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November 18, 2012 10:15 pm
From Mr Agusti Codina.
Sir, The Spanish ambassador in London, Federico Trillo-Figueroa, is right (Letters, November 8) to alert us to the dangers of making sweeping comparisons without paying close attention to the details. It is indeed true that the analogy between the debate as to Scotland’s continued union with the rest of the UK and that surrounding Catalonia’s quest for independence from Spain does not hold. Whereas the UK has a long and solid democratic tradition that is an example to emerging democracies around the world, Spain can only boast of having had Europe’s last fascist dictator, of having a king designated by said dictator who swore loyalty to him, and of having a constitution that was voted on under the watchful eye of this same dictator’s army. A referendum, conducted in 1978 in the conditions described, where the people were presented with no other option to free themselves from the dark years of internal tyranny and international isolation, today should not be allowed to constrain the legitimate aspirations of different national territories, which have seen their natural growth stunted through being corseted into the artificial model that is modern Spain.
Were the ambassador truly concerned with the quality of democracy, and his political pedigree does not suggest this to be so, he would be putting his own house in order. Of 156,617 Catalans registered as living abroad, reportedly only 16,271 will be able to use their vote following the apparent indolence in facilitating the smooth running of the Catalan elections of the Spanish embassies around the world, including his own, which, according to comments online, seems to have left a number of people dissatisfied regarding registration for the receipt of ballot papers. The ambassador’s claim that the present constitution has given Spain “30 years of wealth and growth” beggars belief in the context of the last five years of economic turmoil but, be that as it may, it is an argument that the people should be allowed to vote on both now, in the Catalan elections, and in a subsequent referendum on the issue of sovereignty.
How fair the British government is in allowing the will of the people to be freely expressed, even though it is diametrically opposed to what the promoters of the Scottish referendum are advocating, from the belligerent opposition to democratic expression of their Spanish counterparts! As the ambassador suggests, comparisons can be odious.
Agusti Codina, Girona, Catalonia, Spain
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