Without Carles Puigdemont --on an official trip to the US with Foreign Minister Raül Romeva-- the Catalan government met on Tuesday looking askance at the event which, at the same time, was being held in Barcelona by Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish president.
The Catalan government, which met the visit by the Spanish premier with skepticism, received the news of a 4.2 billion euro infrastructure investment with "incredulity". Later, the President of the Generalitat himself called on Rajoy to provide guarantees, through a "non-compliance clause", that this time the investment would be carried out.
According to Puigdemont, this is merely another announcement "like those others that have not been fulfilled over the years". "What would make Rajoy's announcement different? A guarantee that there would be consequences in the event of non-compliance", he said in statements to journalists before visiting the Smithsonian Folklife Institute in Washington. "They've gone from promise to promise, always amounting to nothing", he said, and called Rajoy's offer disappointing because it fell far short of the €10.8 billion in infrastructure investment that, according to Generalitat calculations, the central government owes Catalonia.
Earlier, in a press conference in Barcelona, Neus Munté, Minister of the Presidency and government spokesperson, called for this agreement to "include a non-compliance clause" to prevent a repetition of the dynamic of other commitments, such as the public spending budgeted for 2015, of which only 6% of the investment budgeted for Renfe and 30% for Adif were carried out.
For this reason, she stated that Rajoy's announcement "has no credibility", because announcements like these have been made many times before. "This has been announced and budgeted time and again, but never carried out", noted Munté, who reminded that Catalonia has calculated the outstanding debt for infrastructures from Spain’s central government at 10 billion euros.
Noting the session's title --"Connected to the future"--, Munté noted ironically that in some cases infrastructures in Catalonia appear to be more "connected to the past", due to the lack of investment by the central administration.
Munté thus joined in with the thinking that Carles Puigdemont, President of the Generalitat, and Oriol Junqueras, Vice-President, expressed on Tuesday in a joint article in "El Periodico" where, ahead of Rajoy's event, they expressed their lack of trust in the face of announcements that the Spanish government might make, because their words are usually "dust in the wind".
The Minister of the Presidency went further and, after stating that Operation Dialogue "is a big lie" which never existed, said that "if anyone believes that Catalonia's demands are an economic issue, their disconnection over the past few years must have been complete".
C's separates announcement from the process
For Ciudadanos, it is no coincidence that the PP government is promising new investments in the Mediterranean Railway Corridor now that it has lost its absolute majority in Congress. The deputy spokesman in Parliament, Fernando de Páramo, separated Rajoy's promises from the independence process and linked it directly to conditions that Ciudadanos placed on the PP for negotiating the Spanish budget. "The Rajoy of the absolute majority didn't want to hear about the Mediterranean Railway Corridor. Fortunately, after our demands, he cannot ignore it", he stressed, from the pressroom of the Catalan Parliament.
As to the joint op-ed by Carles Puigdemont and Oriol Junqueras concerning infrastructures, de Páramo bemoaned the "sense of victimization" and urged them to attend the regional presidents’ meetings and negotiate improvements for Catalonia instead of writing articles and taking trips around the world "which all Catalans are paying for".
For the Socialist Party, parliamentary spokeswoman Eva Granados criticized both the Generalitat and Madrid for their attitudes: "Neither newspaper articles nor investments in infrastructure will solve anything". In a press conference, she put the two administrations at the same level, as those "responsible" for not finding a solution to the Catalan independence process. In her view, the best thing would be for Puigdemont and Rajoy to sit down and negotiate, not over a referendum, but instead over the 45 points remaining from the list of requests that the President of the Generalitat handed to Rajoy in their last public meeting. She also urged the Generalitat not to turn its back on the Moncloa and to attend the meetings of presidents of the autonomous regions, as well as to participate in discussions over the new regional finance system.
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