In English Voices From Spain

November 9th: an ignored warning

Photo by Felix Russell-Saw on Unsplash

Originally published in Spanish: “El 9N: un aviso que no se atendió”. Editorial. El Mundo.

That the secessionist process required a complex criminal web is not doubted even by its promoters, whose internal documents warned clearly about the unavoidable clash with the state that the disconnection project entailed. What the justice is now trying to ascertain is to which extent laws were broken, from what moment and instigated by whom. The final report from the Court of Auditors’ prosecutor, seen by El Mundo, reveals that the illegal referendum held on November 9th 2014 was paid for with public funds. The prosecutor certifies an amount of €5.2million plus interest in ten irregular payments authorized by Artur Mas to finance the organization of 9N. The regional government had already been bailed out by the Regional Liquidity Fund (FLA) that, as the Treasury Minister has repeated, has always worked under rigorous allocation control, with the aim of making sure that money belonging to all Spaniards would not end up financing explicitly forbidden seditious actions.

It is unfathomable, in light of the events and the current view of the Court of Auditors, that the National Prosecutor did not include a charge of embezzlement in the accusation that it leveled against the 9N organizers: Mas, Joana Ortega, Irene Rigau and Francesc Homs. The Catalonian Regional High Court (TSJC) refused to judge for this crime -the only one that would carry jail terms- and the indicted were only judged for disobedience and breach of public duty. In the end, the TSJC sentenced Mas to a two-year ban from public office for disobedience, 21 months for Ortega and 18 for Rigau. The ruling was preceded for the previous sentencing of Homs who, because of his being a Member of Parliament, had to be judged by the Supreme Court, which banned him from public office for 13 months, a period that just expired. That those sentences were too benevolent, as we warned at the moment, is all the more clear after seeing the absolute lack of a persuasion effect they had on the next cabinet of Carles Puigdemont, who simply soldiered on in the drift started without much legal burden by his predecessor, Mas, the true ideologue of the process.

The blindness of the state in front of the declared intentions of secessionism bears consequences today. Catalonia is locked in an exceptional status and the vacuum or power fosters worrying bouts of violence. Responsibility lies first and foremost on secessionists; but citizens expect from their state a more decisive response against the biggest challenge that the Spanish democracy has suffered in decades. Let’s just hope it’s not too late.

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