Sunday’s scenes of police brutality against the very citizens they swore to uphold the law for has stirred up memories of some of Spain’s darkest moments.
The day was barely dawning when Guardia Civil squads in full riot gear prepared to act in the name of ‘democracy’, under orders from Madrid to stop the independentist referendum in Catalonia.
What followed was a string of increasingly savage and indiscriminate assaults on referendum officials, and on those who simply wished to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
Baton in hand, riot squads brutally repressed a political referendum branded ‘illegal’ by Madrid. The day ended with over 800 people injured -some of them severely-, deep national shame, and an even deeper resentment against the very authorities that are meant to safeguard the well-being of the Spanish people.
Sunday’s day of infamy has also served, perhaps unwittingly, to stir up ghosts that were laid to rest in the mid 1970s.
The Spanish Civil War shaped Spain’s psyche in much the same way as Vietnam did for the United States. The actual conflict may have ended decades ago, but ideas and political views remain simmering just beneath the surface, always searching for an outlet to raise their ugly head.
General Franco died in 1975, but his dark legacy lives on, and profound divisions still linger inside many. The footage that emerged from Sunday’s events has been circulated worldwide, and the parallelisms with the events of a sinister past have not gone unnoticed.
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