Catalonian Independence & the EU.

From the print edition of The New American. Written by 

On October 30, a small band of fugitive politicians arrived in Brussels, Belgium, seeking support from the European Union for their dramatic bid to form a new European state. Carles Puigdemont and several of his political allies were fleeing the Spanish government, which was determined to quash the independence bid of Catalonia. A prosperous region of northeastern Spain, Catalonia’s government, led by the fiery Puigdemont, had just declared independence after a centuries-long union with Spain forged by Ferdinand and Isabella.

Pro-independence sentiment has been simmering in Catalonia for decades. Until recently, though, the Catalans have been largely placated by Spain’s agreement to grant them a measure of autonomy under the Generalitat, a regional government that has for nearly 40 years discharged most of the functions of an independent state.

But now, the partnership with Spain has frayed. Many Catalans have come to believe, with more than a little justification, that Spain wants to keep control of prosperous Catalonia in the wake of Spain’s crippling financial crisis because of a desperate need for tax revenues.

Catalonia’s Puigdemont, erstwhile president and independence leader, was on the run from Spanish authorities, who have effectively imposed martial law on Catalonia and sought to arrest all of Catalonia’s political leadership. He expected to find a sympathetic audience in Brussels, seat of the European Union. The EU, after all, supposedly represents the values of open, democratic society traditionally espoused by the West. The right to self-determination, vindicated in recent centuries by the likes of the Americans, the Irish, and the former Eastern Bloc nations at the end of the Cold War, is surely among the most fundamental of those values.

But Puigdemont and his compadres have found no sympathetic ears in Brussels — or anywhere else, for that matter. Instead, the Catalan leaders have been subjected to a storm of condemnation, not only from other EU governments, but even from that supposed champion of national self-determination, Washington, D.C. Despite early signals that the Trump administration would respect whatever outcome was decided upon among the Spanish and Catalans, President Trump eventually announced his support for a unified Spain. “I think Spain is a great country, and it should remain united,” the president opined in late September — with Spanish president Mariano Rajoy standing beside him on the White House lawn. Through the separatist turmoil that has continued to roil Spain, the Trump administration has continued to back Rajoy.

In Brussels, meanwhile, the Belgian authorities initially offered asylum to Puigdemont and the other fugitive politicians. But on November 2, the Spanish government issued a European Arrest Warrant for Puigdemont and four other Catalan politicians in Belgium. Two days later, the five surrendered to Belgian authorities, and (as of this writing) they are awaiting the outcome of extradition negotiations with Spain. By all appearances, Catalonia’s long-sought independence has been quashed, not only by the Spanish government, but also by the EU in lock-step with the government of every other major Western country, including our own.

Lost Autonomy         Continue Reading on Page 19 at:

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