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On the Spanish government's use of diplomacy and sense of humour.
ARTICLE FOR CATALONIA TODAY
Given that 80% of elected politicians in the Catalan parliament (and two thirds of the population that pays their fees) want to hold a referendum on the independence question and that 55% of Catalans have already said in surveys that they want a state of their own and given that the best-selling novels and essays on Catalonia's Book Day (April 23rd) were all pro-independence and that Catalan Public Television's documentary recommending independence (broadcast on May 7th) was the most watched programme in Catalonia, you'd have thought that the Spanish government and its affiliated media would finally be taking the on-going process towards Catalan home rule a mite seriously. Not a bit of it. On the contrary, they are in an even more jocular mood than usual. For instance, the Spanish state delegate in Catalonia, Ms Llanos de Luna, declared last May that people in the 200 towns and villages which have officially proclaimed themselves 'free of Spain' must have 'had a few drinks' to indulge in 'such a joke'. And the Aragonese government declared that from now on the Catalan spoken in Aragonese territory (of which the late, great Catalan-language author Jesús Moncada was a native son) isn't Catalan at all, but must now be called LAPAO, an acronym for Aragonese Language Belonging to the Eastern Zone. And Madrid's local public TV station broadcast a 'report' on Catalonia, in which images of Stalin and Hitler were morphed into those of Catalan president Mas and left-wing pro-independence leader Junqueras. And a citizen who recently petitioned Brussels in Catalan received a reply from a high-ranking Spanish official there...written in Latvian. And the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal has now said it needs five months to decide whether a non-legally-binding pro-sovereignty statement by the Catalan parliament is legal (or not). Why such infinite jest? The secret, it would appear, is that behind the scenes, the ideologically fuelled Spanish diplomatic corps is on unionist overdrive. For example, last month a Catalan professor on loan to the University of Georgetown (USA) was promptly removed from her post by the Spanish government after she'd defended the Catalans' right to vote on self-determination. And recently a Scottish MP – whose name I am not at liberty to disclose – assured me that Spain has told the Scots that it won't veto the re-entry of an independent Scotland into the EU on one condition: that the Scottish government does not so much as mention, much less defend, the Catalan cause. So at home, apparently, the Spanish powers that be can ridicule us – or worse – until kingdom come. Precisely because abroad, mum is their last word on the subject.