The roots of the present

With a modest and prudent, but convinced and confident smile, we adopt a new beat. And a new post 9-N calendar: first, the municipal elections in May; later, the Parliamentary elections in September. No, the process and the independence movement have not been stopped. There has been no step backwards, nor a letdown. Just a change of pace. Just a pause to breathe, to take in some air. To show the fragility of politics when it lacks momentum and the energy of the people. To lubricate organizations and update arguments. To do the quiet daily work without fireworks. To get used to the dominance achieved so as not to have to say at every moment that what was just done was historic. To gather forces and let institutional politics do its job. To continue forging a political majority and a democratic mandate for September.

During the final decade of the last century in Catalonia, and despite the jolt from the Olympics, the progression of the so-called "calm independence movement" became noticeable. The expression had been coined before that, but it described well the slow emergence of the separatist movement and its progressive recognition. It was an oil slick spreading slowly, but steadily. The last atavistic doubts about the democratic and peaceful nature of the pro-independence movement had been dispelled. Its vocation --at the time, seemingly chimeric-- was to become the majority. Some young people from the ranks of the Moviment de Defensa de la Terra (Land Defense Movement, MDT) and from Crida a la Solidaritat (Call for Solidarity) had grown and transferred snippets of their ideas and convictions to various professional fields and the world of associations and institutions. The independence movement had achieved a social presence. In fact, the brutal repression suffered by many independence supporters prior to the Olympic Games of 1992 served only to demonstrate that the independence movement was already a fundamental factor in Catalan politics. A minority factor, but active and patient. Constant. A global political proposal. Thinking while acting; acting while thinking.

At the turn of the century, the independence movement was primarily leftist. ERC was its main political expression. It had become the principal standard-bearer for independence with Angel Colom, and became inseparable from the social transformation of the country with Josep Lluís Carod-Rovira. It was no longer only tribal or sectarian. And there had always been, within the independence movement, active groups committed to militancy close to home, highly critical of institutional politics and its servitudes. In the initial traditions of the CUP and in its re-launch after 1999. And there were, as well, pro-independence cores in the ICV and the JNC, and diverse individuals and groups. The independence movement was already multifaceted, inhabiting increasingly diverse areas, and had made itself osmotic and permeable.

In 2003, ERC, in leading the change in the Generalitat and conforming to a leftist coalition government, confronted the pro-independence sentiments of speeches, the symbolic hypertrophy, and the vague desires for the prosaic and contradictory grind of day-to-day political management. The experience of the two leftist coalitions had very significant political and electoral costs. The "No" in the referendum on the Catalan Charter (2006) was not really understood until after the ruling of the Constitutional Court in 2010. ERC had to undertake a profound internal renewal. Meanwhile, however, conditions had been created for an extraordinary and essential expansion in the pro-independence social base. In spite of the intensity of the migrations of globalization, the complex Catalan nation of 2010 was more cohesive that that of 10 years earlier. And not only because of the demands or complaints, but also due to the formulation of proposals and the taking of a leadership role in the emancipation of the country. It was cohesive and mobilized enough to push President Mas to lead the political shift towards pro-independence by the majority of CDC and a good part of Unió (2012).

All of these steps and many more have been necessary to get to where we are. The separatist movement is effectively dominant within pro-Catalan politics, and on the verge of ratifying that electorally. Perhaps this journey could have been made in a different, better, or faster way. But here we are. Some have set the political agenda, and others have kept the alternative torch for sovereignty burning in particularly critical areas. Still others have dragged along their party colleagues, or have argued, against the tide, that the best opportunity to transform the country would be to give it its own state. Others have turned to the task of spreading information and structuring the citizens’ movement. We have come from irrelevance, and with a great effort have overcome it. For this reason the opportunity of 27-S cannot and will not be wasted.

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