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Spanish authorities are clearly concerned about the impact of Catalan president Quim Torra's two-day visit to Portugal last week. Within 24 hours, two Portuguese newspapers have published opinion columns written by diplomats in Portugal, with the intention of countering the president's message. On Sunday, it was the turn of the Spanish embassy's communications director, Agustín Galán (link in Portuguese); this Monday, it's the Spanish ambassador in Lisbon, Marta Betanzos, who's had a go.

Betanzos, in an article published by Diário de Notícias (link in Portuguese), says Torra described a "series of half-truths" and questions the support he received during his visit to Lisbon last week. "It's false that [Torra] can be thankful for 'the support of the Portuguese people' or of its Parliament for the cause he defends", saying that a motion passed by the Portuguese Parliament last year calls "for a political situation which defends the democratic and social rights of all the peoples of Spain, among them the Catalans".

The meeting

The ambassador plays down the importance of the meetings president Torra held during his visit. She also argues that "Catalonia never was a state, much less independent, but territory of the kingdom of Aragon" and that "consciously mixing civil rights and the right to self-determination is an insult to intelligence".

Betanzos also expresses doubt about the percentage of Catalans who support the idea of a self-determination referendum, which she says remains under 50%. Finally, she rejects Torra's description of Catalans as a "national minority within the Spanish state", saying that the "Gypsy community is the only recognised minority in Spain".