Mexico is in Opposition to Catalonia Seceding from Spain
By Allan Wall
There’s trouble across the pond, in la
madre patria, and Mexico cannot escape being pulled into it.
I refer to the constitutional
crisis facing Spain, in which the northeastern region of Catalonia may secede from the kingdom.
a bit of history. Modern Spain was formed as a result of a royal marriage. Isabel
of Castilla married Fernando of Aragón, bringing about the eventual union of the two realms into the Kingdom of Spain.
(If, on the other hand, Isabel had married Alfonso of Portugal, then maybe Portugal
and Castilla would have united and left Aragón on its own. But the young princess chose Fernando
and thus things turned out as they did.)
Remember that it was Isabel and Fernando who sponsored
the voyages of Cristóbal Colón, known to Anglos as Christopher Columbus, who brought the Old World and the New
World together and began the process of creating all the Spanish speaking countries in the New World, including Mexico.
Carlos V (who now appears on a Mexican chocolate bar) was grandson to Fernando and Isabel, and he ruled Spain (1516-1556)
when Hernan Cortes conquered the Aztecs and laid the foundation of modern Mexico.
in northeastern Spain, was part of the Kingdom of Aragón, and that’s why it’s part of Spain.
Nowadays though, many Catalans (in English, that’s what they call the people of
Catalonia) don’t feel they are really Spaniards. After all, they do have their own language.
The Catalan language is also spoken in the Balearic Islands, Andorra, and in Valencia, where they call it “Valencian.”
Catalan is a fellow Latin-based language with Spanish, but still distinct.
a comunidad autónoma, a division that is larger than a province.
Catalonia’s government banned bullfighting a few years ago. It’s hard to imagine that occurring
in Andalusia (another autonomous community, this one in southern Spain).
The Catalans complain that they pay more into Spain than they get out
of it. And Carles Puigdemont (pronounced Pootch-da-mon), the President of Catalonia, wants independence
from Spain. Puigdemont is the first president of the comunidad autónoma to
refuse to swear allegiance to the Spanish Constitution and Monarch upon taking office.
From the point
of view of the Spanish government, Spain cannot be divided.
Obviously, they don’t want
to lose the Catalonian tax base.
And they might fear that, if Catalonia secedes, other minority groups
may also want to do so. Certainly the Basques in northern Spain, who have a longstanding independence movement
which in the recent past had a violent terrorist wing, might secede.
And who knows, maybe
the Galicians or the Asturians, even the Andalusians? Once Spain starts to fall apart, anything could follow.
I think that’s how they see it.
Nor do all Catalans want to secede. Roughly
half the population wishes to remain in Spain. But the day they had the referendum (October 1st) it was
mostly the pro-independence Catalans who showed up at the polls.
So what will
occur next? If the Catalonian government really tries to secede, what will the Spanish government do?
How much force would Spain’s leaders be willing to use?
Catalans think they can join the European Union (EU) after seceding. But that might not work, as entrance
to the EU requires the consent of every single member nation, and Spain might just veto Catalonia’s membership.
No national government publicly supports Catalan independence. France doesn’t, which would
be Catalonia’s neighbor.
The Mexican government is against Catalan independence. Foreign
Minister Luis Videgaray announced that if Catalonia declared independence unilaterally, the Mexican government “will not recognize Catalonia as
an independent state.”
There are many links binding Spain and Mexico, links of history, culture,
language and blood (including Mexicans of Catalonian ancestry).
There are also
many economic ties between Spain and Mexico.
Spain is a big investor in Mexico
(second-biggest after the U.S.) and Mexico also has investment in Spain.
to Spain’s EL PAÍS newspaper, the Mexican Grupo Bimbo (the world’s biggest baking company) is moving its Spanish headquarters out of Catalonia to Madrid, where it
already has its headquarters for Europe, Asia and Africa. According to the company, the goal is legal security
to continue normal operation. (Bimbo employs 6,000 workers in Spain.)
Bimbo is not
the only company moving due to uncertainty. As of October 13th, EL PAÍS reported that 540 businesses had abandoned Catalonia since the October 1st referendum. Whether
“abandoning” means totally leaving Catalonia, or just moving a headquarters as Bimbo did, it’s still a problem
Allan Wall, an educator, resided in
Mexico for many years. His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info.