Catalonia To Declare Independence
Catalonia will declare independence from Spain within a week, the leader of the autonomous region has told the BBC in an interview.
Since the referendum result last Sunday, Carles Puigdemont said his government would “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next”.
Hundreds of thousands of people across Catalonia have been protesting over Spanish police violence during the vote, during which nearly 900 people were hurt.
Municipal police in Barcelona say hundreds of thousands of citizens stopped traffic, as schools, universities and FC Barcelona shut down. Several thousand demonstrators gathered outside the Barcelona headquarters of Spain’s national police force on yesterday. Some labour unions and grassroots pro-independence groups urged workers throughout Catalonia to go on partial or full-day strikes. Metro stations in Barcelona were completely deserted and the Boqueria market was almost empty.
In November 2014 nearly 2.4 million Catalans participated in a peaceful debate to voice their own concerns about the way their region was being treated. The result was that their leaders were threatened with jail by Madrid.
Just a few weeks before the referendum, poll after poll confirmed there was a strong fear of independence. That fear was generated by the European Union official who confirmed that if independence went ahead, the region would be automatically thrown out of the EU. This was confirmed by European Vice-President Joaquin Almunia who, whilst in Barcelona last March stated that “the segregated part of Spain is not an EU member and would be exited immediately.”
One wonders what the Scottish might feel about such threats given that they have desires to separate from Westminster but not from the European Union.
Sunday’s vote showed a 90% pro independence vote but it should not be forgotten that only 43% of the eligible public turned out. Million of Catalans boycotted the event, not out of fear of what might happen on the streets but economically after the EU’s demonstration of what they did to Greece.
Reports that the Catalan region contributes far more to Spain than the rest of Spain does are not really true. About 18% of the entire GDP of Spain comes from the Catalan region who make up just over 16% of the Spanish population. However, it is true to say that 35% of inward inward investment and one third of Spain’s exports are Catalonian and independence would be catastrophic for Spain as a whole.
EC President Jean-Clause Juncker has entered the fray by confirming in no uncertain words that “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.” These authoritarian tendencies fuel regional and local opposition and is the reason why so many feel the EU has taken a step too far in recent years.
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The Catalonian referendum has demonstrated in full colour that the European Union is no democracy. Its desires to be the new superstate and superpower at the big table are crumbling. People at community level want to live in communities and not be ruled by an elite making decisions about their everyday lives from glass towers in a different country. This is one of the greatest arguments that globalisation in its current form is no longer acceptable.
Meanwhile, Spain’s King Felipe VI said organisers of the vote put themselves “outside the law”, said the situation was “extremely serious”, calling for unity. Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is unrepentant of the police actions and continues his hardline strategy that has clearly backfired stating that the referendum was unconstitutional and a ‘farce’.
The UN rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said he was “very disturbed” by the unrest while the European Council president, Donald Tusk, urged Madrid to avoid further use of violence.
The European parliament will hold a special debate on Wednesday on the issue.
The Catalonian leader has asked that police from other regions of Spain leave immediately, describing them as occupiers. In the meantime, 16,000 troops are waiting just of the coast of Catalonia loaded in three cruisers for Madrid’s orders.
The events of next week will indeed be as interesting as this week for Spain, the European Union and Western democracy.