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I do not believe the nation is sacred. Nor I consider its borders fixed. I identify myself with the stoic acceptance of the unavoidable that Vaclav Havel stated in his memoirs regarding the breakup of Czechoslovakia. And with his sadness about it:
I repeat what I have already stated: there is no doubt that something like this happening was positive; however, the separation had a grotesque aspect. If we have suffered any loss this has been no doubt a cultural loss: today our nations have a disproportionately smaller possibility of enjoying their cultural expressions and they have even stopped understanding each other in their respective languages. Our homeland, in a cultural and spiritual sense, has been reduced and impoverished, this cannot be denied.
It seems to me laudable the political thrust that was captured in the Canadian Clarity Act which as opposed to what some people say does not recognise the right of self-determination of the people of Quebec. The Supreme Court ruling, the previous step to this law, clearly affirms that "the right of self-determination cannot, in the current circumstances, be the basis of a right for unilateral secession". Dion explains this well here.
In this sense, I would consider legitimate –and it is of course legal– that a proposal to reform the Constitution was presented so that the whole of the Spanish people could decide whether the inhabitants of Catalonia can be given the capacity to express, within legal procedures, if they do want to stay or not in Spain. And one must remember, as this is often forgotten, that this legal path was deliberately rejected by the Catalan nationalism from the very beginning of their separatist drift.
I can subscribe, to a certain extent, what José María Ruiz Soroa said in an article in 2014:"The secession is not a right (it is not a "we want to and that’s it") but it is a reasonable demand that some of the citizens may pose to their State". The problems start when we go from "las musas al teatro"; when we translate the possible ways and paths to satisfy a secessionist demand, as reasonable as they may be on paper, to reality. When we take them from the laboratory to apply them in a real scenario: a scenario that we know how it is and how it has been and therefore we know how it is likely to be. Hence, the problems start when the nationalists appear.
As it turns out, it is the nationalists, and no others, that have created the demand of secession in Catalonia. It is the nationalists, no others, the ones that have created the demand for a referendum for the separation of Catalonia. And it is the nationalists, whom during decades of hegemony and in a boundless way during the five years of separatist process, have done this: silenced, marked and intimidated those disagreeing; instigated the hate to Spain; excluded from public life the language of half the Catalan population; rejected that a rich region like the Catalan one would contribute to the development of other poorer ones; fed a supremacism from which they consider inferior other Spaniards.
This is not an exhaustive list. But I do believe it constitutes sufficient and verifiable prove that these nationalists pose a threat to freedom and civil rights. That they are a threat to democracy. Does anybody think they would behave like perfect democrats and that they would respect the rules and fair play if there were authorized to go ahead with their demand for secession? Can anyone, considering these nationalists historical track record, believe such a thing? I am willing to listen to them.
On this issue, I have no doubt. If ways to further progress this demand, of which they are creators and protagonists, were made available, they would win. They would do so and much more because of what they have already done. Moreover, when I think about how their nationalist nation would be, a nation based on identity, not plural but uniform, a nation where freedom and rights will be empty words, a nation where corruption would be left unpunished, I reaffirm myself.
I reaffirm myself in that I would be willing to consider a demand of secession if those asking for it were not the nationalists. But the damned reality is that it is only requested by the nationalists. And as it happens it is not the demand for secession that is a problem. The nationalists are the problem. These nationalists are the problem.
* Originally published in Spanish in https://www.libertaddigital.com/opinion/cristina-losada/el-problema-son-los-nacionalistas-83289/
Translated by Laura Cano-Lérida