Valentina Servera, 18, is studying HND Practical Journalism at Glasgow Clyde College. She moved to the city three months ago from her home town of Barcelona, Spain.
Valentina is a youth politician and fell in love with Glasgow after previous trips to Scotland to collaborate with the SNP.
She’s been back in Barcelona this weekend, reporting on the Catalan referendum.
What I had to live through yesterday, to defend my human rights, was something that I would never expect in a “democratic country”.
On Sunday 1st October, Catalonia had planned to hold a referendum. We knew Spain was against it, but we thought that our right to decide was more important that a constitution written in 1978, a constitution not even the government follows. Yet, according to the Spanish government, what we were doing was breaking the law, breaking Spain (Which I´m sorry, but it’s been broken for centuries) and it needed to be stopped.
Since Friday Catalans have been really scared of the police closing the polling stations, so the citizens decided to defend themselves by sleeping in them. In those two days I slept 30 minutes, like guys we’ve been waiting for these 300 years, can we wait one hour more, so I can take a proper nap? Jokes aside people, everybody, from little kids to grandfathers, were sleeping on the floors to defend democracy. We used the polling stations to make movie marathons, wee concerts, chess tournaments, anything that made us forget that the police could come at any time and take us away. An old lady came to me, she was 85, and she said, “after hiding my entire childhood from Franco, today I’m not hiding, today I’m standing on my feet to defend my rights”. Imagine someone that lived in a dictatorship saying that she felt in one again, imagine how afraid we were.
But, finally, Sunday morning came, and at 5:00 am people were already on the queue to vote like they were going to a Justin Bieber concert. I was exhausted, my nerves were killing me, the excitement was killing me, even a fly could have killed me, but it didn’t matter, we Catalans were about to finally be able to vote, we were one step closer to freedom, but we couldn’t have ever predicted what would happen next.
We didn’t expect the police to be grabbing people and throwing them away in the same way I get rid of my dirty laundry. We weren’t expecting the police to grab old people and smash their heads, we weren’t expecting the police to go after little children.
What I saw yesterday was the scariest moment of my life, I was in my polling station, I was in charge and every time we had an alert of the police coming, I had to run away with the ballots and hide. We were living in constant stress, we were seeing what was going on in the streets, and we thought this was the beginning of a civil war.
What Catalan people lived through yesterday was unacceptable, it doesn’t matter how many videos or pictures you see, nothing compares to being there. Your rights were being taken away, not even taken, they were killed! To the Spanish government we were not people any more, we were the enemies they needed to destroy, and people are still wondering why Catalans wanted to leave. How are you ever going to feel safe in a country like that?
But finally it was the moment of truth. We were feeling pretty low, we knew 400 polling stations were closed, we knew the police had taken some ballots away… but we weren’t expecting 2,020,144 YES votes, THAT’S 90% PERCENT! After all the tricks Spain has used, Catalan still has voted, and CATALONIA HAS WON!
After all we’ve been through all these years, we finally made it, we’re writing a new chapter in history, and we won’t forget but most importantly we won’t forgive, we didn’t forgive all the lives that Franco took away from Catalans, we won’t forgive what Rajoy has taken away from us.