter not shown here, as the films are not yet developed). Meanwhile, banks and businesses have been hastily moving their registered headquarters out of Catalunya to minimise problems in the event of a unilateral declaration of independence. Trust in the rule of law is breaking down, with security for the supreme court in Barcelona now overseen by the Spanish national police because the court itself no longer regards the regional Mossos D’Esquadra (the Catalan police) as reliable.
Carles Puigdemont is to make a statement in the Catalan Parliament this Tuesday at 18:00 local time, where it is expected that some form of declaration of independence will be made. If he genuinely declares independence, then Madrid will invoke Article 155 of the Spanish constitution and suspend autonomous rule in Catalunya, provoking massive civil unrest. If he fails to declare independence, then there will again be unrest as the thousands of the massed members of Assemblea (one of the two extreme pro-independence campaign groups) outside of the Parliament will likely consider this a betrayal. There is a very strong sense that no one is in control of events anymore.
Puigdemont alone holds the key to defusing these tensions, and could yet find a middle way to satisfy the Catalan nationalists without triggering a power struggle with Madrid. But while calmer voices are calling for dialogue and mediation, both sides seem only to want this crisis to escalate – the secessionists so that they can justify their claims of oppression, the central government so that it can demonstrate to the rest of Spain their resolve to fight the “golpistas”.
De-escalating this deep social and political crisis seems beyond the capabilities of the politicians anymore. Perhaps the only chance of a retreat from conflict comes from the increasingly vocal protests of businesses, for whom the realisation of independence would mean ejection from the EU and a financial and social crisis that has the potential to threaten the stability of Europe at large.
All images shot with the Leica M7 and 28mm Summicron on Ilford Delta 400. It is proving extremely difficult to keep up with both photography and the processing/scanning of the negatives as events move rapidly.