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Choose your sideThe idea behind the Rift is simple: for each topic of debate, we provide you with an expertise based on a pro-con approach, written by competent and legitimate experts. We want to help you make your own opinion, and guide you on first steps to civic engagement.
We are talking about rights
Professor of Private International Law, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and ex-president of Societat Civil Catalana
The sentence, “Should Catalonia stay with Spain?” implies that Catalonia and Spain are two different entities, and this is not true: Catalonia is a part of Spain, not a different entity. So, actually, the question we have to answer is: “Should Spain be divided into two different countries, Catalonia being one of these countries?” My answer is “no”.
Most Catalans think of themselves as Spaniards
There is no reason for splitting the country. Catalonia can only be understood as a part of Spain. Neither History nor language (more than half of the Catalans have Spanish as their mother tongue) nor culture justify a secession of Catalonia. Most Catalans think of themselves as Spaniards and less than 50% of them have declared their willingness to create an independent State.
To be sure, a part of the Catalans desire independence and thereby a question has been raised: Don’t those Catalans who desire an independent Catalonia, deserve an answer? This question is not about the rights of those Catalans who want independence, but about the rights of all Catalans (also those Catalans that want a Catalonia within Spain) and all Spaniards.
It is not a question of the right to independence because there is no right to secession in Catalonia; neither by taking into consideration International Law nor Spanish domestic law.
But it is a question of the rights of all the Catalans that want to continue living in their own country. We Catalans have the right as Spaniards to live in Catalonia as citizens and not as foreigners.
The secession must be approved by all Spaniards
What is more, now the Spanish Constitution protects all Catalans. In the event of secession, the Spanish Constitution would no longer apply in Catalonia. Taking into consideration that the laws implemented by the Catalan nationalists in September 2017 showed some important shortcomings from a democratic point of view, so the concerns about the democratic quality of a future Catalan Republic are not without foundation.
It is true that the Spanish Constitution can be modified in order to allow the secession of a part of its territory; but this must be approved by all Spaniards.
So, coming back to the question raised above the answer is that Catalan nationalists have the right to try to persuade all Spaniards that it is better to divide the country than to maintain it unified. But this right implies no obligation for Spaniards to accept that division.
Catalonia: the right to be free
Chair, Catalan National Assembly and Economics Professor at the University of Barcelona
As grassroots organisation of the Catalan independence movement, we are in favour of Catalonia joining the international community of free nations. Nations have always sought to govern themselves and to decide freely on their destiny. This is our wish for Catalonia and is what we work for, through peaceful and democratic means.
We sought to exercise our democratic right to self-determination
After the half-hearted transition from a fascist dictatorship and centuries of discrimination of our people, culture and language, we Catalans nonetheless thought this would change. We sought consensus with Spain for 40 years, which finally proved to be impossible. Our Autonomy Statute was violated by a politicised Constitutional Court, after having been approved by both Spanish and Catalan parliament and by referendum in Catalonia in 2006. We subsequently sought to exercise our democratic right to self-determination, which is the right of all peoples as established by the Charter of the United Nations and other international treaties Spain signed and ratified.
Spain, instead of choosing the democratic way, as Canada did with Quebec or as the United Kingdom did with Scotland, chose the way of repression. Peaceful voters were brutally knocked down by Spanish police forces on 1 October 2017. Our social and political leaders have been jailed on the base of the trumped-up charges of rebellion and sedition, defined as ‘violent uprising’ in Spanish criminal law, in which organising a non-authorised referendum cannot be liable to prosecution. Spain is showing us there is no way we can fit in its State. No reform is within reach, our rightful claims fall on deaf ears and political prosecution is our deal.
We want to be treated as 1st class citizens
In our capital, Barcelona, the suburban train network is managed from Madrid, and so are the seaport and airport. 92% of justice in Catalonia is delivered in Spanish. Judges are appointed by Madrid and do not have to understand our language. We are living in the 21st century and refuse such a colonial treatment in a State that calls itself ‘one of the most decentralised countries of the world’. As our fellow European citizens, we want to be treated as 1st class citizens. No human should be treated as 2nd class.
We have no quarrel with our Spanish neighbours. We just want decide our own destiny and live in peace. We want to maintain a bond of friendship with all Spaniards. A bond based on freedom and mutual respect. A bond between free nations.