I'll admit, when people started sending me stories about what is going on in Catalonia, and more particularly, the beautiful city of Barcelona, I felt that intuition that "something's not right here." I have something of a soft spot for the city because it is, of course, the home to the architecture of Antoni Gaudi, and his masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia basilica, a strange mix of the Gothic, nature, and the surreal. If you've never seen his strange architectural visions, then have a look at that one, his strangest and yet perhaps, most enthralling.
In any case, what accounted for my intuition - at least in part - was this article indicating that Madrid's response to the referendum for Catalonian secession was rather heavy-handed(thanks to all who shared this article):
Now, whether or not cruise ships can safely house sixteen thousand riot police or not (and I wouldn't know, since I don't go on cruises, though the figure seems a little steep). Fortunately we needn't fear about the cruise ship, for the article clarifies that Madrid has hired ships - plural - and not just one heavily-over-subscribed cruise ship.
Then came more articles about the arrest of Catalonian finance minister Jove:
Whatever the reasons for so many in Catalonia wanting secession from the rest of Spain, and whatever the reasons for Madrid's apparently heavy-handed response, I cannot help but note the hypocrisy of certain segments of the west. Self-determination for all peoples has been a mantra since President Wilson enunciated it on his flower-strewn march to Versailles, which promptly negated the principle when some Austrians expressed a desire to unite with Germany. Woops. Better tone down the freedom and democracy rhetoric, Woodrow, lest it blow up in everyone's faces. The Versailles "freedom and self-determination for (officially approved) peoples" didn't stop with the post-World War One Austrians. We've seen it again in the Crimea.
But I digress. In trying to understand what's going on between Catalonia and Madrid, I've heard everything: the region has always been "independent minded" and "has its own culture and language which have come back after the death of Franco &c &c &c," to much more interesting explanations indicative that Spain, at least, is facing similar problems as elsewhere: people are upset that the influx of "refugees" is turning Spain into "Spanistan," and to put the icing on this cake, Catalonia continues to be the strongest part of the Spanish.... er... Spanistanese... economy, sending more money to Madrid than it gets back from it, leading to the cries of secession that we've seen elsewhere, and for similar reasons (refugees, cynical central governments, financial imbalance between central governments and provinces). One need only think of Italy, and calls for secession of Venice in recent years.
But then someone in Spain - we'll call her "Senora Cervantes" - kindly provided this perspective from El Pais, which indicates that Madrid is not acting in the heavy-handed manner described by other media outlets:
Well, ok... but still, why all the ruckus? We're left where we were before, with all of the above conventional explanations.
But then Senora Cervantes mentioned something that really raised my suspicion meter into the red zone; indeed, as I sit here typing this blog, my mind is still reeling. Normally, as regular readers here know, I am loathe to mention information gleaned from anonymous sources, but this one was so huge that it really caught my attention, and has my mind reeling with high octane speculative possibilities, and I simply have to pass it along with that caveat. What Senora Cervantes told me is that this whole thing has nothing to do with these conventional explanations. Rather, she said, this is all about drug trafficking into Spain via Barcelona and Catalonia, and that the regional Catalonian government is actively seeking, so to speak, to get its "cut of the action", and that it seeks also to transform it into a node or nexus of money laundering for the whole operation. And even more specifically, she mentioned that the narco-money being sought was from China and the Middle East... And please note, such a scenario implies a fundamental restructuring of the centers of such laundering, implying that the usual ones are no longer functioning as efficiently as they once did for this purpose, for whatever reason; perhaps they have become the focus of too much scrutiny to do so (Vatican bank, anyone?).
Now, as one can imagine, this sent my mind reeling, and entertaining all sorts of high octane speculations. If so - I mused - then it puts a very different light on the One Belt One Road project that we've all seen China pushing in recent years (pun indended), for as is obvious, the linkage of Europe to the Far East via a vast infrastructure of roads and rails - just as the 19th century British geopolitician Sir Halford MacKinder foresaw - would completely reinvent the geopolitical paradigm that had prevailed since the Renaissance, where sea power was the ultimate arbiter and determiner of economic and geopolitical hegemony. The history of the western imperial powers' interference in China in the nineteenth century is well-known, as is the importation of opium into that country by British, American, and other interests, in a cynical effort to keep the Chinese government weak, and the Chinese themselves cowed, while lining their own pockets with the proceeds. But goods of all sorts can move over the one belt one road, including drugs. So what Senora Cervantes was suggesting was, to put it country simple, that the international drug trade itself was being massively restructured, and that the Catalonian secession movement was part of this process! And it even raises the prospect that China is perhaps trying to play a "revenge" game with the west for addicting millions of Chinese to opium in the 19th and early 20th centuries, not to mention the destablizations that followed it: the Boxer Rebellion, Sun-yat Sen, the Khoumintang, the Communist takeover and all its instabilities from Mao, the Red Gaurds, and so on. If that is the Chinese game, or even just a (covert) part of it, then really and in the final analysis, who can blame them?
(See? I told you... the mind reels!)
Now this puts the whole thing into yet a wider perspective, for I and other researchers and writers who've been watching all this mess unfold since 9/11, have also suggested that the whole move into Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11, was as much about the drug trade as it was about oil. Indeed, I have suspected similar things with the flip-flops of Sultan Erdogan in his Ottomania, as I have suspected it about Syria. Indeed, it even hints that the European refugee crisis (thank you, Frau Merkel, and Darth Soros) could also be tied into a narco-culture-war and narco-trafficking agenda.
And of course, too, there is the disturbing but little known fact that Catalonia was host to that "terrorists' summit" in the late 1960s, hosted by former Nazi SS commando Otto Skorzeny, a "summit" which included the participation of Yasser Arafat and others of similar ilk. Where was it held? In Barcelona. Additionally, all of Senora Cervantes' speculations and insights here make me suspect that there is a relationship to the history of drug trade "restructuring" outlined by researcher Henrik Kruger in his book The Great Heroin Coup.
In any case, what emerges from this, if true (and I have no reason to doubt Senora Cervantes here) is that the tug of war between Barcelona and Madrid isn't about the usual legal niceties concerning secession. It's about control of narco-trafficking (and, while we're at it, other types of covert smuggling and the laundering of money therefrom, as well).
The bottom line: it would appear that neither Madrid or Barcelona are merely tilting at windmills...
See you on the flip side...