The president of the Valencian Community, Carlos Mazón, fights in the Senate against separatism. He protests: „The Valencian Community is not Catalonia“ and accuses Catalan President Aragonès of insulting Valencians with his references to the „Països Catalans“ (Catalan lands).
Those who have followed the complications in the formation of the government in Spain know that the incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has allowed three regional languages, Basque, Galician and Catalan for official use in the Spanish Parliament, disregarding Valenciano1.
In this context, Sánchez also allows Catalan embassies to act on behalf of a Catalan state, Vozpopuli reported on Oct. 13. Only he has not yet given in to the demands of Catalan separatists to hold a referendum on independence.
Away from the political games of the Spanish ruling parties, the question arises under which circumstances could a referendum for independence be legitimate and worthy of support at all?
Almost all states with a constitution, including Spain and Germany, declare their borders inviolable. UN international law does affirm the right to territorial integrity (Article 2(4)), but this applies only to the relationship of existing states against each other. Regarding the right of Catalans to self-determination, in 2015 the then Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, commented: „Catalonia does not fall into the category of territories that have the right to self-determination.“
I am not a lawyer and I will try to shed light on the problem by means of three practical problems related to Catalonia and Spain.
The Spanish Constitution of 1978, which was also approved by a majority of Catalans, gives all Spaniards, including Catalans, the same rights and duties. There are no differences. Empty words?
In fact, Catalans have the same freedoms as all Spaniards, without any difference. There is no legal press censorship, you can say what you want, you can criticize the government, etc. No one is punished for calling for a referendum.
The separatists like to interject that some of their leaders are in prison or in political exile. That is true, but the Spanish government accused these leaders of an illegal and punishable referendum. One can argue whether the attempt in 2017 to hold the referendum was legitimate, if not legal.
But in the - let's say legal-processing of political events - we are dealing with individual cases. Unfortunately, such individual cases of political restrictions on freedom exist in all countries of the West. Let's think, for example, of Donald Trump, who is only free on bail, or the Australian Julian Assange, who has been held in solitary confinement in a high-security prison in England for years, or, in Germany, the leader of the movement against mandatory mRNA vaccinations Michael Ballweg, who was innocently imprisoned for months in Stuttgart-Stammheim, a jail house specialized on terrorist prisoners.
Regardless of how one feels about these cases of political persecution, whether positive or negative, the effects of these political dirty games are not directly noticeable in their impact on the daily lives of most citizens. Which, in turn, is not to justify these cases, but only to point out the analogies.
Freedom in Catalonia and in Spain is absolutely comparable to freedom in the global West. The separatists are just as friendly to NATO and the EU as the Spanish governments - whether PP or PSOE. The question remains unanswered: what kind of freedom do the separatists actually want? The freedom to live out their hatred of all things Spanish unhindered?
2. civil rights after a successful referendum
Already, the rights of the majority of native Spanish-speaking Catalans in Catalonia are indeed massively restricted. Illegally and illegitimate. There are numerous examples of this also in this blog. How would the rights of these Catalans be protected in an independent Catalonia?
There is the demand within the provinces of Barcelona and Tarragona (Tabarnia) to be able to declare independence from an independent Catalonia. How do the separatists deny the Tabarnians this right - perhaps with a cynical reference to the inviolability of borders?
What would a Catalan constitution look like in which not only the question of borders would have to be regulated? What would a Catalan really agree to, voting only yes or no? That was the only option offered to Catalans by the separatists in the illegal referendum in 2017. Voting yes or no does not determine the content of a future constitution. That requires a political debate about the rights and duties of citizens, the result of which could then be responded to with approval or rejection.
3. Imperial aspirations and reality
Again and again there are demonstrations against the imperial claims of the Catalan separatists, as the accompanying picture of a large demonstration from 2018 shows. Many Spaniards in the affected countries of the so-called „Països Catalans“ resist its imperial posturing.
Thus, on this October 9,2 the Spanish national holiday, there were again many demonstrations. The accompanying picture shows Valencians resisting the Catalan separatist government's attempts to have their institutions Catalanized by funding corresponding NGOs and other institutions.
What one must conclude from all this is that Catalan independence would give the Catalans rather less freedom. In a dispute with Tabarnians, there would be more discord, as in neighboring regions such as Valencia.Footnotes
Besides, at the moment a qualified majority (e.g. 2/3 majority or similar) could hardly be expected. The Brexit has shown us where simple majorities on such fundamental issues can lead. What would happen if, shortly after a referendum in favor of independence, the mood were to change again because the separatists were now enforcing a policy against the Hispanophile population with unchecked and then state-legitimized violence?
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