One criticism that is sometimes leveled at nations that are struggling to defend and enforce their identity, is that they are closed in on themselves, unsupportive and xenophobic. This observation comes with a particular vengeance in times of crisis. In Europe, for example, at a time when the crisis is so deep across the EU, and far-right political parties are on the rise. These parties have, nominally “defenders” of the identity of the country where they operate, strive towards the maintenance of exclusive privileges and the welfare of their fellow countrymen. They are distinguished by their lack of solidarity towards other people and for their xenophobia with regards to those they consider to be foreigners in their country. In some states these parties have already topped the political power gauge and others are approaching that point.
We must now place the Catalan nation in this context, being as it is at the height of a process to have its national identity respected and exercise its right to self-determination, an inalienable democratic right: contrary to what its opponents accuse it of –being an unsupportive and xenophobic nation- it has just given new proof to deny this accusation. In an absolute way.
Indeed, on Saturday February 18, more than 200,000 people of all social classes and all ages marched through the streets of Barcelona under the slogan “Our home, your home.” They did so in order to demonstrate their solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of people in the Mediterranean area who are forced into exile and to demand that they are welcomed generously, also in Catalonia. Although European States put obstacles to prevent it or to accept them in very small numbers.
As many national and international media have noted, this demonstration was the largest to have been made in Europe with the aforementioned objectives. Everyone has praised the social and cultural diversity there was amongst the demonstrators. Once again, Catalonia has opened her arms to people, now to the so-called refugees, without forgetting that after the disastrous defeat of the Spanish civil war in 1939, hundreds of thousands of Catalans had to leave for exile.
The media have commented that this demonstration offered the most impressive image in a Europe that took the determination to host refugees but is now reluctant to do so keep her promise. Unfortunately, however, this image has been silenced or misinterpreted by those who would like to find arguments to accuse the Catalans of being “separatists” in the sense of being selfish and xenophobic. The demonstration was a good lesson for the “separators” for those who do not accept and respect a people who makes “democracy for all” its major ideal. The Manifesto released by the organizers of the event, entitled “Catalonia a land of welcome” said so very clearly: “Catalonia has always been a land of inclusion.”
Catalonia, with this demonstration, has demanded all states, starting with Spain, to implement -among others things- the declarations and agreements signed relating to the right to asylum, such as the Declaration on Human Rights, the European Convention for Human Rights, the Lisbon Treaty, the Declaration of the United Nations of 19 September 2016, the protocols of New York and Geneva … Catalonia fulfilled its mission.
Emeritus President of CIEMEN
President of Plataforma pel Dret de Decidir (PDD)