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Crackdown by Spain on Peaceful Voters Who Favor Catalonia Independence Recalls Franco Regime

Web ExclusiveOctober 03, 2017
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In an extended interview, we get an update on developments in Spain, where tensions are escalating over Sunday’s independence referendum in the northeast region of Catalonia. More than 800 people were injured after Spanish police stormed polling stations and tried to forcibly prevent people from voting, firing tear gas and physically attacking prospective voters. Late on Sunday night, the Catalan regional government said 90 percent of Catalan voters chose independence. The Catalan government now says it plans to unilaterally declare independence from Spain within 48 hours. Spain says it will recognize neither the results of the referendum nor a declaration of independence. The escalating conflict is being described as the biggest constitutional crisis in Spain since the end of the Franco dictatorship in the 1970s. For more, we speak with Sebastiaan Faber, professor of Hispanic studies at Oberlin College and author of the forthcoming book “Memory Battles of the Spanish Civil War: History, Fiction, Photography.” He’s the co-author of an article in The Nation headlined “Have Spain and Catalonia Reached a Point of No Return?” We also speak with Pau Faus, filmmaker and writer from Barcelona, Spain. His recent documentary “Ada for Mayor” follows the campaign of Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we go to Part 2 of our conversation about the escalating conflict in Spain over Sunday’s independence referendum in the northeast region of Catalonia. More than 800 people were injured, after Spanish police stormed polling stations, tried to forcibly prevent people from voting, firing tear gas and physically attacking voters and prospective voters. The Spanish government says the referendum is illegal. Ahead of Sunday’s vote, Spanish police seized control of ballots and fliers, raided the Catalan regional government offices, even shut down pro-independence websites.

Late Sunday night, the Catalan regional government said 90 percent of Catalan voters chose independence. About 2.2. million Catalans voted out of 5.3 million voters. The Catalan government now says it plans to unilaterally declare independence from Spain within 48 hours. Spain says it will neither recognize the results of the referendum nor a declaration of independence, the escalating conflict being described as the biggest constitutional crisis in Spain since the end of the Franco dictatorship in the ’70s.

We are continuing our conversation with two guests. In Cleveland, Ohio, Sebastiaan Faber is with us, professor of Hispanic studies at Oberlin College and author of the forthcoming book Memory Battles of the Spanish Civil War: History, Fiction, Photography, co-author of a piece in The Nation headlined “Have Spain and Catalonia Reached a Point of No Return?” Here in New York, Pau Faus, filmmaker, writer from Barcelona. His recent documentary Ada for Mayor follows the campaign of the Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! to continue this conversation. Professor Faber, I know you only have a few minutes, and I was wondering, you say that have—you asked the question, “Have Spain and Catalonia reached this point of no return?” You are also an expert in the Franco years, in the Spanish Civil War. Put those two together. Were you shocked by what you saw?

SEBASTIAAN FABER: Yes, I really was shocked. Even though we all knew that the Spanish state had shipped around 10,000 police from the rest of Spain into Catalonia and that the Spanish state was continually saying, “The referendum will not happen. We’ll do whatever it takes to make it not happen,” to see regular citizens of all ages being dragged out of the polling places, and what were really peaceful democratic gatherings disrupted by these men with dark masks on and weapons in their hands, was really shocking. And it really, like I said earlier, confirmed the worst image that Catalans have of the Spanish state, which is that it’s a structure that won’t allow them to be themselves, that won’t respect who they are.

I think it’s important to point out that even though 90 percent of the people that went out to vote voted in favor of independence, polls indicate that between 40 and 50 percent of Catalans currently believe that they want to be independent, even though the details of what independence would look like are yet to be determined. What is important to realize, though, is that over 80 percent of catalanes believe they have the right to self-determination. This is not something that’s included in Spain’s current constitution, but it is a sentiment that really lives among the catalanes, which to me indicates that it’s high time that the Spanish constitution be updated and that a new process be initiated in Spain to revise this 1978 constitution, which has clearly outlived its usefulness.

The current Spanish government in Madrid is refusing to acknowledge that. And I think the point of no return has been reached, if it is true that the Spanish government in Madrid will refuse to acknowledge the need for constitutional reform. There are other parties that have—the Socialist Party and Podemos have said it’s time for constitutional reform. And that can only happen through dialogue. And that means that Spanish conservatives have to come to terms with the fact that Spain is a multinational state. And that is something that the Franco regime consistently refused to acknowledge.

And I think Rajoy’s statements last night, in which he praised the catalanes who stayed home and did not vote, and didn’t say anything about the suffering of the people that did go out and voted, to me, shows his incapacity of including, of inviting those people back into the fold of the Spanish state. To me, it sounded, honestly, like 1492 or 1939, those moments in Spanish history where Spain, the Spanish state, dealt with dissidents and dealt with people who didn’t fit in by either exterminating them, putting them in prison or expelling them directly out of the country. So I think this—the attitude from Madrid is completely—it’s nonrealistic, to begin with, but politically it doesn’t make any sense at all in the long term.

In the short term, it may be true that this zero-tolerance approach to Catalonia from Madrid will yield Rajoy’s Partido Popular, the conservative party in Spain, some electoral support. There have been some worrisome manifestations in Spain throughout these past—this past month, of extreme-right-wing, neo-Francoist manifestations in support of a united Spain, calling for the Catalan, quote-unquote, “traitors” to be executed. So there are ways in which sort of the ugly face of the centralist Spanish right is showing itself at this point, but it’s really disconcerting that Rajoy won’t condemn those manifestations of extreme-right-wing nationalism, nor that he will acknowledge the genuine desire on the part of the overwhelming majority of people living in Catalonia to determine their own fate and their own place within the Spanish state.

And one other point I want to quickly make is that the independence movement, despite the fact that it’s been coopted in a way by the Catalan right as a way to shore up its own electoral base, that independence movement is genuine, and it’s also extremely diverse. It includes people from the countryside, from the cities. It includes recent immigrants. It includes people of all ages. It’s a genuine popular movement that cannot be stopped and that certainly will not back down, after what happened yesterday. Reactions from the Spanish state like those that we saw yesterday will only increase the support for independence, because many Catalans, friends of mine, are saying, “Look, I wasn’t in favor of independence first, but I don’t want to belong to this Spain. This Spain is not—I don’t feel any affection, any—none of my identity lines up with this Spain that we saw yesterday. So maybe we should leave.”

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, I wanted to ask you, Professor Faber, about the meeting of the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, and President Trump last week, and the significance of that meeting.

SEBASTIAAN FABER: I think this meeting was not very significant, to be honest. In Spain, in any case, it did not shift any positions at all. Trump’s lip service to Rajoy’s request, obviously, that he had made of “please stand by me,” from saying, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for the Catalonians to leave Spain,” it was so clearly made from a total ignorance of the Spanish situation that it had no—as far as I can tell, no repercussion at all really in Spain itself or in the European Union, for that matter, where Trump’s capital is minimal, as far as I can tell.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to that meeting last week. During Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy’s visit to the United States, Trump said Spain should remain united, and predicted Catalans would vote to stay part of Spain.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think that Spain is a great country, and it should remain united. We’re dealing with a great, great country, and it should remain united. … I’m just for a united Spain. I speak as the president of the United States, as somebody that has great respect for your president and also has great, really great respect for your country. I really think the people of Catalonia would stay with Spain. I think it would be foolish not to, because you’re talking about staying with a truly great, beautiful and very historic country.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Pau Faus, you live in Barcelona, but you were here this past week as you show the film Ada for Mayor, about Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona. What was your response to President Trump as he predicted, you know, Catalans would vote to remain a part of Spain, and congratulating Rajoy?

PAU FAUS: I don’t know. I mean, he looks quite far away from what happens there. So, as the professor said, I think what Trump said about Catalonia and Spain was quite irrelevant, from Spain and, I assume, also from here. I mean, I didn’t—it’s the first time I see it, and I’ve been here for two weeks. So, I don’t think it was something relevant, really.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s go to Rajoy, in Spain, speaking on Sunday, the Spanish prime minister saying Catalonia failed to hold an independence referendum and that the people of Catalonia had been tricked into taking part in the banned vote.

PRIME MINISTER MARIANO RAJOY: [translated] At this hour, I can tell you in the strongest terms what you already know and what we have seen throughout this day. There has not been a referendum on self-determination in Catalonia today. We have not attended to any sort of consultation, but a mere staging, a new episode of a strategy against democratic coexistence and legality.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy. You usually live in Barcelona, the—


AMY GOODMAN: —what would be the capital of an independent Catalonia. Your response?

PAU FAUS: It sounds from another country, you know, from another planet, really. To deny what happened yesterday, it only helps to widen the gap, you know? That’s what happens, because many people from Spain, what they see is what he says and what they read and what they see on TV. And, of course, they see a reality that—it’s a possible point of view, but it’s so different from the perception that we have from Catalonia. And it’s so sad to see that the two reactions to a same situation are so different. And to say that there was not a referendum, of course there was not, because it was not possible to do it. But to deny—

AMY GOODMAN: Because they prevented it, right?

PAU FAUS: Yeah, of course.

AMY GOODMAN: Rajoy’s people, the state of Spain.

PAU FAUS: But also, to deny that there was a totally not proportionated use of violence, to a level that people haven’t seen in many, many years, and just not to talk about this, and to say the response was the correct response, nothing happened, you know, kind of a denial, that’s what the professor was saying before. Many people who are not pro-independence—I am not pro-independence—feel this is not—we don’t want to belong to this, you know?

And that’s why it’s so important that political parties, like the party from Ada Colau and other political parties, are trying to build a in-between space between these two extreme situations, because many people would feel comfortable in this in-between space, at least to dialogue, you know, and then let’s see what we do. But right now it’s “I don’t want to talk to you,” “I don’t want to talk to you.” And these things keep on happening.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain your position?

PAU FAUS: My position is that there should be probably now one international mediation for these two very opposite points of view to be able to talk. And everybody in Catalonia, it’s up to 80 percent of Catalans know or say that the solution is a referendum that is, you know, together with the state, just like they did in Scotland.

AMY GOODMAN: You mean you want to legal referendum.

PAU FAUS: Of course, yeah. Eighty percent of Catalans are for a legal referendum. That’s the main thing. Around 50—we still don’t know, because it’s not easy, but around 50 could be for independence. But 80 percent are for that this should be solved out with a legal referendum. And that’s something that we should, as many people as possible, work for, you know?

AMY GOODMAN: Why are you not for independence? And do you feel that you may change your view, given what has taken place?

PAU FAUS: No, it’s not if I am or I’m not. Many people—if you asked many people in Catalonia 10 years ago, the independence movement was not as strong, you know? But the way the Spanish government has treated Catalonia and the way maybe this identity that the Catalans have, like the professor said, this idea of a multi-identity state, multi-country—you know, like different states in one state, that Spain is, this has been denied very strongly. So, if you have this and you add the economical crisis, the pro-independence movement has been very high, you know? It’s growing a lot. And I think that many people agree that—and I also agree with this—that there should be a referendum to decide how do we live together. I mean, the way Spain and Catalonia live together, it’s what was decided 40 years ago. And many people think this should be updated. And I agree with this. So, I cannot know what I would choose, because right now there are no positions. One are saying, “We want to leave,” and the other one say, “You cannot leave.” You know? I think, in a proper referendum, we would have—if Catalonia becomes independent, that’s what we will have. If you stay in Spain, that’s what you will have. And that’s never been the discussion.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain who the Catalan leader is, Puigdemont? What is his background?

PAU FAUS: Well, he was president—he was chosen as president because the main leader of the right-wing party in Catalonia, that was supposed to be the president, was not wanted by the radical left wing, that is now together with the political party that is for the independence. So, Puigdemont was like a figure that came out of the—out of nowhere. He was the mayor of a city in Catalonia, Girona. And he was like a fresh leader to make possible a coalition of very different political parties. Right now, the government in Catalonia is some of extreme-left parties, left parties and right-wing parties. And to make this possible for the extreme-left parties, it was necessary to have a new leader. So he came out of nowhere a little bit. But in these last months, he has become like the image of—he has become the leader of this movement, of course.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about how Catalan separation would affect Spain? I mean, isn’t Catalonia a large part of Spain’s industrial base, representing something like 20 percent of the Spanish economy?

PAU FAUS: I really cannot talk about this, because it’s like very technical things. I mean, I think it’s more about the fact that there is a sense of identity, that of course I share, which is a language and a history in Catalonia. And this identity has not been well treated, to say like this, from the Spanish government, the right-wing government and Mariano Rajoy. And I don’t think that the thing is about what would we lose, what would we win. I think it’s more about we have to decide how to live together, you know? I think this is the main thing. The other are secondary things.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to talk about the position of Ada Colau, I mean, a true rising star in Spanish politics, from Barcelona, the current mayor. She clearly has been attacked from all sides now. She isn’t—hasn’t taken a pro-independence stand. She isn’t—well, why don’t you explain what her stance is?

PAU FAUS: Well, you know, she comes from this space that, as I told you, many people come from, that many people in Catalonia, we are not pro-independence, but seeing what is happening. And for many people, this was not like a priority. You know, we have many problems, many social problems, many economical problems. So, those were the main topics in the agenda of people like Ada Colau. But in the last years, many of us have been forced, because the situation is so polarized, to position, you know, yes or no.

And what Ada Colau and her party is doing is something that is very difficult, but, from my point of view, very necessary. In Catalonia, you have right now seven political parties in the Parliament. Three of them are pro-independence. Three of them are against independence. And one of them, which is the party that is not yet in the Parliament because it is a very new party, but it has a very strong influence, which is Catalunya en Comú, is—has no problem in having people in the party who are pro or against, you know?

AMY GOODMAN: And this is Ada Colau’s party.

PAU FAUS: Yes. And what they mainly defend is that the main goal is we have to vote. If we go for this, we are 80 percent of the population in Catalonia. Once we have this legal referendum, then let’s decide what do we want to vote, which are the options. So she represents this, for me, very important space that is this in-between space, that is now being very—it’s a very uncomfortable zone, but it’s very necessary. And it’s also the space that Podemos is also, you know, defending from the rest of Spain. And I think that’s where the solution must come from, you know, because people have to be able to dialogue. What has happened is the failure of politics. I mean, there’s no dialogue. There’s no solutions. It’s like we are not going to talk about this. And this, of course, is not the way to solve it.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to a clip from your film. Interestingly, you’re here at this time promoting your new film on Ada Colau, on the mayor of Barcelona, at this time when this major crisis takes place in your region, in your city, in all of Catalonia. I want to turn to a clip from the film Ada for Mayor, directed by Pau Faus. This is the Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau.

ADA COLAU: [translated] That’s what we mean when we talk about feminizing politics. You can be in politics without being a strong, arrogant male who’s ultra-confident, knows the answer to everything, has no doubts. There are other ways. I had the goal of showing that you can be in politics, aiming to win, without those characteristics, and with doubts and contradictions like normal people, and be able to show this and talk about it openly. But that doesn’t work in politics, because your own people want you to always be there, to be strong, to lead and to not have any doubts.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona, in the new film directed by Pau Faus called Ada for Mayor. So, talk about the rise of Ada Colau, the improbable rise of a woman whose symbol had become this video of her being dragged by police, being arrested for protesting evictions.

PAU FAUS: Well, I met her. I met Ada Colau in the PAH movement, PAH, that in Spanish stands for the Platform of People Affected by Mortgages. One of the main problems, as you know, in Spain during the worst years of the crisis were the evictions. And the image of the families being evicted was like the image of the crisis in Spain. And the anti-eviction movement was a very strong movement, and it became very popular. And she was the spokeswoman of the movement. She also became very popular, and—because of what you said, you know, the images of defending the houses or defending the occupations of banks and also many, many different situations.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain that, though, for people in the United States, that this particular movement, taking on banks—


AMY GOODMAN: —and occupying homes where people couldn’t pay their mortgages anymore.

PAU FAUS: Yes, yeah. I mean, one—as I said, the economic crisis had a very strong and sad image in Spain that were the families being evicted, families that lost their jobs, that could not be able to pay their mortgages, and they were evicted from their houses. But even according to Spanish law, many times a part of your debt stays even if you are evicted. So you are evicted, and you’re still owing a lot of money to the bank. So this was a very—unfortunately, a common situation for many people in Spain.

And there was this movement, the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages, that started to fight against this. And one of the classical images was like, “OK, we’re going to stop the evictions,” so people went in front of the house, and we are not—this eviction is not going to happen. And this worked. And many neighbors came to help. You know the things started to grow.

And one of the other things they did was to occupy bank offices. OK, you have a mortgage with this person, and you took the house, and you still are asking for I don’t know how much, thousands of euros, and this is not fair, and this should be solved in a way. So, until we don’t solve this, we are not going to leave the office. So this was another action.

Another action that you could see in the public space were like the occupation of houses that were owned by the banks. Since the banks were rescued with public money, the anti-eviction movement said, “OK, then your building must have a public use. So, I don’t have a house. You have been rescued with public money. This building should be used for a public service, so we occupy your houses that are our houses.”

So all of these actions—very strong, some of them—became—had a very good—I mean, many people in Spain, even from right-wing positions, approved this. You know, the image of the banks being rescued and the families being evicted was something that nobody liked. And Ada Colau and the anti-eviction movement became very popular. She was invited to many shows on TV. So she became like the image of these—of these people that were self-organizing to do what the government was not doing.

AMY GOODMAN: And you, yourself, was involved with this movement.

PAU FAUS: And I was there. And I was there, and I was in charge of filming what was happening. And I was there for one year and a half or two. And I met her and many other people, of course. So, when she and many other people decided to make this step and to try to win the elections for the Barcelona City Council, because many people said, “OK, maybe now it’s the time to go for the institutions, you know?”—like another tool, not like something that is a substitution of the other, but institutions would be also another tool—social movements, institutions. So, this political movement was made. It was a citizen movement and made by the people, that invited the left parties to be part of it, but it grew from the people.

And since I knew her from the activist—from her activist years, I already had the intuition that it was going to be like a very interesting journey for her—I mean, the activist going to trying to be the mayor, from activism to political institutions. So, the film, Ada for Mayor, is about this year, about the whole campaign. You can see how the group is organizing and, you know, learning and improving and, you know, growing. But at the same time, in the film, as you saw before, what we see is Ada Colau talking to the camera and telling us how is she feeling during this journey.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the trailer for the film. This very much portrays it. This is the trailer for the new film Ada for Mayor.

UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] Watch out!

EVICTED WOMAN: [translated] Why are they doing this? We’re not criminals! This is our home!

PROTESTERS: [translated] We will stop this eviction!

PROTESTER: [translated] We have to get rid of them! We, the less fortunate, are the majority, those of us without homes, jobs, money, without children because they leave!

PROTESTERS: [translated] Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

JOSÉ ANTONIO BERMÚDEZ DE CASTRO: [translated] They claim to represent the people, but the best way to do that is by running in an election.

ADA COLAU: [translated] How do I imagine these recordings we’re starting today? People are tired of losing, tired of being ignored.

ORGANIZER: [translated] Are we able to change this? Are we being too bold by proposing this?

ADA COLAU: [translated] The big news is that we started negotiations this week, and we had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

MARC RIUS: [translated] Putting this face on the ballot reinforces the idea that this is “Ada Colau and her fans.”

GEMMA NIERGA: [translated] You criticize old-school politics for their personality cults, but now you’re taking part in it.

ADA COLAU: [translated] I can’t be the Ada I’ve always been. Do we have a hypothesis? Do we or don’t we? I’m starting to be in a bad mood. Let’s not go in there like fools, which is what we’re being. I’m going in blindly with no idea what to expect. A serious party can’t act like this.

CAMPAIGN STAFF: [translated] Yes, we can!

GERARDO PISARELLO: [translated] Well done!

CROWD: [translated] Mayor!

ADA COLAU: [translated] Trias is calling me.

UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] Call from Xavier Trias!

AMY GOODMAN: That’s the trailer for Ada for Mayor, talking about Ada Colau, the new mayor of Barcelona. And that last clip that we saw, where she looks down at her phone and she’s getting a call from the incumbent mayor, who lost, that’s not what the predictions were, and she understands she has just become mayor of Barcelona. The first woman mayor of Barcelona?

PAU FAUS: Yeah, in many years, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: So, we’re talking to Pau Faus, the filmmaker and writer of this documentary, in the United States to talk about the film. So talk about that rise and what it means, and especially Ada Colau being a woman.

PAU FAUS: Yeah, I mean, one of the—one of the topics in the film—there are many, but is the fact that she was fighting against mainly male politicians. So she was the first woman to have real chances to become the mayor, and—but not only a woman, she was also—she and her team were also outsiders. I mean, only one of the 11 deputies that they have in the City Hall had been there before, you know, so many new people were there. So this idea of the outsiders, that come from the activist movement. So, this whole thing is in the film.

And I think that’s what you get to—you have a very privileged point of view, because we are very close to her. You know, we see how the whole thing is—the evolution of the whole thing. But at the same time, we have this person talking to the camera in this kind of video diaries, that you also see in the trailer, telling us what she has learned. “OK, we made this mistake.” You know, so, this idea of people that come from social movements that are more transparent, that share more what is happening, also being a woman, to share the emotions, the fears, the mistakes—all of this is in the film, and also the difficulty of sharing this in real politics.

And the feedback that I get from the States, because I presented the film already here in—first time, in February, in Starr Bar in Brooklyn, and it was a screening organized by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, who is part also of the film. I also came back in July, and I showed the film in the Michael Moore film festival, the Traverse City Film Festival.

AMY GOODMAN: In Michigan.

PAU FAUS: In Michigan, yeah. It was a very nice festival. And the reception was very good. It also won the best opera prima of the festival, so it was like a very good feedback. And also, these last two—this last week, the film was showed here in New York in the Impugning Impunity Film Festival, organized by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives.

AMY GOODMAN: The Abraham Lincoln Brigades being the Americans who went to fight against Franco in Spain.

PAU FAUS: Yes, yes, there was also this connection. And we also show it in the DCTV, where you started. So it’s like—

AMY GOODMAN: Where Democracy Now! first broadcast on television.

PAU FAUS: Yes. So, this is the third time we’re here. And always the feedback is that the film—also what happened in the States—helps. The film communicates a lot of hope and the idea of that it is possible, you know, to make a change, if you organize and you really believe in it.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Pau Faus, let me bring this back to what has just taken place—


AMY GOODMAN: —which, to say the least, is historic, what has happened in Spain.

PAU FAUS: Yes, it is. Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: And Spain and Catalonia will never be the same after yesterday.

PAU FAUS: No, no, no.

AMY GOODMAN: Eight hundred people injured in a vote that Catalonians—that Catalans attempted to make, and Spanish police tried to break it up. So, how does this affect Ada Colau, who didn’t take a position specifically on this before the attempted vote? But now the mass violence, she has clearly decried it. Do you think this will change her politics, as well?

PAU FAUS: No. I mean, there is a perception that she and her political party did not take a point—a position. And I disagree totally with this. They always took the position that this should be dialogued, and this should be voted with a legal referendum, which is something very difficult. But that has been always the position. But to defend this position that—it’s true, it’s very difficult to achieve. We saw what happened yesterday, not even a legal referendum, because it was very difficult to make it—was enough. And the reaction of the Spanish government, I mean, what we saw yesterday, is very far away from this objective. But this objective is what they have been defending, and that I think it’s the only solution. So, they do have a point of view, but it’s difficult to stand for this point of view when you see images like yesterday. So, other things become a priority. So, after yesterday, the city of Barcelona, as I said before, offered medical assistance to the people, offered a legal assistance. They are considering, as the city, to maybe take legal actions against what happened yesterday.

AMY GOODMAN: Against the Spanish police? Against Rajoy?

PAU FAUS: Yeah, or I don’t know who, but they are studying this, the vulnerability of human rights. So all of this is now on the table. And, of course, this kind—

AMY GOODMAN: And what will it mean if Puigdemont does declare independence, as he says he will, in these next hours?

PAU FAUS: I don’t know. I mean, I think—I think that many people agree that what happened yesterday is a very strong—it’s something that puts the conflict into an international point of view, so it’s something that many people probably today would not be talking about it if it didn’t happen, what happened yesterday. But at the same time that many people says that this day makes like a change, many people also think maybe it’s not enough to declare the independence. So this is something they will have to deal with. I don’t know. But the truth is that the conflict is not solved. And I don’t think—and I think everybody would agree with this—it would not be solved by declaring the independence. So, many other things have to be done. You know, it’s not close to be solved.

AMY GOODMAN: And how will this solve the crises that Ada Colau has made the centerpiece of her campaign and her position now as mayor, taking on these evictions, trying to improve the economy?

PAU FAUS: I mean, at the same time that this is happening in Catalonia and in Spain, of course, in Barcelona, you have like the everyday problems. And one of the things that has changed since Ada Colau is mayor and since Barcelona en Comú, which is the name of the party, is there—

AMY GOODMAN: And explain the name of the party and what it means.

PAU FAUS: It means Barcelona in Commons, and also that the Catalan party—

AMY GOODMAN: Barcelona en Comú.

PAU FAUS: En Comú, yeah, in Commons. And the Catalan party is Catalonia in Commons, which is the same idea. And as I said, it comes from an organized citizenship that invited left parties to join this movement. So, many of the deputies that you have now in the City Hall are not professional politics, you know? Ada Colau, of course, is one of them. Gerardo Pisarello, who is the second one, is also one of them. He was a teacher. So, in these last two years, because right now, some months ago, we was like in—in Spain, we vote every four years, so we are in the middle of her mandate.

And what has, for me, been happening is that many of the topics that were usually social movement topics, like gentrification or the problem with tourism or even the problem with pollution, those were usually problems that were not in the center of the political—of the institutional political debate. They were more like social movement problems. Now they are in the center of the debate. Everybody in Barcelona is talking about tourism should be ruled. You know, pollution is now one, a topic that is very—it’s in every—almost every day, it’s somewhere in the press. Also housing, also gentrification. So, many of these problems are now in the center of the debate. And step by step—it’s not easy, because you cannot do everything from government, from city government. But step by step, some changes have been happening.

When I come to the States and I see these—what do you call it?—the sanctuary cities, it makes me remind of a little bit of what is happening in Barcelona. I mean, not always what the city can do is possible, because the laws depend on the state or depend on the region. So, many of the things that Barcelona is trying to change are not—don’t depend on the Barcelona City Council. But symbolically, the fact that they are fighting for it is—it’s easier to make a step and to make a change. So when I see these, yeah, sanctuary cities that are against some of the Trump things, this is a good example of what they are trying also to do from Barcelona.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Ada Colau’s relationship with Podemos, the—that made such inroads into representation and almost be taking over Spain—her relationship with that party, Barcelona en Comú’s relationship with Podemos, and also Podemos’s response to what has taken place in Catalonia?

PAU FAUS: Podemos is one of the several parties that are part of Barcelona en Comú. And so, according to the—to Barcelona, it’s one of the pieces, you know? According to the state, it’s true that Podemos is the main ally, and there are lots of connections, and they are together in the Spanish government right now as an opposition. But they—

AMY GOODMAN: For example, why didn’t she run on a Podemos ticket?

PAU FAUS: Do you mean in the state?

AMY GOODMAN: No, in—as for mayor of Barcelona as Podemos.

PAU FAUS: In Barcelona. Because that was not the idea. The idea was not to run from a classical political party, even though Podemos is not a classical political party. But the idea was to make very clear that Barcelona en Comú was a citizen movement that invited political parties to join. And one of these political parties is Podemos. It is usually to simplify she’s from Podemos, you know? OK, I’ve heard this many times in the States, and I understand that sometimes it’s not easy to get the details. But the truth is that Podemos is one part of this whole movement—of course, a very important part, because Podemos connected with many people that were not—were very disconnected with politics. And Podemos made very people that decided not to vote many years ago to go back, to believe again. So it’s a very important part of the movement, but it’s one part of the movement.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Pablo Iglesias has called PP, the ruling party, “corrupt,” “hypocritical” and “useless,” and has called for the resignation of Rajoy, after what took place yesterday, on Sunday.

PAU FAUS: Yeah. Also, from—well, I mean, I’m here, and I cannot follow it from close. But from what I read, also Ada Colau called for the resignation of the president, because what we saw yesterday—

AMY GOODMAN: The prime minister.

PAU FAUS: Yeah. Well, we call it president in Spain, but yeah, the prime minister. What we saw yesterday is like the failure of any possibility to change what is happening. And the fact that—what Pablo Iglesias said is also true. I mean, nowadays, nobody’s talking about the huge problems of corruption that the right-wing party in Spain, the Partido Popular, has. So, this independent situation for the Partido Popular party is also very good, so it helps them not to talk about some other problems they have, like many trials and many corruption problems they have to solve. So it also helps them to hide some things that were on the news many weeks ago and that are not on the news now.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much, Pau Faus, for joining us, a filmmaker and writer. His recent documentary Ada for Mayor follows the campaign of the Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau. This is Democracy Now! Can people see the film online?

PAU FAUS: Yes, you can rent or download the film at the web, So, if you go there, you will see that you can download the file or just rent it, and also follow if we have any news about the film. We have a Facebook page, where we update everything about the film.

AMY GOODMAN: Again, Pau Faus, filmmaker and writer. This is Democracy Now!, I’m Amy Goodman. To see Part 1 of our conversation with Pau Faus and Professor Sebastiaan Faber of Oberlin College, go to

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