Political Graffiti

We have spent part of our trip in Catalonia and we have seen graffiti
and a lot of yellow ribbons and also slogans “Libertad Presos Politicos” and “Vaga Feminista”. We were intrigued and started photographing these and did some research into the meanings.

Yellow Ribbons

There are yellow ribbons, painted on walls and roads and tied to trees, balconies, lampposts, on bridges and even on churches everywhere we have been in Catalonia. These ribbons are a modern political statement about a movement that dates back decades, to make Catalonia independent from Spain. The effort is not new, dating back almost 100 years. But the call for independence was reignited recently after a referendum was declared illegal by Spain.

The modern independence movement began in 2010 when the Constitutional Court of Spain ruled that some of the articles of the 2006 Statute of Autonomy—which had been agreed with the Spanish government and passed by a referendum in Catalonia—were unconstitutional, and others were to be interpreted restrictively. Popular protest against the decision quickly turned into demands for independence.

The popular movement fed upwards to the politicians; and a mass protest explicitly called on the Catalan government to begin the process towards independence. The Catalan president called a snap general election, which resulted in a pro-independence majority for the first time in the region’s history. The new parliament adopted the Catalan Sovereignty Declaration in early 2013, asserting that the Catalan people had the right to decide their own political future.

The Government of Catalonia announced a referendum on the question of statehood, to be held in November 2014. The referendum asked two questions: “Do you want Catalonia to become a state?” and if so, “Do you want this state to be independent?” The Government of Spain referred the proposed referendum to the Courts which ruled it unconstitutional. The Government of Catalonia then changed it from a binding referendum to a non-binding “consultation”. Despite the Spanish court also banning the non-binding vote, the referendum went ahead on 9 November 2014. The result was an 81% vote for “yes-yes”, with a turnout of 42%.

The following year, the new president announced a binding referendum. Although deemed illegal by the Spanish government and Constitutional Court, the referendum was held on 1 October 2017. In a vote where the anti-independence parties called for non-participation, results showed a 90% vote in favour of independence, with a turnout of 43%. Based on this result, on 27 October 2017 the Parliament of Catalonia approved a resolution creating an independent Republic unilaterally, by a vote considered illegal by the lawyers of the Parliament of Catalonia for violating the decisions of the Constitutional Court of Spain.

Presos Politicos translates as Freedom Political Prisoners. It is also suggested that the yellow ribbons represent solidarity with political prisoners who were arrested and jailed for their involvement with the independence movement and still remain behind bars.

Vaga Feminista

Grassroots feminist groups have formed a collective called“Hacia la Huelga Feminista” (Towards the Feminist Strike). They have for the past few years arranged an International Women’s Strike on March 8.

What is the Feminist Strike?
It is not our aim to organise a “classic” workers strike but to go beyond this format: our plan is to paralyse all the different invisible tasks and activities that women usually do, in all different levels and places. Specifically, we call a housework and care strike in the private field, a labour strike and a consumers strike (both in the public field) and a students’ strike in all educational levels.
These different (though closely related) strikes have their origin in a common thought: we believe that the World does not work without us, without our domestic and care work, without our purchases and without our labour. However, these tasks are barely acknowledged as they are done mostly by us, by women. Most of us are in charge of these tasks and exploited not just in the labour and public field, but also in our homes. The care-work of women (for example: nurturing, cleaning, taking care of children, sick or old members of the family) is essential in order to keep the live going, however, almost nobody recognises these tasks and moreover, they are never (or almost never) economically rewarded.
The same happens in the markets and shops: our everyday purchases are essential to the movements of the global capitalist system, which would not work without us. Therefore, we want to paralyse it all and to show to the World that we, women, are essential and indispensable to everything, everywhere.


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