There were horrific scenes in Catalonia yesterday where a referendum was held on the autonomous region’s independence. Madrid says that the referendum is “illegal” because the constitution does not allow a Spanish region to decide to break away, and there were violent scenes in the streets as people attempted to vote and the National Police and Guardia Civil attempted to stop them. Today, Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont is saying there was a 90% vote for independence (figures disputed by Spanish press) on a turnout of not far short of 50%, while Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy is saying the vote is irrelevant because the referendum did not take place – i.e. it could not have taken place because it was illegal. He is meeting today with other political leaders, and no doubt King Felipe as well, to decide how to deal with the situation.
Meanwhile, here in the Canaries there have been murmurs in the past about independence for these islands too, though the general feeling is that this is mere posturing and a practical impossibility bebcause Catalonia, after all, is a net contributor to Spain, and a region rich in its own right. Most residents here, and most political commentators, appear to believe that there is absolutely no question that there could be a referendum, let alone a Yes vote, for independence in the Canaries. Today, the Canarian Government has released the following statement in response to yesterday’s “referendum”.
After 1 October, we who defend democracy and legality have new reasons to demand more dialogue to reach a political and peaceful solution in Catalonia. A collective task in which we must all involve ourselves to guarantee the coexistence of all the peoples that make up the State.
We defend democracy and freedom to overcome the worst institutional crisis we have faced. Democracy to ensure compliance with the Constitution and freedom for a dialogue between its different regions and nationalities.
Agreement is possible via the renewal of the constitutional pact to adapt the Constitution to a reality very different to that which we had in 1978, and to solve the problems of the territorial model. With peace, dialogue, and consensus.
In this political battle, we are all losers. Today we must begin a new stage to define the country we want. If we keep on refusing to have a debate that cannot be put off, we would be condemning ourselves to repeating history.
Law and dialogue always if we want to heal the open wounds caused by a bitter process in which we have all failed. In the Canaries we still have the same strength of feeling that Catalonia is part of the same space that many of us share despite different social, geographical and historical realities.
Faced with confrontation and intransigence, the Canarian Government is committed to a debate on the plural and collective identity we want to build among all to prevent new territorial wounds reopening in the future.