dijous, 20 de novembre de 2014

Spanish army chief makes dark comments about Catalonia secession bid

Catalans hold independence flags (Estelada) on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes during celebrations of Catalonia National Day (Diada) in Barcelona, Sept. 11, 2014, (QUIQUE GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Spain's army chief has waded into the growing storm over Catalonia's secession bid from Madrid. Chief of the General Staff Jaime Domínguez Buj likened the current state of affairs in the country to Spain's losses more than a century ago during the Spanish-American War.

"When the metropolis is weak," Dominguez said, "the collapse happens."

By metropolis, he is using a term popular among academics for the center of political and colonial power in an empire. When the conflict with the U.S. ended in 1898, Spain had lost its hold over Cuba, the Philippines, and Guam, some of its last prized imperial possessions. The defeat was a traumatic blow to Spanish prestige.

Dominguez went on, insisting his army "is prepared to intervene at home or abroad, to go to Afghanistan or Valencia" to uphold the Spanish Constitution. Valencia is a city and region along Spain's Mediterranean coast, south of Catalonia.

The army chief's comments have furrowed brows, with even a spokesman from the ruling Popular Party calling them "difficult to understand." Catalonia, a northeastern region with its own distinct language and identity, has never been a Spanish colony. Its secessionist movement has gained momentum in recent years, culminating in the region's attempt to stage a referendum on the question of independence earlier this month.

More than two million Catalonians voted in the plebiscite on Nov. 9 in what was a symbolic, non-binding poll that Madrid refused to recognize. The overwhelming majority opted for independence.

The Spanish government insists that the people in the region do not have a right to self-determination. It has also dismissed overtures from Catalan leader Artur Mas to have a constructive dialogue about figuring out a path by which Catalonia, home to one-fifth of the Spanish economy, can determine its own political destiny.

On Tuesday, Spain's state prosecutor even filed a suit against Mas for helping stage the symbolic plebiscite.

The Spanish army, of course, has a troubled past in Catalonia. Under the dictatorship of military strongman Francisco Franco, the Catalan language was barred from schools, the use of Catalan names was prohibited, and local Catalan traditions were suppressed.

Times, of course, have changed greatly since Franco's death and the advent of Spanish democracy. But the army chief's remarks likely won't help patch up the divide between Barcelona and Madrid.

Ishaan Tharoor
writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor at TIME, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.


Spanish Army Chief about Catalonia: “when the metropolis is weak”, “the fall takes place”

The Chief of Spain’s Army Defence Staff, General Jaime Domínguez Buj, was asked asked on Tuesday about the situation in Catalonia and he has implicitly compared it with a colony. The main General of the Army stated that “when the metropolis is weak” is the time when “the fall takes place”. 
He added that a “processes” such as Catalonia’s happens “when the central power is weak”, as happened in 1898, when Spain lost Cuba and the Philippines, he said. His words have caused quite some controversy. Later on, Domínguez Buj, nuanced his previous statement and said he was referring to 1808 and the Spanish War of Independence against Napoleon’s Empire. Such a war helped some of Spain’s American colonies to get their independence. He also added that he was referring to other historical periods and to other empires, ...read more....

Spanish Army Colonel Threatens Catalonia with Military Intervention

Spanish army colonel Francisco Alamán said in an interview to Alerta Digital that Catalonia would only be independent “over my dead body and that of many other soldiers,” arguing that the Spanish army has solemnly sworn to defend “the non-negotiable principle of Spain's unity,” and that they will defend it “even with our lives.” In the interview he made clear his extreme Spanish nationalistic views by emphasizing concepts like fatherland, Spanish nation, and Spain's unity as the sovereignty principles which the Spanish army has an obligation to address. He also said that "the armed forces are not here to serve the politicians, but the fatherland." He accused Catalan secessionists of being like "scavenging vultures," and made derogatory comments Read more....

Some in Spanish Army Encouraging Catalonia's Occupation

For a while, the media have been reporting about some people in the Spanish army in favor of a military intervention in Catalonia, as for example colonel Francisco Alamán's statements. Today recently retired lieutenant general Pedro Pitarch openly admitted that active and retired members of the military forces are working together in order to “encourage the armed forces” to occupy Catalonia.
In an interview published by El Confidencial, the lieutenant general, who has been in the reserve for three years but is still knowledgeable about the current situation in the army, states that “some military personnel are publicly urging to break ranks and go against the legal system” in order to take measures against Catalonia.
Former lieutenant general Pitarch regrets the fact that “nowadays the spirit of the coup d’état of February 23rd 1981 is back to haunt us,” and he adds that “the ill-meaning ideas that encouraged that coup are well alive.” Read more...

European Parliament vice-president proposes sending in military to prevent democratic referendum in Catalonia

European Parliament vice-president, Spanish nationalist Alejo Vidal Quadras, asked the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, that he choose any brigadier general, “preferably from the guardia civil,” to put a stop to Catalonia's independence process. “Besides fighting the resolution in the courts, we must take over the autonomous region. The Spanish government needs to get in contact with Mas and tell him that what he's doing is against the law, and if he does not change his mind we'll be forced to step in,” he said.

He also offered some details about how this would work. “The Spanish senate meets, has a vote, then takes over the autonomous region. We disband their parliament, the Catalan government goes back home, and the Spanish government delegation in Catalonia takes over Catalonia. The brigadier general is to be in charge of the Catalan police.” Read more...

Spanish government pays homage to Hitler loyalists: once more, Spain is different

As already reported, the Spanish Government’s highest official in Catalonia recently paid homage to the “Blue Division”, a unit of the Wermacht. This did not lead to her firing or resignation, but instead Madrid has explicitly supported  Ms Maria de los Llanos de Luna. Many details have already been discussed in the press and the social media, but in order to understand how odd this is in the European context, we need to remember that the members of this unit made a personal, public, oath of allegiance to the Führer.
Thus, although this was Franco’s contribution to Hitler’s war in the East, together with economic cooperation and intelligence support, each soldier of the Wermacht’s 250th division personally made an oath of loyalty to the German dictator. Therefore, we are not talking about a purely Spanish unit that may have taken part in the hostilities, but rather about a division fully integrated into the German Army. A look at their uniforms, for example, read more...

Unfair Play Against Catalonia

The retired Spanish army officer Francisco Alamán reiterated and elaborated his threats against Catalans in a new interview to Alerta Digital. This time he went even further and demanded that the Catalan MPs who have placed charges against him (Joan Tardà, Alfred Bosch, and Uriel Bertran) be detained “for wanting to fracture Spain and for high treason.” He also demanded that “all political parties that have as their main goal the fracturing of the [Spanish] nation be made immediately illegal.” Alamán claims to have received many messages of support after his first interview, and he declares himself openly a Franco admirer. When they ask him “Do you admire Franco?” he answers “Which Spaniard could not admire him? [...] Read more...

Spanish army chief makes dark comments about Catalonia secession bid

Spain's army chief has waded into the growing storm over Catalonia's secession bid from Madrid. Chief of the General Staff Jaime Domínguez Buj likened the current state of affairs in the country to Spain's losses more than a century ago during the Spanish-American War.
"When the metropolis is weak," Dominguez said, "the collapse happens."
By metropolis, he is using a term popular among academics for the center of political and colonial power in an empire. When the conflict with the U.S. ended in 1898, Spain had lost its hold over Cuba, the Philippines, and Guam,...read more...

Spanish Retired Military Officer Demands that President Mas Should Be Sent to Prison

After all the first controversial statements by retired Spanish army officer Alamán, no one has silenced him. Quite the opposite. The complicit silence of the Spanish government has given him more strength and he has asked this time that Catalan President Artur Mas be sent to prison, and also all Catalan police people who would not act to jail him. Yesterday a tribunal decided that the Colonel statements threating Catalonia were not only absolutely legal but "freedom of speech".
The retired colonel is not satisfied with sending elected President Mas to jail, he also wants the Catalan police to act againt Catalan government representativesAgain Mr. Alaman keeps his threats to Catalans and Catalan institutions. He asked “When ******* Mr. Mas seriously violates the Spanish Constitution, he needs not to be convinced, but he should be sent to jail, and if we are in a rush for this, a couple of civil guards will do, who are always willing.” Read more...

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