Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Spain Is Separating Catalonia


Ramon Tremosa
European MP (CiU)

For many years now I have been noticing that Catalans are feeling increasingly discriminated against and taken advantage of when compared to other citizens of Spain. It seems that this negative feeling has grown to the point that most every Catalan feels this way—it's kind of depressing. As a result, Catalans are starting to realize that if we remain as just another part of Spain, we are condemning ourselves to become “third-rate Spaniards.” Of course, Catalans are refusing to become third-rate anything. Even the ones who have roots back in Spain are realizing this, and that is the reason why so many Catalans of Spanish descent will be present at the pro-independence rally—they feel mistreated economically on a daily basis. There are plenty of very real examples of this mistreatment one could look up—data regarding investments in high-speed trains, airports, highways. Just the other day we heard that Extremadura is planning on reducing its IVA tax for cultural activities. It all seems like a bad joke at the expense of Catalonia and every single honest, hard-working Catalan.

How did we get to this point? If the Spanish government were smarter, they would not have threatened and undermined the most recent Catalan autonomy charter approved by the Catalan Parliament, the Spanish Congress, and voted for by the Catalan people in a referendum. Only someone wishing to worsen the situation would undermine the sovereign decision of a whole nation. And so, it would seem to me that, when we talk about separatism, we find more separators in Spain than separatists in Catalonia. Also, if the Spanish government paid more attention to our unique language and our culture, and if it cared for our economy and infrastructures, we would not be witnessing the massive rally like the one we will witness today in Barcelona. However, the Spanish government keeps insisting on separating Catalonia. There's no other way to put it. To all effects, Spain is separating Catalonia. As an example, most government officials in Spain have this deeply centralist, jacobine attitude, that is shared by most Spanish politicians as well. They seem to like to separate—even though they keep claiming that all they want is their sacrosanct ‘unity.’

So what's Europe going to do? If Spain were an example of efficiency and proper functioning, Europe would not even consider Catalonia's independence as a possibility. This would create more problems than it solves. However, the reality is that Spain is really inefficient and not very reliable, having squandered resources on mindless investments. Spain is always the last to pay the bills, has a really bad labor market, an even worse justice system, and very low legal protection for investors. Therefore, Catalonia, the most efficient and business oriented part of Spain, is deciding it wants none of this. Europe needs to improve its exports, its economy and efficiency, its commerce and growth, and for this it needs countries that will fit this profile. Catalonia is such a country. Spain does not make sense precisely because it has an inefficient, centralist structure, and Europe is very aware of this. With a free Catalonia, Europe would see an improvement in its economy, in freedom, in justice, in democracy. Everybody knows that small countries top the charts of all kinds of indexes—economic growth, standard of living, democracy. Catalonia is ready for the challenge.

Read more by this author here
Citizens' Voice Series

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