As the final showdown looms in Catalonia I am going to keep a running commentary on this blog during this week.
I am not pretending to be a neutral observer. You cannot be neutral in this moment if you live in Spain. I deliver my commentary in support of the Spanish Constitution and the law of this country.
In the foreign press and television, the Catalan nationalists have had their say, and the distortions continue even into the Radio 4 “Today” programme (23/10/17), with Raúl Romeva, the inflated so-called “Foreign Secretary” of a make-believe state that doesn’t exist, saying his civil servants will disobey the Madrid government when it takes control of their departments later this week. He said,”How can the EU democracy survive and how can they be credible if they allow this to happen?”
Oh no. The real question is, how could EU democracy survive if the legal framework of a democratic Constitution means nothing? And let’s not kid ourselves how dangerous the Catalan separatists are. They have already wrecked the chances of the Spanish economy continuing to grow, as it was just emerging from a long and difficult period of crisis.
The Catalan propaganda regarding the supposes state suppression of the “referendum” (an illegal vote) has been produced on an industrial scale – helped by millions of Euros of our taxes to finance the Generalitat in Catalonia, for the Govern to spend on profligate illegal secessionist plans and pay lavish salaries to dozens of loyal senior functionaries who are effectively paid to act against the national interest of Spain!
Oh yes, I’m on the side of the Spanish Government. It is led by a man I do not admire, Mariano Rajoy Brey, who has prevaricated and allowed this situation to come to a crisis when it needn’t have gone this far. We will just have to support him for the moment. Nowhere in the world are there political leaders of any outstanding calibre, these days, so maybe we just have to accept a dummy in Moncloa, Madrid, just like you have a dummy in Number 10, London. But he’s OUR dummy.
It is a time of extraordinary historical echoes. Last week 15th October saw the anniversary of the execution of Luis Companys, the Catalan President at the end of the Civil War who fled to France and was returned to Franco’s Spain in a joint Gestapo and Falange operation, then shot on Montjuic hill overlooking Barcelona in 1941. He is recognised as the only democratically elected European president to have been executed.
Today 23rd October sees the 40th anniversary of the return from exile of Josep Tarradelas, the Catalan president in exile in France, whose first words to the Catalan people were “Ciutadans de Catalunya, ja sóc aquí!” (…I am here.) His return was made possible by the death of the dictator General Francisco Franco. As president, he was followed by Jordi Pujol in 1980, to whom I taught English in 1992.
In 1978 Pujol had made a strong defence of the new Spanish Constitution in a well documented speech but he soon became the serpent that laid the egg of the destructive nationalism whose consequences we see today. (He was also, incidentally, convicted of serious fraud, money laundering, and other financial crimes, earlier this year.)
Artur Mas was president until 2016, and he is currently trying to pay a fine of 5 million Euros following a conviction for mis-using funds for an illegal election in 2015. These were the people who led the way for Carles Puigdemont the current president of Catalonia.
It is a sorry story and one of increasing use of public funds to support their constant pet project of independence for Catalonia. As the years went by this project has become more poisonous in its extreme nationalism and we have reached the point where a whole generation – educated only in Catalan – has been drilled to see Spain as a fascist state: the enemy, the invaders. Not only that, but the greedy exploiters of Catalan wealth.
The idea that Catalonia could be a successful independent state has been challenged on every level. Economically, it has now failed because hundreds of companies have fled Catalonia in the past two weeks (the figure may even be approaching a thousand at the last count). The EU says that a Catalonia that breaks from Spain will not be welcomed into the European community. More than half of Catalans do not want independence and fear for the consequences of the extremists’ action.
Yet, all over Europe people are saying how sorry they are that the free choice of the Catalan people is being suppressed by the Spanish state. Fake news is on the march.
Endgame in la Rambla: read Part 2