Why isn't NATO bombing Madrid for 78 days? - fmr British diplomat

It is a little bit late for the EU to remember international law on its Western border when it was ignoring it on its Eastern border, Marko Gasic, an international affairs commentator, told RT.

Catalonia's leader has vowed to declare the region's independence from Spain in the coming days.

Carles Puigdemont, the breakaway region’s president, said he does not plan to delay the declaration of independence for much longer and is ready to “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next,” he said in an interview with the BBC on Tuesday.

Spanish authorities continue to say they see the vote on Sunday as illegal and unconstitutional, while the EU gave its backing to the Spanish prime minister to resolve the crisis.

 
A Catalan regional police officer looks on as people who showed up to support the Spanish national police officers staying in town, hold up Spanish flags as police vehicles depart in Pineda de Mar, north of Barcelona, Spain, October 3, 2017. © Albert Gea

The move has been criticized by the president of Serbia, who has accused the EU of double standards regarding Kosovo.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic did not mince his words when he voiced a rather obvious question: "How did you proclaim the secession of Kosovo to be legal, even without a referendum, and how did 22 European Union countries legalize this secession, while destroying European law and the foundations of European law, on which the European policy and EU policy are based?"

Marko Gasic, an international affairs commentator, said Kosovo's vote was recognized because it's not part of the union.

"Some say the EU has double standards on this matter. I would say that they just have very low standards on this matter, in terms of international law and their consistency in obeying it. Because the EU opposes Catalan secession in Spain and it supports Kosovo secession in Serbia," Gasic told RT.

He added, "this is clearly a schizophrenic position the EU has."

Gasic provided some historical insight into the EU's past stance on Kosovo secession.

"While opposing the referendum in Spain, it was insisting and organizing referenda in Yugoslavia," he reminded. "In Yugoslavia they were saying that it didn’t matter what the constitution said; in Spain it is saying the constitution is all important. In Yugoslavia they said you have two weeks to decide whether you want independence for parts of Yugoslavia and we will decide within a week for you - this was in 1992."

Gasic expressed doubt that the EU has learned any lessons from its past experience in Yugoslavia since "it never admitted any mistakes" there

"I believe the EU would behave in exactly the same way again because [Kosovo] is not an area that belongs to the club, the rich man’s club, as Spain does," he added.

 
A person holds up a banner during a protest in Barcelona, Spain October 3, 2017. © Yves Herman

In the case of Yugoslavia and Kosovo, the EU is "deciding the fate of countries outside the European Union," because although it craves "stability in EU countries," it has no problem when it comes to "instability outside of the EU... because that gives the EU an excuse to project itself into those areas," Gasic argued.

The political analyst went on to note that "if the EU wants to be consistent with international law, it should oppose secession in Spain, or in Serbia, or anywhere else in line with the terms of Helsinki Final Act and the UN Charter. Self-determination should be within nation states or rather within states, not without states."

"The EU behaves selectively according to where its power interests lie. It is supporting Spain not because Spain is right, I believe Spain is, it is supporting Spain because it is convenient. And it was opposing Yugoslavia and opposing Serbia now because that is an opportunity for its projected power over there."

"I think all Serbian see the comparison between Catalonia and Kosovo and Metohija. That is something that the Catalans themselves see. The Catalan government expects the EU to support its bid for independence because it is thinking 'if a drug-running, organ-harvesting criminal cabal in Kosovo can be allowed to separate from Serbia, then why shouldn’t we civilized Catalans have the same pleasure at the expense of Spain?"

You could hardly blame the Catalans for seizing the opened Pandora box the EU is responsible for. It is a little bit late for the EU to remember international law now on its Western border when it was ignoring it on its Eastern border," Gasic told RT.

'Why isn't NATO bombing Madrid for 78 days?'

Former British diplomat William Mallinson told RT that a major part of the problem involving the Catalan crisis is "the enormous size of the European Union and globalization" which brings about the "slow destruction of the nation state itself.”

This undermining of the nation state causes the "smaller parts getting irritated."

Mallinson then drew parallels between what is now happening in Spain to past events when NATO opened a relentless offensive on Yugoslavia and the capital Belgrade over the question of Kosovo independence.

"Why isn’t NATO bombing Madrid for 78 days, because the situation is similar in very many ways."

“In fact, Kosovo is even more a part of Serbia than Catalonia [is to Spain.] Let’s remember in the Middle Ages joined when Ferdinand and Isabella joined all those bits of Spain together. Let’s remember that Spain is a united country but it is a conglomerate. We also must remember this dangerous knock-on effect. This is going to feed Basque anger more and more. And of course, other parts of Europe, possibly even the Walloons in Belgium, not to mention Scotland,” he continued.

Mallinson suggested a possible solution to the ongoing crisis is to "throw out the hotheads and get Mr. Rajoy to talk to the leaders of Catalonia to try to come to some kind of temporary compromise while everyone gets together and try to put a stop to these deleterious effects of globalization and the destruction of the nation state."

"Keep the interfering people out,” he emphasized.  

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Over 40,000 Catalans Protest Detentions, Demand Independence

Adria Alsina, an organizer of the demonstrations, said protesters intend to keep up the pressure until all prisoners are released.

Over 40,000 Catalans have heeded the call by civilian groups to protest the arrest of 14 activists, including high-ranking regional officials. They are gathered in front of a regional court to show their disapproval of the detainments and reiterate their quest for independence from Spain.

RELATED: Spanish Govt. Raids Catalan Ministries, Arrests 12 Officials

The detainments were authorized by Madrid in an effort to deter the Oct. 1 referendum vote to determine if the autonomous province of Catalonia will separate from Spain and become its own sovereign nation.

Adria Alsina, a leader of the demonstrations, said protesters intend to keep up the pressure until all prisoners are released.

Although no major incidents are being reported, three Spanish Civil Guard vehicles, the same kind that carried out several of the arrests of sovereignty activists, have been damaged amid demonstrations.

Altercations broke out in Barcelona and other Catalan cities on the eve of the arrests.

In related developments, Catalonia has invested some US$21 million to beef up its regional tax agency, according to Reuters. This is part and parcel of the autonomous region's bid for independence.

“In a future transition, it would not be acceptable for them (Madrid) to keep our taxes, because they are ours and they keep a lot," Catalan Treasury Secretary Josep Lluis Salvado said.

The tax agency increase, which includes an expansion of personnel by 75 percent, signals one of Catalonia's most palpable institutional investments for a people on the brink of attaining their independence.

Carlos Puigdemont, Catalonia's pro-independence president, has said the autonomous region's independence referendum is a moment for his compatriots to “express our will as a people, remembering the past, where we come from, but also to project ourselves into the future.”

RELATED: Barcelona Hosts Mass Rally for Catalan Independence

He added that the push to become a sovereign nation is “a future that we have in our hands and that we will democratically decide really soon."

Catalonia’s regional government has vowed to declare independence from Spain within 48 hours if the “yes” vote wins.

Countering Catalonia's bold step is Spain's conservative government headed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who insists that actions taken by the autonomous community are in direct violation of the nation's constitution. He has vowed that “there will not be a referendum.”

Located in the northeast of the country, Catalonia is recognized as one of Spain's most prosperous regions, not only economically but culturally. Residents have also been able to maintain their national language, Catalan. Apart from these aspects, which have historically fed into the independence movement, residents of Barcelona say they pay exorbitant taxes to Madrid and don't receive their worth back in services.

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Catalonia sets independence referendum date, Spain seeks to press criminal charges

The Catalan parliament has greenlit a referendum on the region's secession from Spain, to be held on October 1. It followed a fierce, hours-long debate on Wednesday. Madrid denounced the move, threatening to bring criminal charges against the region’s authorities.

 
© Albert Gea

The so-called “transition bill,” designed to serve as the constitution of a sovereign Catalan state during the transition period, was championed by the pro-independence ruling coalition that submitted the motion late August. The legislation envisions the legal framework that will pave the way for a constituent assembly, tasked with laying groundwork for a brand-new Catalan Republic.

The idea, however, did not find favor with many of the local deputies, who were staunch opponents of the legislation during a gruelling 11-hour session preceding its eventual approval by 72 MPs loyal to the region's separatist government, as 52 opposition deputies of the 135-member legislature left the room in defiance.

Predictably, the outcome of the vote did not sit well with the federal Spanish government. Madrid has vowed to employ all legal means at their disposal to stop the plebiscite from going ahead, and to punish lawmakers for neglecting earlier court rulings proscribing such legislation.

READ MORE: Catalonia sets date for landmark vote on independence from Spain

 
People react at an impromptu memorial a day after a van crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain August 18, 2017 © Susana Vera

Spain’s deputy prime minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, announced that the government is contesting the newly adopted legislation in the country’s constitutional court, arguing for it to be declared null and void.

“What is happening in the Catalan parliament is embarrassing, it’s shameful,” de Santamaria told journalists on Wednesday, reacting to the vote, as cited by Reuters.

On Thursday, Spain’s state Prosecutor-General Jose Manuel Maza announced his office will pursue criminal charges against members of the Catalan government and the parliament for passing the law. Maza noted the charges will be presented shortly to the Catalan High Court of Justice.

Maza told reporters he had requested the security forces to investigate any move to prepare or hold the referendum.

After reading out prepared notes, the prosecutor-general said they will “continue to act with firmness, proportionality, celerity and full subjection to legality to guarantee our constitutional framework,” according to La Vanguardia.

While the vote was a success for the Catalan elite, recent polls indicate that support for the independence cause among the local public is wearing thin.

According to a June poll, prepared by The Center for Opinion Studies, only 41.1 percent of Catalans favor independence from Spain, a decrease of over 3 percentage points compared with an earlier poll conducted in March. At the same time, the number of those who do not want to part ways with Spain reached 49.4 percent, slightly higher than in March.

Separatist sentiment in Catalonia traditionally runs high, and from time to time becomes the driving force behind massive pro-independence rallies attended by tens of thousands of people. In 2014, the region staged an informal vote on independence, during which some 80 percent voted to split from Spain. However, the vote had a poor turnout: only about a third of the region’s voters came to the polls.

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Cuba's Raul Castro meets with Spanish FM in Havana

Spain's Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis met on Wednesday with Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana during an official visit to the island.

Cuba's state daily Granma reported Castro and Dastis had discussed bilateral relations saying both sides were satisfied with developing relations which they both hoped would continue to strengthen.

Dastis is seeking to strengthen ties after the 2016 signing of the first Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between Cuba and the European Union.

Spain is the country with the most joint ventures on the island and is Cuba's first trading partner in Europe. Globally it is third after China and Venezuela, respectively.

Also at the meeting were the Spanish ambassador to Cuba, Juan Jose Buitrago de Benito as well as Dastis' Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez.

Wednesday's meeting came has Hurricane Irma was thrashing its way through the northern Caribbean towards Cuba and Florida where it is expected to make landfall later this week.

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Cuban President Raul Castro Sends Message of Condolences to the King of Spain and Relatives of Victims of the Terrorist Attacks in Barcelona

The Cuban Embassy in Spain reported that president Raul Castro sent a message of condolences to King Philippe VI as well as to the relatives of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Barcelona. Such attacks left a total of 13 deaths and dozens of wounded citizens, with five Cubans among them.

Cuban ambassador in Madrid, Eugenio Martinez, also expressed his condolences before the authorities of the country.

The Embassy and its Consulate in Barcelona have been in touch with the relatives of the four Cuban injured in the terrorist attacks. A fifth Cuban was partially wounded in the Cambrils event and was immediately discharged, according to the website Cubadebate.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz // CubaSi Translation Staff

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Bulls in Cuba

Cuba was the first country in Latin America where bullfights took place.

Last weekend, in Havana, you could almost hear the snorts of the fevered animal and the olé shouted by hundreds of fans, always rewarded with some challenging pass of the bullfighter.

The exhibition “Cuba brava. El toreo en la memoria historica de Cuba”, hosted by the House of Mexico, was unveiled in Havana. Paintings, pictures, posters, customs, documents and other related articles recalled the long and unknown bullfighting tradition in Cuba.

It is easy to realize that Spanish conquerors were the ones who introduced here and other Latin American countries the bullfight shows. Such shows are being criticized due to the cruelty with which these animals are treated.

According to Spanish Placido Gonzalez Hermoso, the first bullfight in Cuba took place in 1514 and Friar Bartolome de las Casas witnessed the event in his “Historia General de Indias.”

The first bullring in Cuba was built in 1769.

Twenty seven years later, the inhabitants of the village witnessed the second bullring built in Monte and Egido Streets. Bulls and bullfighters were brought from the metropolis.

Among the first documented bullfight festivities, the one held in 1569 to honor Saint Christopher is well-remembered. To honor the crowning of Carlos III, it was held a resounding one in 1759.

To honor this king, the bullring “Carlos III” or “La Infanta” was opened in 1885. Such bullfights were even broadcasted by the television for ten years, but it could not capture the audience’s attention, though.

However, this bullfights environment did not quit easily and they won the government’s approval to allow bullfighting in Havana on the exceptional condition of not killing any animal. The aforementioned bullfight took place at the Tropical Stadium before 13,000 fans in April 27th, May 4th, and May 11st 1941.

Not even Mazantin the Bullfighter

You can listen to some of our grandparents the phrase “This cannot be done by even Mazantin the bullfighter.” And some of our young people use the same expression.

manzantini

Perhaps, they do not know that Mazantin the bullfighter was the very famous Luis Mazzantini y Eguia, a Basque born in 1856.

He was unique due to his elegant and refined art of behaving inside and outside the bullring. He liked opera, social talks, and hanging out with the Spanish high society, where he returned after a long stay in Italy.

He starred a total of 16 bullfights in Cuba. And the bullring located in Belascoin Street, between Virtudes and Concordia Streets was the place where he boasted great skills.

Mazzantini left his mark in the island’s fashion and customs as well as one cigarettes’ brand.

Four decades later, the bullfighter vanished from the daily life of Havana.

In 1899 and after the Maine’s wrecking, the U.S. interventionist forces prohibited bullfights by military order. If any failed to comply with that order, a 500 Cuban pesos fine was executed.

The art of bullfighting in Cuba left like Mazzantini after four centuries. It happened once but those times will never come back again. It may be seen only in exhibitions like the one taking place in Havana.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

Gibara Film Festival to Have Spain as Guest Country

Gibara International Film Festival will be held in the Cuban eastern province of Holguín from April 16 to 22.

The president of the event, Jorge Perugorría, defined the event as heiress of the festival created by Cuban filmmaker Humberto Solás in that eastern city of the province of Holguin, and, in that sense, promotes the interaction between the arts.

Only the name of the festival was changed to extend the spectrum of the admitted works, explained the actor, director and producer in a press conference.

Theatrical works, dance, books, photo and painting exhibitions as well as music concerts will alternate with the film program with productions from Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Canada, Argentina, Bolivia, Italy, Nicaragua and Brazil, among other countries.

The competing categories are fiction feature film, fiction short film, documentary feature film, documentary short film and cinema under construction.

This last section includes from unpublished scripts to works in the post-production period, in both genres and films.

Prestigious figures of the audiovisual and the arts of Cuba and the world will integrate the jury of each category, and honorary Lucia Awards will be granted to Adela Legrá and Eslinda Núñez, the two living actresses of the three who starred in the film of the same name, considered a classic of Cuban cinema.

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Spain's Podemos Snubs Argentina's Macri over Rights Abuses

Spanish lawmakers criticized the visit of Argentine President Mauricio Macri and the human right violations of his government.

Left parties in the Spanish Congress criticized Wednesday the presence of Argentine President Mauricio Macri, with one lawmaker greeting him with a shirt demanding the release of Milagro Sala, an Indigenous activist and lawmaker who was dubbed the first "political prisoner" of Macri's administration when she was arrested after a protest in January 2016.

RELATED: Macri Rejects UN's Call to Release Political Prisoner Sala

Macri also received a letter from the left-wing party Podemos party requesting the release of the activist, who has been in jail for more than a year. After his address to Congress, none of the Podemos lawmakers applauded.

In a second rejection to Macri’s visit, the same party announced its members will not participate in the state dinner that the Spanish king will offer on Wednesday in honor of the Argentine president, his wife Juliana Awada and his team. All parties in Congress are often invited for celebrations as part of official visits by presidents or heads of state.

Upon his arrival, President Macri also shook the hand of lawmaker Irene Montero, a spokesperson for Podemos, who wore a white t-shirt with a drawing of Sala and in black letters the phrase "Free Milagro."

Irene Moreno received Macri in the Spanish Congress with a t-shirt that asks "Freedom for Milagro Sala."

Montero called Macri "an offshore agent," referring to his use of tax havens revealed through the Panama Papers leak last year that identified Macri as one of a dozen global power players with assets in offshore companies.

"It’s not necessary to do those acts of honoring a president of the type of Macri," said Montero during a press conference Tuesday. She also accused him of being "responsible for human rights violations".

RELATED: Milagro Sala Trial: ‘I Apologize for Being Black and an Indian'

Meanwhile, Lawmaker Anton Gomez-Reino blasted the visit, saying that the Congress "is not a chamber of commerce in the service of the Popular Party of (Primer Minister Mariano) Rajoy and President Macri. Congress is not a platform for his friends’ businesses."

Iñigo Errejon, also from Podemos, said he was troubled by the fact that Macri called the parliamentary coup in Brazil against former President Dilma Rousseff “a political change.”

Meanwhile, back in Argentina various workers’ organizations called a massive protest in the capital city of Buenos Aires to protest the Macri government. The movements have also suggested that the may set up an encampment in the center of the capital city to continue the protest against also said they could set up a camp under the emblematic obelisk monument in the center of the city.

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