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Post Has the Catalonia Crisis Hit an Impasse?
Created by John Eipper on 11/05/19 11:21 AM

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Has the Catalonia Crisis Hit an Impasse? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 11/05/19 11:21 am)

In my last post about Prof. Clara Ponsatí (November 2nd), John E made some remarks that I believe are worthy of further discussion.

John seemed to suggest that I minimized the gravity of a 2- or 3-year prison sentence for Ms Ponsatí, because she is already 60 years old. John is right; to be in prison even a short time is no small matter. However, Ponsatí should be aware, despite her age, that breaking the law has consequences. John and others may believe that she actually did not commit any crime at all, which is in fact the independentist argument. But suppose for instance that the Scottish government (or Quebec... or Texas!) challenged the British government and held a new unauthorized referendum (BoJo has already denied this option) and unilaterally proclaimed Scotland's independence, I wonder if that would be accepted by British law without any punishment to Scottish authorities or to Ms Sturgeon.

Returning to Catalonia, John also remarked that "the constitutional argument has reached an impasse," and that the "present document permits the fragmentation of the country [only] if the entire nation agrees." This discussion would take a little longer, but it is necessary once and for all to establish the legality of facts.

First, it is clear that there is no impasse. John is probably referring to the Spanish constitution, which exhaustively asserts the crucial importance of sovereignty issues for the nation (Article 92.1), such as territorial integrity. These are of concern for the whole nation and they must be subjected and decided by the entire Spanish population, not limited to regional decisions in a possible referendum. In this regard the potential "fragmentation" of the country is obviously considered a crucial issue. That is what the constitution establishes, whether the Catalonians consider it unjust or not. By the way, the constitution was endorsed, in a democratic referendum, by 95% of the Catalonians in 1978.

Further to what the Constitution explicitly says, the Spanish Supreme Court has clearly established that there is no such thing as a self-determination right, and that any independence referendum is unconstitutional. The only way to avoid this illegality is to reform the text. In other words, a regional entity never can decide issues of national interest. See the following article for a more explicit explanation for those who read Spanish.


Now, there is a more biased interpretation of the constitutional text, regarding the possibility that the Spanish central government might allow regional institutions to hold local referendums (article 149.1) of regional relevance. The independentists claim this argument as a legal support to request an independence referendum. However, they fail to accept the obvious fact that the fragmentation of the nation is not of regional competence but of the entire Spanish state. Furthermore if a Spanish government ever authorizes and delegates such a referendum they would be immediately charged and put on trial for a political offense against the Constitution.


Finally, a few words regarding several recent WAIS posts about Franco's and possibly Primo de Rivera's exhumation and the lack of apologies from the Spanish state for the execution of Catalonian president Companys. Earlier I commented that I consider Franco's exhumation not useful for curing old wounds from the Spanish Civil War. On the contrary they would be the cause for many Spaniards, from the "right" and from the "left," to revive old resentments. Whether Primo de Rivera is also a victim or not, or whether he deserves to be exhumed or not, the real issue is that it will be of no use for reconciliation of the people.

John mentioned that "Twenty years ago, it did seem that Spaniards were prepared to lay down their arms, but with the 2008-'09 recession, the Catalonia crisis, and the rise of VOX, the conflict has flared up anew." I am afraid he forgot to mention, as an obstacle for reconciliation, the Ley de Memoria Histórica, which has been used as a political instrument of the "left" to blame the "right" for war crimes, which only have served to open up the old injuries.

It is perhaps necessarily and historically obvious for all sides to give recognition to the victims of the Civil War or to admit to war crimes, but these acknowledgements should be given honestly from both sides to be fair. I have never seen or listened the Socialist party PSOE, the old communist party or their new heirs, PODEMOS, Izquierda Unida, Izquierda Republicana, and so forth, express regret for their thousands of victims before and during the war. Among many others, these victims included my innocent uncle assassinated by communist militias before the conflict. He was thrown into the sea, only apparently because he was from a wealthy Catholic family. I hope it is clear what I mean, in order to cure old injures is should be necessary (but unfortunately maybe not enough) to repent honestly, reciprocally and mutually, otherwise the old resentments will never disappear and reconciliation might be impossible.

JE comments:  By impasse, I was referring to the crisis itself, not a reading of the constitution.  As José Ignacio Soler explains, there is no ambiguity in the law.  The Catalonian nationalist position is that the law is wrong.  Those independentists versed in US history might cite Dred Scott, which was incontrovertibly legal but morally unjust.  Thus the impasse:  the sides are talking about two different things.

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