Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Friday, 28 february 2014 | Financial Times


Letter to the Financial Times, by Mr Albert Queralto

Those in favour of a Catalan state deserve a hearing
Feburary 26, 2014

From Mr Albert Queralto.

Sir, Cayetana Alvarez de Toledo demands that European leaders “confront separatism openly” (“Europe cannot afford to give in to the separatists”, February 18). Ms Alvarez’s article contains several unjustified claims and half-truths.

She denounces the Catalan pro-sovereignty movement as “contrary to the values that define Spain as a democracy and the EU as a feat of civilisation”, and claims that its supporters “undermine democracy in Spain in the name of identity”, apparently by “distort[ing] historical facts to justify imaginary grievances”.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Catalan pro-independence advocates are driven not by “ethnic” or tribal nationalism, but by an increasingly widespread realisation that their interests would be better represented by a Catalan state, rather than by a Spanish one which is all too often seen as ruling against them. A majority of Catalans aspire to an agreement with Spain just like the one between the UK and Scotland – a pact to hold a vote and a commitment by all parties to respect the result.

This has proved impossible, since Ms Alvarez’s party has vowed to block a referendum by whatever means necessary. Her claims about Catalans’ imaginary historical grievances are just as shocking. President Lluis Companys, elected in 1934 and murdered by Franco’s nationalist regime in 1940, is one of the only democratically elected presidents in European history to have been executed.

His death sentence has not been annulled, despite several attempts by Catalan parties to do so. Ms Alvarez’s party, founded by a former minister of Franco, has voted against revisiting the issue.

The Catalan pro-sovereignty movement is committed to the European Union. Most of those who favour independence wish for a Catalan state, fully integrated within Europe.

At this juncture, European leaders can do one of two things: follow Ms Alvarez’s demands to repress an overwhelming democratic mandate, or allow the consultation and engage in an orderly, rational negotiation that respects the freely expressed will of the people. The right choice should be obvious.

Albert Queralto, Washington, DC, US

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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