Not all Cata­lans want to sep­a­rate from as­set that is Spain

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Mar­i­ano Cas­tril­lón

NEW and wor­ry­ing de­vel­op­ments have taken place in Cat­alo­nia (Spain) since your ar­ti­cle “Cat­alo­nia bid to sel­f­rule”. Just the other day, its pres­i­dent, Car­les Puigde­mont, made a uni­lat­eral dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence sub­ject to the ap­proval or in­ter­ven­tion of the Spanish govern­ment and EU ne­go­tia­tors.

That was a most un­clear, if not ridicu­lous, dec­la­ra­tion which did not meet with the ap­proval of the ex­trem­ist sep­a­ratists.

On Oc­to­ber 1, the sep­a­ratist Cata­lan govern­ment car­ried out an il­le­gal ref­er­en­dum, which the pres­i­dent of Spain saw fit to try to stop by send­ing forces of law and or­der to cre­ate dis­or­der. Po­lice bru­tal­ity took place in many in­stances. It seems that the re­sult of the ref­er­en­dum was favourable to the sep­a­ratist forces.

Un­for­tu­nately, the ref­er­en­dum was called for and di­rected by the in­ter­ested party, which also counted the re­sults.

The rea­sons for sep­a­ra­tion are clear to the ex­trem­ists, but not so clear to the large num­ber of Cata­lans, like me, who do not want sep­a­ra­tion, or to those who are in­dif­fer­ent to it.

Cat­alo­nia was first a po­lit­i­cal unit in 1283 and forced to abol­ish it in 1714, re­stored in 1931, abol­ished by Franco in 1939 and re­stored again in 1977 af­ter Franco’s death.

It’s now an au­ton­o­mous prov­ince, some­thing that it had been fight­ing for dur­ing the 45 years of Franco’s rule.

It has its own par­lia­ment with Pres­i­dent Charles Puigde­mont con­trol­ling a pop­u­la­tion of 7.523 mil­lion in a coun­try of 46.5 mil­lion.

Cat­alo­nia’s econ­omy is larger than Por­tu­gal’s, and it has a gross do­mes­tic prod­uct of 22.5 mil­lion.

Cat­alo­nia, with an econ­omy larger than Por­tu­gal’s, says it re­ceives an un­fair re­dis­tri­bu­tion of tax rev­enues from Madrid. That is the main bone of con­tention.

Each year, it pays about 10 bil­lion more in taxes to Madrid than it gets back, or 5% of re­gional eco­nomic out­put, ac­cord­ing to data from the Spanish Trea­sury.

The govern­ment of Cat­alo­nia, or the Gen­er­al­i­tat de Catalunya, is the in­sti­tu­tion un­der which the au­ton­o­mous com­mu­nity of Cat­alo­nia in Spain is po­lit­i­cally or­gan­ised.

It con­sists of the par­lia­ment of Cat­alo­nia, the pres­i­dent of the Gen­er­al­i­tat of Catalunya and the govern­ment of Cat­alo­nia. They em­ploy 165 000 peo­ple, with an an­nual bud­get of 29.7 bil­lion.

They are a coun­try within an­other coun­try, with their own lan­guage, Cata­lan, with their own gram­mar (older than Spanish, or “Castel­lano”). They are an enor­mous as­set to Spain and I wish they would re­alise that the rest of Spain is also an enor­mous as­set to them.

We have to wait and see what the fu­ture brings to that trou­bled re­gion.

Po­lice bru­tal­ity took place in many in­stances

Green­side

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