I write this article mostly to express myself, something that I do easier when I write words that I know that other people will read. And after some days and weeks of input, of reading and listening to news and opinions, I feel it is time for some output too. Besides that, I’ve received several questions from friends here in Sweden on the last days, questions like what do you think about the weekend’s events in Catalonia?
So, here’s what I think:
Last weekend’s referendum was a mess. It was a mess from the beginning, when the government in Catalonia, with a small majority in the regional parliament, decided to organize a referendum without reaching an agreement with the Spanish government. Formally speaking such a referendum is illegal within the context of the Spanish laws. To make it legal it would be needed an agreement with the Spanish government, and some legal experts even say that in fact it would be needed a change in the Spanish constitution to approve such a law. So, these two options were the legal options: a small agreement with the government or a bigger agreement to change the constitution. None of the agreements were reached. But that’s not strange. The party that is governing Spain right now, Partido Popular, and the party that helps them to be in the power, Ciudadanos, both explicitly say, once and again and again, that they will never support the cause of a referendum in Catalonia. Why not? They say firmly that a part of Spain cannot decide for itself. In their discourses, you can identify an “eternal” idea of Spain and everything that is against that idea is not viable. And well, let’s be honest, in the discourses of some of the promoters of the chaotic referendum you can identify an “eternal” idea of Catalonia which is as inconsistent as the previous one.
Both sides had shown very unsympathetic sides in the last weeks. The “eternal-Catalans” had been accusing people of being renegades and anti-Catalan only because they’ve expressed that this non-consensual-referendum would be a mess, an unnecessary mess. Especially hard for me was to read about the accusations to Juan Marse, an open-minded and sensible writer that I appreciate very much, or Juan Manuel Serrat, an iconic songwriter that has been singing for freedom and understanding between peoples his whole life. The “eternal-Spanish” had been less lousy but in the last days they have offered an explosion of very disrespectful attitudes, the harder one that I’ve seen in the media was a demonstration in central Madrid where the people started singing one of the fascist hymns from the (long) years of the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. And even more scary was to see how they were screaming to the Spanish Police: “go for them! go for them!”
Go for them!? The “them” in that “go for them” were people just like them, but people that just happen to live in Barcelona instead for Madrid. And I’m quite sure that a big percent of the eternal-Spanish would be eternal-Catalans in case they had been born in Catalonia.
My view before this weekend it was that this referendum would be a mess, an illegal mess, and that, because of that, if I was living in Catalonia, I would not vote. But now, three days later I’ve changed my mind. Yes, it was a mess, an illegal mess, but maybe a necessary mess? I mean, more than 70% of the people in Catalonia wants a referendum to decide if they want to stay in Spain or not, and it has been like that for years. I think that such a referendum should have been held at least for 15 years ago, and not only in Catalonia but also in other territories that ask for it, but the agreement with the Spanish government had never been possible. And with the attitude of Partido Popular and Ciudadanos it is completely impossible, even if they lose the government they will say that a constitutional change is needed and then, immediately, they will say that they will never approve such a constitutional change. With such a no-no-no rhetoric it is not so strange that more and more people in Catalonia take the option of civil disobedience. So this is what I think now: if I was living in Catalonia I would have voted in the messy referendum, not because I consider it as a valid referendum, but because it can be the only way to set things in motion. By the way, in the referendums, both in the messy and in the serious ones, I would vote “stay in Spain”, a Spain with hopefully less and less protagonism of the eternal-Spanish and eternal-Catalans.
I close this article with Joan Manel Serrat singing “For freedom”, a poem by Miguel Hernandez