Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Tuesday Update

The last 2 or 3 paragraphs updated: 10.30am

Yesterday, there seemed to be a resignation that the power of the law from Madrid has overcome the Independistas but this may be a false peace. TV3 was very subdued.  If Carles Puigdemont is arrested and charged, then there will be much anger. Yesterday he went to Belgium because there was talk of offering him asylum but this is illegal under EU law. I have never felt antagonism towards him. He used to be mayor of my city, Girona and I know his wife Marcela through Catalonia Today which she edits. It is a pro-independence magazine in English produced by the same company as El Punt Avui which is an extremely biased newspaper. Their offices used to be right next to the café where Girona Grapevine met but the lease on the whole building expired so they moved, the café closed and we now meet in Hotel Carlemany. But we often saw Marcela and other jounalists because they used la Farinera as a staff canteen! Marcela is Romanian and they have two children who go to school near to Hotel Carlemany.

Catalonia Today has a regular feature called "My Space" and they showed me surrounded by all my favourite things in my "studio" and I was one of the early interviewees on their new TV channel. I also advertised with them once or twice. You can see links to the feature and the TV interview on my website. The interview is funny, partly because I look very different these days! http://www.stevebrown.es

Anyway, back to Carles Puigdemont, I hope he is offered an amnesty because he is a decent person, I am sure. I respect politicians because very often they start off wanting to take part in their local community. Previously Carles was a journalist.
He didn't actually stand in the last elections, that was for Artur Mas but after much bargaining, he still fell short of a majority to govern. Then Junts pel Sí, already a coalition, required the 10 diputados of the far-left CUP to obtain a working majority and they chose Carles Puigdemont to lead this group. And it is this coalition within a coalition which has driven the process towards a hoped-for independence, much to the disgust of the opposition diputados who walked out on a couple of occasions rather than vote.

I started writing this early on a Tuesday morning. As usual, I have my Meetup group to organise this evening. It gives me much pleasure but it is hard work and I'm hoping someone will either take it over or share the responsibility. It is a little stressful, I am not a natural socialiser! But it is enormously rewarding and people say very nice things to me.
Let's see what happens during the day.
I have been reading The Times today which reports in detail about the flight to Belgium by Carles Puigdemont and four colleagues. It seems that the intervention of the Madrid government has been more or less accepted, there has been no sign of civil unrest or a proposed general strike. And polls suggest a clear majority against independence in the forthcoming elections on 21st December. How did this all come about? Maybe those people shouting, "We will vote," on Sunday should have voted in greater numbers in the last elections. Maybe we made a big difference, the manifestación was reported world-wide. Maybe many people who wanted independence came face to face with what it really meant. I know it is a cliché, a reality check. For months, politicians and learned professors in Barcelona have been writing in El Punt Avui and appearing on TV3, "We will remain in the EU, they wouldn't let such a wealthy region leave". And people believed it. I knew it was a lie, the EU Constitution clearly says so.

Or maybe there were people who, like an English friend of mine, changed their minds to wanting independence on the basis of photos of the Guardia Civil using excessive force. Hey, no way that is a reason for wanting independence. It is the economy stupid. Would an independent Catalunya be economically viable? And the answer is ringing out loud and clear for even the most loyal supporters of independence, with banks and companies leaving in droves. Noooo! It would be a disaster on an enormous scale. A whole country going bankrupt. Like Venezuela. But in Europe. Unthinkable.

Of course, the move of companies out of Catalunya will make no difference if, as I predict, the next Parliament will be led by
Inés Arrimadas of Ciudadanos, prepared to talk to Madrid without the threat of independence. And Madrid has always left the door open for that. Those companies are still in Spain and Catalunya will remain part of Spain. The alternative filled me with fear and that has subsided. Maybe even Carles Puigdemont had fear - I am sure he did. He saw the companies leaving too.

Now I am getting that scared feeling in my stomach again. I am watching Carles Puigdemont giving a press conference in Brussels. And the press are climbing all over him. Why? Because they see a great story; it sells newspapers. Do you think for a moment they care about the millions of us in Catalunya who simply want stability under the law. I noticed that they weren't smart enough to arrange a radio mic for questions, so we couldn't hear them. Always a very good intelligence test: make sure questions are heard on TV.

I mentioned my English friend who used the excessive force of the Guardia Civil to justify independence. And Carles Puigdemont is doing the same in Brussels... for a reason. No talk about his plans for the glorious progress of his independent nation of Catalunya into bankruptcy. I am scared again because having rejected the rule of law, he is attempting to harness public opinion. And that is a very powerful weapon. One loaded question from the BBC, "Are you prepared to go to prison for 30 years?" That is rather like the Hon. Conservative member of Woking asking Teresa May in Parliament if she is proud to be leading the Tory party. This is very worrying. He doesn't look scared to me, I take that back. Many countries represented there have no idea of the real issues at stake here, they just want a story. For the past few weeks I have been on an emotional roller-coaster, it is not good. In a week, I go away. But the anxiety will not abate much because I can still see it all online. And I have personality problems between members in my Meetup group.

Tomorrow is All Saints which is celebrated in Roman Catholic countries, not so much in the UK.

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