THE OBSERVER

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Support for the Catalan prisoners must be absolute

ESTHER VERA
ESTHER VERA Directora de l'ARA

"To write anything, one must believe in something. At least one last bit of faith, a final hope, must be preserved"

Gaziel, Meditations in the Desert (1946-1951)

The days go by and we are immersed in confusion, but hopeful that there is a thread like that of Ariadne, unfurling invisibly to help us escape from the labyrinth. Nine political prisoners, seven in exile, and five months of a Generalitat under Madrid’s direct rule, in addition to elections won by the pro-independence bloc and four failed attempts at electing a president. The economy remains strong, despite the political situation and the banks which have moved their legal address, but nobody can assess the effect of the uncertainty on decisions by businesses in the long term. In spite of all this, Catalonia’s independence drive has proven that it rests on a peaceful, solid movement that sooner or later must find a way to find a political channel in a lukewarm Europe, where it has the ability to become a source of friction between countries.

This same solidity shown by the pro-independence movement --which some considered to be a passing fancy tied to the economic crisis-- also shows, more than many believe, the stony refusal by Spain’s deep State to face the Catalan question with the courage necessary to solve it, rather than with the impulse to defeat it yet again.

But to trust in a solution to the current situation requires avoiding voluntarism, the salesman's fake optimism, and phoney morality. To apply maximum realism while looking at the long term demands a rejection of the notion that “things must get worse before they get better" and the mediums who interpret the suffering, and who shamelessly take ownership of it, as the method for collective salvation. Support for the prisoners must be absolute, beginning with massive and permanent condemnation of their situation both at home and abroad. It is necessary, specifically, to listen to their opinion and determination regarding the objectives, but also their pragmatism in the reading of the situation and their call for the formation of an effective government that can regain control of the institutions, recover the ground that has been lost, and facilitate a new political strategy. It is precisely the suffering of the prisoners and their families that calls for realism and does not justify, on the contrary, refusing to take stock of damages and overlooking the reality of the afternoon of October 27th. This is a democratic and civic political movement of a mature society that demands more transparency and realism, more courage, than false optimism.

The tools of the independence process are and will be, solely, democracy and civility.

DEMOCRACY

Democracy can be understood as the defense of a project for a better country with a highest common internal denominator that points out the complete lack of a Spanish project for Catalonia, beyond the failed reform of the Statute of Autonomy. Democratic values to denounce, domestically and internationally, the regression of the political and judicial system in Spain. The presence of exiles in Germany, Scotland, Switzerland, and Belgium will play a slow but certain role in decrying the abuse of power by a Spanish government that has renounced politics and left all in the hands of judges.

At the December 21st polls 47.5% of voters gave us a pro-independence parliamentary majority. To put it simply, if in the end there is to be a government before May 22nd, it depends on this majority. To hold new elections would only highlight the break between JxCat, ERC, and the CUP. If this majority is not effective, a new majority could be possible with the collaboration of the Comuns party. The two options call for different profiles of presidential candidates and different tempos. But in both cases the release of the political prisoners and a condemnation of the power of the deep State, now not merely unmoving but often reactionary, will play a central role in the coming months and years. The goal will continue to be the construction of a proposal of a better country that can obtain broad-based willing support of a diverse and plural society. Broadening the base without preconditions, inclusively and respectfully.

Meanwhile, to the question of what can be done, there is a sure response: to act peacefully, with perseverance and responsibility. Maintain civility and pacifism as our calling card to the world. Recall Joan Maragall's eulogy of life and his commitment to individual responsibility. "Strive in your tasks as if every detail you consider, every word you say, every brick you place, every hammer strike you deal, were to determine the salvation of humanity. Because it does depend on these, believe me".

Democracy and civility -- there are no shortcuts.

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