Oct 302012
 
Independence of Catalonia, the arguments

MARIANO RAJOY (r) – PRIME MINISTER OF SPAIN

I have had dual nationality since, I think, around 1980 – and so my interest in Spanish current affairs and politics extends far beyond that of many expatriates.  Indeed, I have long been involved in local and regional politics in Catalonia and the shaping of policies here.

Two events make me wonder how ex-pats living outside Catalonia see things and make me wonder about how opinions coincide or diverge about the independence of Catalonia

Firstly, during an official visit to India, Juan Carlos said: “Spain as seen from foreign shores looks better than from the inside, where it just makes you cry”. The other event is a visit to Catalonia of Mariano (‘Pinocchio’) Rajoy to take part in a meeting of PP mayors to initiate the campaign for the Catalan elections on 25th November.

The King, never famous for his ‘savoir faire, has been the star of a number of Phil-the-Greek style faux pas. Notwithstanding his penchant for slaughtering large animals, some of his public utterings have stirred up the hornets’ nest that is the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ (Spain’s right-wing press).

The latest of King Juan Carlos’ outbursts is the one quoted above, which has brought the proto-fascists out onto the streets – well, those in charge of the propaganda machines, anyway. Should somebody amongst his spin doctors take him to task? Or, maybe it’s time for his son to take over as Felipe VI, not that this would be a move inclined to make the Catalans happy.  It was, after all, his ancestor, Felipe V, who tried to drive in the final nail of the Catalan coffin.

In any event, events over the last couple of days as initiated by the Spanish government and the ‘Powers that Be’ are stirring up things as far as Catalonia and independence is concerned. This is the situation to date:

1.  Pinocchio (Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy) has not given one inch, as far as negotiating Catalan independence is concerned.  Of course, it is not co-incidental that this is the case following the elections in Galicia.

2.  During a meeting with Rajoy, Artur Mas (President of Catalonia) on 25th September stated that he was hoping to open negotiations to establish a new ‘fiscal pact’. The answer from Rajoy was an unequivocal “NO!”. Rajoy did not even leave a little window of hope regarding next year, despite the current fiscal arrangements running out in 2013.

3.  Pinocchio has reneged on almost every single one of the policies outlined in his electoral programme and is therefore someone who it is very hard to trust.  Indeed, he may be breaking records for the number of electoral promises any politician in power has broken in 12 months.

4.   Every leading light in the PP (Conservative party) and the real power (FAES) have kept up an unrelenting litany of threats and predictions of dire the consequences that would follow for an independent Catalonia.

So, what are the arguments being expressed against Catalonian Independence?

Well, these are that Catalonia, if it tried to gain independence, would:

–          Be excluded from the EU and the Euro

–          Suffer a breakdown of Catalan culture and its social structure

–          Have tanks rolling into Barcelona to back up the Guardia Civil in an effort to prevent independence.  In this regard, is has been noticeable that recently there have been increased low-level flights of F-18 fighters over Catalonia.

–          Be traumatised by a Spanish boycott of Catalan goods.

–          Find its economy reduced to that of the Stone Age.

Meanwhile, there are any numbers of absolutely ridiculous statements to the effect that Spain has existed for 3,000 years and Catalonia has never been an independent nation.

To make matters worse, there is a general denial of the Fiscal Deficit and the Spanish government steadfastly refuses to publish the Fiscal Transfers. The generally accepted figure for Catalonia is €16,000m per annum. This figure is derived from a study by the BBVA in, I believe, 2009.

Finally, when you look at the 2011 investment in infrastructure projects 35% were completed in Catalonia – and 110% in Madrid.

All in all, you can imagine that most Catalans feel that there is a propaganda war being waged against them – with objectivity and the truth (as always) the first casualty…

Brian McLean

FURTHER READING ON CATALAN INDEPENDENCE

History of Catalan/Spanish relations since 1714, by Simon Harris

 

 

 

 

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  One Response to “Letter from Catalonia, the debate for independence”

  1. Thanks for your thoughts, Brian.
    I am also an ex-pat living in Barcelona. I am in favour of the right to decide and would like to see a referendum held as soon as possible.
    I am concerned that the suggested negative consequences of independence may prove to be more than scare-mongering. You seem qualified to talk on the subject, so I would like to ask you a couple of questions.

    Catalans like to talk about having friends in the international community. Who are these friends, exactly? Do they have significant influence?

    Assuming continued membership of the EU, many believe that Catalonia would be treated better by Brussels than by Madrid. How do you feel about this? Is it the case that Catalonia has more clout in Brussels than Madrid?

    Were independence-inclined Catalans to lose the referendum, and continued membership of the EU seems pivotal, what would be the response from Madrid? Would we be allowed to carry on as usual?

    Thanks
    Steve

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