The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is about to meet US President Donald Trump in Washington today, just as the revolting region of Catalonia prepares to vote in an independence referendum on Sunday.
Madrid’s government has in the past few days turned the screws on Catalonia very hard. Last week the Spanish police arrested 14 Catalonian politicians and confiscated the 5 million printed referendum ballot papers (which could have been replaced by now) and just three days ago Rajoy showed his toughness again when a cruise ship filled with 5,000 police officers and vehicle arrived in the Catalonian port of Barcelona.
The Conservative government of Mariano Rajoy has vowed not to let the referendum take place, though many Catalonians have assured onlookers that they will defend their right to vote on Sunday till their last breath.
Political commentators all agreed that Rajoy’s visit to trump (Spain and the US are longtime allies) comes at a very good time for the Spanish Prime Minister.
Ms. Veronica Fumanal, a political communication expert, said: “The Trump-Rajoy handshake photo is more than anything else a strong message to some countries that may have been considering showing support to Catalan separatists. It could help the central government to catch up with the Catalans’ long-term effort to explain their views in the international arena.”
US companies like Procter & Gamble Co. and DowDuPont Inc. have large investments and operations in the Catalonia and will be keen to hear reassuring words from Rajoy when he visits Washington DC.
Mr. Mariano Rajoy will hold a joint press conference with President Trump at 1:45 p.m. eastern time, to be followed by a working lunch. Topics of discussion on the agenda are Spain’s role in the European Union as well as Spain’s increased defense spending to live up to its NATO expenditure of 2% of its GDP, as demanded by the White House Administration.
Catalonia is not on the agenda, but we estimate that many questions will be asked by reporters afterward.
(Picture: Rajoy meeting Trump at NATO Hq in Brussels, Belgium earlier this year)