Democracy: neither tried nor convicted

Catalonia’s independence movement has not been defeated and it won’t be

RAÜL ROMEVA
RAÜL ROMEVA Catalan political prisoner, Catalonia’s former foreign affairs chief

Catalonia is perceived as a major problem for the Spanish State and, at the very least, one it doesn’t know how to handle.

Renouncing the parliamentary majority that got him elected [after ousting his predecessor in a no-confidence vote], PM Pedro Sánchez has chosen to buy into the Spanish right’s discourse on Spain’s territorial organisation: their only proposal is to bring back direct rule by invoking Article 155 of the Spanish constitution. Sánchez is attempting to lure Ciudadanos’ voters. Spanish politics does not project any constructive scenarios, choosing instead to twist language and mental frames while it keeps sending threats. Catalonia is presented merely as a security and a coexistence issue. Just like with former PM Mariano Rajoy.

When you are wounded in your pride and hold the monopoly of violence, you might believe your own lies eventually. However, Catalonia’s independence movement has not been defeated and it won’t be. The demand for a democratic solution that includes the possibility of independence will remain on the agenda. The movement’s roots run deep and it is resilient. Ahead of what the court might rule in our case, the verdict will be a turning point and —let us not forget this— it will pave the way for further trials and fresh indictments. We entered a slow phase quite a while back. It is a new reality, a novel scenario that we must come to grips with. In the wake of the verdict, the independence movement should speak and act in a collected, cool-headed manner, not with a gut reaction. Despite the emotional shock, this is a time for firmness, as well as collective intelligence, a time to look at the big picture in the long term.

We must persevere, become aware of our own strengths, as well as our weaknesses. We must take onboard what we have learnt in recent years, renew our ideas and reasons with a view to pushing the red lines again. And we must listen, drum up support and build alliances everywhere, especially where we have none at the moment. There is plenty to do and, obviously, we will need to do and prove many things, as well as try some new ones. And we will need to be more demanding, inclusive, pragmatic, determined and generous.

The court will rule indeed, but we know that our will is to persist. Catalonia will continue to have the same structural problems; in order to face those challenges effectively, it will continue to need the tools afforded by a modern state. The constructive ambition and political commitment of Catalan society will not only remain intact, but they will become stronger.

In the coming weeks we will have new opportunities to show our strength, our resolve, to say that we won’t quit and we believe in the future. Let’s do it in the streets, in our institutions and at the polls on November 10. Catalan society must also hand down its verdict, with the certainty that our will for freedom and democracy cannot be tried and convicted. We are certain that it must be heard and it will be heard, sooner than later, because it is just, legitimate and —above all— because we cannot give up and we refuse to.

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