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The Spanish government's diplomatic offence against the Catalan independence process isn't lowering its guard. After Wednesday's dismissal of Finland's honorary consul to Barcelona, Albert Ginjaume, following pressure from Madrid, Spain's foreign minister has asked the Peruvian embassy for an explanation as to why their consul in Barcelona, Franca Lorella Deza Ferreccio, expressed solidarity with his fired colleague.

This is what sources from Alfonso Dastis's ministry have told news agency Europa Press. The sources say the minister personally contacted the Peruvian embassy in Madrid who assured him that the consul had clarified that his statement of support was made in a personal capacity.

Ginjaume was removed from his role after having invited, as secretary general of the Consular Corps, Mercè Conesa, president of the Diputation of Barcelona and mayor of Sant Cugat, to the monthly dinner held by the accredited diplomats in Barcelona.

The ministry say, however, that since November, they have been sending warnings to the Finnish embassy that their consul had an inadequate attitude, incompatible with his role and which was causing concern. The sources deny that the reason for his firing was the dinner with Conesa, saying that the independence movement is manipulating the case and that the consuls are under pressure to show, in some way, their support for the cause.

Ginjaume is the fourth consul to have been dismissed following controversies related to the independence process. The first, Xavier Vinyals, representative for Latvia, was fired in 2016 after the ministry accused him of having hung an estelada "starred" pro-independence flag from the consulate. Former footballer Hristo Stoichkov was fired last October as Bulgaria's consul for having called Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría "Francoist". Finally, Jordi Puig was dismissed as consul for the Philippines after taking part in a demonstration on the day of protests against the 1st October police charges.

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