Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Saturday, 9 september 2017 | POLITICO

English

Terror in Catalonia: No time for blame games

Unfounded criticism of the region’s police forces masks a deeper security problem.


POLITICO
 
 
By AMADEU ALTAFAJ
 
31-08-2017.-
 

I read “Catalan nationalists campaign on backs of the dead” (August 29) with great sadness and concern. The piece contains several outrageous factual inaccuracies at a time when we are still shocked and hurt by the tragic events in Barcelona — my hometown — as well as Cambrils, Ripoll, Alcanar and Rubí.

The author claims that the half a million people who marched in Barcelona last Saturday failed to denounce the terrorists responsible for the attack and accuses them of derailing the event to advance a pro-independence claim. That is simply false.
 
I read “Catalan nationalists campaign on backs of the dead” (August 29) with great sadness and concern. The piece contains several outrageous factual inaccuracies at a time when we are still shocked and hurt by the tragic events in Barcelona — my hometown — as well as Cambrils, Ripoll, Alcanar and Rubí.

The author claims that the half a million people who marched in Barcelona last Saturday failed to denounce the terrorists responsible for the attack and accuses them of derailing the event to advance a pro-independence claim. That is simply false.

Protesters spoke out against the terrorists in the strongest possible terms, chanting “No tinc por!” (“I’m not afraid!”). The same way they did, by the way, in condemnation of the bomb attacks in Madrid in 2004, and after attacks carried out by the terrorists of ETA.

The author’s criticism of Catalonia’s police forces, Mossos d’Esquadra, whose efficiency and courage were praised by security forces worldwide, is equally unfair.

Worse still, the criticism overlooks a real security problem.

The Barcelona attack highlighted the dysfunctionality of Spain’s security arrangements and the toxic effects that the Spanish government’s political agenda has had on regional police forces’ ability to access crucial Europol information.

European Union regulation provides for regional police forces to be designated as “competent authorities.” By law, the Catalan police (which counts 17,000 officers) has a full range of competencies, which includes the fight against terrorism.

In June, shortly after the Basque Nationalist Party’s supported Rajoy’s 2017 budget, Madrid granted Basque regional police the status of a “competent authority” in regards to Europol. But it has kept Catalonia’s request for the same status on ice.

Allowing politics to prevail over security is irresponsible. This is not just a domestic issue. It has the potential to affect Spain’s European partners when it comes to security cooperation.
 
The author also attacks the use of Catalan flags at Saturday’s march but fails to note the presence of Spanish flags. At such a sensitive occasion, it is normal for people to surround themselves with symbols of national identity. What matters is that, in the face of terror, they were united in their diversity.

The piece also misleads readers by suggesting that authorities only made statements in Catalan, when in fact they spoke in both Catalan and Spanish, the two official languages of Catalonia. (Catalan President Carles Puigdemont even made a statement in four languages: Catalan, Spanish, English and French.)

What we need now is solidarity and cooperation. We can’t afford to waste time on petty blame games.

Catalan people are known for being resilient and loving freedom. We are not afraid. I could elaborate on that point, or on the reasons behind our claim for independence, but not today. Let’s not make politics on the backs of the dead.
 
Amadeu Altafaj 
Representative of the government of Catalonia to the European Union
Brussels, Belgium

 


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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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