Contradictions: What’s Going On In Catalonia?
Ah, Democracy. Such a nice word. It brings a sense of depth when used in a sentence, specially when it’s said out loud and even better if there are mics/cameras nearby. Politics is a -dirty- game, where words are weapons used to fit players’ goals. Happens all the time, and you don’t really need to watch Game of Thrones or House of Cards to be in the game yourself. How many times have you felt cheated by the party you voted for? Countless, right? But you, as well as anyone else, probably have a short memory, and you can maybe recall only the last two deceptions. Smoke bombs, disguised as breaking news, will make you forget stuff and change your mind yet again. Maybe you will vote for the same party again, after the disappointment, after swearing that you wouldn’t do it again. But they change the face in the front sit and then you think they’ve changed the whole machinery, and they maybe can win your trust again. Trust. That thing you build up based on what you read in the news. They make you forget.
It’s not different in Catalonia. Now a lot of catalans, almost half of them, have forgotten too.
Artur Mas, the elected President of Catalonia, is sitting in front of the judge these days. Why? Well, he wanted to set up an illegal referendum and he went on with it -sort of. Why was it illegal? Well, in Spain, according to the Constitution -which Artur Mas swore to obey when he was elected-, only the King can call a referendum -if requested by the elected Prime Minister, and after being voted/approved by the Spanish Parliament-. That’s the law. Artur Mas wanted to call a referendum. He could not. So it was forbidden. That’s a simple fact, not my opinion. A fact.
Based on that law, the Constitutional Court of Spain told Artur Mas to stop it, but Mas already had a date, the 9th of November, 2014 (#9N). He even started preparations, using public funds. Mas complained, he said it was an attack to Democracy, that the Catalan people wanted to vote, because voting is Democracy. Since then, Democracy is the wild card word for everything they do. Yes, who can oppose to voting, right? I mean, what’s wrong in that? Well, for starters, he could propose a legal referendum, by scaling that proposition up: the Spanish Parliament. If a majority of votes approved the proposition, there would be a referendum. I mean, that’s also Democracy, isn’t it? Real Democracy, because it wouldn’t be one person’s decision, like Artur Mas pretended it to be. It would be something he had proposed, then voted by all the representatives of the people in the whole country. He wanted to force his will, he used the word Democracy to pursue his very own agenda.
Another background fact: Artur Mas was against Independence. In 2002, not too far away in time, he himself said that independence was an “old and rusted concept”. But 10 years later, in 2012, during the celebrations of the National Day of Catalonia (Diada), he stood in front an angry crowd, tired of austerity, tired of unemployment, victims of the financial crisis, and fed up of the conservative, corrupt Spanish Government. Mas himself was (still is) a conservative President, and he’s had his share of responsibility in the austerity measures and also the corruption. But he saw an opportunity there. He saw thousands of people waving Catalan flags, some of them were the separatist version of that flag (la estelada). Maybe at that moment something clicked on his mind, and he saw a way out. He was weak in the polls, he was going to loose power. But he could use that feeling among people, that rage, to win them back. So he promised to start working for Catalonia’s independence. It started as a “let’s see what happens” sort of thing. But a mix of clumsiness from the Spanish government that did not listen and did nothing, and the results of the coming elections, made it worse. Artur Mas lost power anyways. He lost seats at the Catalan Parliament, and his conservative, right wing party, CiU, teamed up with the left wing party ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia). Wow, that was unexpected. That association became a trap for Mas. If he wanted to stay on the President’s throne, he had to work with this other party. Soon, the independence wasn’t an experiment anymore, ERC was pushing hard to make it a real process, threatening to break the deal if Mas didn’t go forward with it. That’s how independence started. Poetic, right? Mas is a hostage in his own trap.
Anyway, let’s go back to the use of the Democracy word again. Before the 2012 elections, Artur Mas seemed to be blind. When he saw Democracy speaking in the form of thousand, millions of people demanding a way out while waving flags, he was making an exception. Yes, because, you see, just one year before that, the biggest demonstration in the history of Spain (and Catalonia) was taking place. The 15M movement, aka The Anti-austerity movement. It was a non-political, spontaneous movement happening all across the country, that formed the 15th of May, 2011. It started in Madrid, but the very same night it happened, it spread like fire. It reached Catalonia too. It was a pacific movement, based on the people’s right to protest. A constitutional right that’s very normal and accepted across democratic countries. But, in that case, Artur Mas didn’t care much about Democracy, it seems. This is what happened in Catalonia. Mas was in charge. See it for yourself.
Soon after these display of fine Democratic ways, on May 15 2011, it happened again. People in Catalonia gathered in front of the Parliament to protest against the austerity measures approved by the Democratic & Elected Catalan Government. They were yelling all kinds of insults, anger was really overwhelming. This is what happened.
That was also Democracy, right? Protesting. Well, the very same Constitutional Court that ruled the 2014 referendum illegal, did condemn this protest on 2012. Back then the Catalan Government felt relieved, and they praised the decision -that sent 8 people to jail for protesting “democratically”-. These days, sitting Artur Mas in front of a judge is no less than an act of violence against Democracy. It’s Dictatorship, for God’s sake!
So let’s wrap it up in a few understandable sentences:
- Artur Mas started the Independence process when he was about to loose power. Before that, he totally dismissed the idea. Is hard to believe in the process legitimacy when it all looks so convenient for him as an individual.
- Artur Mas has never respected Democracy when it didn’t fit his agenda, as you can see in the videos above. He also cut funds to Public Services that happen to be Constitutional rights: Health care and Education. He might say that he was forced too, because of the financial crisis, because Spain asked him to do it… But no, social right cuts has been always on his party’s program. It is ideology.
- He threw the police and their weapons at people when they protested. When today he sees Democracy in big crowds asking for something, yesterday he saw, right in the same places, something he had to oppress and prosecute. Is that Democracy or convenience?
- He is the President of Catalonia, an Spanish Public worker who swore loyalty to the Spanish Government and the Constitution. In Spain, being President of an Autonomous Community means being the Representative of the Spanish Government in that region.
- Can you really call a referendum within a region (Catalonia) that is part of another country (Spain), and has never been an independent country itself, to separate from that country without asking ALL citizens of the country? I will rephrase the question: if you sit with your friends at a table within a room that belongs to a bigger group, and the “majority” of people in that table vote that the table belongs only to them, is it right?
- Artur Mas and the independent movement couldn’t go through with the referendum, so they transformed the local elections (called under the Spanish law and using public funds) into a pseudo-referendum. The pro-independence party got 47% of the votes. And still they want to go ahead, and they keep spending public funds, that belongs to all -those who voted yes and NO- to spread separatism. Is that Democracy?
- Artur Mas and his associates have been promoting Independence using public funds, but also Institutional influence, for years. At the peak of its power, 47% of the population voted Yes to independence. Before that, the ratio was much lower. But public funds, the taxes we all pay, whether we like it or not, and most of the Catalan Government resources have been used to promote, plan and implement an “independent country”, out of the law and before even asking people. Is that Democracy?
- Artur Mas has split the Catalan people in two, confronting two options, making people angry at each other. And even worse, the option he was promoting is illegal, and not possible according to the current Constitution -that can be reformed following the proper, legal, democratic paths-. He wanted a shortcut and has made people believe that it is legitimate, using government resources, imposing his ideology and his agenda. You can see little children marching in the protests, waving a separatist flag. Is that right? Planting those ideas on people, on children, knowing that you’re doing something that is illegal? Even if the goal is legitimate, when you have legal ways to achieve something and yet you choose the illegal option, of course they’re going to sit you in a Court. Isn’t that Democracy?
- Artur Mas party, CDC, has been caught receiving illegal funding (up to 6.6 million in kickbacks). But he has managed to make corruption allegations look as an attack to the Independence process. And people believe it! Everything coming from Spain now is dismissed as an attack, so he can get away with anything. He is inmune to law, or above it even.
- Artur Mas and the separatists spread their nationalist feelings and agenda as if it was the only right way to think. Unionists or Spanish nationalism is immediately associated with a dictator who died 40 years ago. You can’t display an Spanish flag because you’d be called a fascist. However, showing the Separatist flag is normal, it’s everywhere. The separatist flag, used by Elected politicians, does not represent all catalans. It only represents those in favor of the Independence process. The real flag, La Senyera, is rarely present in institutional, public acts. That’s not right. And it’s been happening before even asking the people if they wanted to be independent. That’s imposing. That’s using a position of power to display your ideology. Catalans contrary to independence, who can they look up for? Who is by their side? No one.
Anyway, this is all just the opinion of one person, and they have it all planed, it doesn’t matter what I think-or the other 53% of the people against Independence-. The propaganda is out there, in all languages, fuelled by people that really feel they have the right to go ahead with this thing. Yes, they probably have the right to try, but please, they have already got an answer, and that answer is NO, the majority of catalans does NOT want independence. But they don’t listen, they don’t care. What’s Democracy anyway. A nice word you use… when you need it to justify your ways.