Read in Catalan

The conflict between the governments of Catalonia and Aragon over the ownership of the works from the Sixena monastery1 currently in Lleida Museum has entered a new phase. The Catalan government under central intervention through article 155 of the Spanish Constitution is also for this and those who supported its approval in the Senate are just as responsible as the Spanish government: the 44 pieces from Sixena have Aragon as their next destination. In the end, the carte blanche PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) and Cs (Citizens) gave to Mariano Rajoy's executive has, as will be seen, hidden triumphs, and the Sixena is one of them. How were they not going to return to Aragon as trophies some museum pieces which will be revalued in the future in the form of votes in Spanish elections, in Aragonese regional elections or in the municipal elections in those three provinces?

If, meanwhile, the PSOE mayor of Lleida, Àngel Ros, has problems, that's quite irrelevant for the PP (Popular Party). This is part of applauding article 155: when they turn against you you have no one defending you, and that's what will end up happening to Ros. Maybe minister Méndez de Vigo will be sensitive to his worries? The same has happened to PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez in Madrid. After making such a deal of announcing that he had agreed with Rajoy to open negotiations on constitutional reform, now the prime minister has lowered expectations to almost zero: his only commitment is to talking. Apparently little understanding from Sànchez, when what was wanted was a federal Spain and who knows how many other things. Sánchez still hasn't learned that PP has a minority to block any reform in the Congress and an absolute majority in the Senate and that, with such a hand, the game is over before it has started. The alternative is to talk for the sake of talking or confuse himself. PP doesn't want constitutional reform and nor do the Spanish elites.

But let's turn back to Sixena. The eviction of the Catalan government in an arbitrary interpretation of the Constitution an absolutely unheard-of situation: Catalan roles have been assumed by Spanish ministers and Catalonia's interests have ended up with no defenders. What would have be logical? To hold on any decision until after the Catalan elections, or let the government officials who remain in their roles to adopt the best option, which would have been to defend what it has defended up to now. What's been done? Precisely the opposite, and breaking Catalan law. The Sixena is just an example. One miserable example. The reality, sadly, is always worse than the examples and if you allow pillaging of this kind in full view of everyone, what will you not be prepared to do?

 

Translator's notes:

1. Santa María de Sixena is an 800-year old convent in Aragon. In 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, a fire damaged the abbey. As such, a number of historic murals were removed and taken to a museum in Barcelona, Catalonia, for conservation. After the war, a second collection of artworks were sold in disputed circumstances by the religious community to museums in Catalonia. In 2013, the government of Aragon reclaimed the works, which sparked a long, complicated legal battle. The Aragonese argument is that they couldn't be legally removed in the first place and so now should be returned. The Catalan argument is that the convent cannot sufficiently conserve the works, that they would be damaged in transit anyway, they were acquired legally and that they cannot be returned legally without revoking their protected cultural heritage status in Catalonia.

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