Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spanish Army Chief about Catalonia: “when the metropolis is weak”, “the fall takes place”

The Chief of Spain’s Army Defence Staff, General Jaime Domínguez Buj, was asked asked on Tuesday about the situation in Catalonia and he has implicitly compared it with a colony. The main General of the Army stated that “when the metropolis is weak” is the time when “the fall takes place”. 

Jaime Domínguez Buj
He added that a “processes” such as Catalonia’s happens “when the central power is weak”, as happened in 1898, when Spain lost Cuba and the Philippines, he said. His words have caused quite some controversy. Later on, Domínguez Buj, nuanced his previous statement and said he was referring to 1808 and the Spanish War of Independence against Napoleon’s Empire. Such a war helped some of Spain’s American colonies to get their independence. He also added that he was referring to other historical periods and to other empires, such as those of the British, the Turkish and the Roman.

Nowadays, almost no one in Spain considers Catalonia to be a colony, neither most of the people supporting independence. However, on several occasions during the last few centuries, the Spanish Army attacked Catalan citizens and bombarded their cities and towns to stop them from quitting the kingdom, such as in the mid-17th century, when Catalonia was independent for a week, or in the early 18thcentury or early 19th century, when Catalonia also split from Spain for a few years. On top of this, in the mid-19th century, General Espartero – who was Regent of the Kingdom – stated that Barcelona should be bombarded every 50 years in order to remind Catalans about the Spanish rule. Furthermore, Francisco Franco talked about his “right of conquest” when he entered into Barcelona, at the end of the Civil War. He was using the expression written in the laws cancelling Catalonia’s self-government institutions and Constitution, which also banned the use of Catalan language, in 1716.

Back then, after Catalans lost the Spanish War of Succession, the new king Felipe V founded Spain as a Unitarian State and no longer a union of different kingdoms under the same crown. He tried to homogenise Spain under Castile’s rules and language, imposing a centralist government and a harsh political, social and cultural repression to Catalonia through the use of force, as he recognised when he wrote he was doing so “by the right of conquest”.

The Army is there to protect the Constitution, the Army Chief points out

Besides comparing Catalonia to colonial Cuba, Domínguez Buj, pointed out that the Army is “a tool” that the Spanish Government has with which to defend the Constitution. He said that armies “have to be ready to intervene in the way governments want”, being “inside” or “outside” the country. However, he also added that he does not think that Catalonia’s conflict will be solved “through the use of force”. He also said that the Spanish Government should “win the hearts of all Spaniards” and convince them of the advantages of being a Spanish citizen.

The General also added that he feels “pain for Spain” due to the situation of the last years, particularly because of the manifold corruption cases and Catalonia’s political process. Domínguez Buj was speaking in the Madrid-based Institute for International Affairs and External Policy.


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