International: Letter from Catalonia

On Thursday 25th September 2012 the Catalan Parliament resolved in favour of self-determination, with almost two thirds of its members voting ‘Yes’ to Catalonia’s ‘Right to decide’ its own political future.

Catalan Parliament democratically resolved the following:

  1.  That the Parliament of Catalonia expresses its recognition and congratulates itself for the enormous success achieved by the massive demonstration through the streets of Barcelona on September 11, under the slogan, “Catalonia, New State in Europe”.
  2. That the Parliament of Catalonia declares that over the last thirty years, an important majority of Catalan culture has profoundly committed itself to the transformation of the Spanish State in order to fit better therein without having to renounce our legitimate national aspirations, our will for self-governance, nor our continued existence as a nation. But our attempts to fit Catalonia into the Spanish State and the latter’s repeated responses are today a dead end. Catalonia must begin a new era based on the right to self-determination.
  3. That for that reason the Parliament declares the need for Catalonia to forge its own path, noting the necessity of the People of Catalonia to decide on its collective future freely and democratically, in order to guarantee social progress, economic development, strengthened democracy, and the promotion of our own culture and language.
  4. That the Parliament urges the Government of the Generalitat as well as political, economic, and social forces to come to the strongest consensus possible in order to bring this democratic process and the resulting strategic plan to fruition, while in communication with the international community, the European Union, and the Spanish Government, so that the citizenry of Catalonia can decide, with complete freedom, respect for plurality, vigorous debate, and democratic civility, and without coercion of any kind.
  5. That the Parliament of Catalonia notes the need for the People of Catalonia to determine freely and democratically its collective future, and urges the government to prioritise the next legislature as the time to hold a referendum.

The Palace of the Parliament, September 26, 2012

Extracted from EPI.

This official political declaration from the Catalan Parliament it has been received with great hope by Catalans as it enhances the will and the national aspirations of the People of Catalonia.

Grassroots movements are key to the Catalan independence process

We can certainly say that Catalans have never stopped fighting to restore freedoms lost in 1714. The list of Catalans who have fought and died for this goal is too long to be mentioned now. In fact, even the number of Catalans still alive who have suffered torture and repression for defending their Catalan identity and our liberties would be surprisingly high. Dictatorship in Spain did not end so long ago. For this reason it is easy to find in all Catalans a profound respect and admiration for all their ‘defenders’. Contrary to how it might be perceived abroad, September 11th is not meant to commemorate the victory of the Spanish by force of arms, but to remember we are still fighting to restore the Catalan independent state.

When you care to maintain a long enough conversation with the naturally reserved Catalans, their inner feelings emerge. In a certain way it is almost as if Catalans have found in business a way to express themselves without having to look for sentimental reasons when demanding independence. Why do they need to do this? The answer could have something to do with Catalonia being an occupied country for almost now 300 years.

There is always a turning point for events, and although it would be unfair not to mention all previous campaigns that have kept up the fight for justice, we would like to mention one in particular. We are talking about the March 2009 rally in Brussels.

It was organized by the grassroots group, and especially thanks to their spokesman, Dr. Enric Canela (Director of Doctorate School of the University of Barcelona), it was the coming of age of the people that are known as ‘independentists with a tie,’ that is, not only of the left. With this, the much needed plurality became a reality. “We are a diverse and plural grassroots movement that wants to bring awareness and place the pro-independence agenda squarely in the center of the political discourse,” says Enric Canela.

The march in Brussels was used to create a commission in order to present a legislative popular initiative (ILP) to the Catalan Parliament, May6th 2009. The aim of this ILP was to bring the debate regarding the need to call for an official referendum about the Catalan Independence from inside this Institution. Four people were only needed to create the commission but over 11.000 was the final number of people collaborating, not a small number to start a process that was meant to culminate with the collection of only 50.000 signatures; yet all political parties refuse to let it have its course.

Once refused, the question chosen for the ILP by the civilian organizers was sent to all municipalities and a group of anonymous citizens in Arenys de Munt who were working with similar thoughts picked it up. That was the question asked in more than 500 Catalan municipalities thanks to the successful process of the popular referendums started on September 13th 2009. These referendums were held in 554 towns (2009-2011), with a total of 1 million voters, and with 92% in favor of independence.

Nobody argues that this democratic and popular process of the Referendum has been absolutely key to arrive at the point we are today. It created a positive and totally necessary scenario, from which we can discuss Catalonia’s independence with no fear of being called radicals. The word ‘independence’ is no longer taboo. Independence stopped being a personal and secret desire to become a collective will shared by a great majority. This awareness gave us strength and determination. We knew there were many, many more like us, and we knew it was possible.

Afterwards, the creation of the Catalan National Assembly channeled the enthusiasm set in motion during the referendums, spearheaded by Josep Manel Ximenis in Arenys de Munt, into continuing to push forward all the way to last September 11th, when over 1 million Catalans demonstrated with one strong, single voice: independence.

After all these three years of intense work, finally, the unambiguously Catalan political parties in Parliament (CiU, ERC, ICV, SI, and DC) voted in favor to have a consultation to ask the People of Catalonia about their future. That is great news! EPI congratulates all grassroots organizations and political parties for this important achievement.

Spain and its understanding of democracy:

However, as Catalans expected, some Spaniards do not share this democratic enthusiasm, and several threats have already been made.

The first were the statements made by a retired Spanish colonel threatening Catalans with sentences as this one: “Catalonia would only be independent over my dead body and that of many other soldiers”.

Following, the Spanish Military Association (Asociación de militares españoles—AME) has issued a warning saying that ‘those who promote the independence of Catalonia, could end up being court-martialed’.

This was immediately denounced by the Catalan group Catalunya Diu Prou.

Thanks to this action made effective by anonymous citizens, an investigation is underway by the judges.

The latest one, but for sure not last, were the statements by the Vice-President of the European Parliament and member of the PP Spanish nationalist party, Alejo Vidal Quadras, who suggested that an army officer take control of the Catalan police, and that the Catalan Parliament be dismantled:

September 29th, Catalan civilian organisations called again to action, and an online petition to European Parliament President Mr. Schultz was created so citizens can show their refusal of such anti-democratic words.

Catalan Elections

After the failed attempt by the Catalan Government to get a fair fiscal treatment from the Spanish state, President Mas decided to call for early elections on November 25th. The election campaign has begun, and seeing that the great majority of Catalan citizens are in favor of the independence, CiU, the nationalist political party now in power, has broadened its outlook from greater fiscal autonomy to the creation of ‘structures like those of a state,’ as they call it.

Grassroots organizations and individuals hope that the political parties’ platforms, soon to be announced, will propose a definite calendar for independence.

We all hope that partisanship is not really the reason behind all these grand announcements.

We all hope that political parties are going to be crystal clear and devoid of euphemisms.

We really and sincerely hope that the words ‘Referendum on Independence’ will be in the blueprint of all those who are claiming today to represent the soul and mind of the citizens of this great country called Catalonia. Today, victory is in our hands.

We hope that our professional politicians face the urgencies of the times with dignity and honesty in order to reflect the genuine love for freedom and progress held by all Catalans.

Democracy and Independence!

Anna Arqué
Spokesperson European Partnership for Independence (EPI) – Catalonia

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About Anna Arqué

Anna Arqué is a communications consultant and european political activist: - External Consultant for 'IEMed' Institut d'Estudis de la Mediterrània - ViceDean UCE - Universitat Catalana d'Estiu - Spokeswoman for European Partnership for Independence (EPI)

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