Gustavo de Aristegui - Former Spanish ambassador to India
Catalonia has never been an independent state, kingdom or country. It was a county that was merged with the Kingdom of Aragon in 1137 as a consequence of the marriage of Queen Petronila with the Count (not King) of Barcelona. The illegal quest for independence of Catalonia has been on top of the news all week, as its regional government staged a farce that they wanted to present as a referendum of self-determination and the right to choose their own future. Some international media simply ignore the reality of Federal Spain, surely one of the most decentralised countries in the world as compared to Germany, Switzerland, India, and probably even more the USA.
Catalonia has its own Parliament, government, administration, police force, and is in-charge of everything except defence, foreign affairs and social security. This was even more apparent when jihadist terrorist Younes Abouyaaqoub stroke Barcelona killing 14 innocents and injuring dozens. Catalonia has a great degree of fiscal autonomy, both legislative and executive. How can anyone doubt that the system has provided Catalonia with the highest possible degree of self-government without tearing the Kingdom apart?
The farce-cum-referendum had no democratic guarantees whatsoever, the Census was incomplete, the ballot boxes were not transparent, many actually made it to the so-called polling stations full of ballots put there before the day of the referendum by their separatist organisers! It doesn’t take a genius to deduct that those ballots were yes for unilateral independence. Several NGOs made viral videos and photos of people voting over four times in different stations. In some neighbourhoods, towns and villages, there gangster-like tactics were used to threaten anti-separatists to not vote. Videos show four- and five-year-old children being indoctrinated in hatred of Spain, and especially of their non-separatist fellow Catalans. All of this is disgraceful, shameful and scandalously anti-democratic.
More than Catalonia being oppressed by Spain, it is about an illegal and heinous plan of a minority to impose the partition of Spain on the majority. Separatists had a marginal support in Catalonia for decades, it grew until it peaked at 47-48 per cent in 2015 and then plummeted to just over 40 per cent. This fundamental element is probably at the heart of the decision to try to impose secession on the majority of Catalans and the rest of Spain.
It seems very clear that the moderate middle classes of Catalonia were poisoned by extremist nationalists and faced terrible financial and economic crisis. Separatists are maliciously hiding essential facts from their unsuspecting supporters: Catalonia would be out of the European Union and the Euro; their public debt would become ‘junk bonds’ in the international markets, making it near-impossible to finance the resulting new state. The Catalan government would be completely incapable of financing and paying the pensions of retired Catalans and the social security of that region as both are paid by the Central government of Spain. The Government of Catalonia, besides other existing debts, owes 100 billion Euros to the Spanish Central government. In short, the Republic of Catalonia would be born bankrupt!
Besides the tragedies this political, social and human disaster could cause, the most important banks and economic groups of the region have officially decided to leave Catalonia. Caixa Bank (Spain’s third largest financial institution), Banco de Sabadell (an important bank based in the heart of the stronghold of separatism), and Catalana de Occidente (the most important insurance company) are some such institutes which have decided to shift.
This is not a freedom movement, it’s a totalitarian imposition of a disastrous independence to the majority of Catalans and the rest of Spain, most likely starting a potentially disastrous chain reaction, in Spain and the rest of Europe, of unimaginable consequences for peace and stability in Europe and the email@example.com