International

Why the Catalan independence process failed.

Here is an exercise to test your international relations skills.

Please read the following statements, debate them and propose your own reasons and possible solutions.

In the recent weeks we had some more colorful first pages on the newspapers, mainly stained by red and yellow. A piece of Spain – a bilingual autonomous community (the equivalent of a French Région or a German Land) – claimed its own independence.

This “Process” failed to succeed. One of the main reason of this failure was the lack of international recognition by the official governments of any other country. To be an independent country it is mandatory that the peers (other countries) acknowledge the new entry as part of the club.

Why it didn’t work? Here are some explanations:

  • Catalonia claimed the Autodetermination principle of the United Nations to be applicable, stating that an oppressed community sharing the same culture, language and values could be identified as a nation and entitled to become a state. Unfortunately, this principle is regularly disattended, for example as it is the case of Palestine. Catalonia would have been more consistent if it would show a serious commitment and solidarity in the last years, to apply the principle to more blatantly oppressed nations first.
  • Catalonia opened liaison offices around the World, in selected big cities, such as Paris, Shanghai, New York, to promote its own culture and agenda. Unfortunately this is a very naïve decision. Standing out in these spots require knowledge and resources that the appointed delegates did not have. They sank among the rest of lobbies that have a stronger presence. It would have been wiser to be present in secondary cities, where their voice could have been heard.
  • Catalonia failed to associate – in a visible and continuous way – European and international residents in its own territory to the independence consultation and debate. Except for anecdotic cases, the Independence process remained accessible only for a chunk of Catalans and some Spaniards living in Catalonia.
  • This part of Spain is a tourism power-house. While serving the purpose to promote its image among international leisure and business travellers, the tourism strategy proved to be a poor way to take the international opinion to have sympathy for the independence agenda. Hundreds of millions of visitors had the chance to spend some days in Catalonia in the last years. They enjoyed the sun, the architecture, the efficient transportation system, the welcoming people. It is difficult for them to switch from this vision to the one of an oppressed country as it is now proposing the Catalan government in its press releases.

And you? What do you think Catalonia could have done to secure an international support to its independence?

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