Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Wednesday, 2 november 2011 | CCN

English

The Father of the Spanish Constitution Jokes about Bombing Civilians

(Press release from Cercle Català de Negocis, a business organization that defends Catalonia independence)

“I do not know how many times it was necessary to bomb Barcelona. This time things will be solved without having to do so.” — Gregorio Peces-Barba


“Freedom of speech cannot be invoked to protect offensiveness and disdain towards persons, territories, and communities.” — Catalan Bar Council

Last Thursday, at the 10th Convention of Spanish National Bar in Cadiz, Gregorio Peces-Barba, one of the most prominent fathers of the Spanish Constitution, joked about bombing Barcelona in a reference to Catalonia's ongoing independence process. “We are in better shape than in the past. I do not know how many times it was necessary to bomb Barcelona. This time things will be solved without having to do so.”

During his speech, Peces-Barba mused in an allusion to the Catalan and Portuguese wars of secession of the 17th century: “What would have happened had we kept Portugal instead of Catalonia?” “We probably would have been better off with the Portuguese,” he quipped.

Representatives of the Catalan Bar Council left the room in protest and later stated in a press release: “Respect for freedom of speech cannot be used to protect offensiveness and disdain towards persons, territories, and communities.”

The Spanish Socialist Party, currently in government, considered his comments “inappropriate.” No member from the Portuguese government has made any comment yet.

The Spanish politician later added in a radio interview that joking about the Catalan bombings is not the same as joking about the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War or the bombings perpetrated by the Basque terrorist group, ETA, which has recently called for a definitive ceasefire and a start of negotiations with the French and Spanish governments. Peces-Barba also told the interviewer that Catalans are “oversensitive people and should have a better sense of humor.” He later apologized to those that might have felt his first words to be offensive.

As some of his Socialist Party colleagues pointed out, Gregorio Peces-Barba may have unwittingly helped the growing independence movement in Catalonia. In a recent government opinion poll, about 46% of the citizens of Catalonia said that they would support independence. Though it is one of the wealthiest and most industrialized regions in Spain, Catalonia has had a fiscal deficit of around 10% of its GDP for several decades, which makes its tax burden one of the highest in Europe. This is one of the most controversial issues between Catalonia and Spain, the other being the persecution of the Catalan language and culture since the 17th Century.


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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Col·lectiu Emma is a network of Catalans and non-Catalans living in different countries who have made it their job to track and review news reports about Catalonia in the international media. Our goal is to ensure that the world's public opinion gets a fair picture of the country's reality today and in history.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia