In politics, these things happen: two months ago, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez, freshly arrived at the seat of power, gave instructions for Spain to take in the migrant rescue ship Aquarius at the port of Valencia. This was done, he said, for humanitarian reasons, and within a few days, 630 migrants from 31 African and Asian countries had come ashore. Sánchez, still in a state of grace, broke away from the cold response given up to that time by Mariano Rajoy. The air was full of congratulations: politics in the Mediterranean would change. Finally.
It was great, but it was just a tiny spark. Leaders do these things: a grand gesture at just the right moment and then overwhelming silence with no repetition of the move to be seen. And the Spanish government strategists must think that in August, with summer holidays interrupting things, there are few votes to be won. And, in addition, there is Sanchez's interview in Doñana with Angela Merkel, who told him that individual gestures on this matter were not seen as very positive. Sánchez, like Rajoy before him, realised this early. And then the Aquarius, with another 141 people on board knocking at your door, appears once more with a new wave of migrants and you don't know what to do. Or else, what you do is just the opposite: you turn away, saying that Spain does not offer the most secure port and that there are other nearer options for receiving the migrants.
It is no longer about dignity, but rather interests. It is not very credible and even less humanitarian, but then, that is the European Union. And if the first time, in June, the Catalan government made its own response without any success because the chosen port was Valencia, on this occasion it waited for the Spanish government's "no" and then made available to the Aquarius three ports that are directly managed by the Catalan government: Palamós, Vilanova i la Geltrú and Sant Carles de la Ràpita. A strong offer from President Quim Torra which included disembarkation with all aspects guaranteed and which concluded: "Catalonia will always be a welcoming land".
The Spanish government avoided conflict by acting quickly with other European countries and agreeing to take 60 of the 141 migrants, most of whom, if not all, will be destined for Catalonia. Well played by the Catalan Government in its policy of ensuring it responds to what is happening in the Mediterranean. It will have to do so again, as many times as is required.