The Guest Blog

Guest blog post/Open Letter by 5 Spanish politicians/intellectuals calling on the EU for help to find a balanced and peaceful solution in Catalonia.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Last October, we addressed you a letter as founding members of the Civic Initiative Basta Ya!, awarded the Sakharov Prize in 2000 for its commitment to freedoms in the Basque Country. As Spanish and European citizens, we were very concerned about the confusion regarding what is happening in Spain in relation to Catalonia. We did not want to remain in silence while facts were being replaced by propaganda and emotions were being manipulated by a pro-independence regional government which stood in open rebellion against the Spanish democracy and the European Treaties.

Five months later, Justice is on. The Spanish Supreme Court has activated the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) against the pro-independence process for a suspected crime of rebellion. As you know, this legal figure entered into force in all Member States in 2002 and replaced the previous extradition arrangements within the EU. It is not pursued or decided by governments, but by courts of law, and is intended to ensure that alleged criminals who flee from justice in any country of the EU do not find shelter in any of them. It is a figure in favour of legal security and against impunity. No one, however powerful, can be above the law. No one can deceive it, without breaking the constitutional framework of a country; we all have the right to try to change them; but it is only possible to do it within the law and with the rules that we have democratically passed. If a political representative can skip the Constitution of a country, or the UE standards (such as the aforementioned EAW) no one will be safe: neither the judges, nor the courts nor the citizens themselves.

Mr. Puigdemont, the former President of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, under whose administration all the nonsense and outrages previously mentioned happened (see more details that follow), has been fleeing from Spanish justice for five months. Well-founded accusations for serious crimes committed while in power bear against him. These crimes, in a similar way, are prosecuted by criminal laws in most EU member states.

The Spanish Courts of Justice, in the light of all the information and all the evidence obtained during these months, have activated against all the fugitives the European Arrest Warrant mentioned above. Mr. Puigdemont arrived in Finland, and once again demonstrated his null desire to cooperate with justice (via the Finnish courts) and fled. No democracy can leave such behaviour unpunished. As we have said, all citizens should be subjected to the law. Those occupying government roles (or those who have done in the past), have a double obligation: to comply with the law and to enforce it.

At this moment, Puigdemont is a member of the Catalan Parliament. He was able to stand for election and be elected. His rights are intact and his obligations derive from those rights. Impunity for his allegedly criminal acts is not one of his rights; but explaining judges his acts, is one of their obligations.

We are not part of the Government; we are just a group of citizens who, as we said at the beginning, are part of a civic movement that received the Sakharov Prize because we stood out in a long struggle for freedom and Human Rights.

Please take note of the facts that follow:

  1. Citizens in Catalonia, as well as in the rest of Spain, regularly vote in accordance with democratic rules; in Catalonia, six times in the last five years. It is completely false that they are prevented from voting.
  2. The Catalan authorities have violated their own laws: in the parliamentary sessions of 6 and 7 September 2017 they prevented the opposition parties to exercise their parliamentary rights to submit amendments and discuss the unconstitutional Ley Express (“Express Law”), to hold a referendum of self-determination.
  3. Education in Catalonia, under regional control, has been used systematically to indoctrinate in hatred of Spain, to spread Catalan supremacism and to discriminate against Spanish-speaking students (more than 50%). The schoolchildren have been used by the Catalan government for demonstrations and public events in favour of independence, and schools and universities have even been closed by decision of the regional government in order to encourage their attendance in certain demonstrations.
  4. Catalonia is one of the most prosperous regions in Spain and its citizens enjoy a high standard of living and one of the highest levels of self-government out of any region in Europe. The region of Catalonia has never been an independent political entity. It was a set of counties that formed part of France, and then of the Kingdom of Aragon until it was dynastically merged with the Kingdom of Castile in 1492, creating the current Kingdom of Spain.
  5. The party that has traditionally ruled Catalonia (formerly CiU; now PDCat) has spent 30 years using public money, coming from tax-payers from entire Spain, to promote its separatist agenda while blaming Spain for its cuts in social policies, education and health with the accusation “Espanya ens roba” (“Spain is stealing us”).
  6. Some of the most important leaders of that same party – including two former presidents, Jordi Pujol and Artur Mas – are currently accused in trials for political corruption, and have been continuously financing their party with a corrupt system known as 3%, as that percentage was the minimum that public providers had to pay to access any public contract. Parallel to the judicial investigation of this corrupt plot, and not coincidentally, the separatist process has been accelerated, hoping to save those responsible from the action of Spanish justice.
  7. Spain is a parliamentary monarchy and its Constitution can be amended by the procedures provided for the case by the text itself. This changes may even contemplate the right to self- determination of parts of the territory, which is nowadays as unconstitutional in Spain as it is in all EU member states, without exception.
  8. A vote on a territorial secession as the one illegally promoted by the Catalan government would require, to be democratic, the participation of all Spaniards. What belongs to everyone, as the State and the territory, must be decided among all.
  9. Separatism undermines democracy: it has unilaterally and violently broken (rupture of the constitutional order necessarily is) with Spanish and regional legality. And it has embarked on a campaign to present the central government as “evil” by not allowing an illegal referendum which, we should keep in mind, has been declared unconstitutional by our highest court.

Regarding the events that took place the 1st of October, the police complied with judicial orders to prevent the holding of a referendum which has been declared illegal. The suitability of judicial instructions can be discussed, but the police actions were proportional and the usual ones in all European member states in similar cases.

The Catalan regional police, the Mossos (with 17,000 officers and holistic police powers), actively boycotted the enforcement of judicial orders, facilitated public disorder and, in some cases, even clashed with the National Police and Civil Guard, who have had 431 injured members. Last Sunday was far from being “a peaceful day of national demonstration”, as stated by the separatist leaders. Information networks and media groups subsidised by the Catalan regional government have systematically disseminated false images of violence and misrepresented the facts. We find of great concern as well that media networks related to the Russian government have actively supported the illegal referendum.

The Catalan regional government has acted, and continues to do so, as an organisation committed to a coup d’etat in Spain. The autonomous administration has provided political coverage and material support to organised groups that act in open rebellion against the constitutional order, including occupation of schools, blocking roads and motorways, or attacks on Spanish police officers. And a widespread intimidation to a majority of Catalan society which is dissatisfied with this state of affairs.

Finally, we would like to highlight that the whole Europe would be very negatively affected if the separatist plans ended up being imposed. Spain is not the only EU member state with separatist tensions. Opening the possibility of repealing the Constitution and territorial integrity by means of fait accompli – following a script that reminds of the explosion of former Yugoslavia – would affect sooner or later many other member states, ending with the magnificent project of a Europe free of destructive and xenophobic nationalism within its own borders.

We believe it is time for European institutions to support Spain to restore the constitutional order and the rules of democracy in a region, controlled by a seditious administration and a corrupt political class, which is not only part of Spain, but also part of the European Union.

Yours sincerely,

  • Fernando Savater
  • Rosa Díez
  • Carlos Martínez Gorriarán
  • Maite Pagazaurtundua
  • María San Gil
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