Living in Catalonia (I)

Spain Catalonia

Clemente Polo | Living in Catalonia is becoming increasingly oppressive. Even for those of us who decided one day to pack our bags and move to an Autonomous Community that stood out from the rest for its social and cultural dynamism and its cosmopolitan vocation. When I was offered a place at the Autonomous University of Barcelona after giving a seminar in June 1984, nobody thought to ask me where I was from or what language I was going to teach in. Similarly, it had not crossed my mind since I landed in Barcelona in September 1984 to ask anyone to speak to me in Spanish. It was enough for them to listen to my presentation and appreciate my professional career, and for me the desire to be part of the Economics and Economic History department, which had such notable economists and historians.

Since then, the scenario has changed completely in Catalonia. And today I read with horror that the campaigns of harassment and denunciation against professors who teach in Spanish in Catalan universities are multiplying, promoted by the subsidised association Plataforma por la lengua. This is despite the fact that Spanish is the majority language in Catalan society and the only language understood by the majority of foreign students. I have escaped the burning by the skin of my teeth! Even if one has written hundreds of articles detailing the sectarian policies of the Catalan government and the oppressive situation in which we constitutionalist Catalans, left and right, survive, I have been astonished to see that the government of the Generalitat no longer limits itself to just imposing language fines on companies. It openly encourages the persecution of schoolchildren and teachers.

The secessionist leaders are counting on the connivance of Prime Minister Sánchez to continue with the insurrectionary process. He was promoted to La Moncloa on 1 June 2018 by the two parties, JxC and ERC, whose leaders promoted and led the process that culminated in the constitution of “the Catalan Republic, as an independent and sovereign state, under the rule of law, democratic and social” on 27 October 2017 (27-O). Sánchez more than repaid their support by pardoning the ringleaders on 23 June 2021, ignoring the strong legal arguments put forward by the Supreme Court (SC), which had tried them and sentenced them to various prison sentences for sedition and embezzlement. Even before regaining their freedom, they were on the loose shouting from the rooftops “we will do it again as many times as necessary”. Once free and more emboldened than ever, they are demanding that Sánchez negotiate the holding of an agreed referendum on self-determination. How are other countries going to take seriously the European extradition order issued by Judge Llarena against the fugitive Puigdemont when the Spanish government pardons the seditionists? The secessionist parties’ new strategy is to avoid at all costs a head-on confrontation with the state, such as the one that forced President Rajoy to apply Article 155 of the Constitution on 27-O…

Tomorrow, the second part

(Originally publishes in Expansión 01/08/22)

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The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.