The British Parliament has received a report commissioned from an American social media expert to establish whether there was any truth in the theory that Russia encouraged support for independence in Catalonia through different websites that posted fake news. Perhaps you remember the issue. It was discussed for several days last September, and then it persisted in the media, since both newspaper El País and leading Spanish think tank Real Instituto Elcano led a propaganda campaign on the subject. Both declared in no uncertain terms that there was Russian interference in the Catalan process and that a legion of bots - automated social network profiles capable of turning any information into a trend - were put to use in favour of the independence of Catalonia. The report to the British Parliament could not be more conclusive, stating that the theory of interference by the Russians is based on "sloppy" and "one sided" analysis and that the arguments are "weak and inaccurate"; the text also contains many other pearls that discredit the work of the newspaper involved. End of story.
It is not the first time that this has happened, but sometimes the rapid evolution of events prevents us from stopping and reflecting on the great media lie in which we are immersed, and we are witness to the construction of falsehoods often without enough tools to do more than complain or raise our voices a little. But beyond this particular case, already serious enough on its own, I am going to quote - if only as an example - seven more lies that have been circulating recently, some of them political and others economic. Even if it only serves to show how a lie can be deconstructed in real time.
Number one: the Catalan government carried out an act of rebellion. A serious accusation which Spain's Supreme Court has placed on the table and which has been questioned by justice systems in several countries. Germany has rejected it in the case of president Puigdemont, Switzerland has distanced itself, Belgium is playing for time although its judges don't see it either, and Scotland has postponed the trial until July. In the end, it seems that rebellion will be for local use only, since if the crime demands violence, the goal now will have to be constructing the first-ever rebellion without violence.
Lie number two: public funds were misappropriated for independence purposes. With regard to this, it is Spain's treasury minister himself, Cristóbal Montoro, who has opened up a considerable breach in the Supreme Court summary with his statements that public funds were not used for the referendum. The minister said as much in an interview and a senior official said so in parliament buildings. The judge seems to have got enough information from the Civil Guard reports and not demanded the essential report from the finance ministry's experts. A mistake. Now, Llarena proposes that the minister reaches agreement on the subject with the head of the Civil Guard unit investigating the case. Sensational. "Made in Spain".
It was also said that the process would be lethal for the Catalan economy. Although Catalonia had to cope with a Jihadist terror attack in Barcelona and Cambrils in August last year and unprecedented police repression of people on the streets of dozens of towns and cities around the country, economic growth was 3.4% above the 2016 total, three-tenths of a percent more than in Spain and one point above the Eurozone average. With everything working against it, the progress made by the Catalan economy was very good. The IMF and the real estate body AIReb have had to recognize their error this week. How far would the economy have gone under different conditions?
The effect on Catalan exports will be noticed, they said. In the months of January and February, the latest available data, growth was 4.9% and represented 24.4% of all Spanish exports. No further comment required.
Tourism will crumble. This also was false. In January, Catalan tourism growth was the highest in Spain after the Canaries. And in February it also grew compared to 2017. Let's go back to the question raised about economic growth in general: what if the police had not made an impact internationally through those shocking images?
The port of Barcelona will lose momentum. The statistics given by its president, Sixte Cambra, should make many people blush. The port is the fastest growing in Europe with a 18.5% rise in the first quarter of 2018 - and that is enormous.
And finally, the airport at El Prat. Seventh-ranked in Europe and the fastest growing in the continent's top ten.
Eight lies are more than enough. In fact, just one of these would be enough to discredit anyone propagating it. But here are eight, and the list could go on.