Catalonia crackdown evokes memories of the dark days of Spain’s dictatorship

The Washington Post reports: As Spanish leaders and Catalonia’s separatists battle over the fate of the would-be breakaway region, a shadow from the past is looming over the conflict: Francisco Franco, the dictator who held his nation in an iron grip from 1939 to well into the 1970s.

With Catalan leaders exiled and locked behind bars, Catalan media outlets under threat and national police using truncheons to break up last month’s independence referendum, many here in Catalonia say that their repressive history is making an ugly return.

They point to the no-negotiation stance by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who they say has sought to quell separatism not by persuasion but by force and fear. And they say his center-right People’s Party never fully purged itself of its past after having been founded by Franco-era officials.

Rajoy and his allies dismiss the criticism, saying they are democratically elected leaders operating within the bounds of Spain’s constitution. But they, too, have occasionally reached toward the opposite side in their nation’s bitter history. Government spokesman Pablo Casado recently warned that if Catalan President Carles Puigdemont declared independence, he could wind up with a fate similar to a previous Catalan leader during the Spanish Civil War who was executed by firing squad in 1940. [Continue reading…]

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