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Independence Sentiment Rising in California

In the face of the madness (or idiocy) of the current President of the United States and the obscure perspectives offered to the citizens by his eventual successors, it is worth remembering that secession is not only a matter of American history, but is an extremely topical sociological and political issue.

Two epic cinematic adventures: “Gone With the Wind”, filmed in 1938 and “Cold Mountain”, a successful novel brought to the big screen in 2003, took wars of secession to shape their plots and rivalries, as well as to denounce dreadful actions on both sides in rejecting the madness of a possible new fratricidal war in the United States.

Technically, if California, which is the richest state in the United States, were to become independent, it would have to overcome two filters: that of the California Constitution itself and that of the U.S. Constitution.

California’s independence movement has existed legally since 2014 and has as its main exponent in an organization called Yes California. It is not a political party and has no elected officials, but it is already nicknamed Calexit (after  Brexit in Britain) and has over 25% of the working population in support.

For the time being. Calexit does not claim to be the heir to the American settlers who, after rising on June 14, 1846 against the Mexican authorities, proclaimed an ephemeral independent Republic of California. Later they reluctantly renounced it in exchange for accepting annexation to the United States.

For this reason, the idea that one day the independentistas will be Latrino Californians is not to be dismissed. Neither their their motivation for their emergence will be the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe, by which the United States took away from Mexico -among other territories- that of present-day California, where they imposed the English language.

California’s economic legitimacy as an autonomous nation would be based on the fact that it now pays about $100 billion more than it receives from federal funding, which makes its economic argument appear as a human rights issue. This is because “the Universal Declaration on human rights states in its Article 20 that no one can be forced to belong to an association” and its “right to self-determination” will always take priority over US [federal] law.

Therefore, there would be no need for a constitutional amendment to separate from the United States and integrate it into the international community, in which it would undoubtedly need to be recognized immediately.

In 2016, Red Guard, a self-proclaimed Communist group from Austin, Texas, caused a stir after taking the lead in a demonstration of the Black Lives Matter movement with red flags and guns. It announced its decision to fight against the spread of fascism in the United States.

The confrontation in the streets did not reach violent levels, but it was transferred to the social networks as a reflection of the escalation of social tensions that the country was experiencing. Washington has continued to move around the world stimulating secessionist sentiments as part of an imperialist scheme destined to overthrow foreign governments that were not subordinated to its foreign policy.

However, the United States itself was beginning to exalt similar aspirations to the exercise of sovereignty on the part of those who were the first settlers and true owners of the territory that today form a large part of the states that make up the United States.

The “Yes, California” independence movement, took it’s first legal steps November 21, 2017 towards the secession of California from the United States when presented to the state Attorney General a proposal to call a referendum aimed at this objective.

The separatist idea must gather enough preliminary support in a vote to be held in November 2018. For the referendum to be held, the Yes, California’ movement must collect half a million signatures to place the initiative on the ballot.

If the initiative succeeds because of the support for Calexit, Californians will go to the polls in the spring of 2019 for a historic vote that would decide whether or not California should leave the Union. The plebiscite would be based on article two of the state constitution, which indicates how citizens of the territory can decide whether they belong to the United States.

When, in January 2008, then-President George W. Bush declared himself jubilant because “the Kosovars are now independent” and recalled that this was “something that I have defended together with my government”, several of his allies warned the United States of the danger that this statement represented for the international community, the Security Council, the European Union and the territorial integrity of the United States of America itself.

Translated by Walter Lippmann.

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Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana.

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