‘Catalonia gave Spain last chance’

‘Catalonia gave Spain last chance’
Catalonia opened the door to a last chance for Spain: if it doesn’t take advantage the door will be closed, and independence will be enacted, says Barcelona City Council Republican Left leader Alfred Bosch.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called for clarification about whether or not Catalonia had actually declared independence. 

Catalonia’s High Court of Justice considers the independence declaration to be of no legal value.

The Catalan Regional President Carles Puigdemont announced on Tuesday that Catalonia had won the right to be an independent state through its referendum, as there was a definite 'yes' vote.

RT discussed the latest developments with Alfred Bosch, Barcelona City Council Republican Left leader.

RT: Is this a threat from the prime minister to suspend Catalonia's autonomy?

Alfred Bosch: Mr. Rajoy seems to understand nothing, and he has been understanding nothing for quite a few years now. We are talking about democracy. The bottom line here is that people should decide. Of course, there was a declaration of independence. It was declared, it was signed, but then it was suspended to give some air for talks and for negotiation. The message is quite simple: we are giving a last chance to the Spanish government. Do they want to take it or not, that is the issue now.

RT: Will this inflame the situation or help resolve it?

AB: No, it is actually calming down many spirits. Even Mr. Rajoy seems to be puzzled and doesn’t know what to do next. It is very clear. If he wants to talk, let’s sit at the table and talk with international mediation. We have this group of 'The Elders’ with Kofi Annan, with Desmond Tutu, with Ban Ki-Moon and others who volunteered to conduct these negotiations. So, we are willing to sit, we want to talk.

As long as democracy is preserved and as long as the people decide and the people rule - which is literally democracy, is our red line - but aside from that, we can talk about many things, of course.

RT: Has the Catalan leader shot himself in the foot by suspending the adoption of the declaration as many locals seemed both surprised and angry?

AB: I am sure there are all kinds of people and feelings around. But in general, we feel this was a very clever move because it enabled him to explain for half an hour why we are here, why we want independence and why we don’t want to live in a country where our grannies and elderly people are being beaten up by the police just because they want to vote. I think he has quite a point there in saying “We are peaceful; we are an open country, open to dialogue. That is we want to show, we want to prove it to the world. So, let’s give Rajoy a last chance.” He opened the door for a last chance. If he doesn’t take advantage of this last chance, that door will be closed, and independence will be enacted.

RT: How split is society now, given that outrage and disappointment among those hoping for independence?

AB: There is a declaration. It was approved immediately after the vote because, in the law which was approved by the Catalan parliament before the referendum, it stated very clearly that if the ‘Yes’ vote won, that law would come into effect, that law includes the declaration of independence. The only thing Puigdemont did was say “the result was clear; 90 percent of the voters said ‘Yes,' so this comes into effect. And now I request you to come with me and suspend it for some weeks, for a little while so that we can get into talks about how we can find a path together.” [He also said] clearly also that here who set the ground for the decision are the people. Because that is something, we are not going to retreat or surrender upon.

‘Nuclear option’

Dr. Simon Toubeau, Assistant Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations at Nottingham University, discussed possible scenarios if Madrid decides to strip Catalonia of its autonomy.

This would be what has been referred to as a nuclear option, this is the option of last resort for the central government and would only be invoked if there was a very clear and formal unilateral declaration of independence by the Catalan president and the government. It would be a fairly radical situation for it to be invoked. What would happen is anybody’s guess because this is unprecedented,” he told RT.

Jordi Larios, Catalan literature & culture expert from St. Andrews University, agrees that it’s difficult to predict how the events would unfold.

But I suspect the Catalan president will go ahead with independence, and that much will depend on whether people take to the streets yet again massively to demonstrate in favor of independence,” he said. “It all depends on whether the Spanish government sends in the Spanish army. And it also depends on whether the European Union or some international institution plays a role as mediator between the two governments.