April 25, 2024

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Home » Content » Catalonia: open letter from Spain’s Ambassador to Canada, Enrique Ruiz Molero
Spain has recently undergone a test and reaffirmation of its democratic system of government, while our Supreme Court has issued a verdict in the trial of the secessionist Catalan leaders for their participation in the ‘proces’ that led to the illegal referendum of 2017.

Enrique Ruiz Molero, Ambassador of Spain to Canada

Friday, 25 October 2019 05:00 UPDATE Friday, 25 October 2019 05:00

As well as for having approved the Law on the Referendum and the Law on the Legal Transition to the Republic, which defined measures for the institutionalization of the new independent Catalan state and which, in fact, repealed the Constitution and the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia even though it had been approved without the necessary majority for the reform of the Statute (two-thirds majority). And also for having proclaimed the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of the Catalan Parliament, adopted on October 27, 2017 with the favorable votes of only 70 deputies out of 135.

Judged fairly and transparently, the trial was broadcast live and our independent judiciary has put an end to an episode of division. Without taking into account the facts of judicial decisions, a group of critics would like the public to believe that Catalonia has been deprived of its rights and community freedoms. Yet the reality of Catalonia’s role in Spain and its recent history reflects a very different story.

First and foremost, the Spanish Constitution recognizes Catalonia and other Spanish regions as “autonomous communities” – endowed with rights and competences that few regional governments have.

The Spanish Constitution was approved in 1978 by a referendum of all the Spanish people. Nearly 70% of Catalans participated and more than 90% of these voters approved the new constitution. The Constitution guarantees both the autonomy of Catalonia and protects the unity of our nation.

It states that “the constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation, common and indivisible of all Spaniards; it recognizes and guarantees the right to autonomy of the nationalities and regions which compose it, as well as the solidarity between them”.

Although not all democracies are organized in a decentralized way, it is common for democratic constitutions to include similar references to territorial unity.

Second, supporters of the secessionist movement claimed that their actions were based on the desire of a majority of Catalans to empower themselves. This is based on the unverifiable assertion that 90% of Catalans supported independence during the October 2017 illegal referendum, when to the clear warning of our courts so many did not want to participate.

The truth is that only a minority – although many – of Catalans support secession, this support is gradually declining. In the Catalan regional elections of 2010, 48.4% voted for the candidates in favor of secession.

In the December 2017 local elections, only 47.5% of the 4.4 million citizens who voted supported the secessionist parties. And in the local elections of May 2019, only 38.8% of Catalans were in favor of secession. It is really worrying that a minority wants to impose their views on the whole population, saying that they and only they represent the Catalans.

Thirdly, the image conveyed by Spain’s critics is contradicted by many respected international observers, who consistently claim that his country’s commitment to the rule of law and democratic values is unwavering. According to Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2019 report, Spain won 94 out of 100 points in its commitment to political rights and civil liberties, equivalent to Germany and the United Kingdom, for example.

In addition, The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Democracy Index has ranked Spain among the 20 “complete democracies” of the world. I am happy that thousands of Canadians come to Spain every year, especially in the beautiful city of Barcelona. They are fully aware of the real situation in our country. Misinformation will not affect them.

With our recent decision of the Supreme Court, Spain has reaffirmed the strength of its democratic institutions, the rule of law and the separation of powers established by our Constitution more than 40 years ago. Our Supreme Court has shown, once again, that no one is above the law and that there is no democracy outside the rule of law. What has been judged are facts, not ideas or ideologies. Spain is one of the most advanced countries in the promotion and protection of fundamental freedoms, in Europe and worldwide, and its commitment to all multilateral control mechanisms is unequivocal, permanent and firm.

The Spanish Government explicitly and unambiguously condemns violence. In Catalonia, all police forces, including those of the Catalan autonomous community, the Mossos d’Esquadra, have demonstrated the necessary proportionality and restraint. All this in a context of great violence, as reflected by the very high number of wounded officials, some of whom are extremely serious. In addition, Spanish legislation envisages effective reporting and control systems to investigate possible excesses.

We now have an important opportunity to support reconciliation between and with all Catalans. Our government sees this as a top priority, believing that a dialogue of good faith under our Constitution can advance the common aspirations of all our people.

Enrique Ruiz Molero
Ambassador of Spain to Canada



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