The European ‘Che’ born in Barcelona

EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

Dismissed Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont gives a statement during a press conference at Press club in Brussels, Belgium, 31 October 2017. 

Too many unpredictable events are occurring in a short time in Europe.


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Little more than a year ago, on 26 June 2016, Great Britain decided to withdraw from the European Union. This has changed the orientation and the cohesion of the Union, and it had not been predicted.

Since then, in a very short period of time, other unforeseen events have also occurred. The rise of the far-right in Germany and all over Europe. This is a big problem because the far-right reflects our society’s mistrust of traditional politicians from the mainstream parties. This is a problem because the economic and social crisis is depleting the middle class and populating a new class of neo-poor. They are decent people who made their small fortunes and secured their social standing through decades of hard work. And suddenly they realise that in just a matter of months they will lose everything – their jobs, homes and their decency. They will also watch their children emigrating to survive.

Immigration and security are two relatively new problems that are not being properly addressed. Indeed, they are both acute socio-political problems of prime importance for ordinary citizens, and cannot be addressed through administrative and legal means.

On top of this, we have the rapid development of centrifugal forces all over Europe that lead to the dismemberment of the European Union. Regions are seeking independence. Behind each and any of such independence-seekers there are economic problems. Some regions contribute more than others to the national budget. Typical is the case of Catalonia and let’s not speak of Bavaria, Veneto, Lombardy and others.

The reason the situation has hit a deadlock today is something that the people of Spain must sort out for themselves.

What is important is that Madrid opted to address a political problem with juridical means. The governor of Catalonia, who as legitimately elected and deposed by the central government of Spain, moved to Brussels and the Spanish Prosecution have issued a European arrest order.

In a democracy, national leaders and prime ministers are not taken to justice. They are judged by their voters who will either keep them in power or send them home. Otherwise they are turned into heroes. This is the case of Carles Puigdemont, now in self-exile in Belgium.

The damage is done and no matter what will happen to the Catalan leader, his status has been upgraded to that of a hero. Europe has got its own “Che” who will soon be given a similar nickname since Puigdemont’s last name is too long and difficult to pronounce by non-Spanish.

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