Catalan independence bid

Catalonia appeals to foreign embassies for independence support

International representatives in Madrid receive 20th memo defending sovereignty drive

Catalan premier Artur Mas (center) at a Junts pel Sí rally on Thursday.
Catalan premier Artur Mas (center) at a Junts pel Sí rally on Thursday.Josep Lluis Sellart

With nine days to go before elections that are being cast as a watershed in Catalan politics, the regional government has upped its efforts to enlist international support for its independence bid.

On Thursday, foreign embassies in Madrid received a memorandum in which the Catalan government’s secretary for foreign and EU affairs explains the position of the Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) secessionist bloc, which is threatening to declare independence if it secures a majority of seats in the Catalan parliament in the September 27 vote.

The tone of the messages reflects a growing sense of urgency as the elections get nearer

The memo also attacks Spain’s ruling Popular Party (PP) for not letting the region hold a legal referendum on independence – instead, an informal, non-binding poll was conducted in November – arguing that Catalonia was left no choice but to use the upcoming regional elections as a de facto plebiscite on secession.

The Catalan government is also describing the secessionist campaign as a movement that enjoys great social support and “is not led by politicians.”

Mas, who has served as regional premier since 2010, is running with Junts pel Sí, but in fourth position on the list of candidates. The first three spots on the list have instead been reserved for leaders of grassroots pro-secession movements, leading some analysts to argue that Mas is conducting an undercover re-election campaign.

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This is not the first time that foreign embassies have received messages from the Catalan government. In fact, Thursday’s memo is the 20th such message: the previous one arrived on July 24, and the first one is dated September 2013.

But the tone of the messages, which are written in English, reflects a growing sense of urgency as the elections get nearer. The latest memo reiterates that the secession process will continue if Junts pel Sí wins a majority of seats in the regional parliament – regardless of whether this represents a majority of votes or not.

The road map to independence, says the newest note, will cover an 18-month period and end with the creation of a Catalan Constitution.

All the memos contain calls for the international community to accept this process, saying that “the time has come for European countries that appreciate democracy and political freedom to ask Spain to negotiate with Catalonia before it is too late.”

English version by Susana Urra.

Embracing Spanish speakers

Maiol Roger

The memo sent out by the Catalan government to the embassies also claims that the Catalan language is under threat.

During the campaign, Mas has pledged to respect Spanish speakers – who represent 50.7 percent of all Catalans, according to his administration – if the region finally secedes.

“In an independent Catalonia, the linguistic rights of Spanish speakers will remain exactly the way they are now,” said Mas on Wednesday.

His Junts pel Sí bloc has lately been courting Spanish speakers in a bid to attract as many votes as possible on September 27. Mas also said that citizens of an independent Catalonia would be allowed to retain their Spanish passports if they so wished.

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