IN this space a week ago I wrote rather jokingly about how sales of Catalan Cava had fallen because of widespread protest over plans by the region, whose capital is Barcelona, to declare itself a nation-state within Spain. Cataluña's new Statute has not been well received by the rest of the country. But last week, I was amazed, at the degree of its unpopularity, when a leading Spanish general warned that the military would have to intervene if Cataluña succeeded in its bid for greater independence. The general in question has 40'000 troops under his command and he is one of Spain's leading military figures. Naturally, the alarm bells started ringing and the general was quickly sacked and placed under arrest but it is obvious that the Catalans may be playing with fire and Prime Minister Zapatero, who supports their moves for greater autonomy, should be very careful indeed. The constitution clearly states that the military must intervene to protect the Spanish state, which naturally includes Cataluña. The general's statement can be dismissed but it is rather worrying. Zapatero should be concerned and if he doesn't want to awaken even more ghosts from the past he should perhaps water-down his radical agenda. He has alienated the Church with his support for gay marriage, now he risks a row with the military. Consensus rather than confrontation should be his policy.
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