Friday, September 21, 2012

Unconstitutional and Impossible

Artur Mas, President of the
Generalitat of Catalunya,
has a battle to fight
It’s unconstitutional.  That is mostly what we, in Catalunya, hear coming from the Central Government in Madrid.  To have a referendum so that Catalans can vote and see if a majority wants to secede from Spain is unconstitutional.  And of course, to secede is also unconstitutional.   Apparently, unlike the American and other Constitutions, the Spanish one is carved in stone (although it has, actually, been amended in the past, but never mind that; it is now carved in stone).

The Spanish Constitution was created in 1978 after Franco died when Spain became a so-called democracy. (Just want to mention that the Catalan Constitution was created in 1283, said here to be the oldest constitution, older even  than England's Magna Carta.)

Because it is unconstitutional there is no way to have a referendum to let people vote.  Voting would be illegal.  Catalunya separating from Spain is illegal.  It says so in the Constitution.   It’s carved in stone and Catalans can only hit their heads against that stone wall.  There is no other recourse, according to the Central Government in Madrid.  They’ve said the same for years, but now they are saying it daily and frankly, it’s making me dizzy.  I have no tolerance for going round and round – something about my ears.  It was a handicap when I used to dance.

But it seems that a large segment of the population of Catalunya, possibly a majority, want Independence and believe they should have the right to vote on it.  Now I ask you:  What would you think if, say, your country’s Constitution said that women were not allowed to vote.  Would you think that was appropriate in a democracy?  Would you think that maybe your Constitution needed to be revised?  If women started going to the polls would you send in the army?

How can a democracy say that a referendum is unconstitutional?  Voting is the key that makes a democracy a democracy, isn’t it?

Today Spain’s Vice President spoke to the press, as she does most days, and during the two or three minutes devoted to speaking of Catalunya, she uttered the word Constitution (and unconstitutional) eight or ten times.  A child could have understood her point.  She and others who are against it can utter those words as much as they like, the truth is that in a democracy a referendum SHOULD be legal, and if it isn’t, the laws should change so that it is.  But in spite of that stone wall, I believe Catalunya will find a way to let its citizens vote and I think that vote will lead to secession.  We shall see.

Catalunya gaining its Independence, if that’s what Catalans want, is probably not impossible, whatever hurdles may be put in its way.  Walls can be scaled or one can take the long way around and still end up on the other side.  What is impossible is getting my criminal record (or certification that there isn’t one) from the U.S.  I need this to deal with my legal status here.  I sent in fingerprints (the only evidence they will accept) to the FBI last year and got a form back saying there were not discernible.   Since then I’ve been busy, but today I went again to the Mossos d'Esquadra (the Catalan National Police), the office here in Figueres, to see if they could do the prints better so that they would be discernible.

The Mosso (police agent) started inking and printing and couldn’t believe it when he saw the results.  My fingers have none of those circular lines.  He said that in all the eight years that he has been doing this work, he has never seen fingers as bad as mine at least never all ten fingers.  Thanks a lot.  This was the problem the last time.  The Mosso who did those a year ago said I could be a thief because no one would be able to identify my fingerprints.  I wish someone had told me this years ago!  I might have had a more affluent life.  Now, it may be amusing to the Mossos, but for me it is a great nuisance, a problem with no solution.  Without the criminal report I cannot complete the required process here.  This is not amusing.

Mossos d'Esquadra don’t usually provide fingerprinting services to the public.  But since the office in Barcelona had done the original prints that the FBI rejected (upon receipt of a letter from the US Consulate requesting the service; the form letter cost 40 euros, the Mossos spent 20 minutes and did the fingerprints for free), the agents here were willing to deal with me. 

Understanding my dilemma of being between a rock and a hard place with a problem that seems to have no solution, the two agents who were helping me this morning have called their headquarters in Barcelona to see if the chief will write or authorize a letter on my behalf explaining that my fingers will only produce prints that are not readable.  I’m not sure yet what I will do with that letter, but as far as I can figure, it’s the only tool I will have to work with.  Maybe someone at Immigration will understand the problem, give me the benefit of the doubt, and let me more forward.  Immigration is a department of the Spanish government.  Maybe they will tell me that my problem is unconstitutional.


  1. How unfortunate for you; I do, however, understand the dilemma for the government: how easy it would be for someone to mash their fingertips to avoid identification of a past personality that could be anything from saint-like to Satan-like.

    Surely, there will be a solution to the problem. I wonder if a visit to the states and an attempt to get the FBI, themselves, to take the prints, might be in your future! Too bad retinal ID's aren't yet in common use. . .

    Will you maintain dual citizenship or are you intending to become Catalunyan? Is there a reason to keep your U.S. citizenship?

  2. I can't afford to go to the States, so if there is a solution, I will need to find it here. At the moment it's Spanish citizenship I will apply for. But who knows what next year will bring.

  3. Many times I think that Spanish politics must be seen ridicolous or non-sense for an outsider observer, mostly because it is for an observer inside...It is impossible reasoning with most Spanish people about some questions (In fact, I have friends in Madrid that say they are hoping our independence to ask for refugee status, it is a joke of course but they are fed up)

    About your personal question, I hope you will be lucky and find a reasonable civil servant who can understand that regulations and their must be so flexible to be adapted to real life, not the contrary.

  4. Reasoning with Americans can be similar. It seems that most of them think nationalized health care is a form of socialilism and socialism is something linked with the devil, and that's that.

  5. So sorry to hear of your frustrating situation about your fingerprints. Just curious -- have you checked the prints on your toes? I'll bet they are the same. At least you can tell yourself that you are undeniably a rare individual! (I think you were that before the fingerprint thing, if I may say so.)

    We are Canadian, and we know exactly what you mean about Americans fearing Medicare. We hear a lot about it. Here, every woman can receive pre-natal care so that her baby gets the best start, and if a person has to do battle with cancer it doesn't mean losing the house. It baffles us how that is a bad thing.

    Every country seems to have some bureaucratic glitch designed to drive its citizens crazy! (Ours included.)

  6. Hi Jan and thanks for your comments. There are bureaucratic glitches everywhere, but even worse, there are people who don't bother to look around and then think for themselves. Our new information age doesn't seem to make much of a difference. I think everyone is tied up watching reality tv. ??