Liar, liar, liar

The demonstration in support of the woman assaulted on Saturday in an argument over yellow ribbons called by Spanish unionist party, Ciudadanos, was marred by a series of assaults. A Telemadrid cameraman was surrounded by aggressive Spanish nationalist demonstrators who had mistaken him for a TV3 (Catalan public television channel) due to the yellow trim on some of his equipment. The cameraman struck a person pulling at his camera and then suffered a hail of blows. He was escorted away from the scene by the Mossos d’Esquadra (the Catalan police force). A counter-demonstrator was also assaulted.

It was not the scenario Ciudadanos had envisaged on Saturday when Inés Arrimadas had called for people to fill the scene of Saturday’s fight in condemnation of violence. At 4pm last Saturday afternoon Ciudadanos had thought they had the long-hoped for story: “There’s no ‘normality’ here”, she had said in a tweet. “Defend the millions of Catalans who are being attacked by separatism”. Party leader, Albert Rivera added “a radical separatist has seriously assaulted the partner of a Ciudadanos colleague for removing yellow bows. My strongest condemnation, and my support to Lidia. Torra’s supremacist Catalonia has taken a dangerous turn, the State must protect the people now”.

Although the man involved in the fight firmly denied any political motivation for the argument, Ciudadanos decided to forge ahead with yesterday’s demonstration, not wishing to miss an opportunity to regain the spotlight as the party sink in the polls. Arrimadas and Rivera had spent the morning in Alella performing a symbolic cutting of yellow ribbons for the assembled cameras as part of the campaign by Spanish unionist parties and media to blame the presence of such symbols for division within Catalan society and predict an escalation in confrontation.

On learning of the assaults, Arrimadas took the opportunity to condemn all violence, but also to have a dig at TV3 for doubting the version of Saturday’s events given by the woman involved in the fight and more importantly her husband, who is a Ciudadanos activist. In their later press release, Ciudadanos blamed the violence on “extremist infiltrators” despite the fact that the identity of the assailants is not yet known.

This is ironic considering TV3’s coverage of all such stories recently has been so “neutral” as to cause concern in the pro-independence movement. TV3 even did a sanitised piece on the GDRs including an interview with far-right activist, José Casado, the same TV3 that the angry Spanish unionist demonstrators thought they were assaulting.

The focus of the Spanish press regarding yesterday’s events was on the Ciudadanos campaign and ignored Spanish unionist violence:

If a unionist demonstration of 300-600 people gets out of hand while the pro-independence forces can gather 1-2 million without an incident, you know you have a problem. But it is a problem the Spanish press choose to ignore.

Ciudadanos was not the only party present. The Partido Popular (PP) also attended the demonstration. Just as Xavier García Albiol had jumped on the Ciudadanos-powered bandwagon on Saturday, so Dolors Montserrat was there yesterday. The PP has been following Ciudadanos lead in Catalonia for some years now. Ciudadanos promote identitary conflict on the streets whilst talking of division and the potential for civil conflict.

When some of your most important figures are irresponsible clowns and a significant number of your supporters are violent Spanish nationalists, your demonstrations always have the potential to descend into embarrassing chaos. Ciudadanos have been the principle promotors of the gangs that travel around Catalonia, normally far from home, destroying symbols of solidarity with Catalan political prisoners and pro-independence posters, banners and flags.

Arrimadas said recently ”to say the pro-independence movement is pacific is supremacist”. The truth is that ignoring the violent element in Spanish unionism is blind or propagandistic, but Spanish unity takes precedence over all else, including the truth.

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