US Congress: It's time to prioritize human rights and democratic values

US Congress: It's time to prioritize human rights and democratic values

Andrew Davis, Executive Director of the Catalonia America Council, former Head of the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the United States, Canada and Mexico and Adjunct Professor at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), urge Congress, as it starts its new session, to do so on an international scale and recommit the USA to protecting human rights across the globe, specifically in Catalonia.

Why focus on Catalonia, you may ask? He is often presented with the difficult task of trying to contextualize and explain the complex and fast-changing story of Catalonia to our American friends and colleagues. The information making the trans-Atlantic jump to the U.S. is sporadic, which prevents many in the States from understanding the severity of an increasingly worrisome situation, complete with politically-driven arrests, detentions, exile, censorship and hunger strikes.

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The best analogy that helps unpack this story is a jigsaw puzzle. For well-informed Americans who broadly take in news from across the globe, each puzzle piece represents an individual story of incarceration, of harassment, of a crackdown on expression or assembly. But it’s difficult to see the entire picture, the completed puzzle. Rather, observers see a series of what are imagined to be isolated or rare incidents.

Now, many have already seen some of the obvious pieces. Let’s call them corner pieces. For those following politics and international relations, Catalonia was very much on the radar in 2017 because of the independence referendum held that year. Declared illegal by Spain, government authorities sent more than 10,000 national and militarized police to stop the vote from moving forward. If observers were paying attention to this event, they also saw the scenes of violence perpetrated by security forces on unarmed civilians. This is the first corner piece.

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