Sep 14, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – A leadership action occurred in Europe that many Guyanese will find strange, if not disagreeable. But there it was: “Spain pardons Catalan leaders over independence bid” (BBC, June 22). It teaches us several things, that is, if we are willing to learn, desire fervently to be in another place. It calls for powerful courage and authenticity at all levels of this society, ranging from the president to the entire political crowd, to the private interests people, and way down to the poor at the bottom of Guyana’s social scaffolding.
Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, did the unprecedented, even the unacceptable in some quarters. According to the BBC, his “government has formally pardoned nine Catalan separatists who were convicted over a failed independence bid in 2017. Their crime was sedition, which is considered so serious as to be unforgivable by most governments. What occurred about four years ago “plunged Spain into its biggest political crisis in 40 years.” The wounds are raw, the opposition to the decision of Spain’s leader plentiful; tens of thousands took to the streets in protest, and a poll indicated that 60 percent of those surveyed disagreed sharply with the action to pardon the convicted Catalan subversives.
Prime Minister Sanchez was unmoved: “With this act, we want to open a new era of dialogue and reconciliation, and end once and for all the division and confrontation.” The PM saw his decision to pardon as a move intended to calm tensions over Catalonia. Yet other Spaniards have no tolerance for a decision that rankles. This touches some high places and people in Spain, ranging from the country’s Supreme Court, (whose position is not binding), to powerful rightwing opposition groups, which are stubbornly opposed to it, to ordinary citizens who will have none of it.
It is a tough place for Prime Minister Sanchez to be, and a tougher one for all Spain to deal with wisely. Emotions run sharp and deep. There are plans from different quarters to appeal the decision, and a host of politicians disagree with the Prime Minister in that they see the pardons as encouraging division, and more attempts at separatism.
As for Catalans, they do not believe that the pardons go far enough, and that state repression has to go, before there can be talk of healing, and welding into one cohesive entity. It is worth mentioning that one leader of the failed Catalan independence bid was a former Foreign Minister. It conveys how sharply roiled that society is, and how much needs to be done before questions and issues of unity and nationhood can be faced with honesty and in a measured manner, which is what circumstances in Spain require. But what is happening is that clashing voices and hard positions drown out everything else.
We present the situation in Spain, taken to another level with an independence bid, and it should be clear why we do so at this time. There is great division in Guyana today and at the worst time possible in our brief half century of political Independence. Significant segments of the population are discontented, and there is considerable shouting at each other (just like in Spain) about who is right, who did wrong, and who should be punished and not pardoned. We are wasting time, and losing steam, while aiming at the wrong enemy: each other. But of that and to that, there is no listening.
On one side there is what we consider futile and farcical elections petitions. On the other, there is the self-righteousness of victors of what will be, and damn those who think otherwise. We dare to think otherwise, because our enemy is not one another. Our enemy is what leaves us strangling each other, and when we are finished with that, to discover that we are poorer than before.
When political leaders pretend at a phony war with each other, and the people in the two main demographic segments wage a real bitter war against the other, all Guyana loses. When we are about teaching lessons and getting even, then we engage in the worst of self-defeating exercises. Meanwhile, our real enemy reaps rich harvests from our treasures, while we gore each other.
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