Friday, October 3, 2014

Europe must address Spain-Catalonia issue


Pro-independence Catalans rally in front of Barcelona's town hall after an independence vote set for 9 November was halted by Spain's constitutional court. Photograph: Matthias Oesterle/Demotix/Corbis


Why has there been so little coverage in your paper recently over the Catalan-Spanish question? Especially over recent days, when events have moved on further to what looks like a developing major constitutional crisis within the EU. I am the grandson of a Catalan exile from the Spanish civil war and am acutely aware of the way other European nations, including the British, dealt with that problem culminating in the pact of non-intervention and essentially allowing Spain to then suffer 40 years of dictatorship.

I, like many Catalans or descendants, have been on a political journey since the democratisation of Spain. I started with optimism and the hope that true democracy had taken root. But unfortunately in the last decade I’ve witnessed a marked move to recentralise Spain and increasingly how politicians are using the Spanish constitution to enforce their agenda. The turning point was when the ruling People’s party used the constitutional tribunal to outlaw the new Catalan constitution, which had previously been voted for in a Catalan referendum and then passed by the Spanish parliament. We now have a situation where a non-referendum and non-legally binding consultation on home rule passed by the Catalan government and demanded by 80% of the Catalan people in a mass civic movement, has been overturned by the constitutional tribunal again.

European governments say this is an internal matter and it’s an acceptable position, although David Cameron has advised the Spanish to allow Catalans a say as he’s done with Scotland. However, on 9 November, if the vote is blocked, the Catalan government will be forced into calling an early plebiscitary election and, depending on the result, make a unilateral declaration of independence. The matter would then become an international one and other states could not continue sitting on the fence.

I ask the UK and its institutions (in which I include the press), beacons of democracy throughout the civilised world, not to ignore the Spanish question again and to continue to promote democracy.

Joseph A Munoz
Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

The Guardian, Thursday 2 October 2014 19.55 BST

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