You may have been watching the news on our television screens in New Zealand about the clashes between police and Catalan residents as they tried to exercise their rights to vote and thinking ‘What has that got to do with us in little old New Zealand.’
Many of you may not know that we have a Barcelona resident Sergi Diaz, who has worked as a snowboard instructor at Cardrona Alpine Resort for the past three years, and who has family who live in the area, along with a brother who is a police officer who has been required to do his job while trying to defend his fellow citizens in the conflict that has divided the Spanish and Catalonian people for well over 400 years.
Sergi Diaz - snowboard instructor at Cardrona Alpine Resort
As an international resident who has called Wanaka home for the past three winter seasons, Sergi has watched in horror as the 6000 Spanish police have treated elderly, young and vulnerable citizens of Catalonia with contempt as they attack these citizens as they attempted to cast their vote for independence from Spain.
“Initially it was a referendum to vote yes or no for independence for Catalonia, after the first two hours it became a right to vote, that was the point,” Sergi said.
“Violence against the elderly, young and women is just not right. We feel in Catalonia that the dictatorship is still there. The constitution says it is illegal to challenge Catalonia independence, but this needs to change. How the Spanish Police are treating Catalonia citizens is just not fair,” Sergi said.
Sergi’s said his police officer brother had found it hard to carry out his duties when confronted with this sort of violence against citizens.
“It is sad and frustrating. I want to leave Wanaka now and return to my family and be there for them. I spoke to my grandmother the other day and she was crying because of everything that is happening. I just want to be with my family and help them. The people in Catalonia are peaceful but the problem is they (the police) keep hitting us. Spain just cares about the money Catalonia makes it,” Sergi said.
The citizens of Catalonia started a strike on Tuesday, October 3 in the province to protest the government’s response to the referendum.
“I am worried about my family and the consequences of the strike. But the citizens are determined to have their voice heard,” Sergi said.
Cover image: 'New Zealand supports democracy' (translation) - Barcelona, Catalan strike October 3. Photo: Supplied
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