M.A. Ruiz Coll
The Consortium of Foreign Diplomacy (Diplocat) of the Generalitat tried unsuccessfully in 2016 to sign brothers Pau y Marc Gasol, world motorcycling champion Dani Pedrosa and brothers Marc and Àlex Márquez as ambassadors to promote internationally the independence process of Catalonia.
The Court of Auditors keeps open a procedure against the top officials of the government of Puigdemont to return several hundred million euros, which they spent through their network of embassies and Diplocat to obtain international support for the procés.
During a meeting of the Diplocat Executive Committee held on February 24, 2016, its secretary general, Albert Royo, presented a list of 30 personalities to represent this body worldwide as members of its Advisory Council.
On paper, the Advisory Council is made up of renowned personalities from different fields (such as the economy, culture and sport) who advise Diplocat to organize its activities worldwide.
Swimmers Mireia Belmonte and Ona Carbonell
In practice, the members of this advisory body (such as the Peronist nun Sor Lucía Caram or the economist Xavier Sala-i-Martín) use their position and notoriety to do activism in favor of the independence procés.
During the meeting held in February 2016, the Director General of Foreign Affairs of the Generalitat, Maria Badia, proposed to expand the Diplocat Advisory Council with more than a dozen names linked to the sports world.
Among them, he mentioned brothers Pau and Marc Gasol (who are currently professional NBA players in the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, respectively), motorcycling world champion Dani Pedrosa and brothers Marc and Àlex Márquez (who have also achieved the title of motorcycling world champions).
The Director General of Foreign Affairs of the Generalitat, Maria Badia, also proposed to put in the Advisory Council former Barça coaches Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola, Xavi Hernández (current coach of the Al-Sadd team of Qatar), the Olympic medalists of swimming Mireia Belmonte, Ona Carbonell and Gemma Mengual, the mountaineer Araceli Segarra and the climber Kílian Jornet.
The “political prisoners” of Xavi Hernández
The high position of the Generalitat Maria Badia (who joined the Government of Puigdemont from the PSC) intended to recruit international sports figures with the maximum projection, so that they would become standard bearers of the procés of independence of Catalonia throughout the world. The general director of Diplocat, Albert Royo, promised to study her proposal and submit it to the Plenary Session of this body for approval.
Of the names cited, the only one agreeing to join the Advisory Council of Diplocat was Xavi Hernández, who from his privileged position in Qatar (an Islamic tyranny that ignores democracy, although with a very high income per capita thanks to oil) calls “political prisoners” to the coup leaders of the Generalitat who are in prison.
Minutes of the Diplocat Executive Committee meeting held on February 24, 2016.
The independentist Pep Guardiola also rejected the proposal, although shortly thereafter, in April 2017, he placed his sister Francesca Guardiola as “ambassador” of the Generalitat in Denmark with a salary of 80,589 euros per year. She was dismissed in application of article 155 and now Quim Torra has reinstated her in office. Xesca Guardiola has a degree in Catalan Philology and lacks any experience or knowledge in international diplomacy.
On the other hand, the Gassol brothers, Dani Pedrosa and the Márquez brothers, who have never had trouble wrapping themselves in the Spanish flag when they have represented Spain in international competitions, never joined the Diplocat Advisory Council.
Marquez and the Spanish flag
“I feel Catalan and Spaniard. I don’t mince words to say it”, said Marc Márquez. When he won his first Motorcycle World Championship, in 2013, he received a barrage of criticism from the pro-independebce followers for displaying the Spanish flag. Since then, he has chosen to celebrate the victories with the flag of his fan club to avoid new controversies.
Currently, the Advisory Council of Diplocat is made up of 38 personalities. Among them, self-proclaimed pro-independence fellows like Sister Lucia Caram, Xavier Sala-i-Martín or the tenor José Carreras. This body also includes well-known athletes such as former tennis player Àlex Corretja and women’s soccer coach Natàlia Arroyo.
When declaring as accused before the Court of Instruction number 3 of Barcelona, the former secretary general of the Diplocat Albert Royo lied before the judge assuring that he never hired “international observers” for the 1-O- independence referendum. The Civil Guard has managed to prove that Diplocat spent more than 300,000 euros from public funds of the Generalitat to pay for three groups of international observers, in order to guarantee the result of the illegal referendum.