Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Wednesday, 26 february 2014 | Financial Times


Reply to the Financial Times, by Mr. Constanti Segarra

We recommend the following letter to the Financial TImes, originally published on February 23rd, 2014.

Catalonia, like Scotland, just wants to exercise its democratic right

From Mr Constanti Segarra.

Sir, I write in response to Cayetana Alvarez’s article “Europe cannot afford to give in to separatists” (February 19). For the author, a member of Spain’s rightwing Popular party, Catalan and Scottish nationalism symbolise the “refutation of cultural diversity, the rejection of political pluralism and the restriction of individual rights”.

It’s odd that she uses this description since it’s been Spanish nationalism that has constantly battled and even banned cultural and linguistic diversity, and which has restricted individual and collective rights, and still does. The legitimate and democratic aspirations of Catalonia and Scotland do not undermine the European project, but, instead, strengthen the democratic and inclusive character of the European institutions, which are envied elsewhere from Ukraine to Turkey. One should not allow Spanish nationalism, and its inherent resistance to democratic principles, to tarnish the European dream.

Europe, if it really is a union of democratic states, should not hide behind the “internal matter” catchphrase, and should clearly defend democracy, including the right of the people to decide their own future. And, when a member state doesn’t let the people vote, as is the case with Spain, Europe should intervene and mediate in order to guarantee the democratic processes.

Ms Alvarez tries to justify the prohibition of the Catalan referendum by seeking refuge in Britain, unsuccessfully trying to link her with Spain against the challenge of “regional separatists in Scotland and Catalonia”. But this link doesn’t exist.

While Spain has spent most of the 20th century under dictatorships, and has never recognised the self-determination right for either Catalonia or Gibraltar, Britain has enjoyed democracy for centuries and is still an active promoter of the values of freedom. As in other periods of history, this land of hope and glory can and must lead the democratic forces in Europe. In fact, Britain is already in the vanguard both by applying the self-determination right for Scotland and with the In/Out referendum in the EU.

Parties representing two-thirds of Catalonia’s parliament have an electoral mandate to hold an independence referendum. Spain, however, denies the right of Catalans to decide their future, objecting on the grounds of constitutional laws. It is such a flawed argument (they changed the Constitution in 24 hours when Angela Merkel askedthem to, in order to limit the public deficit by law) that the Spanish rightwing nationalists need to justify their own position by constantly trying to link it to Britain’s.

But Britain knows better.

Constanti Segarra, London SW7, UK

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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