The Catalonian separatism is using the coronavirus crisis to strengthen its misinformation strategy against the Spanish democracy. This is one of the main conclusions of the report published by the Spanish Security and Culture Institute, made by Nicolas de Pedro, Research Director of the Institute for Statecraft in London.

“The disinformation represents a strategic challenge for Spain”, states the author, who adds that “disinformation causes victims and shall make overcoming the current crisis much way costlier and more difficult”.  It is explained in the report how “disinforming is to intentionally spread false, manipulated or biased information for hostile purposes. It is not by chance that, therefore, it is during times, such as the current one, when the spreading of unfounded rumors, misinformation campaigns or large influence and canvas operations are multiplied”.

In these days we are seeing how the Chinese Government is trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 epidemic to create confusion about the crisis origin in Wuhan, as well as repairing its international image.  But the Catalonian separatism is also taking advantage of the current situation to “discredit the Spanish democracy”, which has been one of its objectives for decades.

On this matter, the Quim Torra’s interview for the BBC last 19th of March attempted to appeal the outside mediation and “move from an internal conflict among Catalonian people in a matter between Catalonia and Spain, understood as two separate organizations and under sovereign equality”. Along these lines, Catalonian separatism is using social networks, mainly Twitter, to promote hate speech against Spain that spreads messages such as that the coronavirus “comes from, and is Madrid’s fault”; that the State does not care about the “Catalonian deaths” or that with “independence, there would be fewer dead people”.

Moreover, the author gives an example of how “the Generalitat is trying to fix an insidious conspiracy narrative in the nationalist imaginary” the sending letter by “a parastatal institution such as the Asamblea Nacional Catalana (ANC) to the consuls settled in Barcelona blaming “the people of Madrid for the spread of the coronavirus” and accusing the Guardia Civil of “retaining and requisitioning” medical equipment with destiny to Igualada, one of the main focus of the pandemic in Catalonia”. An attitude that, warns, “can poison civic coexistence”.


Ten key aspects to understand the misinformation strategy of the Catalonian separatism

It is in the report analyzed how the misinformation strategy of the Catalonian separatism has been running, which has been intensified in the last days with the sanitary crisis.

  1. Forty years of an all-encompassing national building process has resulted in an overwhelming political and cultural hegemony at institutional, media, educational and cultural industry levels.
  2. Political fragmentation and plurality ignored on regional public media.
  3. Monopolization of public space with yellow ribbons and other nationalist symbols.
  4. Patron-client system in place subsidizing like-minded and expelling dissident voices.
  5. Central role player bu public media broadcaster such as TV3 or Catalunya Ràdio conceived as «state structures».
  6. A pervasive metanarratives riddled with grievances and persecution complex in relation to Spain.
  7. Permanent characterization of Spain as authoritarian, backward, threatening and hostile even in child-oriented and popular comedy shows such as Polònia or APM.
  8. Permanent deslegitimization of the Spanish democracy and appeal to an external mediation to present a conflict «between Catalonia and Spain».
  9. Promotion of a hate speech regarding the coronavirus as a pandemic that «comes and is Madrid’s fault» since the State dos not care «if Catalans die».
  10. Cumulative and eroding effect of disinformation and nationalist discursive hegemony.