back to article Spanish govt slammed over bizarre Catalan .cat internet registry cop raid

The Spanish government has come under increasing criticism for raiding the offices of the .cat internet registry in the lead-up to a referendum on Catalans' independence. On Wednesday morning, police entered the registry's headquarters in Barcelona and seized all of its computers. The cops also arrested six members of staff, …

  1. graeme leggett

    Basque complication

    I hadn't made the connection with the Basque issue up to now.

    If greater autonomy for the Basque region is price of peace but that region is part of an autonomous or independent Catalan region, then it could get messy.

    1. Raumkraut

      Re: Basque complication

      I didn't think that there was any overlap between the Catalonia and Basque regions, and if the maps on Wikipedia are anything to go by, there isn't. They're pretty much on the opposite coasts of the "neck" between Spain and France, with a strip of land belonging to neither culture between, so I'm not sure where that assertion in the article comes from.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Basque complication

        The problem is that if Catalonia gets independence then the Bask region will have a president for them to get independence as well.

        The Spanish government are fighting this because the Catalan region is the most productive of all the Spanish regions. If they become independent where is the Spanish government get its money from?

        It will also open the can of worms on the French side of the border because there is a strong movement for the old area that was part of Catalonia before the French took over to be reunited with the Spanish part.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Basque complication

          *Basque

          *Precedent

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Basque complication

      The two regions are separate.

      The problem is central government doesn't want greater autonomy for either region because the other one will want it too.

      In that respect the Basque Country has a little more fiscal autonomy, it collects and passes the money to Madrid whereas Catalonia gets the money collected by Madrid and is then given its share. Catalonia has been trying to get the same deal for years but is told they can't have it.

      If Catalonia does actually get independence (doubtful this time aroubd), that immediately will cause a problem with Basque Country because some there will want independence too.

      1. trapper

        Re: Basque complication

        The Catalans have wanted their independence since before 1540; they fought and lost a couple of wars over it. The Basques have had theirs curtailed (such as it was) since 1839. Nothing new here, folks, "Spain" is and has long been a conglomerate of peoples, some of whom never wanted to be totally submerged in a whole and have been fighting it for centuries. And no, Madrid doesn't want anything that might give the Basque Separatists ideas - they fight back with bombings. ICANN has one foot in a can of worms here.

    3. gibberBCN

      Re: Basque complication

      The Basque Country and Catalunya are two totally separate Autonomous Communities of Spain. However, the Basque Country has a greater degree of autonomy. The most important difference is that the Basque Country collects taxes and then pays a proportion to the Spanish whereas in Catalunya taxes are paid directly to the Spanish state which in turn returns a proportion to Catalunya.

  2. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Happy

    Fluffy.cat?

    Celebrates independence.

    Now where is she?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fluffy.cat?

      I was so hoping to go to that link to at least see a fluffy cat, or something cat related. And what do I get? Some random droning blog. For the shame, what has happened to you internet?

      Hell, a goatse troll would have been more interesting, even if immediate eyebleach would be needed afterwards. .

      Waste of a good domain, that.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Fluffy.cat?

        The a website on the .cat domain has to have some link to Catalonia or the Catalan language or culture, which is probably why you've never heard of it.

        Not sure how fluffy.cat qualifies. Perhaps they let it scrape in because it says "more Catalan content shortly" in Catalan at the start.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fluffy.cat?

          I can confirm

          myfluffy.cat is available however sadly videos.cat has gone.

          There are rules however,

          Content:

          A website in catalan (even partially) published within 6 months

          or

          A website promoting catalan culture (even partially) published within 6 months

          Would a picture of a cat in Barcelona work I wonder?

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Fluffy.cat?

            Cats drinking vermut?

  3. b0llchit
    Facepalm

    Information is a dangerous good

    Flow of information is the key to control.

    I guess that Spain needs to get a hold on facebook, twitter, snapchat, <whatever communication> domains too. Hell, while they are at it, they should shut down the internet and power too. Forbid books, pen and paper. Forbid verbal and non-verbal communication in the process too.

    The lesson from history is that any action creates a reaction. And, unlike mother nature, the reaction is often much stronger than the action. Spain has, apparently, not yet learned that lesson well enough.

    1. Lysenko

      Re: Information is a dangerous good

      You either have to go full NORK or you're just rearranging deck chairs. Otherwise it takes two minutes to register independentcatalonia.eu and they'll find that a damned sight harder to take down.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Information is a dangerous good

        There is a third option. It's sly and careful and hidden. Slowly change the media and entertainment, books and culture people consume. It might be harder but what people don't see they cannot defend against.

        1. Vincent Ballard

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          That's essentially what the regional government has been doing for the past 30 years.

        2. aks Bronze badge

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          What on earth makes you think that's *not* being done?

          The thing hampering the Spanish (Madrid) side is that it will be harder for them to push the united side of the argument on Catalan-language websites, newspapers, magazines and books.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            > The thing hampering the Spanish (Madrid) side is that it will be harder for them to push the united side of the argument on Catalan-language websites, newspapers, magazines and books.

            Not so, actually. Mainstream newspapers in Spain tend to have a Catalan edition as well.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          " Slowly change the media and entertainment, books and culture people consume."

          This is the tactic that the USA and certain other countries have been pursuing for the last 25 or so years...

      2. Peter0563

        Re: Information is a dangerous good

        Sadly not.

        People have already mirrored the referendum website referendum.cat outside the country at places like ref1oct.eu or referendum.ninja.

        Now guess what? From within Spain they’re not readily accessible because Spanish ISPs (Vodafone and Movistar were first but the others follow with a few days delay) all hijack their DNS resolution by order from the authorities.

        Modern democracy my ass.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          Not much separation of powers. The police or interior ministry spot a domain, gets on the blower to a judge, judge issues a court order to all the ISPs to block the DNS.

          This is abusing a law designed for copyright theft or hate speech.

          They'd have better luck distributing short URLs, e.g. TinyURL or goo.gl, via Twitter and having those redirect to an Amazon or Akamai address so they can reach everyone who doesn't use OpenDNS or Google DNS.

          1. Ogi

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            > This is abusing a law designed for copyright theft or hate speech.

            See this right here, right now, is why you should fight such laws, even if you disagree with Piracy or "hate speech" (which is particularly Orwellian in nature, as the government gets to decide what is or isn't "hate speech").

            Every time here in the UK, I see people cheering for a new law against "hate speech" or whatever, I bring up these examples, only to get shot down with "do you support hate speech" and other such drivel.

            If I even manage to explain to them that once you give the government a foot in the door, all bets are off and they can censor, I get intelligent responses like "don't be so paranoid, this is a liberal democracy, not North Korea!"

            Yeah well, here is an example, of a "western democracy" going at it, no less. If anything can come out of this sorry situation, it is examples of government abuse of laws for "terrorism" or "hate speech", or whatever else they dream up. Laws that seem to be proliferating in the west as of late...

          2. Vincent Ballard
            WTF?

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            The "gets on the blower to a judge" part of that is pretty much the essence of separation of powers, isn't it?

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Information is a dangerous good

              Yes, there is a government, a judiciary, and separation of powers.

              In cases like these, as we can see, nominally, in a BT/Openreach kind of way.

        2. Lysenko

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          Sure, they can try that, but without blocking FB, InstaGram, Twitter et.al. it is futile, as Turkey discovered. Next you need to turn into China and take down VPNs as well - and it still doesn't work.

          Dodgy dictators have thoroughly beta tested all available strategies over the last couple of decades and clearly established that you either use the NORKular option or you lose. I'm sure Havana will be happy to explain this to Madrid.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            I'm sure Havana will be happy to explain this to Madrid.

            Madrid seem to have gone back to the General Franco approach, I think they don't need any help from the Cubans. Maybe the Germans will offer help again "to bring order".

            1. jltallon

              Re: Information is a dangerous good

              As explained everywhere else, what is being prosecuted is a crime: spending public money to serve a political party's interests (vs those of the Catalan People)

              Freedom of speech is fully working in Catalonia as everywhere else in Spain: public declarations, tweets, demonstrations, press articles .... everybody is perfectly able to express their opinions.

              But promoting the **so called** "referendum" (with NO guarantees whatsoever) using public money is a crime here. BTW, it's Catalan *Judges* who are ordering the webs blocked.

              I don't know... maybe british are just too used to having their representatives lying openly and wasting taxpayer money without consequence to realise. Mind you, we jail those proven to have committed a crime even when they belong to the ruling party (whatever it is at the time).

              Maybe we Spaniards could lend you (British) a lesson in Democracy and Justice ?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Information is a dangerous good

                > As explained everywhere else, what is being prosecuted is a crime: spending public money

                Bar the original one, the webs being shut down are run by individuals who just clone the relevant GitHub repository and set up their own server, with their own money, in their own time. Curiously, that doesn't seem to have stopped the public prosecutor from accusing those people of misusing public funds. I am rather tempted to set up a mirror myself so I can then accuse the prosecutor of falsely reporting a crime. >:)

                Btw, may I suggest that next time Mr Rajoy's cabinet wants to make a show of force, sending in a cruiser decorated with 50 ft tall Looney Tunes characters is not the best way of approaching the situation?

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Information is a dangerous good

              The moment any politician starts raving on about "the rule of law", I'm reminded that what the Nazis did was perfectly lawful, as was what happened in South Africa under Apartheid and what happened in Cambodia under Pol Pot.

          2. Suricou Raven

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            It actually works pretty well. The more hoops you make people jump through to read something, the fewer people will read it. Yes, the hardcore activists will mess around with VPNs in their quest for unfiltered information - but the common internet user will simply find another site to read, one a bit more sympathetic to government interests.

        3. jltallon
          FAIL

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          I guess you should know a bit more about you talk before expressing yourselves in such a sensitive matter ...

          The problem here is that separatists are breaking the law AND IGNORING DEMOCRACY !

          Democracy means that all Catalans should decide their future .... not just some tens of thousands who happen to have political power...

          ... won the same way that your Brexit promoters did, mind you: using blatant lies.

          The crime (which is what is being prosecuted by blocking the domains) is spending *public* money for something that is against the law.

          Spanish Supreme Law states that Spain is made of 17 regions. And also that, for anything that redefines Spain, ALL Spaniards need to vote. This was passed in referendum by ample majority (over 87%) with a turnover of about 70%.

          Compare to a meager 51% with relative low turnover for Brexit. Plus ever-growing policing and mass-spying.

          BRITISH DEMOCRACY MY ASS !

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            Hiding behind unjust laws are acts of state cowardice.

            The law you describe not only violates the United Nations principle of self determination but it also blocks any democratic route for any independence minded Catalans to achieve their aims. That's disenfrachising very approximately 3 million people going by opinion polls.

            So what the Spanish government, and you, are saying to Catalans is that if they want independence the only route open to them is by non democratic methods, ie violence. So you're actively suggesting violent insurrection by pro independence Catalans?

            Bizzare.

            1. David Davenport

              Re: Information is a dangerous good

              The catalans need to organise a change to the spanish constitution to allow communities (or provinces or whatever) to secede from the union.

              Once they have done that, via the normal political channels, they can have a local referendum to decide whether they want to leave or not. the same would apply to all of the other communities as well, of course.

              At the moment, their "referendum" has been declared illegal under spanish law, and should therefore not take place.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Information is a dangerous good

            > I guess you should know a bit more about you talk before expressing yourselves in such a sensitive matter ...

            Not every Spaniard I have come across reacts with rudeness and insults when the subject of Catalonia comes up, but enough of them do to make me wonder if that is not part of the problem.

            > The problem here is that separatists are breaking the law AND IGNORING DEMOCRACY !

            Mr Rajoy and his supporters¹ have a very peculiar idea of democracy.

            > Democracy means that all Catalans should decide their future

            Sounds like a good idea. Maybe they should, I don't know... vote in a referendum? :-)

            ¹ It would be extremely unfair to generalise and tar all Spaniards with the same brush.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Information is a dangerous good

        https://github.com/GrenderG/referendum_cat_mirror.

        Of course, as you would speak from that bastion of democracy that is Sp... (err, never mind), GrenderG has been arrested.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Information is a dangerous good

          > as you would speak from

          Make that "expect from". Autocorrect, etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Information is a dangerous good

      > Hell, while they are at it, they should shut down the internet and power too.

      I bet you thought you were joking:

      "These measures include: taking to court 700 Catalan mayors for allowing preparations for the vote to go ahead, seizing campaign material and ballot papers, threatening to cut off power to polling stations, arresting and charging a newspaper editor accused of aiding the preparations for the referendum and banning a public meeting called in Madrid to discuss the issue. The Spanish government has now sent in the Civil Guard to occupy government buildings, with ministers and officials arrested, and has taken control of the Catalan government’s finances."

      Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/21/spains-dangerous-bid-to-block-catalan-vote

      1. jltallon

        Re: Information is a dangerous good

        Surely you don't have Police fight crime ?

        That explains a lot ....

        The crime here being spending taxpayer money illegally. In extreme cases, sedition.

  4. J J Carter Silver badge
    Trollface

    ¡Ay, caramba!

    Their domain registrar is from Barcelona

  5. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
  6. DougS Silver badge

    I imagine that could be a valuable domain

    If like some other country codes such as .to they sell to everyone. Lotta cat lovers who would likely pay $20 a year or whatever to have an email ending in .cat, or have their cat blog in a domain ending in .cat.

    Guess they must not sell them that way though, because I don't recall ever hearing of .cat previously.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I imagine that could be a valuable domain

      > Guess they must not sell them that way though, because I don't recall ever hearing of .cat previously.

      They do not sell it that way. Years ago, well before the "liberalisation" of TLDs, Catalans wanted to have their our ccTLD, but met strong opposition from the Spanish government which refused to add them to the ISO-3166 list of two-letter codes for territorial abbreviations, so they worked on, and eventually got one of the first TLDs aside from .com, .net, .org, .edu, .mil. In this case, .cat is intended for "Catalan-speaking territories and the promotion of Catalan culture" or some such. In reality it works as a (popular) substitute for a ccTLD.

      Needless to say, at the time the Spanish government emptied their box of spanners on those guys wheels.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I noticed this in the article:

    "Basque region that includes parts of Catalonia as well as areas to west and parts of neighbouring France."

    Having lived in both Euskadi(the Basque Country) and Catalunya for a long time, it's news to me that there can be any geographical overlap between the two, as it would be for any Spanish person. After all, Bilbao and Barcelona are six hundred kilometres apart.

    1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      That is a howler. Thanks for the spot. Removed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That is a howler. Thanks for the spot. Removed.

        DOWN ON YOU KNEES! Admit you just guessed it, without consulting even a school atlas.

        I've made a similar mistake in the past at an important company presentation, and that was because I guessed it without checking. In these situations of lazy f**wits making "that's probably correct" guesses, Wikipedia is an absolute authority.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Headmaster

        While we're here, you might also want to change puntoCat to puntCat as "punto" is a Spanish word.

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Windows

    Good this is far away from Russia

    Otherwise there might be a "spontaneous" "color" "revolution"...

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Good this is far away from Russia

      It's OK.

      Let's observe how "right of self-determination" applies only if the results are to damage THE ENEMY. The very red one under our beds.

      If it is someone on "our" side the right is to have a dick on a stick. DICK ON A VERY BIG STICK.

      They Catalan should declare themselves Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Kosovan, Bosniak, Chechen (from the Dudaev and Basyev days), what else... Am I missing someone? Oh, they should not make any fatal mistakes such as declaring themselves Abhazian or Armenian from Nagorni Karabah for example, that is the other way around, no right of self-determination for those, naughty puppy, naughty puppy, bad puppy, sit where you should.

      In any case, "Crime of Sedition". In 21st century. Europe. F***ing hell. What next? Reintroduce the holy inquisition (I know Castilla i Leon have a great form in that one, so probably should not give them ideas). They should have contracted some advisors from White hall to advise them how to rig an "independence referendum" via a gigantic pile of false promises and revert on half of them two years later.

  9. Vincent Ballard
    Headmaster

    It's not that simple

    "The region, in north east Spain, is fiercely autonomous with own language, customs and language"

    Although having their "own language" may be important enough to mention it twice, it's (as usual) more complicated than that. That language is co-official with Castilian (Spanish) not just in Catalonia but also in the Valencian Community* and the Balearic Islands. Some Catalans want independence just for the autonomous region of Catalonia; others for the three Catalan-speaking autonomous regions of Spain, and others for an even larger area including parts of France ("from Alicante to Perpignan") and want to subsume Andorra into their nation too.

    With respect to Andorra, by the way, I'm not sure why the article says "the government of Spain and the regional government of Andorra" rather than "the national governments of Spain and Andorra". Andorra is a member state of the UN, not a region.

    * Even that's not simple. Politically, the Valencian language is distinct from the Catalan language. Linguistically, it's a dialect. The Valencian regional government said harsh things about the linguists it hired to write a Valencian dictionary after they defined the Valencian language as a dialect of Catalan. But to confuse things even more, the "official" form of Valencian which is taught in schools and required in the exams which gain you CV points when applying for jobs in the regional civil service is much closer to Catalan as spoken in Barcelona than it is to Valencian as spoken in the villages of Valencia.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's not that simple

      "The region, in north east Spain, is fiercely autonomous with own language, customs and language"

      Could we gift Wales to them? Maybe agree that Gibraltar is ours, Wales is theirs, and we build a substantial wall along Offa's Dyke. And maybe a few minefields, thermally controlled multi-barrelled cannons. Oh, and archers; Everybody knows it's still legal to kill a Welshman with a bow and arrow.

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
        IT Angle

        Re: It's not that simple

        Quote:

        "Everybody knows it's still legal to kill a Welshman with a bow and arrow."

        Only in Chester on a sunday... sorry

        1. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: "Only in Chester on a sunday... sorry"

          Damn!

        2. Subtilior

          Re: It's not that simple

          Couldn't we give more territory to Chester though? And probably by Sunday they meant any day when the sun is shining, rather than just one day of the week, which is a silly restriction for a law.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's not that simple

          ""Everybody knows it's still legal to kill a Welshman with a bow and arrow."

          Only in Chester on a sunday... sorry"

          Quote

          Unfortunately not. The claim surrounding this one dates back to 1403, and a City Ordinance imposing a curfew on Welshman in Chester that was ironically issued by Henry, Prince of Wales, in response to Welsh uprisings in the city. The decree has since been superseded by boring old murder and manslaughter laws though, so put those longbows away.

          http://www.sickchirpse.com/weird-laws/4/

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's not that simple

        > Could we gift Wales to them? Maybe agree that Gibraltar is ours, Wales is theirs

        Catalans are quite OK with Gibraltar being British. In fact, during the war of succession that lead to Catalonia losing its political independence, the Catalans and the Brits fought on the same side (with the latter eventually deserting the former who decided to continue the fight on their own).

        I recall the town of Girona's official website used to be http://ajuntament.gi/ (still works, in fact. Now redirects to their .cat domain), with .gi being, of course, Gibraltar's ccTLD. This was done before the launch of .cat when many Catalan businesses and institutions avoided the use of .es like the plague. The fact that it used to be a royal pain to register a .es did not exactly help the centralist cause either.

      3. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: It's not that simple

        "Could we gift Wales to them? "

        Firstly we need Argentina to give them Patagonia back!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's not that simple

      "But to confuse things even more, the "official" form of Valencian which is taught in schools and required in the exams which gain you CV points [...]"

      My nephew and family moved to Spain with no previous experience of the language etc except a few holidays there. They put their daughters in the local Spanish school - to sink or swim. In her second year the then 12 year old came top of the class in Valencian.

  10. moiety

    There is a .cat TLD? How come I'm only finding out about this now? Life could have been so different...

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Miaaaou....

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Miaaaou....

        My cats all say that you have a very wierd accent. Mind you, they all speak broad North-Wiltshire[1] so I'm sure that my brothers London cats look down on them..

        [1] I'm sure my CatSpeak accent has shifted from my North London days. More broad vowels..

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That logo

    ... er ... fasces crossed with a sword? I would have thought that sort of iconography would have fallen out of favour by 1975 the latest

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: That logo

      Concur.

      My granddad and half of my granduncles are probably spinning at 10k rpms in their graves - they all fought in the civil war (which by the way from 1937 onwards had a very distinct Castilla i Leon versus Catalonia and Euskadi tint).

      This picture does not belong in the 21st century. Same as the crime of sedition.

      1. Mephistro Silver badge

        Re: That logo

        "My granddad and half of my granduncles are probably spinning at 10k rpms in their graves"

        Don't think so. That logo belongs to the Guardia Civil, that was created in the XVIII Century and has used it (with style variations) since then, even under the Spanish Republic.

        And take in account that the fasces and that crap didn't have the same meaning in the XVIII they do nowadays, as Fascists and Nazis appeared in the XX Century.

        On the other hand, they've got lots of other reasons to spin in their graves. Sigh.

  12. oldphart

    Seeking independence

    At least 70 years - I would say they have been seeking independence since the "unification" of Spain in 1492.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Seeking independence

      All you need to know about it is that the cannons on the Spanish fortress in Barcelona do not point at the sea - they were not guarding the city from Arabian pirates, French or British. They are pointed AT the city. Why - exercise to the reader.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Seeking independence

        They are pointed AT the city

        Which way is it the the HMS Bristol guns point again?

    2. Vincent Ballard
      Headmaster

      Re: Seeking independence

      The unification under the Catholic Monarchs was a personal union. There's no reason for it to have been a trigger for the principality of Catalunya to demand independence from the Crown of Aragón. The trigger which at least some of the independence wings point to is the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), following which the Crown of Aragón was dissolved (its components largely supported the losing side) and a more centralised Spanish Kingdom replaced it. But to say that they've been seeking independence since then would be incorrect: what they sought at the time was the restoration of what nowadays we would call a federal model.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Where's the vital geek question?

    Can we enter this for a useless use of cat award?

    1. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Where's the vital geek question?

      "Can we enter this for a useless use of cat award?"

      Surely more like a Simon Bond cat award?

  14. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Curious Spanish attitude

    We know why the Spanish central govt don't want Catalunya and Euskade to be independent - same reasons as the French want to keep Bretagne and the English want to keep Cymru and Scotland.

    But they seem to have totally missed the irony of suggesting that a democratic state wouldn't tolerate this - 'this' being a referendum which allows the demos to decide for themselves what they want to do.

    If they think it's a bad idea, try arguing against it (but more effectively than Cameron did with the Brexit referendum).

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: the English want to keep Cymru and Scotland.

      Hmm. The "English" haven't got Scotland, the United Kingdom has.

      1. Suricou Raven

        Re: the English want to keep Cymru and Scotland.

        People in Scotland may disagree on that. As UK government is run from London and dominated by English politicians, from the Scottish perspective it's not so much the United Kingdom as 'England et al.'

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: the English want to keep Cymru and Scotland.

          "As UK government is run from London and dominated by English politicians, from the Scottish perspective it's not so much the United Kingdom as 'England et al.'"

          From an English perspective Scotland is seen as making a lot of decisions in its own Assembly with its own govt. but decisions involving England are made in the UK Parliament.

          I'm not convinced that, had the Scottish independence referendum been held on a UK-wide franchise,* it wouldn't have had the same outcome; the English might have voted to have rid themselves of the Scots. However being effectively thrown out wouldn't have sat well with the SNP.

          Not setting up an English Assembly along with the Welsh and Scottish ones was a mistake. Arguably we might have had the Brexit nonsense although I suppose we might have had the numpty wing of the Conservative party dominating the English Assembly.

          Home rule for Yorkshire, I say - and within its pre-1974 boundaries.

          *Quite justifiable on the basis that it affected the UK as a unit.

          1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            Re: the English want to keep Cymru and Scotland.

            You can have your 1974 boundaries if Lancashire can too, except Liverpool. We don't want Liverpool.

      2. CommanderGalaxian

        Re: the English want to keep Cymru and Scotland.

        "Hmm. The "English" haven't got Scotland, the United Kingdom has."

        The United Kingdom is a Union, so it doesn't have Scotland. Either party is free to leave at any time. Funny how every possible obstacle is put in Scotland's way to leaving by, errr, England.

        1. Mark2410

          Re: the English want to keep Cymru and Scotland.

          like the voters in scotland voting no?

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: the English want to keep Cymru and Scotland.

          every possible obstacle is put in Scotland's way to leaving by, errr, England.

          s/England/The Conservative Party/g *

          (Not that the other parties are not keen to maintain the UK, they are just considerably less rabid about it).

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the English want to keep Cymru and Scotland.

        "Hmm. The "English" haven't got Scotland, the United Kingdom has."

        But the English are by some distance on top of the United Kingdom pile - se effectively they have!

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Curious Spanish attitude

      The Constitutional Court says that there has to be a constitutional change to Article 2 (Spain is indivisible) before there can be any independence referendum and that a constitutional change also requires a referendum... a nationwide one.

      The king has to convene the constitutional referendum, he can only do that if the president propose that he do it, and that can only happen after a majority vote in parliament.

      Because there are the two big nationwide parties in parliament, that's never going to happen. Even if parliament did propose a constituional referendum, it wouldn't pass anyway as people elsewhere in Spain would vote no. They don't particularly like Catalonia, but they don't hate them enough to kick them out either. Or maybe they do hate them a lot and the worst thing to do to them would be to not let them leave. Who knows.

      So, whenever this comes to a head, the President always pops up and says an independence referendum is illegal because Article 2.

      What I don't quite understand is there was a constitutional change in 2011 during the economic crisis after pressure from the EU which said that Spain must prioritize paying its debts over spending. There was no constitutional referendum about this.

      1. Vincent Ballard
        Headmaster

        Re: Curious Spanish attitude

        That one's easy. Articles 167 and 168 of the referendum. The official English translation is at http://www.congreso.es/constitucion/ficheros/c78/cons_ingl.pdf , but in short: a handful of articles get special protection by automatically requiring amendments to be approved by referendum. The majority can be amended by a supermajority in parliament, but must be referred to the people if 10% of either house of parliament votes to require that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Curious Spanish attitude

          > a handful of articles get special protection by automatically requiring amendments to be approved by referendum.

          In other words, a poison pill against independence.

          Btw, fluent Spanish speakers with a sense for the dramatic arts may find this amusing: https://www.facebook.com/joseluis.boullonlechon/videos/513317689019936/

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Curious Spanish attitude

        There was no constitutional referendum about this.

        Simple - to paraphrase Yes Minister:

        I want a consitutional referendum.

        You want to destabalise the democratic basis of our society

        They want revolution

    3. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Curious Spanish attitude

      It's effectively the same attitude as that of the UK - the Scots don't get a referendum without the permission of Westminster.

      The difference is that Westminster has said yes, twice, and is being asked to say yes for a third time. So, clearly, the demos don't get to make a final decision whether a referendum is held or not.

      1. CommanderGalaxian

        Re: Curious Spanish attitude

        "The difference is that Westminster has said yes, twice..." [innacurate on several counts]

        As with previous referenda in Scotland and Catalonia - the governments of the UK and Spain only granted them at a time when they knew the opinion polls showed that the Central Government was almost certain to win.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Curious Spanish attitude

          There has never been an independence referendum in Catalonia because Article 2.

          There have been referendums held by town councils with no legal standing, a region-wide referendum which was rebadged a consultation after it was declared illegal, and elections where the parties said that if they're elected they'll carry on the independence process.

          This is the first one where Catalonia has said it's a referendum on independence, it's going ahead, and they'll declare independence if there is a majority vote for it.

    4. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Curious Spanish attitude

      While I don't agree with Rajoy's actions , what you are missing is that in terms of the Spanish constitution, ALL Spaniards should have a democratic say in whether or not Catalunya should be independent. It also seems to be what a fair few Spaniards think. Some of those I have spoken to are Ibicencan catalan speakers who think Catalunya should abide by the rules of the constitution they are currently part of.

      Personally, I think both Spain and Catalunya would suffer economically if they separate. I also expect Madrid is concerned about the route to the rest of Europe being controlled by Catalunya.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Curious Spanish attitude

        Should the rest of the UK have voted on Scottish independence or the rest of the EU voted on Brexit?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Curious Spanish attitude

      They want to keep hold of Catalunya because the without Catalunya's financial input, the rest of Spain collapses...

      Posted anonymously because people have been arrested and brought in for questioning over tweets about this referendum business and I don't want the same happening to me

    6. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Curious Spanish attitude

      French want to keep Bretagne and the English want to keep Cymru and Scotland.

      *Some* English..

      (And if you are going to use Cymru for Wales, you could have at least used Alba for Scotland.. Kernow bys vikken!)

  15. patrickstar

    "As the online home for Catalans, the .cat registry has been pulled into the struggle – and that may have created a dangerous precedent where an internet registry is targeted and help responsible for the content of websites hosted on one of its domains. "

    So wait, last time (recently too!) there was a major debacle about domain name registries (and registrars) pulling domains because of the mistaken belief that they are somehow responsible for the contents, I recall the El Reg articles and commentars eagerly cheering it on...?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      That was a privately owned domain registrar not wanring to having anything to do with propogating hate speech.

      .cat is publically owned by the region and is being ordered to drop content because central government doesn't like it.

      What would you think if there was Scottish referendum information published under a .scot domain and UK ISPs DNS blocked it under orders from central government via a friendly judge? Then later on of it was republished under other domains like .eu and .com and they were blocked too?

      1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        Scottish one

        Dont discount this happening!! But yeah, it is the equivalent of the SNP saying "we are going to do it, we dont care if you agree". And ignoring the central government.

        1. Suricou Raven

          Re: Scottish one

          The binding power of independence referendums really depends upon the same thing that underpins all governments: Firepower.

          What happens if the result is 'yes?' That looks like it could happen, skimming over the opinion polls. The only way Spain could respond then would be to directly attack political leaders - compile a list of everyone in the Catalan parliament who supported the referendum, arrest them all for sedition. As the police seem to be loyal to Spain rather than Catalonia, there's nothing much anyone in Catalonia could do about it.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Scottish one

            Well, they're already arresting regional politicians for sedition and fining them €12,000 per day.

            The local police run by town councils and regional police are loyal to Catalonia, the national police and civil guard are loyal to central government. If the referendum does go ahead, I'm guessing there's going to be lots of videos of what's happening at polling stations floating round social networks.

            1. Peter0563

              Re: Scottish one

              I would not be surprised at all if we wake up to a major network “outage” affecting Barcelona the day of the referendum to prevent people from coordinating protests and images of Spanish police violence leaking out before all is done. Hope I’m wrong :/

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Scottish one

                > I would not be surprised at all if we wake up to a major network “outage” affecting Barcelona the day of the referendum

                Without letting out too much, in case I am right, the main grassroots organisations supporting independence (the Catalan National Assembly and Òmnium) have already thought of that. There are also contingency plans in case the entire government is captured.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Scottish one

          > Dont discount this happening!! But yeah, it is the equivalent of the SNP saying "we are going to do it, we dont care if you agree". And ignoring the central government.

          The Catalans have been asking for a negotiation for the last seven years. In the 2015 Catalan elections their programme included as its main point a negotiated referendum, with a unilateral consultation only as a last resource. The Spanish government refused to even discuss the possibility of discussing a referendum.

          Can hardly blame the Catalans for wanting to go ahead whether the Spanish government likes it or not.

          I must say, I have been in touch over the last few days with friends and acquaintances in Catalonia. Even the ones that I recall as being fiercely unionist are determined to vote, and to vote for independence. I don't know how representative that is of the whole population, but sending in the police wasn't one of their brightest ideas (or maybe it was, I do not recall them being known for having good ideas).

      2. patrickstar

        Wrong. Several TLDs (AL RU AT at least) pulled it at the registry level.

        Also, at least two registrars (Google in the case of one domain, Network Solutions in another) did go way above and beyond 'not wanting anything to do with it' by stealing the domains outright instead of just telling them to move. This is, at the very least, just as problematic. And at least in the case of Google there was no basis whatsoever in their ToS for doing it.

        If you don't want to do business with someone, you shouldn't voluntarily enter into an agreement to do so in the first place. And if you decide to stop doing business with the person in question, you certainly shouldn't actively prevent him/her/it from doing business with someone else instead. (Plus at the very least refund the cost and possibly pay damages for breaking the contract prematurely, but that's a minor detail in this case.)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > .cat is publically owned by the region

        That is only half-accurate. It is a private non-profit funded through the sale of .cat domains. It does however count with the support of a number of public and non-public notable institutions (including Barcelona FC). http://fundacio.cat/en/who-we-are.

        > and is being ordered to drop content because central government doesn't like it.

        Yup.

        1. jltallon

          > and is being ordered to drop content because central government doesn't like it.+

          Catalan judges found that the content is used for infringing the law, and so it's illegal to be published.

          The crime being to use public (i.e. taxpayer's) money to fund some politicians' delusions.

          The fact that those same politicians have been blatantly stealing from the Catalan institutions/people (the "3%" cases) and are about to be processed for that reason is only coincidence, right? (the idea being that in an independent Catalonia, Spanish judges have no authority; Plus the proposed ""Catalan Constitution"" expressly implies judicial submission to the catalan government....)

          Sorry to spoil the fun for you. You should check the facts first.

          1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

            Re: jltallon

            BTW not sure what you mean by Catalan judges getting involved, but to be clear, the order against .cat domains is coming from the Spanish judicial authorities.

            C.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: jltallon

              There's something called the Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Cataluña (Catalan High Court of Justice). There's one for each autonomous region and they never knowingly rule against central government.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Technically it's not about what a government likes - it's a point of law. Madrid has made it illegal not only to hold the referendum but to talk about it and / or plan it and to publish sites about it. Thin end of wedge and all that...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Homage to Catalonia

    Another Spanish Civil War.

  17. zaax

    If this does happen it will open the floodgates as regions in Italy / Asutria / Germnay want independance as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > If this does happen it will open the floodgates as regions in Italy / Asutria / Germnay want independance as well.

      That's about as doubtful as your spelling (sorry, couldn't resist). The social, political, economic and historical realities are quite different. I doubt even the Basque Country would follow suit.

      Of course, over the long term in Europe we are more likely to see a proliferation of small states organised around a sense of shared identity (as in Catalonia, those needn't be ethnic identities, just a shared sense of nationhood), but that's not something that would happen immediately.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Might even happen here in the States. I reference the "State of Jefferson" movement in northern California and southern Oregon. So far, it's a pipe dream but I don't think it will take much to push it mainstream especially with some legislators in California talking secession.

      1. Cpt Blue Bear

        "Might even happen here in the States. I reference the "State of Jefferson" movement"

        More radically look up Cascadia. That ones been bubbling since before the Civil War

  18. Steve 114

    When I did tech-stuff in the erstwhile 'EU', Catalonia was technically tops, and Madrid was the best best business partner. Best wishes to both, but they aren't the same.

  19. Paranoid android

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you...

    then you win. Until recently I thought Catalunya had no chance in hell to get independence, even given Chapter 1 of the United Nations' Charter:

    "2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples".

    Doesn't international law trump national law?

    Now, if I were in their place these events would have made me in favour of independence. I think Spain has just made independence or greater autonomy inevitable.

  20. Slx

    I find this whole incident has changed my view of Spain. I would be thinking twice about investing there and certainly about ever living there after the way that the Catalans have been treated in this.

    If the Spanish Government has an argument against Catalonia leaving, present it! There are lots of good reasons why it makes sense to stay together. However, if they just adopt what look like the kind of bully tactics that you would see in some kind of authoritarian state, well then they will simply get the publicity that they deserve.

    I am genuinely shocked with the way this has progressed and I think it really shows that Spain hasn't developed into a proper democracy after the dictatorship.

    1. imski

      I'd think twice about living in Catalunia

      Currently living in Spain and while I have certain understanding for self-determination feelings, I come from a country with strong regional differences (arguable a lot stronger than the spanish - catalan ones) and I'm flatly opposed to nationalist movements in my country of origin too.

      The reality is that Spanish government is certainly flawed, but Catalan government makes it look good in comparison.

      The Catalan region is paying in more into Spain than it gets out, but no shit Sherlock, it's the richest area in Spain, that's how things work where you at least attempt to serve the common good.

      But it's an easy distraction from the fact that the richest area of Spain seems to be unable to balance its books. Easier to blame central government "stealing your wealth" rather than getting your own house in order.

  21. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    DNS

    I they are blocking domains that host the referendum content, why don't the Catelonian's just give out the IP addresses of the web sites?

    eg http://127.0.0.1 (but obviously not this one :) )

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait for it....

    Civil War....Stay tuned.

  23. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    If only we could have laws against sedation in this country. Bloody Cornish separatists.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Joke

      Whilst I'm all for sedating the Cornish, I have a feeling you meant sedition :)

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Fair enough. There isn't a campaign for Lancashire's sedition, so the word hasn't reached our way yet.

        Related, and amusingly ( to me ), I read the word "hyperbole" online many times before I heard it. I guessed it's pronunciation as "hyper bole". I still read it as "hyper bole, no hyperbole" now.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Whilst I'm all for sedating the Cornish

        You'd be about 500 years too late. Lots of cider drunk in Cornwall :-)

  24. John Savard Silver badge

    No-brainer

    It should be very simple. The Basques, the Catalans, the Bretagnes, the Occitans: all are distinct peoples with their own language, so of course they're entitled to their own nation-state. And for that matter, the Welsh and the Scots too.

    Any attempt to obstruct and resist this, and you will be drummed out of the ranks of the world's civilized industrialized nations, and dumped in the bin of the Axis of Evil, along with places like China that still hangs on to Tibet and Uighuristan.

    Of course, then comes the more difficult part, since there will be some practical difficulties in returning New Zealand, Australia, North, Central, and South America all to their indigenous peoples. It may take a few decades to phase in the needed relocations for that. But independence for peoples that are already the majority where they are located presumably won't involve massive relocations.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: No-brainer

      And for that matter, the Welsh and the Scots too.

      You are aware that large proportions of those two nations don't speak their 'native' languages? Lots of reasons why - suppression by central government, migration of people and, in the case of Scotland, Gaidghlig was not the language of the whole of the country[1] anyway..

      [1] I could quite forsee that, in the event of a Scottish split with the UK, a further split into the Highlands and Lowlands.

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