"This referendum has discredited Spanish democracy"

Photo by  Toshiko Sakurai

Demagoguery & Manipulation in Catalonia

By eduardo martin fernandez-pacheco

Catalonia is the autonomous community that contributes most to the Gross Domestic Product of Spain providing around 19% of it. An autonomous community that prospered largely thanks to the work of immigrants, mostly from other regions of Spain, and an autonomous community that continues to prosper economically since most of their exports are sold to the rest of Spain. Catalonia is also the autonomous community that has received the highest amount of investment in infrastructure from the Ministry of Development since 2006. It is also the autonomous community with the largest public debt - a debt of 76.727 million euros - that continues to increase each year.

Before the crisis, Catalan independence was supported by less than 20% of the Catalan population and this independentist sentiment grew to its current levels during the economic recession. However, it should be noted that between 2010 and 2015, the Catalan government reduced housing, education and health budgets by more than 15% - more than in any other autonomous community in Spain. The President of this Catalan Government since 2016, Carles Puigdemont, currently earns 145,500 euros, nearly double the 79,300 euros earned by Mariano Rajoy, the President of Spain.

Several former Presidents of the Catalan Generalitat have been involved in cases of corruption, including Artur Mas, who years ago said that he saw "the concept of independence outdated and a bit rusty", but who in 2014 was responsible for raising the Catalan consultation that took place on the 9th of November that year.

Artur Mas is not the only one to contradict himself. Carles Puigdemont himself voted "NO" when in 2014 a motion was presented for the self-determination of the Kurdish people, the Palestinians and the Saharawi people.

This referendum has neither legality nor guarantees.

Puigdemont, who had the opportunity to contribute legally to the process of self-determination of other peoples and decided not to give them the right to a legal and democratic referendum, yesterday carried out an illegal referendum that violates the Spanish Constitutional Law, in a region where the majority does not want the independence that is proposed by a government that rules as a minority. A referendum with no minimum turnout threshold, no census, no ballot boxes, with ballots printed in the homes of the independentists, with people who could vote in any school and without caring how many times people could vote, with a vote-count that would then be carried out by the independentists themselves. This referendum has neither legality nor guarantees, since contrary to what independentist Catalan leaders say, Catalonia would be left out of the European Union, and to enter the bloc they would have to apply and obtain a unanimous decision of all its members, in which case Spain would be the first member to veto their entry. This would mean a huge collapse of Catalan exports to its main customers, Spain and the rest of Europe, and a great decline in foreign investment, as the main investors in Catalonia are also members of the EU.

An oppression of which the independentists speak as if they were the only ones who lived it.

This referendum has discredited Spanish democracy through a campaign based largely on pure demagoguery and manipulation of the feelings of the people. The 1-O has not only managed to fragment the Catalan society, but also threatens the unity of Spain. A nation that has been united since the writing of the Constitution after the death of the dictator, the greatest oppressor of the Catalan people, who forbade the use of a language that today is not only a right for the Catalans, but an obligation in Catalonia imposed by its leaders. An oppression of which the independentists speak as if they were the only ones who lived it, as if the rest of Spaniards did not have relatives, neighbours and friends who fled from the bombers, who hid in basements for years, who did not have a crumb of bread to put into their mouths, who disappeared and the last image they had was that of the rifle aimed at them against the firing wall.

Catalan independence is nourished at an international level by promoting a sense of victimhood, a role that they play to perfection. During these days Catalan charlatans of the type of Rufian, Junqueras or even characters like Guardiola will reappear on the covers of all news media. Again, they will return to talk about the oppression suffered by the Catalans and compare us to the government of Erdogan in Turkey or Maduro in Venezuela. Spain has fallen into their provocation trap, and there is no longer talk about the illegality of the referendum in the international press, but now the talk is about the (fake) unity of the Catalan people and the police brutality that was sadly observed yesterday due to a bad and late management of the situation. They will soon ask for support from the international community to give justice and freedom to the Catalan people, as if Catalonia were Palestine or Kurdistan, those truly oppressed peoples that the Catalan rulers turned their backs on only two years ago. Those truly oppressed peoples, that if they had the opportunity to speak to them, would say: how lucky you are to be Spaniards.