By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Artur Mas i Gavarró, his deputy, and his education minister face prosecution by the Spanish Government for alleged civil disobedience, abuse of power, usurpation of duties, and embezzlement of public funds according to a statement released by the public prosecutor’s office of the Spanish Government.
In what many see as clearly dubious prosecution by Spanish authorities, President Mas remarked: “It is sad to see that when the Catalan people want to express their opinion … the reaction of the state comes from the courts and prosecutors.”
The action comes several weeks after Catalonia held a non-binding vote on independence from Spain, buoyed by what many Catalonians hailed as a close race with the Scottish Independence referendum, a worrisome event to the Spanish government.
The matter brings into the discussion of Parliamentary Immunity and Executive authority held by other nations, and the chilling effect the threat of prosecution can have for representative government of constituents.
Originally the referendum was to be a binding vote upon the government but after the Spanish government issued a legal challenge the referendum was amended to be non-binding, spearheaded by President Mas who on November ninth called for the symbolic vote. The constitutional court ordered a delay to determine legality of the vote but Mas pressed for its furtherance.
President Mas was elected in 2010 and enjoys popular support among his constituency. The actions of the public prosecutor’s office serve only to dissuade further efforts by Catalonian politicians and citizens from resurrecting the independence cause, which is dearly held by large numbers of its population. It is certainly not going to be an issue that simply goes away for the Spanish Government, especially with the continuing financial upheavals brought by economic conditions—where Catalonia has remained relatively stable and attractive to foreign and domestic investment.
It remains to be seen how far this worrisome action will continue.
By Darren Smith
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