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Monday, March 27, 2006

The Spanish Nation

The Spanish nation

The constitutional commission in the congress of deputies has accepted a version of the proposed “statute” for Catalonia that in the foreword calls the Catalan a “nation”. This means the statute with its confusing foreword will be accepted in a plenary meeting, in the senate and in a referendum among the Catalans.

It is obvious that such a “nation” also has the right to declare itself independent and cut the ties to the Spanish state, that will become something like a “Commonwealth of Nations”. No doubt, that has been the design of the radical Catalan nationalists from the beginning.

As a logical consequence, the Basque terrorists organisation, ETA, declared a “permanent armistice” the day after the vote of the commission, coupled with some woolly political conditions. Everyone knew what they meant: Independence for the Basque “nation”. The government seems to have accepted to enter into political negotiations with the criminals that have murdered more than 800 people over the last 40 years.

The nationalist party of Galicia, junior partner in the regional government, has already demanded a statute for the north-western part of the country, similar to the Catalan version. And the Canarian nationalist in the governing Coalicion Canaria, do not see why their region should not be a nation as well.

A dangerous road

Anyone with a bit of pride in the great country Spain, where we have been living and integrating maybe for tens of year, feel sadness at the disintegration of the Spanish nation. How can it be that a culture that has spread all over the world, carried by one of the leading languages on the globe, shall be chopped up into warring parts? Is this needed for the improvement of democracy and citizens welfare?

The autonomous regions of Spain have for a long time had more competences than any other regions in any other country in Europe. They have their own parliaments, able to pass laws. They have their own government, a regional bureaucracy outnumbering the one of the state, their own banners, their own anthems…
Some regions have their own official language, at least on level with Castellano. Others have their own police forces. They manage the greatest part of the taxes we pay.

There are no sound logical, practical or historical reason for reducing Spain to a “Commonwealth of Nations” at a time when the European citizens have embarked upon the great task of creating a united citizens Europe. Some claim that the unification of Spain was done by sword and dictatorship, and that some of the regions had their independence at some historical phase, also recently. So what? Which European nation is not the historical result of welding together local regions also by the sword?

Spain is one of the countries in Europe with the most natural borders and identifiable language and culture. I cannot help feel sad when watching the disintegration taking place.