Nais Gambara, 2/13/2021
The current vice president of the Generalitat (and acting president), Pere Aragonès García, was an active ambassador for independence when he was Secretary of Economic Issues, under the direct command of Oriol Junqueras. This is recorded in a multitude of judicial documents in various proceedings. A report from the Civil Guard dated October, 20, highlights the work of the current ERC government leader.
“Senior officers from the Department of Vice-Presidency, Economy and Finance, such as Josep Lluís Salvadó and the current Vice-President Pere Aragonès García, made trips to Europe to meet with representatives of debt rating agencies and financial institutions, as one of their objectives was to be able to finance themselves in the international markets in case of declaring independence”, states the aforementioned report, which is in the proceedings directed by the magistrate Joaquín Aguirre, head of the inquiring court number 1 of Barcelona.
This report refers to the investigations that were previously carried out by the court of inquiry number 13 of Barcelona, which conducted the investigations into the role of certain senior government officers before the referendum of October 1, 2017. That court was the one that provoked, for example, the search at the Vice Presidency headquarters, when the judicial commission was surrounded and blocked inside the building for hours by a crowd led by Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, presidents of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural respectively.
Another report from the Civil Guard dated May 18, 2020, points to the fact that there is evidence that “the pro-independence leaders were designing, precisely, the Catalan central bank of which the Institut Català de Finances would be the embryo, a fundamental element to guarantee the monetary and financial sovereignty of an eventual independent state. This task would be being carried out by the team led by the current councilor of Economy and Vice President Pere Aragonès García”.
The documentation seized in those sweeps leaves no doubt about Aragonès García’s maneuvers. According to the documentation seized at the Economy headquarters, the current Vice President of the Generalitat was in Slovenia on January 9 and 10, 2017, and met there with Bostjan Jazbec, Governor of the Central Bank of Slovenia; Matjaz Noc, director of the Statistics department of the Central Bank; Marco Kranjec, Prime Minister of Finance in 1990 and former Governor of the Bank of Slovenia; France Arhar, first governor of the Central Bank; Mojmir Mrak, negotiator for Slovenia’s membership with the EU; Joze Mencinger, Minister of the Economy in the first Slovenian government after independence; and Andrej Rant, former deputy governor of the Central Bank.
The report drafted after that visit details step by step all the moves of the independence of the Balkan country and pointed out that some of the interviewees could be “valuable external advisers” of the Generalitat. The document also says: “The current governor of the Bank of Slovenia also showed total willingness to support us when the Governing Council of the ECB deals with the case of Catalonia”.
Trips to Ireland and London
In the sweep of those official dependencies, a document was also found with the title ‘Structures of State: Projects attached to the Ministry of Economy’, where it explained the steps to be taken to prepare structures that could allow Catalonia to subsist as an independent State. There was also a list of trips made to different countries. Thus, for example, another visit by Aragonès García to Ireland was cited on October 25, 2016, to meet with the Treasury Agency. He was accompanied on that trip by Natàlia Mas and Jaume Domènech. The first was the general director of Economic Analysis; the second, a financial analyst.
At that meeting, which they later reflected in the report, “we were informed about the operation of these different entities, how they manage Irish debt and treasury, how they have done it and what to take into account in the worst moments of crisis in which markets were closed, how to approach potential investors and rating agencies, recommendations on who they think are the best investment banks to collaborate with, organization of roadshows, possibility of issuing retail debt, what development projects they have and how do they put them into practice… ”.
Also on December 13, 2016, Aragonès García visited London together with the then Foreign Affairs councilor, Raül Romeva, and Natàlia Mas. There, they met with representatives from the City’s leading financial institutions: DBRS, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Pimco, and Invesco. “From this trip, it is convenient to once again highlight both the meetings held to explain the roadmap that the authorities of Catalonia were following at that time and the meetings that took place with the specialized agencies in the acquisition of public debt, which together with the title of this document, ‘VEH 01 Economic and financial sustainability of the Generalitat. Financing the New State “seem to leave little doubt as to what was the purpose that the representatives of the Generalitat were pursuing”, says a police report dated June 19, 2018, on the documents found.
This last document recalls a paragraph from the report of the State structures that depended on the Economy councilor: “Currently, there is already a sufficiently complete document to explain the reality of Catalonia in the financial markets. At the same time, work is being done on a new document, even more complete, that can be used in the internal explanation to the citizens of Catalonia as well as in the external explanation in the financial markets and in international relations”.
The truth, however, is that the frenzied activity of Aragonès García and his team did not do much good: no effective step was ever taken to convert the ICF into the Catalan Central Bank, nor was the Deposit Guarantee Fund and financial markets created. International organizations closed tightly in the face of the Catalan cause. A meeting with “international sovereign debt investors on the London Stock Exchange” was scheduled for October 2017, but in the end no contact was made in this regard. A request to join the Basel Committee and the appointment of representatives in international organizations were also planned in November 2017, issues that were left in limbo.
The then head of the department of Economy did manage to create a group of six people to monitor the project for the creation of the Catalan Investment and Markets Authority, “to draft the corresponding law and carry out the analysis of the necessary statistics and the technological needs”. But the issue did not go any further. The dream of an economically independent Catalonia was just that: a dream.