El Nacional José Antich* 2 August
The Süddeutsche Zeitung, the important newspaper of Munich, has just published an extensive report in which it expresses its surprise at the politics of Mariano Rajoy, with respect to Catalonia. It literally states: “Spain is threatening the Catalans instead of courting them.” The position of the German press is not favourable to the independence of Catalonia, although in general, it is more elusive with regards the referendum on 1st October, which it limits itself, above all, to informing about. In fact, this is the attitude of the world’s great press that above all attacks the Spanish government’s zero capacity to put proposals on the table, and the mistreatment that it has subjected Catalonia to for some time. Many of the reports are especially critical of the attitude of two Spanish ministries: the Treasury for the issue about autonomous funding, and Fomento (Ministry of Public Works & Transport) for the deficit in the infrastructures.
The treatment by the international press has to be infuriating for the Spanish press and also a part of the Catalan. This Tuesday, without going further, El País, Spain’s newspaper with the highest circulation, led on its front page with news about the two demonstrations that had been held in front of the Civil Guard’s barracks, in response to the declarations, without legal mandate according to the TSJC (High Court of Catalonia), of high-ranking officials in relation to the referendum. The headline was: “The CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) brings its radicalism to the Catalan streets.” The threats were actually from the extreme right, as it was documented graphically, but this was concealed from the front page.
There could be many examples of the vast gap in treatment between the international and Spanish media. Whilst the daily papers in Spain dedicate reams of newsprint in thick ink about a coup d’état or to the demand of exceptional measures, at the same time shaking with enthusiasm about each fine, or each banning from public office, or each performance by the TC (Spain’s Constitutional Court) or by the National Audit office, in the international community it is all perceived as a lack of dialogue, or in some cases like an odd lack of democratic culture.
The referendum on 1st October announced by the Catalan government will only increase this perception, between the courts and the demand for democracy and ballot boxes. With the opinions published in Madrid lost, the story that interests the Executive of the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, is that of the international media. And it is a battle that will be delivered with patience and conviction until the end.
*José Antich is the corrent director of the prestigious Catalan news digital newspaper El Nacional (with abundant translation into English). José Antic is the former director of La Vanguardia.