Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Crisis in Catalonia, and Andreu Mas-Colell

 Catalonia's crisis has been in the news again, with different parts of the Spanish government taking different views about reconciliation.  Here's one story, from the Guardian:

Spanish right rallies against plans to pardon Catalan separatists.  Protest at Plaza de Colón in Madrid draws 25,000 people, including leaders of three rightwing parties. by Sam Jones

But outside of any news stories I've seen, there is a set of administrative actions that threaten a variety of Catalan people who have had public service jobs, including a number of economists, among them one of the world's leading economic theorists, Andreu Mas-Colell.

On twitter, his son, the economist Alex Mas, tells some of the alarming story: https://twitter.com/AlexMasPton/status/1404438475408035845

Alex Mas @AlexMasPton

"Normally I would not be posting personal developments on this website, but in this case I have a pressing concern. My dad, Spanish economist Andreu Mas-Colell, is dealing with an incredibly difficult and unjust situation.  1/

"In two weeks my parents home, his pension and his bank account may be seized by state authorities, without due process. This has to do with events in Catalonia over the last few years. That’s a lot to digest, so let me give some background.

"Following the global financial crisis my dad was called on to head the department in charge of finance and the budget in the government of Catalonia to help in the recovery from one of the worst recessions in history.

"He left his comfortable position as Secretary General of the European Research Council to take on this challenge. This was not surprising. He has been committed to public service from well before leaving Harvard in 1995 to help establish a new university in Barcelona.

"After my dad retired from public service in 2015, a new government formed. Catalonia then underwent a period of turmoil precipitated by a referendum for independence in October 2017.


"My dad did not have anything to do with the organization of the referendum, or the events that transpired. He has been living a retired life for years. And now, a full six year after retirement, he has been targeted for severe financial punishment.

"Last month, a politicized, non-judicial “tribunal” of controllers (“Tribunal de Cuentas”) made personally responsible 39 former government officials for the bulk of the expenses (back to 2011) of an entire section of the Catalan government: that concerned with foreign relations.

"The claim is that the Catalan government used public funds to promote Catalan independence, and specifically the 2017 referendum, abroad.

"What's my dad’s connection? The 18,000+ page document of accusations he was sent, and given ten days to respond to in writing (his only chance to defend himself in all this), does not specify.

"Though not stated, he seems to be targeted because he was, in the last resort, responsible for implementing the budgets voted on by parliament. It appears that for that he is now being held personally liable for a total amount that may add up to tens of millions of dollars.

"In what I understand is highly unusual, a member of the tribunal issued a written dissent against the decision. She says that the tribunal was not impartial, the decision was based on unproven allegations and contains exaggerations.


 "There will be no trial. There is simply a penalty that is handed down. The appeals will take years and can reach the EU Courts of Human Rights, but the neat trick is that in the meantime the accused will have to put up a guarantee for the full amount requested.

"Because the penalty could far exceed the combined net worth of all targeted individuals, they could have *all* of their personal property, assets and income seized. It will be complete and arbitrary expropriation. Without due process.

"This administrative body has taken this action in past cases.


"The penalties will be levied on June 29, coincidentally the day of his 77th birthday. Before then the best thing we can do is raise awareness. If you are able, I would be grateful if you can share what is going on with others, on social media or simply in real life. Thank you."


Here's a related story, for which Google Translate works reasonably well:



Professor Dora Costa has started a petition of support on Change.org, here http://chng.it/NkLRKvszpF

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