Hello. My name is Liz Castro. I am originally from the US but I have lived off and on in Barcelona for more than 30 years. I know this place and this people very well. And I have been watching this independence process from the beginning. I have written books about it, and I have witnessed an adamantly peaceful, strictly non-violent, absolutely democratic process that should be encouraged and lauded, and not beaten down with police batons and tear gas. Every people deserves to be heard. The Catalan people deserve to be heard.
Up to this week the Catalans were solidly pro-European. We consider ourselves to be part of Europe, most of us are already European citizens, and we uphold the basic values and fundamental human rights that Europe was founded on.
Our question is, do you? On Sunday, after 10 years of attempting to negotiate with Spain, our democratically elected parliament held a referendum. The Spanish Government sabotaged the campaign, arrested our government officials, stole and destroyed ballots and other campaign material and threatened participants with massive fines.
Still, insisting on their democratic rights, millions of people protected the polling places and insisted on voting, even when the police were literally bashing their heads in, spraying them with tear gas, shooting them with rubber bullets, and stamping on them in fury, all confirmed by Amnesty International.
Catalan dignity and belief in democracy was firmly displayed on Sunday. I now ask you to stand up in our defense. We have a right to be heard. We have a right to speak. We have a right to self-determination as it is written in the European Union Charter.
Let me be very clear. Catalonia’s membership in the EU is a two-way street. If you want our 200 billion euro, prosperous, innovative, hard-working, progressive, open, creative economy and citizens, you will have to treat us with respect and afford us basic human rights. We deserve it. Otherwise, I’m sure EFTA would be more than willing to talk to us.
I look forward to your response.
P.S. My books: What’s up with Catalonia? The reasons which impel them to the separation (Free download: http://www.cataloniapress.com/free)
Many Grains of Sand: A sourcebook of ideas for changing the world, tried and tested in Catalonia http://lizcastro.com/granets_home/