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Guardiola and Spain’s social cohesion

After his speech at the weekend, there is no other option but to remind the Manchester City coach that this country is a democracy

Pep Guardiola gives his speech on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola gives his speech on Sunday.

At the umpteenth event staged as part of the attempt to break with democratic coexistence, which has been put into motion by pro-independence forces in Catalonia, the current coach at UK soccer club Manchester City, Josep Guardiola, leveled serious accusations on Sunday against the supposed “authoritarian” character of the Spanish state and of its policies, which supposedly repress the rights and freedoms of the Catalan people.

It is disheartening to see that someone who is a point of reference for millions of Spaniards thanks to his many sporting successes does not understand that such a coarse disqualification, one that is so lacking in basis of fact, undermines the foundations of coexistence between the citizens of this country.

In times of “post-truth” and alternative facts, there is no other option than to remind Guardiola that Spain is subject to the rule of law and it is also a democracy

The Spanish Constitution protects the right to freedom of expression. And also the right to come together at the polling booths with an independence plan. No one would dispute that Mr Guardiola has the right to embrace the independence cause and dedicate all of his energy, image and resources to promoting it. That is the glory of democracy.

But if opinions are free and deserve the highest respect, then facts are sacred. It is absurd to state the obvious, but in times of “post-truth” and alternative facts, there is no other option than to remind Guardiola that Spain is subject to the rule of law and it is also a democracy. Our political institutions and courts of law attest to that, as do the millions of Spaniards who exercise their rights and freedoms every day. As do all of the institutions – whether they be multilateral or independent – that verify such questions throughout the world. The surprising tale of the existence of an oppressed people in the heart of democratic Europe is nothing more than that: a tale, one that, under no circumstances, the international community to which Guardiola is asking for help is going to buy.

On the contrary, if there is something that is worrying that international community it is the unilateral secession process without democratic guarantees that Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont and his political allies are trying to carry out. It’s a process that, should it come to pass, would violate the rights of millions of Catalans and would mean the abolition of the region’s democratic institutions. That state, Mr Guardiola, born from an act of force, with no majority and without democratic rules, would indeed create an authoritarian state, one that no one from outside of our borders would recognize.

The surprising tale of the existence of an oppressed people in the heart of democratic Europe is nothing more than that: a tale

The only thing that gives us any comfort in this process is that, in the face of the political immaturity and democratic childishness of people such as Guardiola, Spanish society as a whole – Catalans included – are showing huge displays of maturity, responsibility and civility. Because a lot of democratic maturity is needed to withstand the accusations that, day after day, the pro-independence forces pour on the rest of the citizens of this country, turning them into suspects accused of stealing and oppressing.

The magnificence of democracy, however, is there: we are not going to let ourselves be swept away in a spiral of hate. We will not accept that those who want to tear apart social coexistence manage to pit us against one another. On the contrary, we will continue to put out the call to work together to solve this crisis and emerge from it with more unity and more democracy.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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