In these difficult times, the Catalan National Assembly considers that clear, straightforward decisions need to be made. The Spanish government has provided delayed and inadequate responses to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 health emergency and has instead used the opportunity to withdraw the Catalan Government’s control of the local police and health services. We denounce this decision as an underhand partial suspension of home rule, prioritizing a series of policies against the will of the Catalan authorities concerning public safety.
Spain has refused to confine population clusters with the highest aggregation of the virus, such as Madrid, a decision clashing with those taken by countries such as China or Italy. It has allowed travel between cities and autonomous communities and has maintained middle-distance transportation and flights. Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez did not close Spain’s borders until every neighboring state except Andorra did. Furthermore, he has not addressed any confinement plans proposed by the Government of Catalonia.
In terms of economic measures, direct public expenditure is €17 billion, and the bulk of the economic contribution will depend on the banks’ willingness to provide loans, with the guarantee of the state. Some measures are going in the right direction, such as the mortgage moratorium in situations of economic vulnerability, but others are insufficient or non-existent.
Particularly unfortunate is the display of militarism, with press conferences surrounded by high ranking military officers, and the deployment of ground forces and navy units in different cities, which seems more geared towards giving an appearance of control of the situation and a display of power, rather than solving the health emergency.
The Spanish state has also taken advantage of the media’s disarray in the context of this health crisis to tiptoe around the corruption scandal of the Spanish monarchy, which attests to the impunity of an institution inherited from the Franco regime. This corruption scandal must be investigated by the courts and should be the subject of parliamentary inquiries, but this has been rejected by the Spanish mainstream parties. The Catalan National Assembly, along with other organizations, has announced the coordination of a pots-and-pans-banging protest of the Spanish monarchy and in favor of the Catalan Republic on March 18 at 21h.
In this context, by organizing themselves, Catalan citizens will go beyond the insufficient measures enacted by the Spanish government. The Catalan National Assembly will contribute to the fulfillment of the measures with calls to the citizens framed by the #JoEmQuedoACasa (“I Stay At Home”) hashtag and will contribute to raising public awareness and disseminating the recommendations of the Government of the Generalitat .
Our organization also considers it is time to help the most vulnerable, such as the elderly and the homeless. In this regard, the Catalan National Assembly calls on citizens to contact local support networks via digital channels and to assist in whatever they might need, always following the recommendations of the Catalan Directorate General for Civic and Community Action and the health authorities.