Monday, October 6, 2014

Silenced and caged


It’s not a protest, it’s a consciousness-raising

The Spanish Constitutional Court, at the behest of the Spanish State, has suspended the law of non-binding referendums approved by the Parliament of Catalonia and the decree convening the November 9th referendum. In this fashion, it has effectively prohibited the democratic expression of the people of Catalonia, but, at the same time it has automatically legitimized the right of self-determination of the country’s citizens and institutions.

The Catalan people and its representatives have attempted to negotiate with the Spanish State at every opportunity and have demonstrated their desire to proceed through Spain’s legal channels. The State has done nothing but use legalities to negate the possibility of Catalonia’s citizens to express themselves. It does not treat Catalans as citizens, but rather condemns them to be a permanently silenced minority.

When the politically expressed will of a minority is systematically altered according to the preferences of a majority; when the legal framework that must be used to articulate the differences and diversity are corrupted by the arbitrary use of coercive power; when the pacts and agreements between a recognized political community and the majority that works from within the State administration lack legal and political guarantees; the only available legitimacy remains in the hands of the electoral body, that is, the people.

For these reasons, a group of citizens have started the campaign #Mutsialagabia [#SilencedandCaged] because they want to call attention to this profoundly serious situation with a symbolic gesture: leaving ballot boxes inside cages throughout our cities and towns. Customs and the normal course of political events tend to desensitize the conscience about the seriousness of matters like this one. However, prohibiting the referendum is to hijack citizen consensus and imprison our fundamental liberties. No political equilibrium can justify such a prohibition.

The campaign is also a way of expressing the absurdity of the prohibition. A ballot within a cage is still a ballot. In democracy, liberty cannot be silenced. The freedom to stay in or leave Spain belongs to us. The freedom to found a State like any other, or not, belongs to us. The freedom to consent to the power over our community belongs to us. This cage is mental: it is our job to free the ballots.

We invite everyone, regardless of their political affinity, to hang cages from their balconies, windows, and terraces, with a ballot or ballot box inside, so that the collective memory of the day that our democratic freedoms were prohibited and imprisoned will never be erased.

This is not a protest, it is a consciousness raising.

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