THE CATALAN QUESTION

Catalonia premier Artur Mas “inspired by Gandhi” for independence drive

On New Delhi visit, regional leader praises movement in India which led to creation of a “new state”

Miquel Noguer
New Delhi -
Artur Mas takes part in a floral tribute to Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi.
Artur Mas takes part in a floral tribute to Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi.rubén moreno (EFE)

Catalonia regional premier Artur Mas on Sunday took the opportunity to invoke Mahatma Gandhi as a reference point for the independence movement in the Spanish region he governs. On an official visit to India, Mas said that the leader of the civil disobedience movement that created an Indian state after it won its independence from Britain is "an inspiration" to his own designs.

Although Mas took care to state that he was not looking for "similarities" between Indian and Catalan independence, he said the "popular movement, peaceful and transversal, that exists in Catalonia takes as its example people like Gandhi."

The Catalan premier chose to initiate his visit to India with an event charged with symbolism at the memorial to Gandhi in New Delhi, where floral offerings are laid in his memory, and a tour of the museum dedicated to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India. Accompanied at all turns by the Spanish ambassador, Gustavo de Arístegui, Mas eulogized such movements, which allowed the former British colony to emerge as a "new state."

In response to journalists' questions, Mas said that while "inspired" by the achievements of Gandhi, Catalonia should find a path to "defend its aspirations with its own methods."

As he did on a visit to Israel two weeks ago, Mas said that in the past 60 years numerous viable states had emerged worldwide. Beating a familiar drum on the subject of Catalonia's potential exclusion from the European Union if it were to unilaterally declare independence, Mas alluded to Croatia, which became the 28th member state on July 1, noting that the Balkan nation's economy is "weaker" than Catalonia's.

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