'When they treat you like a criminal’

"The Catalan claim —which comes after exhausting every possible pact— is a question of dignity, of common sense and of present and future well-being”

We’ve mentioned here before that Spain’s Partido Popular (PP) government only deals with Catalonia through judges and the police. And when they’re dealing with you via the constabulary and the courts, it means that you’re being treated like a criminal.

We’ve said before that the PP government uses the same rhetoric with Catalonia as they did against ETA in the Basque country: they talk of “attacks” on Spanish unity and they “condemn” the unofficial 2014 independence referendum.

This sort of language cropped up again yesterday in the lawsuit brought by the public prosecutor against the Speaker of the Catalan parliament. The prosecution wrote that “the defendant sought to blow up the constitutional model”. “To blow up”. This is using violent language to tell you that you’re violent.

And yet when people like Miquel Ángel Rodríguez, ex-spokesman of former president José María Aznar, use violent language, it doesn’t matter. Madrid’s National Court has ruled that saying that “the firing squad would do [former Catalan president Artur] Mas good”, “clearly doesn’t constitute a death threat when the current constitutional legal framework bans the death penalty in general, and firing squads specifically”. They’re having a laugh.

In Belgium, a civil servant from the Spanish embassy first passed herself off as a student before revealing her true job while questioning an event about Catalan independence at the University of Louvain. The Belgian host told her that this Spanish diplomacy wasn’t “a very diplomatic way to go about things”.

Yesterday, Ferran Soriano (currently Chief the Executive of Manchester City and the man behind the bankrupt Spanair "hub" at Barcelona airport) came to Barcelona where he explained to radio host Jordi Basté that businesspeople from all around the world who are interested in Barcelona, are amazed that there aren’t always direct flights there. It is for the same reason why there is no Mediterranean railway corridor; travelling from Madrid to Valencia by train takes one hour forty minutes, while Barcelona-Valencia takes more than three hours and commuter services are a nightmare: successive Spanish governments have sought to penalise the internal connectivity of Catalonia and that of Catalonia with the world.

Also yesterday, Núria Marín, mayor of l’Hospitalet de Llobregat, the second largest city in Catalonia, gave an interview to this newspaper. She’d attended the sadly famous federal committee meeting of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE, her party) where their leader, Pedro Sánchez was forced to step down. She told us that if they were to vote again today, Sánchez could beat Susana Díaz this time  around and that the people who stop her in the street tell her to “not even think about voting in Rajoy”. Note that yesterday, Díaz said that Spain needs a government “quickly, beyond questions of how it is done or should be done”.

Díaz, of course, referred to the pro-independence movement as a “challenge that’s creating a divisive atmosphere”. There are some Spanish socialists who talk like the PP.
You see, Díaz doesn’t want to rock the boat, because she’d lose her means to govern. I recommend you today’s article by Albert Carreras, professor at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, called “The investiture of the contented”.

“What can they be contented about? About how the central government treats them. It turns out that the Spanish regions who gain the most from interterritorial solidarity are those governed by the PP (and who vote in large numbers for them), those governed by PSOE —who supports abstention— (Extremadura, Asturias, Castile-La Mancha and Andalusia), as well as some governed by regional or nationalist parties like the Canarian Coalition and the Basque Nationalist Party, who seem ready to do their bit for the investiture and with the approval of a budget. It’s the bloc of those who are contented with the current situation (the status quo, never more aptly said). Among the few net contributing regions or those who receive less than the Spanish average, we find Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencia. They’re the discontented.

It should come as no surprise that the former defend their positions so vigorously and they don’t even want to hear talk of changing a model of the state that proves so favourable for them. Meanwhile, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, in the worst year of the recession, continued being net contributors within Spain. There’s no one who can bear that.”

The Catalan claim —which comes after exhausting every possible pact— is a question of dignity, of common sense and of present and future well-being.