This will be a long text, so I promise you a lot of pictures.
I will make the case that Catalonia is virtually threatening the territorial integrity of its neighbours, be them other comunidades autónomas or states. I concede from the start that this aggression as of yet has not left the level of being virtual, in the sense of there being no official policy to this end on the side of the government of Catalonia, yet I will make it clear that the threat level is nevertheless high enough to be reckoned with.
My understanding is that the latest measures announced by the government of neighbouring Aragon are a reaction to recent developments in Catalonia. You will find that I disregard, but do not refute, the possibility of these recent developments in Catalonia being themselves a reaction to other phenomena. I so do for three reasons: the hen/egg problem has to be tackled at some stage, this is the stage in which I understand that the Catalan problem has gone territorial, i.e. one that affects not only the territory of Catalonia proper, and, as History has shown us, the favourite stage for political disputes to mutate into war is more often than not when they become about territories.
My focus will therefore be on pancatalan ideology.
For starters, let me run before you an interpellation by Salvador Cardús i Ros. Do keep in mind that he is one of Catalonia's prominent intellectuals and a political scientist who in the past years has been deeply involved in the public debate about Catalonia's fate. [Wikipedia] [Homepage] Although with less success than, for example, Ferran Requejo, he has written many articles in the press, he has been much interviewed, he has starred at several conferences and he is or has been a prominent member of some local associations that defend, or purport to defend, the Catalan
When I claimed that the president of Catalonia Mr Artur Mas had his share of responsibility in pancatalanism getting, so to say, out of the playground of extremist wet dreams into real life by participating in a certain referendum (a point I will show to be true further on), Mr Cardús responded: "What makes you think that the referendum was about the 'països catalans' when that was not stated anywhere? Where does this come from?"
Exhibit A, Mr Cardús's tweet:
I led him to one earlier entry on this blog.
That entry has been amended several times, and it's now quite a mess. So here are the two main points that show why it is justified to call the referendum on independence that struck Catalonia between 2009 and 2011 a faux referendum. A hoax. Or more precisely: a scam.
This is the official poster of the faux referendum calling for the first round of voting on December 13, 2009. As we can clearly see, the territory marked with the question mark corresponds to that of the "Països Catalans", or Catalan Lands. Not only to Catalonia proper. The referendum was conducted only in Catalonia proper.
The same poster was also in use during the second round, on February 28, 2010.
If anybody doubts its veracity, here is a newspaper article that shows several leaders of the Catalunya Decideix movement that organised the faux referendum exhibiting the poster.
The photo from that article is exhibit C:
Secondly, the intention of referring to the Catalan Lands was later confirmed by the lady you see above, Mrs Anna Arqué, spokesperson of the campaign, in an interview with Basque newspaper Gara. Here is the translation of the corresponding passage.
"Last Sunday's question referred to the "Catalan nation". What map do you have in mind when using this term?
That of the Catalan Lands: the Principality [i.e. Catalonia proper], Valencia, the Franja [in Aragon], the Balearic Islands, Northern Catalonia [in France] and Alghero [in Sardinia, Italy]."
Presented with this evidence that indeed the Catalan Lands were referred to, and much so, Mr Cardús withdrew to another objection, pertaining to my original point of seeking responsibility for the most recent turn of events (re Aragon) on the highest Catalan level because Catalan president Artur Mas had participated in that referendum, and voted "yes" on the question "Do you agree that the Catalan nation should become an independent state, under the rule of law, democratic, social and integrated into the European Union?".
Additionally, it has to be mentioned that almost all of Mas's ministers participated in the referendum. Although the votes of some of them are unknown, it is clear that they lent legitimacy to the act.
On another note, Mr Mas's predecessor and political godfather, the grand figure of Catalan nationalism who in the past months has increasingly operated as an éminence grise of Catalan politics, Mr Jordi Pujol, also participated and has made known that his vote was, as Mr Mas's, affirmative. The same is true for Barcelona's now mayor Mr Xavier Trias.
We will come back later to this, let us first observe Mr Cardús's last line of defense.
Translation: "@Cataloniawatch I do not deny the ambiguities and incoherences of the organisers. I say that the vote responded to a clear question."
Now, the case has to be made, and I so did before Mr Cardús (who thereafter no longer replied, but was informed of my intentions to write a blog entry on the matter and has explicitly been offered the possibility to make a concluding statement) that the question was all but clear. As with Mr Cardús, I refer you to the first sentence of the entry on the Catalan Wikipedia about Catalanism: "Catalanism, or Catalan nationalism, is a social current that is structured both socially and politically and which preserves and promotes the recognition of the political (Catalan nation), as well as linguistic, cultural and national personality of Catalonia or the whole of the territories of Catalan language, the so called Catalan Lands."
"Catalan nation" is an ambiguous term. May Wikipedia suffice here as an authority for something that is anyway widely know.
This point, jointly with Artur Mas's role in the whole unsavoury affair, will be treated after briefly shedding some light on Mr Cardús's political background.
On his homepage there are three videos from a conference on the faux referendum, one understands that he is promoting it.
Exhibit F, a screenshot:
Clearly visible in the background behind Mr Cardús is the February 28 poster of the faux referendum showing the Catalan Lands with the trademark question mark.
Moreover, Mr Cardús is first-day signer of Sobirania i Progrés's manifesto.
Sobirania i Progrés's manifesto speaks not of Catalonia, but of the Catalan Lands, for which it wants "sovereignty".
Sobirania i Progrés was one of the organisers of the faux referendum.
Mr Cardús is a moderate insofar as it is hard to find him hurraying the Catalan Lands incessantly. But sometimes he does.
That much about Mr Cardús. How such a prominent talking head with that level of personal insight could be ignorant of the true ambitions of the faux referendum is anybody's guess. To cut him some slack, I personally had the impression that he was being honestly taken by surprise. A surprise that sheds some interesting light on the goings-on in this part of the world: Mr Cardús's ignorance can be seen as symptomatic for a more general carelessness.
Let's now close this chapter and move to the last issue Mr Cardús raised. The very question asked at the referendum. The one about the "Catalan nation".
As we have established, the term is ambiguous. We have also shown that the organisers consistently interpreted the term as "Catalan Lands", at least until February 28, 2010. I have no record on the same poster being used after that date. Its is a conjecture, but it seems fair to conclude that at that later stage the "ambiguities and incoherences" Mr Cardús mentioned kicked in, maybe by design, because somebody had realised that promoting the Països Catalans could blow up into the organisers' faces.
It ultimately did not, not in their faces....
The term "Catalan nation" being ambiguous, the door was open so that everybody could interpret the question on independence the way they saw fit.
This leads to two conclusions. The first is that if we accept the above premiss, the faux referendum was a total mess, with two different question being subjectively asked. Secondly, the part of the voters that understood Catalonia proper instead of Catalan Lands was later kidnapped -or rather votenapped- by Anna Arqué, in the name of all the organisers (nobody ever contradicted her), see again her Gara interview.
As to Artur Mas, we have to once more recapitulate: the organisers of the referendum, as virtually all Catalan separatists, have a pancatalan orientation. That is a known reality. And the term "Catalan nation" was intrinsically defined during at least the first half of the referendum as meaning Catalan Lands by the posters we have seen.
One has to conclude that the president of Catalonia, who has the obligation to be better informed than the average citizen, was either very uninformed about his own country, or that he did indeed support the idea of creating a new state in Europe that would include all territories in which Catalan is historically spoken, such as those that lie in neighbouring Aragon, and that he was supported in this idea by his predecessor Jordi Pujol and the large majority of his own ministers. Or that he simply didn't care for such "details".
It is now clear why the government of Aragon had to perceive this faux referendum as a threat to the territorial integrity of its region. A threat that came from both Catalan "civil society" and that region's political elite. Not a clear and direct threat but a virtual one, as I have claimed at the start. However, one has to concede that its virtual character does not offer much comfort, to say the least.
The relations between Catalonia and Aragon are poisoned since then. This can be in noone's interest. Mr Mas did not have the necessary vision to anticipate that his own actions would have such an unsettling outcome. He has learned dangerously little from History. Instead, he has insisted much on the personal nature of his vote. This makes him a frivolous politician unfit to lead any region or country.
I therefore request that he be removed from office.
The undemocratic nature of the faux referendum has been obvious at every stage. Its organisers had a territory in mind that was much larger than the territory in which the referendum took place, which was only Catalonia proper.
In addition to that, they were not neutral to the outcome, in spite of their reiterated claims that every vote counted no matter which way it went.
To illustrate that, let's have a look at a press article. And let me ask you: What is wrong with this photo?
The article puts the date of the photo at April 10, 2011, latest. The very day the faux referendum had arrived at its last stage in Barcelona. Voting day.
Someone is apparently making propaganda for a yes vote. But who? Just look what's there on top of the table: books.
More precisely, copies of this book:
A book that was ready for delivery two days before the Barcelona referendum. A book made by some of the organisers of the Catalunya Decideix movement, the organisers of the referendum that was taking place the very moment that photo was shot in the streets of Barcelona.
In Spain there is the institution of the "jornada de reflexión", which is usually the Saturday before election Sunday. No electoral propaganda is allowed during 48 hours. Every country I know forbids propaganda at least at election day.
The organisers of the faux referendum had their Sí-book out in the streets nonetheless.
This, if nothing else, shows how faux the referendum was, and what its organisers thought of democracy, and of the people they called on to participate. It was a farce, a scam.
They will be repeating it all over again. They have already started.
Undemocratic beyond any reasonable doubt.