Dutch Catalan woman on Rajoy’s crackdown

Sylvia Lorente

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Her father was Catalan, her mother Dutch. She was born in 1976, one year after the death of dictator Franco. “I was conceived during the celebration of his death”, Sylvia Lorente laughs.

She studied business and moved to the Netherlands, to her mother’s country, in 2000 because of work. After stays in Barcelona and Berlin she is back here. Her mother and sister still live in Catalonia. “Even though yesterday on the phone, they joked they would come to live with me if things would become too exciting.”

Although: things are not really funny. “There is an energy of fear in the streets of Catalonia,” says Lorente. “People wonder if tomorrow military tanks will drive through the streets.”

Dictatorial moves

Sylvia Lorente’s father was governor in the Catalan city of Tarragona in the late 1970s. He actively managed to get self-government for Catalonia in practice. He would be shocked by the current situation, Lorente thinks.

“He was a moderate man, a man of dialogue. He would not have been for independence, but he would have been scared of the Madrid hard line. He had experienced Franco’s dictatorship and what’s happening now surely looks like dictatorship. There are people in prison for free speech.”

Lorente finds it horrible that the situation has escalated. “I’m not for independence, but I think Catalonia should become a federal state, and we were so between 2006 and 2010. In 2010 Madrid reversed it. Then the European Union should have mediated. Why would federal states work in Germany, but not in Spain?”

… “They [the Catalan regional government] should never have proclaimed independence, but under pressure from the people they could not do otherwise.”

And Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy? “Until recently, Rajoy was politically weak. His popularity in the rest of Spain has grown tremendously in recent weeks, now he is seen as a strong leader.” According to the Catalan woman, that suits him, because Rajoy is also involved in a corruption affair.

Somber future

As a business expert, Lorente sees the future as gloomy. “Madrid realizes that it is economically dependent on strong Catalonia. Over the next ten years, Madrid will do all it can to overcome this dependency: companies moving away from Catalonia, stimulation of tourism elsewhere. And that’s bad news for my country.”

She only sees one solution, though she hardly thinks it will happen. “The European Union must act as a referee. It’s too easy to say, it’s a Spanish problem, just let them solve it. If a man abuses his wife in a marriage, then will you intervene or not?”

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