SPAIN and Catalonia have been living in a climate of open conflict since the suspension of the Estatut d’Autonomia de Catalunya (the Catalan Statute of Autonomy) in 2010 and with increasing intensity since the unofficial consultation for independence in 2014 and finally with the referendum of October 1, 2017 in which Spain has sent thousands of police troops to Catalonia to promote acts of violence and brutality against voters, while sending to jail several political personalities who are widely considered political prisoners.
The arm wrestling between Spain and Catalonia also involves the diplomatic field. After the referendum of 2017, considered illegal by Spain, Catalan representations abroad were closed by the central government as part of the measures adopted with the application of Article 155 of the Spanish constitution that virtually suspended the powers of the Catalan Government and passed them on to the government of Madrid. These embassies have the objective of strengthening bilateral relations and facilitating economic agreements between Catalan companies and companies from other countries – in 2018 some of these embassies have been re-opened.
In an unprecedented gesture in Spanish history, honorary consul of Latvia, Xavier Vinyals, had his diplomatic status withdrawn by the Spanish Foreign Ministry for having placed a pro-independence flag on the balcony of the consulate during the Diada, the Catalan national day, on 11 September, 2016. Vinyals, a Catalan, was punished for manifesting himself politically by supporting a cause, the independence of Catalonia, which is not illegal in Spain.
Full article at CommonSpace’s website. Date of publication: 25/03/2019