One week before the 27-S elections, the governor of the Bank of Spain, Luis María Linde, has said that the independence of Catalonia could cause a ‘corralito’ (bank freeze). He threatened that ‘it is a real risk’ and that ‘situations of serious tension can give rise to bank freezes’. The governor of the Bank of Spain argued his answer saying that ‘it has already been seen in Greece and Latin America’. He also said that the exit from the European Union would ‘automatically’ mean a departure from the euro zone and that Catalonia would have to seek financing on the interbank market.

Linde also defended the communiqué published on Friday by the Spanish banking system; two associations warned that entities in Catalonia ‘could suffer from serious problems of legal insecurity’ in the event of a unilateral declaration of independence. The text threatened with reconsidering ‘the implementation strategy, with the consequent risk of a reduction in the banking offer and therefore of financial exclusion and more expensive and scarcity of credit’ in the event of independence. The principal banks like Caixabank and Banc Sabadell, form part of the associations that issued the report.

‘Intoxication’

They are threats that have caused indignation among the independentist parties and entities. Today the president of the Government of Catalonia and candidate for ‘Junts pel Sí’ (Together For Yes), Artur Mas, accused the Spanish state institutions of ’intoxicating’ the citizens of Catalonia simply to maintain their ‘status quo and power’. In a press conference, Mas denied the possibility of a bank freeze as this would depend on Spain and the state has no interest in harming the Catalan economy. Mas recriminated Linde for speaking like ‘a candidate for the PP’, and using their same arguments when he should be taking an ‘institutional’ position. He also drew attention to the banking system’s lack of neutrality.

In a press conference with Raül Romeva and Oriol Junqueras, Mas argued that he personally would leave a state whose sole strategy was to induce fear in the citizens. For the umpteenth time he denied that an independent Catalonia would remain outside the EU, and gave examples of countries that have become independent and now form part of it. According to the president, leaving the Catalans out would amount to ‘revenge, an act of rage that would have to be shared by all countries, which would not share it in any way’.

Coercion of workers

In recent days, some companies have joined the threats of the banking associations. The Catalan bridal fashion firm Pronovias and the pharmaceutical Almirall sent messages to their workers explaining that a possible independence of Catalonia could have ‘negative consequences’ on the company. The president of Telefónica, the telecommunications multinational, also added to the discourse of fear leading up to the elections, warning that independence could have ‘super negative’ economic effects.