Closing Diplocat is 'unfair and arbitrary decision that goes against interests of Catalonia,' say former employees
Dismissed workers deny independence bias, insist Article 155 "does not enable" Spain to "dissolve autonomic bodies" and urge new government to reinstate public diplomacy council
The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) has come to an end today, with his office closed and all its workers dismissed following Spanish government decision to invoke Article 155 of the Constitution and suspend Catalonia's self-rule. Former Diplocat employees said that closing the body "is an unfair and arbitrary decision that goes against Catalonia's interests and its civil society, who will be left without a tool for internationalization, which has proven to be useful and efficient". They also encouraged Diplocat's 39 members – which include the Council of Barcelona, unions and even FC Barcelona - to "publicly express their opinion about the closing of Diplocat."
"Article 155 does not enable the Spanish state to dissolve autonomic bodies, as the actions taken have to be temporary and not definitive," said the employees in a press release. According to them, the Spanish People's Party (PP) should not have dissolved the Diplocat because PP is "a minority party in Catalonia" and is acting as a "judge, to evaluate the necessity or utility of an organization."
Diplocat denies pro-independence bias
Diplocat employees denied the organization held a bias towards independence, pointing out that "all delegations" visiting Catalonia through them "had the chance to meet with all parties with parliamentary representation as well as with diverse and plural entities from civil society." "The parties that now defend the invoking of Article 155 from the Spanish Constitution (Ciudadanos, PP and PSOE), and therefore the extinction of Diplocat, have participated in the organization initiatives," they said.
They also insisted that, from Diplocat, they've "invited people who are clearly opposed" to independence in all their events and sessions, with debates often having "most of the participants clearly opposed to secession." Diplocat workers said that their actions have always fallen within the scope of public diplomacy, which is different from regular diplomacy. "The actions of Diplocat were not aimed at setting up relations with foreign governments, but rather at broadcasting the Catalan reality to individuals and entities abroad," they added.
Last week raided
Moreover, they expressed their disagreement with the Spanish government stance that the Diplocat's "only purpose" was to promote Catalan independence abroad. "Diplocat has organized debates and seminars on municipal diplomacy and on integration policies of refugees. Furthermore, Diplocat has organized projects abroad related to green energy and about urban territory management, and has given support to the internationalization of the tradition of Sant Jordi", amongst other activities in 2017, they said.
Last week, the Spanish police raided the Diplocat headquarters in Barcelona. The operation was ordered by the Barcelona court investigating the preparations for the October 1 independence referendum. The police force officers left at about 2:30pm after some five hours.