Photo of the inauguration of the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the Southern Cone{"name":"2023/03/22/11/42/e397c22c-3c81-4021-b855-676d58e52da6.jpg","author":"Arnau Carbonell","type":"0","location":"0","weight":175329}

Today, the President of the Government of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès, and the Minister for Foreign Action and European Union, Meritxell Serret i Aleu, opened the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the Southern Cone, based in Buenos Aires. During the ceremony, the President highlighted the fact that with this inauguration, and the announcement of the forthcoming delegation in Colombia, “the Government of Catalonia will have the entire American continent covered. From Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, there will be points of reference with Catalonia”.

President Aragonès took advantage of his speech to explain that “it makes perfect sense for this Delegation to be Catalonia’s open door to Argentina and the Southern Cone”, in terms of the potential of its economy and to support the Catalan community in this region, which is one of the most populous in the world.

The President emphasised that the opening of this Delegation represents “an important step in moving Catalonia forward internationally, upholding its interests while at the same time constantly helping to find solutions to major global challenges”“No country in the world can tackle its future challenges if it remains constrained within its territorial boundaries”, he concluded.

Aragonès explained that the Delegation enlarges the scope of the previous one, which was restricted to Argentina, and that it “also represents the Catalan Government in Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay”. In addition to the Delegation to the Southern Cone, there are two ACCIÓ offices in Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile. “With this Delegation we will cover almost the entire continent of America, a clear example of Catalonia’s determination to be a ubiquitous presence”, he said.

Meanwhile, in her speech, the Minister for Foreign Acton and European Union, Meritxell Serret i Aleu, reiterated the foreign actions taken by the Government of Catalonia, “which is also represented by this Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the Southern Cone”. Serret highlighted the principle of utility that drives Catalan foreign action. “We are here to be useful to the interests of Catalan citizens in the Southern Cone, as well as the Catalan citizens living in these countries and the citizens of these countries who have welcomed us”.“It is through this sense of utility that we can better build relationships of trust and gain credibility among societies that pursue the same goals of well-being and prosperity”, she added.

“We come to represent Catalonia, to work with the local people, to share, to learn, and to grow together in every aspect: as humans, economically, institutionally, and as a nation”, said Josep Vives, the Government of Catalonia delegate to the Southern Cone.

The Delegation to the Southern Cone is the first office to be opened during the current Government’s tenure, and is intended to strengthen links with Latin America. The Minister for Foreign Action and European Union, Meritxell Serret i Aleu, and the Catalan Government’s delegate to the Southern Cone, Josep Vives i Portell, also took part in the event, whose guests included local authorities and members of the Catalan community in the region.

“Argentina-Catalonia. Human Rights. A Shared Struggle”

Later, the President and the Minister took part in the ceremony “Argentina-Catalonia. Human Rights. A Shared Struggle”, along with Estela de Carlotto, president of the association of Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, and other guests, held in the Margarida Xirgu Theatre.  

During the event, President Aragonès underlined the fact that “the defence of human rights is a fight that unites Argentina and Catalonia because both countries have first-hand knowledge of the cost of losing freedoms”. In this respect, he noted that the fight for human rights “also entails restoring the dignity and memories of the victims of dictatorships in Argentina, Catalonia and around the world”. “This is why we devote so much effort to restoring the memory of all the victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime”, he explained.

In the same vein, Aragonès highlighted the work that has been done in Argentina by people such as Judge Maria Servini, with whom he met, who instigated a lawsuit to investigate the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Franco dictatorship in Spain.

In his speech, the Catalan President recalled that this year marks 40 years of democracy in Argentina, and it will soon be 50 years since the end of the Franco regime in Spain, but he added that “it is still evident that there is a lot of work to be done, and events such as this are absolutely essential to demand justice, memory and human rights”.

Towards full operation

The current Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the Southern Cone was set up in 2019 (though it had a brief predecessor in the Delegation to Argentina that ran between 2009 to 2011). In 2022 it was named the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the Southern Cone to better reflect its geographical scope of action. The COVID-19 pandemic hindered the process of setting up this particular office, which is why it had not yet been officially opened. Since August 2022, this office has been managed by Catalan Government delegate Josep Vives.

At present, the Government of Catalonia has 20 government delegations abroad, of which 13 are fully operational, 5 are partially operational, and 2 have been set up but are still in the process of incorporation, in addition to the announcement of another delegation in Colombia made by President Aragonès during this same trip to Latin America. The Delegation to the Southern Cone is one of the partially operational offices. Today’s inauguration marks another step towards its full operational status, and the personnel recruitment process will start shortly.

The official opening led today by President Aragonès is part of the strategy of the Ministry for Foreign Action and European Union. Following an expansion phase, the priority is now to equip the current network with the stability to enable to it represent the country to the maximum capacity.