An anxious Europe awaits

the presumably eventual announcement by the president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, of the region’s secession from Spain.

Puigdemont has vowed to press ahead with his independence drive and is due to address the regional Parliament Tuesday. Rajoy, who will address the Spanish parliament on Wednesday, pledged that “national unity will be maintained” by using all instruments available to him. That includes suspending the regional administration and sending in security forces.

While Rajoy’s opening position is not surprising, what has raised the eyebrows of many is the not terribly-veiled threat made by a Popular Party spokesman:

Popular Party spokesman Pablo Casado, the party’s deputy secretary for communications, said during a press conference on Monday that Carles Puigdemont, the current First Minister of Catalonia, could “end up” like former First Minister Lluis Companys, who also declared the independence of the region on October 6, 1934.

Mr. Casado was referring to the 83rd anniversary, which was last Friday.

“Let’s hope that nothing is declared tomorrow because perhaps the person who makes the declaration will end up like the person who made the declaration 83 years ago.”

Casado did not specify if he was referring to what happened in the months following October 6, 1934—when Companys was arrested, tried and sentenced to 30 years in prison for rebellion—or what ultimately happened to the former Catalan leader.

After leaving Spain for exile in France during the Spanish Civil War, Companys was handed over by the Nazis to the Francoist regime, tried before a war council and executed at Montjuic (Barcelona) on October 15, 1940.

Casado’s idiotic remark naturally led to swift condemnation, and indicates that chances for a peaceful resolution remain low.

However, that does not mean that such a resolution should not be sought out. Gerry Adams, president of Sein Féin, provided a refresher on what a framework for a peaceful agreement would look like:

While no two disputes are the same, the broad principles to address and resolve differences are very similar and can be adapted to suit specific needs. These principles have at their heart the centrality of dialogue and mediation: the process must tackle the causes that lie at the core of the dispute. The process must be inclusive, with all parties treated as equals and mandates respected. All issues must be on the agenda, with nothing agreed until everything is agreed. There can be no preconditions and no vetoes. There can be no attempt to predetermine the outcome or preclude any outcome, and there should be a timeframe. This will provide a dynamic. Participants must stay focused and be prepared to take risks and engage in initiatives to advance the process.

The problem with Spain’s Catalonian problem is that Catalonians, in many ways, are very Spanish, particularly in their temperament. As Eric Margolis writes:

The national government in Madrid now threatens to block any further votes, dissolve the Catalan government, the Generalitat, and lock up many independence leaders.  Doing so would be very dangerous.  Spaniards are a courageous, hot-headed people who are not to be bullied.  No one wants to even think again about the awful 1930’s civil war whose echoes still reverberate today.

Margolis also observed that King Felipe IV, who should have stayed above the fray, did not do anyone any favors by “denouncing the Catalan independence-seekers, thus bringing the wrath of the Catalans on his head.”

And while a debate could be had over whether Catalonia’s secession from Spain furthers the cause of liberty, in the end, it is up to the Spanish people to determine how best to resolve this conflict.

I simply pray that, regardless of what happens this week, Spaniards keep their wits about them, and figure out a way to resolve this without violence and bloodshed.

If the Spanish (and American) civil wars have taught us anything, “victory” through violence not only does not resolve any conflicts. Further, they also create new ones, and make previous grudges that much more intractable.

May the Spanish people always act to further peace among themselves and their neighbors.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for Spain!

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for Catalonia!