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Catalonia: Madrid calls Puidgemont’s bluff

Spain imposes direct rule on Catalonia; calls snap elections

Alexander Mercouris

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In the weeks since Catalonia’s illegal independence referendum the President of Catalonia’s government Carles Puidgemont has been behaving increasingly like a man whose bluff has been called.

He has repeatedly called for talks with Madrid without however agreeing to Madrid’s fundamental pre-condition, which was for him to say that notwithstanding the referendum Catalonia is not declaring independence from Spain.

He has called for EU mediation, only to have the EU turn a deaf ear to his call.

As I predicted not a single government around the world, and importantly none of the Great Powers – the US, Russia, China and India – has lent him support.

Nor have the governments of the EU’s two big regional powers: Germany and France.

Meanwhile there is a rush of banks and businesses exiting Barcelona for Madrid, and the Spanish Senate has now voted overwhelmingly to support the Spanish government’s request that it be allowed to impose direct rule.

It is sometimes said that in this situation Puidgemont and the Catalan independence movement had no other option but to declare independence, as they have now done.

That is simply wrong.  The alternative and proper route for them to follow was actually very clear: it was to return to legality.

That would however have involved agreeing that the independence referendum does not provide a legal basis for independence, and agreeing to the fresh elections, which are the only realistic way out of the impasse.

In the event Puidgemont refused to admit that the independence referendum does not provide a legal basis for independence, and he refused Madrid’s call for fresh elections, a fact which incidentally reinforces my view that there is less support for independence in Catalonia than is sometimes said.

What happens next will largely depend on how skilfully the Spanish government handles the situation.

Puidgemont has called for ‘peaceful resistance’ to the imposition of direct rule, but no one should take that call seriously.

In a situation where Puidgemont and the Catalan independence movement have no other cards left to play the only remaining thing they can do is stage violent confrontations with the forces deployed to Catalonia by Madrid in the probably forlorn hope that this will gain them sympathy both internationally and in the rest of Spain.

Faced by this tactic the Spanish authorities need to act both consistently and firmly, refusing to make unwarranted concessions to Puidgemont and the Catalan independence movement and pressing ahead with the imposition of direct rule, but refusing also to be provoked into disproportionate reactions.  Provided this situation is handled intelligently the power of the Spanish state with the authority of the law behind it is all but certain to prevail in a situation like this.

So far the Spanish authorities have handled the situation properly, and there is no reason to think that they will not continue to do so.

At this point a number of further myths which have grown up around this crisis need to be jettisoned.

Firstly, unconditional negotiations in a situation where someone is behaving illegally is not the path to peace.  On the contrary by rewarding illegality such a step undermines constitutional order, leading away from peace and directly towards violence.

In this case unwarranted concessions to Puidgemont and the Catalan independence movement would not secure peace in Catalonia.  On the contrary they would risk spreading the crisis to the whole of the rest of Spain, putting peace there in jeopardy.

Secondly, the case has been made by some people that the issue of legality is being over-emphasised.  Perhaps the most eloquent expression of this argument has been made by Craig Murray, who as a supporter of Scottish independence is also a supporter of the Catalan independence movement.

I dealt with imprisonment of political prisoners all round the world when I was in the FCO. Very few of them were extra-judicially detained. Uzbekistan’s 8,000 political prisoners have almost all been tried and condemned under Uzbek law. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Ken Saro Wiwa, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, all were imprisoned by judges. The “rule of law”, where it ignores human rights, is not enough. That is the line the EU, to its great shame, has crossed.

Every one of the cases Craig Murray refers to took place in countries which were not democracies, democracy being here defined as a political system in which all citizens of the country in question have the free exercise of the right to vote.  Moreover every one of the individuals Craig Murray refers to – Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Ken Saro Wiwa, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi – specifically made precisely this point in explaining their acts of illegality and disobedience.

I would add that Mandela and Gandhi were both lawyers with a huge respect for the law – as they made repeatedly clear in their many statements – who defended their occasional resorts to illegality precisely because the laws they were challenging had been imposed undemocratically in a way that made them both oppressive and unaccountable whilst allowing for no avenue for peaceful or legal protest in order to change them.

For a powerful statement of this position see Nelson Mandela’s speech at the Rivonia trial, where South Africa’s apartheid authorities sentenced him to life imprisonment, though Mandela’s arguments apparently made a very strong impression on the Judge, who refused the prosecution’s implicit request for the death penalty.

By no conceivable stretch of the imagination is Puidgemont’s or Catalonia’s position remotely analogous to those of Mandela or Gandhi or of course of Solzhenitsyn and Ken Saro Wiwa or of the people imprisoned, killed or tortured by the Uzbek dictatorship, or indeed by any other dictatorship, dictatorship in this context being defined as a political system whose basis ultimately is not law but force.

Not only does Catalonia function within a political system where all Catalans have the right to vote and stand in law in an equal position to all other Spanish citizens, but Catalonia is actually Spain’s richest province and Puidgemont is an elected official possessing state authority.

As such Puidgemont has no grounds or excuse to resort to illegality and given that – by his own admission – he is acting illegally, instead of continuing in his defiance like any other person who has broken the law he ought to be submitting to the law’s judgment upon his actions.

Here I will express my own view, which is that I continue to be baffled by the demands that Puidgemont and the other leaders of the Catalan independence movement should be given a free pass for their wilful resort to illegality.

Just as everyone else is subject to the law so the elected officials of Catalonia should also be.  Treating them any other way gives rise to the inevitable question of why if these highly privileged people are to be allowed wilfully and publicly to break the law anyone else should obey it?

Past experience repeatedly shows that whenever such a question starts being asked, the result is not peace but a breakdown of law and constitutional order, and ultimately a turn to violence.

This in turn brings me back to the question of whether or not Catalonia will now slide into violence, and whether there is any risk of civil war.

Nothing has so far happened which changes my view that both are extremely unlikely.  Whilst I expect some violence over the course of the next few days and weeks, I believe the Spanish authorities are sufficiently sophisticated and experienced to know how to deal with it without falling into Puidgemont’s trap by acting disproportionately.

Here I repeat my previous view – made previously by Haneul Na’avi – that since the Catalan independence movement is by no means a revolutionary movement but a conservative middle class movement, the prospect of it being successfully mobilised for violence or civil war is slim.  On the contrary once the immediate crisis has been overcome I expect a strong swing back towards support for the Spanish government in Catalonia, which may be visible as soon as the elections which have been called in December.

However if violence does escalate beyond the point of the usual street clashes between police and demonstrators, then it is clear where responsibility lies.

It lies squarely with Puidgemont and the Catalan independence leaders, who wilfully and recklessly and without assessing the situation properly have led their followers onto the path of violence and illegality when they had other peaceful, legal and constitutional options available to them

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Hungary Prime Minister Attacks Juncker and Soros in Billboard Ad

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán attacked EC President Jean Claude Jucker and George Soros in a billboard ad.

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Via MishTalk:


The EU has never seen anything quite like this. Orbán has a billboard campaign that claims European Commission president Juncker and and George Soros are “Endangering Hungary’s Safety”.

Opening a new front against Brussels a few months before European [parliament] elections, the poster shows the European commission president alongside the Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros, a familiar target in Hungary.

“You have the right to know what Brussels is planning to do,” the poster says. On its official Facebook page, the Hungarian government says the poster is part of an information campaign to tell the public about Brussels’ migration plans, which it claims “fundamentally endangered Hungary’s safety”.

Although the government has previously run a “Stop Brussels” campaign, the decision to use an image of Junker is an escalation in the Orbán government’s public relations war with the EU’s most senior leaders.

It also exposes the rift in the centre-right European People’s party in the European parliament, which counts Juncker and Orbán, as members.

Orbán was re-elected for a third straight term last April, after a campaign dominated by immigration. A long-term critic of the EU, Orbán has accused NGOs and critical media of being part of a plot orchestrated by Soros to send millions of people to Hungary.

In recent weeks, Orbán has spoken of his hopes that the next European parliament will be dominated by anti-immigration parties.

Birds of a Feather Not

​Juncker once met Orbán with the jokey greeting “hello, dictator” and playfully tapped his face.

Today, Juncker responded Orban Should Leave Europe’s Centre-Right.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has said Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party should leave the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament (EP).

“Against lies there’s not much you can do,” Juncker was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency, adding that he had called for Fidesz’s expulsion from the EPP.

​”They didn’t vote for me in the European Parliament,” he said in Stuttgart, Germany, in a speech. “The far right didn’t either. I remember Ms. Le Pen, she said: ‘I’m not voting for you.’ I said: ‘I don’t want your vote.’ There are certain votes you just don’t want,” Juncker said, referring to the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Eurointelligence Comments

Looking at Orbán’s previous record, and noting that one cannot of be sure, we continue doubt that Hungary’s Prime Minister has changed his European strategy and is now working to provoke the exclusion of his party from the EPP. Rather, Orbán seems to be doing one his classic hit-and-runs.

There is little doubt that the new smear campaign will make life on the campaign trail much more difficult for Manfred Weber, the CSU MEP and EPP spitzenkandidat. Juncker himself has now declared more forcefully than ever before that the EPP values are not consistent with keeping Fidesz in.

But we note that the CSU leadership in Munich has in the past consistently worked to maintain close and even warm ties with Orban.

Spitzenkandidat

US readers no doubt need an explanation of Spitzenkandidat. The following video explains.

In short, the term refers to an election process instead of an appointment process to determine the head of the European Commission.

63% of Europeans want the commission president determined by vote. Those in power still support the behind closed doors process for obvious reasons.

Orbán’s mission

Orbán’s mission is to weaken the EU from within. Italy has the same mission, for different reasons, as does President Trump.

EU Splintering

Two days ago I reported a Commerce Study Deems “European Cars a Threat to US National Security”. That’s nonsensical, of course. But Trump’s mission is easy to spot. He is doing his best to bust up the EU.

And now Trump has a lot of help on the inside: Marine Le Pen in France, Victor Orbán in Hungary, and Matteo Salvini in Italy.

I response to Trump, I noted, EU Pokes Trump Again, This Time Over Huawei’ s 5G Technology.

In the UK, Seven UK MPs Split from Labour Party Over Brexit. More MPs joined that parade today.

The splintering of the EU continues with escalating infighting at unprecedented levels.

It is illogical for the UK to want to part of this mess. Yet, the UK Remainers want to stay in.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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Is Venezuela On The Verge Of Becoming Another Syria?

It should not be considered a coincidence that the situation with Venezuela is being accelerated at the same time as tensions between the US , China and Russia are hitting a crescendo.

The Duran

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Establishment elites have always had a predilection for regime change. Obviously, this strategy helps weed out nation states that might be uncooperative with their future plans for a fully centralized global economic and political order. We have also seen regime change occur when former puppet leaders go rogue and refuse to follow the script they have been given. Most of these men have acted as dictators and are not very empathetic public figures, so we rarely care when they get overthrown or murdered. That said, there are always wider implications to such events.

I believe the reasons for regime change and the destabilization of particular countries have evolved in recent years. In the past it was about bringing each countries under the new world order umbrella. Today, the goal seems to be an attempt to create points of global contention. That is to say, the elites want to draw much of the world into various forms of conflict, and they are using special regions of the globe as nexus points for these conflicts.

Syria was and still is one of those nexus points. The transmutation of Syria began as an extension of the Arab Spring. Western funded and organized coups in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt inspired even more extremism as well as a vast flow of black market military grade armaments. The CIA under the Obama Administration in particular took advantage of this chaos to fill training camps in Jordan with “moderate rebels”, the same rebels that would go on to launch ISIS and start a civil war in Syria.

While the billion dollar program to arm and supply Syrian rebel groups, many of which were closely tied to ISIS, was finally “officially ended” under the Trump administration in 2017, more covert US support continued for these groups as well support for Israeli incursions into sovereign Syrian air space.

Syria has had the potential to draw multiple nations into close and hostile proximity with each other, including the US, Russia, Israel and Iran. This was not a mistake, it was entirely deliberate.

I warned of the potential exploitation of Syria as a global point of contention for years before the actual insurgency took place because of the unique military alliances in the region. The only reason Syria has not yet been exploited to its full potential is because of the effective exposure of the conspiracy by the alternative media. The establishment push to use American troops to help ISIS extremists overthrow Bashar al-Assad presidency was thwarted. The mainstream media originally portrayed ISIS groups as courageous clean cut rebels fighting for freedom. This ended after the alternative media flooded the web with evidence of rebel led genocide and atrocities.

Had the American public and American troops been tricked into even deeper involvement in Syria as well as helping ISIS overthrow Assad, this could have potentially pushed us into direct confrontation with either Russia or Iran or both. We would be seen as the villains, supporting monsters as they commit war crimes in the name of an ideology many Americans despise.

Those unfamiliar with the concept of the False East/West Paradigm will probably be at a loss as to why the establishment would WANT to deliberately undermine America’s geopolitical or economic position. Once they understand that both China and Russia maintain close ties to the globalist framework, and that they represent false opposition to the “new world order”, the reality of the situation becomes more clear.

I recommend my article ‘In The New “Multipolar World” The Globalists Still Control All The Players’ for facts and evidence on this dynamic. The engineered destabilization of the US and parts of Europe and the rise of the East is intended to cause the removal of the current economic model of sovereign nations and currencies led by the US dollar as the world reserve. This would leave quite a void in the global economic structure, a void which the elites plan to fill with a new centralized one world currency system.

This system, to be managed by the IMF, has been openly supported by both the Chinese and Russian governments. The delusion that the East is somehow opposed to the NWO melts away when we examine their long time alliances to the banking cabal, as well as the IMF programs the East now champions. But how do the elites plan to get the masses to go along with such a historic and painful shift in global economic architecture?

In my view, the confrontations in regions of confluence like Syria are intended to lead to World War; not in the form of a nuclear war, but in the form of a full spectrum economic war and smaller regional wars. There is another nation beyond Syria that I have also been warning about for many years as a potential nexus, or what the elites might call a “linchpin”. That region is Venezuela.

In my article ‘How A Collapse In Venezuela Could Trigger Martial Law In the US’, published in May of 2016, I outlined how the socialist structure of Venezuela in particular was so unstable that the slightest push could cause the entire country to topple. Venezuela did indeed crash economically to the point that martial law is the only mainstay holding the system together.

I have also warned that a collapse in Venezuela could spread into surrounding countries, already weakened by fiscal uncertainty and debt. Such a collapse in South America rather strangely matches the scenario described in Operation Garden Plot and Rex 84, a secret Pentagon plan exposed during the Iran/Contra affair which would use mass migrations from South or Central America as a rationale to enforce martial law measures within the United States.

In recent months, however, the Trump Administration has added a new dimension to the problem. Expanding sanctions against Venezuela are adding fire to the flames of economic collapse. With an even more aggressive stance against Nicolas Madruro including possible military action, the prospect of a direct US led coup is now on the table.

One would think that if the US government wanted a breakdown in Venezuela, all they would have to do is sit back and wait as the socialist nation imploded under it’s own faulty economic policies. But apparently the country was not collapsing fast enough for the elites. My theory – the goal is to create another Syria, but this time much closer to US borders.

Venezuela has close ties to not only Russia, but also China. Venezuela’s military ties to Russia are well known. Their military is supplied to this day by Russia, and Russia has been very vocal in their opposition to any US military involvement in the region.

Both China and Russia continue to support Nicolas Madruro as the president of Venezuela in the face of opposition from assembly leader Juan Guaido. The US and a number of European nations support Guaido. The question is, how far will a confrontation in Venezuela go?

US involvement in South and Central America does not paint a pretty picture. Reagan era coups in countries like El Salvador in the name of stopping communism created not only civil war, but also the installation of more violent dictators and regimes (look up the White Hand death squads in El Salvador for the ugly details). Not coincidentally, we also saw the use of death squads and extremists in the destabilization of Syria.

I find it interesting that extreme leftists like Ilhan Omar are suddenly interested in exposing the underhanded nature of such tactics. They remain decidedly quiet on the same kind of subversion in Syria, and aggressively push for a continued American presence there. My suspicion is that this might be an establishment attempt to gain conservative support for a US led coup in Venezuela. Whatever their leftist puppets attack, we are supposed to defend, right?

But in this case, the Trump Administration is just as insidious as the leftists in its activities, and support for such a coup would be an affront to true conservative principles.

It should be noted that the arming and training of insurgents in Syria started out undercover. At the time it was labeled “humanitarian aid”. In Venezuela, the US is once again offering “aid” to the people of Venezuela and the opposition party, backed by a US military aircraft. The establishment is not generally very creative in their tactics; they simply use the same methods over and over again because historically they succeed more than they fail.

If this dynamic happens again in Venezuela, I predict immediate and aggressive economic response from Russia and China, including yet another excuse for China to dump its US Treasury Bond holdings and dollar reserves, effectively killing the dollar’s world reserve status. The US would be hit the hardest by this reset, and with the Trump Administration driven by globalist warmongers like John Bolton, there would be little sympathy from the rest of the world when the consequences land on our doorstep.

It should not be considered a coincidence that the situation with Venezuela is being accelerated at the same time as tensions between the US , China and Russia are hitting a crescendo. Add yet another regional conflict similar to Syria on top of the trade war, and the potential for a financial “World War III” is high. If allowed to play out uninterrupted, such an event provides even more cover for the “global reset” and the shift to a one world economic model.  Not only this, but a collapse epidemic in South America could lead to vast migrant caravans swarming to the southern US border far beyond what we have already seen.  As Operation Garden Plot outlines, this would inevitably be used as a rationale for martial law measures.

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Why Autocrats Are Replacing Democrats

High among the reasons Trump was elected was that, for all his flaws and failings, he was seen as a doer, a man who “gets things done.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org:


“If you look at Trump in America or Bolsonaro in Brazil, you see that people now want politicians who are tough enough to do what they promise,” said Spanish businessman Juan Carlos Perez Carreno.

The Spaniard was explaining to The New York Times what lay behind the rise of Vox, which the Times calls “Spain’s first far-right party since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975.”

Indeed, the growing impatience of peoples with elected leaders and legislators who cannot or will not act decisively explains two realities of our time: the eclipse of Congress and the rise of autocracy worldwide.

In condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency and use Pentagon funds to build his wall, Beltway elites have charged the president with a multitude of sins against the Constitution.

He has usurped the “power of the purse” that the Founding Fathers invested in Congress. He has disregarded the “checks and balances” of Madisonian democracy. He is acting like an imperial president.

Yet the decline of Congress is not a recent phenomenon. And the principal collaborator in its fall from grace, from being “the first branch of government” to the least esteemed, has been Congress itself, its own timidity and cowardice.

Contrast, if you will, the now-inveterate torpor and inaction of Congress with how presidents, declared by historians to be great or near great, have acted.

Thomas Jefferson seized upon Napoleon’s sudden offer to sell the vast Louisiana territory for $15 million in an act of dubious constitutionality by Jefferson’s own judgment. History has validated his decision.

Andrew Jackson — “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” — shoved aside a Supreme Court ruling denying him the right to transfer the Indians of Florida to the middle of the country.

Abraham Lincoln arrested Maryland legislators to prevent a secessionist-minded legislature from meeting, violated the habeas corpus rights of thousands, ordered Chief Justice Roger Taney arrested, shut down newspapers, and, in January 1863, declared free all the slaves of every state still in rebellion against the Union.

“I took Panama!” said Theodore Roosevelt, whose agents helped rebels shear off the province from Colombia to build his canal.

FDR ordered some 110,000 Japanese, 75,000 of them U.S. citizens, into detention camps in 1942 for the duration of the war.

Without authorization from Congress, Harry Truman ordered U.S. troops into South Korea in 1950 to resist the invasion by North Korea, calling it a police action.

Though a Republican House voted against attacking Serbia in 1998, Bill Clinton continued his 78-day bombing campaign until Belgrade yielded up its cradle province of Kosovo.

Yet while presidents have acted decisively, without congressional authorization and sometimes unconstitutionally, Congress has failed to defend, and even surrendered, its legitimate constitutional powers.

Congress’s authority “to regulate commerce with foreign nations” has been largely ceded to the executive branch, with Congress agreeing to confine itself to a “yeah” or “nay” vote on whatever trade treaty the White House negotiates and sends to the Hill.

Congress’s authority to “coin money” and “regulate the value thereof” was long ago transferred to the Federal Reserve.

Congress’s power to declare war has been ignored by presidents since Truman. Authorizations for the use of military force have replaced declarations of war, with presidents deciding how broadly they may be interpreted.

In declaring the national emergency Friday, Trump rested his case on authority given the president by Congress in the National Emergencies Act of 1976.

The Supreme Court has usurped Congress’ powers with impunity.

While the civil rights acts of the 1960s were enacted by Congress, the desegregation of America’s public schools was simply ordered by the Warren Court in 1954.

In the ’60s and ’70s, Congress sat indolent as busing for racial balance was imposed on countless school districts by federal judges.

As the Supreme Court, for decades, exploited the establishment clause of the First Amendment to de-Christianize all public schools and public places, Congress did nothing. A triumphant court then moved on to declare abortion and same-sex marriage constitutional rights.

Yet Congress had the latent power, in Article III, Section 2, to restrict the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and every other federal court. But the big stick the founders left for Congress to corral a runaway Supreme Court was never picked up, never used.

High among the reasons Trump was elected was that, for all his flaws and failings, he was seen as a doer, a man who “gets things done.”

And high among the reasons that autocrats are on the rise is that the centrist parties being shoved aside are perceived as having failed the people in their most basic demands — fewer migrants, more secure borders, preservation of national identity, putting their own people and their country own first.

Whatever may be said of the autocrats, be it Trump, Putin or Xi Jinping, they are not talkers but doers. They act.

And they may very well own the future.

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