"Who gave them the ballot boxes, ballots, pens, and forms?"

It seems like just another question in a trial, but Spain wants to know the origin of the "weapons" of 9-N

Antoni Bassas
3 min
Moment de la declaració de Gemma Calvet vist des de la sala de premsa

BarcelonaIt might seem like just one more out of hundreds of questions asked in the hearing of a trial that lasts five days. The prosecutor asked Anna Palet, the mayor of Vilanant (Alt Empordà) who provided a municipal building to be a polling place on November 9, 2014: "Do you remember who brought the ballot boxes, ballots, pens, and forms?" It has been 17 years since the beginning of the 21st Century, and in June it will be 40 years since the first democratic elections in Spain, and on Thursday the Spanish state sent a prosecutor to ask a citizen, a mayor to be exact, who was responsible for supplying the "ballot boxes, ballots, pens, and forms". The government wants to know the origin of the "weapons" of 9-N: ballot boxes, ballots, pens, and forms.

So who opened the venue? "I did. I had signed up as a volunteer". And who requested a premises? "A volunteer coordinator for the area". And who was that? "The mayor of Borrassà". Who delivered the computer? "A courier company." And what did you do with it? "I picked it up and kept it at home. I remember that there was a lot of excitement and on Sunday November 9th the whole town was in the streets”.

Volunteer Gallart, from Roda de Ter, stated: "The people were eager to queue up. A 90-year-old gentleman showed up in a wheelchair and I told him to go to the head of the queue so that he wouldn't have to wait, but he said no, that he "wanted to enjoy it". The private prosecution (Spanish police unions SPP and UPF, and Manos Limpias) believed that they could expose the deception: did the volunteers receive instructions via a webpage that was not part of any public entity? “And nobody knew whether it was a secret organization?" Judge Barrientos cut him off by saying (it is hard to say if he was as embarrassed as many in the room, but I would venture that he was): "The question is irrelevant”.

Volunteer David Fernández (not the former CUP MP) declared: "A 100-year-old man who had difficulties putting his ballot in the box said that he came because he wanted to be heard". And was there any sign outside with the shield of the Generalitat to indicate that this was a participation site? "No". And inside, how did the people know where to vote? "We made some signs with paper and markers”.

The questions, formulated with courtesy and in accordance with the law, showed, however, a great symbolic aggressiveness. In the hallways during a recess, Anna Palet said: "I felt strange and almost ridiculous". It has never been so true that they are judging 2.3 million people. It seemed to be a general cause. This is what happens when a government refuses to listen: it punishes three people in charge as if there had not been 2.3 million more people cooperating.

Lawyer Gemma Calvet, then representative for Catalunya Sí and part of the ERC parliamentary group for was a volunteer for 9-N. Her statement shows legal and political outrage. She is very upset. She almost shouted when she said, pointing at the defendants' bench: "There should be 2.3 million people sitting there". And she specified that 9-N obeyed the highest forms that a state can use to seek the opinions of its citizens: "Elections, referendums, consultations, and participatory processes". But what was the evil in this process? Calvet, who has political experience and answers at length, still knows how to make headlines, nailed it: "The taboo of the question”.

All of those in Catalonia who scorn 9-N because "it was only a participatory process" should take note that you cannot do even this much in Spain, if the question is aimed at finding out opinions on Catalonia's political future. If you try, they will want to know who provided the ballot boxes, ballots, pens, and forms.