By Maria Dolores Amoros
The problem with Catalonia is not its desire for independence, but that the Catalan public has fallen into the trap of Convergence and Union, or Convergència i Unió (CiU), headed by Artur Mas, the Senyoret. Mr. Mas has shown acting skills worthy of a professional actor, and a cunning that should not be underestimated.
We shouldn’t forget that CiU is a federation of two neo-liberal, Christian Democrat parties. That is, ideologically close to the [country's ruling] Popular Party (PP). In Madrid, in Congress, Unió leader Josep Antoni Duran expressed his support for the PP early on, and his enthusiasm bubbled over when in January Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy announced what was to be the first of a series of austerity programmes.
In Catalonia, since Artur Mas has been leader of the Government, the PP in the region has held the largest number of public positions and been boosted by CiU in a way that could have never been imagined. This was in order to help the CiU, with six seats short of a majority, form a government. The President of the PP in Catalonia, Alicia Sánchez Camacho, has never had so high a profile. Even the name of the party has been changed, from “PP de Catalunya” to “PP Català”.
Artur Mas has led the people of Catalonia into a state of genuine despair with an ice-like fervour, thanks to Camacho’s support: welfare cuts, job cuts, brutal cuts in wages, the closure of businesses and public bodies. On health, you need to experience it in person to believe it, because it is like entering the world of Dante. Along with this, the PP has imposed its well known and peculiar ‘whims’: no to sex change operations or artificial inseminations, deep cuts in compensation to victims of terrorism. And as for the historical memory [of the crimes of Franco's fascists], there has long been full agreement between the CiU and the PP that they should remain ‘forgotten’.
Yet Artur Mas was not so long ago vilified by Catalan society, facing strong protests in the streets against the measures he has taken against the people since taking power [in December 2010]. But by proclaiming measures towards independence and early elections in Catalonia for November 25, elections that are being wrapped in the flag of independence, he has suddenly become a hero.
I have a deep love and respect for Catalonia and the Catalan people. Perhaps that is why it hurts even more the see the delusion that they are suffering, motivated by the legitimate wishes of a sovereign people. We are talking about an immense, dense smokescreen to hide the neoliberal government’s outrages committed against its citizens, its trampling on their fundamental rights. This time it seeks to regain power with an absolute majority in the assembly, by dancing the milonga with the flag of Catalan independence while continuing to subjugate the people.
Relations with the PP have cooled a lot, in some instances to a grotesque level. The Foreign Minister Garcia Margallo claims that the cry of Catalan independence is undermining the Spanish “brand’; Rajoy has said that the increased offensive by the financial markets is down to the seriousness with which Catalan sovereignism is being asserted. The mediocre Rajoy, the man with ‘feet of clay’, is unable to accept his mistakes, he always needs to blame others, in this case the Catalan people. The final icing on the cake has been the Minister of Uneducación, José Ignacio Wert, who has declared the desire to ‘hispanize’ Catalan students. The PP’s catalanofobia is laid bare to all.
In the region of Valencia, catalanofobia, cultivated and spread by the PP, has wreaked havoc. Taking advantage of the ignorance of the people, the PP has pretended to protect and defend it from the depredations of the Catalans, who have allegedly stolen the culture, fruit, vegetables and writers. They want to impose a way of speaking that no one understands, it is said. They want to impose their TV, they want to take over our territory, etc etc. A wild and monotone PP is committing the greatest barbarities against Catalan people, spreading and instilling a senseless hatred that is very difficult to control.
The trap laid by Artur Mas shouldn’t be allowed to dazzle the innocent credibility of Catalan citizens any longer. They don’t deserve it. They are a noble working people, and if they want to pursue to its conclusion their sovereignist sentiment, which has been encouraged for so many years, then they must do it themselves, not as a result of the tricks of a rogue with an uncontrolled ambition for power. And above all, they need to recover the dignity, social and economic rights that have been removed by Artur Mas.
Translation (and some minor editing) by Revolting Europe