The first step towards restoring the autonomy of Catalonia was taken in Madrid this weekend.
Prime Minister Suarez reached an agreement with Mr. Josep tarradellas, President of the Generalitat – the Catalan government in exile – for a transition aimed at possible autonomy.
the Generalitat was established in 1932 shortly after the founding of the Second Spanish Republic. He died in blood after the civil war of 1939. Franco was determined to eradicate decentralization and even attempted to erase the Catalan and Basque languages. The slogan of the former dictator was: “One united Spain”.
Mr Suarez, who is celebrating his first anniversary as prime minister this weekend, admits that some autonomy should be granted to regions like the Basque Country and Catalonia, which request it for historical and cultural reasons. The final decision on autonomy will, however, have to be taken by the newly elected parliament.
The pact between Mr. Tarradellas, 78, and Mr. Suarez has been generally well received.
At a press conference this weekend, however, Home Secretary Martin Villa did not respond to questions that would have clarified the deal.
However, it seems that before the end of July a representative association will be formed in the four provinces of Catalonia. The association will be able to negotiate with the government of Madrid on the possible form that autonomy will take.
Mr. Tarradellas returned Sunday to France where he has been living in exile since the end of the civil war. He said he would return to Barcelona when the Generalitat was restored. “I think I’ll be back shortly,” he told friends.
But Mr. Tarradellas, an old gallant patriot, whose mandate as President of the Generalitat technically expired in 1939, does not today represent the opinion of the majority of the Catalan people. He is compared in the Spanish Sunday papers to General de Gaulle and it is a fair enough comparison.
No one doubts his integrity or his patriotism. But, the young socialist Catalans might be a better choice to guide his compatriots along the still tortuous road to autonomy.