Previous posts in this discussion:
PostIn Catalonia, the Constitutionalists are Treated like "Unpeople" (Jose Manuel de Prada, Spain, 12/06/18 3:59 am)
Jordi Molins (5 December) says that "Catalans are becoming increasingly dehumanised in Spain," yet the sad reality on the ground is that it is Constitutionalist Catalans who are increasingly being turned into some kind of "unpeople," because in the political discourse of Puigdemont and Joaquim Torra, his puppet, there is absolutely no room for any other point of view but their own.
My wife and I have experienced several times situations in which, being in a room filled with people with obviously diverse opinions, someone with a yellow ribbon expressed themselves in favour of independence expecting universal approval, clearly taking for granted that everybody within earshot shared shared their views. It is very annoying.
Then, the actions of the so-called Comités de Defensa de la República (Committees for the Defense of the Republic), organized by the more radical branch of the pro-independence movement, but clearly tolerated by Torra and his accomplices, are becoming more and more violent, trying to sabotage the demonstrations of non-nationalists, because, of course, "the streets belong to them."
During the institutional commemoration of the pseudo-reference of October 1, 2017, they tried to storm the Catalan Parliament, after being encouraged by Torra to "put pressure."
In this kind of situation, the Mossos (the Catalan police) are placed in a very unpleasant position, because their political superiors want to avoid the very unedifying show of the loyal Catalan police force charging against a bunch of vandals who, after all, are seen as an essential part of the pro-independence movement. This happened in November, when the CDR were trying to sabotage a demonstration in support of the national police:
Meanwhile, as is happening with other populist/demagogic bubbles in which large collectives are induced by their mendacious leaders to live in a parallel world, reality is catching up with "the process."
At the end of November there were huge protests in front of the Catalan Parliament of firefighters, doctors and other collectives protesting the steep budget cuts in health, education and other essential services that take place at the same time that the Torra government opens Catalan "embassies" around the world, thus squandering huge amounts of money for the sake of the "cause."
Torra and his minions, of course, were outraged. How dare these people protest about salaries and working conditions, when we are struggling for independence?
Eduard Pujol, the spokesperson of Junts per Catalunya, the main pro-independence group in Parliament, stated that the debate over long waiting periods in the public health system was "not essential," and that all that fuss was about "crumbs," because, of course, the goal of achieving independence is far more important.
Obviously Torra, his master Puigdemont, and their accomplices can afford to pay private medical insurance, but there are many people around who struggle to make ends meet, and are obviously reaching the limits of their patience with a government that doesn't govern because all its efforts are focused on "higher" objectives. More than half of the population is not with them, but Torra & Co. couldn't care less because, of course, as said above, non-nationalists do not exist.
Catalan nationalists have very bad luck with their leaders, but, sadly, they are not the only ones.
Like many other people, I had some hopes that Albert River and his party, Ciudadanos, could contribute to change Spanish politics for the better, but he is proving to be a real disappointment.
His decision to support an agreement with Vox to expel the Socialists from the Government is, simply, a disgrace, and I predict that it will cost his party many, many votes.
JE comments: I'd like to learn more about the Catalan embassies. One thing's for sure: they'll cost an extraordinary amount of money.
José Manuel, are the Comités/Comitès de Defensa de la República aware of their CDR counterparts in Cuba? The Comités de Defensa de la Revolución work at the grass-roots level to ensure that Cubans in every village and apartment block receive "proper" surveillance. Why would the Catalonians pick an acronym with such a tainted reputation?
Cost of Catalonian Embassies
(Jordi Molins, Spain
12/07/18 3:50 AM)
John Eipper wrote on December 6th: "I'd like to learn more about the Catalan embassies. One thing's for sure: they'll cost an extraordinary amount of money."
According to Roberto Bermúdez de Castro, in charge of the Catalan embassies after the Madrid takeover of the Catalan government, the yearly cost of Catalan embassies is 6.1 million euros (according to the Catalan government: €3 million).
The Spanish embassies cost north of 500 million euros per year. This figure includes €330,000 for cutlery, €140,000 for bed clothes and towels, €775,000 for maintenance of the gardens in the Paris embassy, €560,000 for furniture and decoration for the Tokyo embassy, €516,000 for cleaning of the Paris embassy, and €6 million for the new building in Rabat.
The cost of shutting down all Catalan embassies immediately cost €2 million (which could have been mostly saved if contracts had been renegotiated with rationality, instead of firing everybody immediately, as the Spaniards did after the takeover of the Catalan government).
The cost of the police intervention in Catalonia during the independence referendum cost €87 million.
The cost of €6.1 million euros of the Catalan embassies represents less than 0.04% of the taxes paid by Catalans that go to Madrid and never come back to Catalonia (about €16 billion).
JE comments: That's a heck of a lot for cutlery--if I were in charge of the books, I'd send the purchaser to IKEA. (They sell stylish and affordable sheets and towels, too.) Returning to the serious topic, Jordi, has Madrid shuttered all the Catalonian embassies? This is what I understand from your comment above. Or have they been re-opened on an "exile" basis? How many embassies did Catalonia have in the first place?
Madrid's Shuttering of Catalonian Embassies
(Jordi Molins, Spain
12/08/18 4:21 AM)
John Eipper asked on December 7th: "Jordi, has Madrid shuttered all the Catalonian embassies? (...) How many embassies did Catalonia have in the first place?"
Madrid, after taking over the Catalan government, shuttered all Catalan embassies (New York, Washington, London, Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Rome, Geneva, Lisbon, Vienna, Warsaw, Copenhagen and Zagreb) on November 30, 2017.
Note: the "embassies" were not really embassies, but just Catalan government organisations helping Catalans abroad, especially in export/import (and quite efficient at that task).
The Catalan elections were scheduled on December 21, 2017 (by decision of Madrid). Originally, Madrid said they were not going to take government decisions. However, they suddenly fired the 33 people working for the Catalan government overseas. This action had a cost of 2 million euros. They could have just waited 21 days for a new government to take a decision on the future of those embassies, couldn't they?
JE comments: Jordi, some sources say the Brussels embassy/delegation remains open--is this information still current? See below:
- Post Unpublished - please check back later
- Cost of Catalonian Embassies; Revisiting Catalonian Taxes and Deficits (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 12/15/18 4:55 PM)
In response to John E on the issue of the number of Catalonian Embassies
(see Jordi Molins's post of December 7th), before the government
intervention in 2017, I believe there were about 14 or 15 in major world
cities, such as London, Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Geneva and New York.
understand that there were a good number of other international
offices, supposedly dedicated to promote commerce and tourism, or to
promote Catalonian language and culture. However, the main purpose of
the embassies was to promote independence and to discredit the Spanish
government and the Spaniards in general. There is no other reason,
because the consular duties for Catalonians, being of Spanish
nationality, are handled by the Spanish consulates and embassies.
I do not know how many embassies have been reopened. This is uncertain
and somehow obscured by the Generalitat, but maybe Jordi could provide
I must comment on Jordi's claims about the costs of these embassies. He
wrote that the cost was only €6 million when they were shut down, but
when you search for the actual number it varies from €6 to €25 million,
even to €34 million. I can provide a number of articles where different
numbers are quoted from official sources, but unfortunately they are in
Spanish and may be of little use for WAISers who don't know Spanish.
Anyway, it seems that in order to show that this figure is
insignificant, Jordi provides two arguments--first when compared to the
current cost of Spanish embassies, and second when compared to
Catalonia's overall fiscal contribution to Madrid. The later deserves a
more extensive argumentation, but to compare the cost with Spanish
embassies is absolute nonsense; Spanish embassies represent the
important and crucial official diplomatic functions of a internationally
A more relevant comparison, whether €6 or €30 million, is to compare it
with the costs of the causes of the present Catalonian crisis, in the
heath, educational and security sectors, which have been the main
reasons for recent protests and turmoil in Barcelona and other
Catalonian cities. With that amount of money, about 200 or 400 hundred
more doctors or teachers could be hired, the police officers could
receive their unpaid salaries, and any of these problems probably could
largely be solved.
Regarding Jordi's argument on the insignificance of the costs as a
percentage of the "0.04% of the taxes paid by Catalans that go to
Madrid and never come back to Catalonia (about €16 billion)," it must be
said that this amount must be questioned and subjected to discrepancy.
First, I believe the amount quoted is the version of Catalonian
independentist sector for 2014; besides being an outdated amount, this
is the product of a particular biased methodology. Where did this
number come from?
According to other official sources, the Spanish Minister of Finance and
the Generalitat Finance Office, there are other amounts for the
Catalonian contributions, more precisely only about €11 billion. The
discrepancy is as always a question of methodology.
There are two concepts related to tax contributions, first the Net
Absolute Fiscal Balance and second the Relative Fiscal Balance. The
first is the absolute difference between contributions given and
received; which according to the official sources is around €5 billion
for 2014; the second is the sum of the first plus the proportional part
corresponding to Catalonia of the total state debt, which is about €5.8
billion, totaling €10.8 billion, less than the amount of €16.5 billion
quoted by Jordi. Again I can quote several sources but they are in
The amount quoted by Jordi must be biased for several reasons. It uses
the relative fiscal balance concept and most importantly maximizes taxes
and minimizes contributions of the state to Catalonia, resulting in the
difference between the total of what is paid in taxes and the total
received in expenses, investments and other public services from the
state. In fact Catalonia has been the largest receiver of funds in
Spain from the Fondo de financiación de las Autonomías, Fondos de
Suficiencia and Fondos de Convergencia, in recent years.
It seems that Jordi mentioned all these numbers to emphasize once more
the venerable Catalonian independentist argument of being exploited by
Spain's central government, the victimization mantra of being
"plundered" by Spain. It might be useful to remember that,
disregarding the specific amount of comparing the cost of embassies to
taxes, which obviously is not insignificant at all, the question of the
deficit has been always politically manipulated, as part of the
Just as a conclusion I remind Jordi that:
1) As a general pattern the Autonomies with highest GDP per capita have a
contribution deficit, and the regions with a lower per capita GDP a
surplus, though there are some exceptions such as the Basque Country and
Navarra, which have a surplus even though they are wealthier regions.
2) This pattern is what in general should be expected with a progressive
redistribution of income through public expenses in any country with
similar progressive tax systems.
3) Madrid is the current Autonomy with the largest contribution and
deficit, but they do not claim to be exploited as do the Catalonians.
4) Although imperfect, the contribution-tax system is trying to be fair and just in its distribution of the public expense.
5) The contribution deficit in the richest communities, including
Catalonia and Madrid, is very similar to the deficit in wealthier
regions in other countries, such as Bavaria (Germany), New Jersey
(EEUU), Lombardia (Italy) or England (Great Britain).
JE comments: The contribution-deficit argument was also used effectively by supporters of Brexit. When does progressive taxation stop and resentment begin? This is a question facing virtually every society.
(A quick reminder: through December 20th, send incoming WAIS posts to firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Catalonian CDRs (Comites de Defensa de la Republica) (Jose Manuel de Prada, Spain 12/07/18 4:41 AM)
JE asked, "Are [Catalonia's] Comités/Comitès de Defensa de la República aware of their CDR counterparts in Cuba?"
Catalan nationalists, like nationalists everywhere, tend to be quite ignorant of any history not their own (which in any case they know only in a distorted form).
In any case, the CDRs are promoted by the CUP, a radical, anti-system party which is the main reason why things eventually reached this point, as the more mainstream nationalist parties (which are bourgeois and mostly conservative) needed their votes to proceed. This circumstance ended up placing the CUP, to all intents and purposes, in the wheel of the whole "process."
I think the approach of Puigdemont and his accomplices regarding the CDRs is the typical "they are sonofabitches, but they are our sonofabitches."
Not even after recent events do they realize that these guys are completely out of their control and are bound to cause serious harm if they are not checked.
A prominent member of the CUP is none other than Carles Sastre, a convicted murderer who in the 1980s was part of the terrorist group Terra Lliure.
In 1985 he was sentenced to 48 years in prison for the brutal murder of the businessman Josep Maria Bultó. Back then, Sastre and an accomplice attached a bomb to Bultó's body, which exploded, reducing him to shreds.
They did the same to a former Francoist mayor of Barcelona, J. Viola, but the judges considered that his part in that murder was not proven.
Unbelievably, Sastre was set free in 1996, having served only 11 years of his sentence.
He is now the leader of the trade union CSC, which organized the failed general strike of 8 November of 2017.
Knowing that most workers in the Greater Barcelona area would not go on strike, what the CDR thugs did was try to paralyze transport by train and road.
Maybe Sastre has heard about the Cuban Comités de Defensa de la Revolución.
If he has, he doesn't care a straw if the acronym is tainted or not.
JE comments: I hadn't heard of the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy in English). Wikipedia doesn't give much information, but I see a couple of interesting takeaways: Although the CUP holds 10 seats in the Catalonian parliament, its membership is reported as a minuscule 1,927. Can this number be correct? Also, the CUP has designs on the entirety of the Catalan Countries (Països Catalans). This includes Roussillon in France and Alghero in Sardinia (Italy), as well as Andorra--and Valencia in Spain proper. This is not a way to gather support from neighboring countries. I hope WAISworld's voice for Catalan independence, Jordi Molins, will send his impressions of the CUP. (Jordi is next in the queue with a post on Catalonia's embassies.)
- Post Unpublished - please check back later
- Madrid's Shuttering of Catalonian Embassies (Jordi Molins, Spain 12/08/18 4:21 AM)