Matthew Tree: “Catalonia will only be fully understood abroad if it becomes independent from Spain”.

(Matthew Tree’s book is available in English via online shops with the title ‘Barcelona, Catalonia: A View from the Inside’.)

An article published 1st of April 2011 at Catalan News Agency
Authors: Maria Fernández Noguera / Gaspar Pericay Coll

Barcelona (CNA).- ‘How to explain this country to foreigners?’ This is the question that you ask yourself after reading Matthew Trees’ latest book and is also the book’s title in Catalan. This English writer arrived in Catalonia 26 years ago and ended up settling down in what he describes as “one of the most complicated corners of the European continent”. This does not mean that Tree hates Catalonia or considers it an impossible place to live or do business in; quite the contrary. In fact, Tree loves living in Catalonia and is in fact very critical not with Catalonia itself but with the Spanish State in general and its attitude towards Catalonia in particular. According to Tree, “Madrid moves the goal posts every time the match doesn’t go as expected”, which means every time Catalonia questions or does something that displeases Spain’s establishment and Spanish nationalism. “This is an insult to collective intelligence” affirms Tree. In fact, he predicts “from an objective observation and not from a nationalist point of view” that “in five years time, Catalonia will have become an independent nation” if Madrid is to continue with the same attitude and does not introduce a radical change. This English writer reached this conclusion due to the large quantity of people that he believes is “fed up” with the Spanish Government’s treatment towards Catalonia, a quantity that in his words “has been growing” in the last years. Tree also denounces a generalized attitude to overshadow Catalonia’s political reality and culture, an attitude he has experienced himself on several occasions in Madrid and abroad, for instance at a conference he hosted in the London School of Economics. All these factors make him reach the conclusion that “Catalonia will only be fully understood abroad if it becomes independent from Spain”, as stateless nations do not have a place in most people’s mindsets.