Aprofitar l’oportunitat per no malbaratar el somni

[Article publicat a VilaWeb el 6 d'octubre de 2019]

Poques hores, pocs dies abans de la sentència al dret d’autodeterminació de Catalunya, ens tornarem a mirar al mirall com a societat, com a país, com a comunitat que té el deure de preparar un futur millor per a si mateixa i per als seus fills. Així com el Primer d’Octubre ens va posar a prova i ens va ajudar a reconèixer-nos amb els nostres drets i una dignitat granítica, la sentència als governants i dirigents del referèndum ens crida a donar una resposta que ens faci millors, més forts i més lliures.

I aquesta és una responsabilitat de tots. Dels partits i dels governants, primer. Però també d’una societat que no espera que li diguin què ha de fer perquè ja s’ha apoderat i sap que té la custòdia d’uns drets civils, socials i polítics que té tot el dret d’exercir i fer respectar. Perquè aquest camí de llibertat i d’autoafirmació no l’hauríem fet si la gent no hagués pres consciència de la seva força quan actua de manera coordinada.

La sentència als nostres companys i companyes, jutjats per haver posat urnes ara fa dos anys, pot marcar un canvi de cicle. Pot obrir una nova etapa en què tornem a prendre la iniciativa, en què la repressió no ens porti a quedar acorralats i a la defensiva políticament. Una nova etapa en què tornem a la dinàmica de la confiança que ens ha portat als millors moments d’aquest procés emancipador. Una nova etapa en què la generositat i el sentit de país tornin a passar al davant de l’interès dels partits i les batalles per hegemonies que només servirien per a gestionar una autonomia vigilada i miserable.

No podem continuar pensant que cal gestionar aquesta autonomia permesa, que se’ns brinda com una concessió d’Espanya. La sentència ha de portar-nos a la recuperació de la dinàmica guanyadora, la que fa propostes de futur, la que debat com volem que sigui l’estat que anem construint. No eixamplarem cap base demanant permís i esperant que se’ns doni. Tan sols la defensa de la democràcia i de la voluntat popular ens pot portar al creixement d’una base de consens encara més àmplia. No es donaran mai les condicions per a alçar una República de dones i homes lliures si no la comencem a defensar cada dia des de les nostres responsabilitats.

Per això vull fer una crida ara que coneixerem de manera més clara que mai les limitacions democràtiques del Regne d’Espanya. Una crida als partits que volen un futur lliure per a Catalunya. Una crida a no abaratir el somni. A mirar l’horitzó per prendre les decisions del present. Ara no és moment de pensar en les eleccions que puguin venir. Hem de pensar en les futures generacions. És per elles que cal prendre les decisions d’avui. La qualitat dels nostres somnis d’avui determinarà la qualitat de vida que tindran els nostres fills i néts. I, sabent quins són els nostres somnis, cal que ara ens comprometem a fer-los possibles amb propostes concretes que retornin la confiança i la força a tothom. Hem de fer la República Catalana sense excuses i sense pors.

És ben possible que la societat catalana es torni a mobilitzar com mai per mostrar el seu rebuig a les sentències. Crido també la societat catalana a fer aquestes mobilitzacions com les hem fet sempre: amb civisme, respecte, de manera pacífica i determinada. No podem caure en cap cas en les provocacions que puguin arribar. Ja s’ha vist que els adversaris de la llibertat de Catalunya ens voldrien violents i agressius. I nosaltres sabem que l’única manera de guanyar aquest combat és en peu de pau i amb la fermesa de les conviccions democràtiques.

Hem recorregut camins difícils darrerament. No hem reculat, però no hem avançat com hauria calgut. I ara és el moment de reprendre el camí. Retornem a la confiança, sense enganys ni miratges, però sense renúncies ni pugnes estèrils. Ho deia Albert Camus: la llibertat no és res més que una oportunitat de ser millors. Aprofitem-la. Siguem lliures, perquè és l’única manera de guanyar la llibertat. És a dir, la independència.

Quim Torra i Pla, 131è president de la Generalitat de Catalunya

‘Objective independence’ is Catalan rallying cry today

The celebration of the 2019 Diada Nacional de Catalunya (National Day of Catalonia) comes at a moment in which the country is at a historic crossroads.

For nearly two years now, honourable people have been in prison or in exile for having given voice to the citizens of Catalonia in a referendum on self-determination held on October 1, 2017, which the Spanish State tried to repress through violence.

In the next few weeks, sentences will be passed on the president of the Catalan parliament, nine members of the Catalan government and the presidents of Òmnium Cultural and the Assemblea Nacional Catalana (Catalan National Assembly), the two main civil bodies in the country.

Together they face 177 years in prison, prison sentences that are being demanded simply for listening to citizens who, both then and now, call for the right to decide on the country’s political future.

But it is not only Catalonia that waits expectantly for sentencing. It is also joined by Europe and a large part of the rest of the world.

Because there can be no doubt that the verdict will mark a key moment in our country’s history, as well as that of Spain, showing the world the true quality of its democracy.

We will see to what extent it respects the rights and freedoms that any modern state should guarantee.

This is why the Diada must be a turning point. Today we close a period of reaction to an unceasing repression and open a new proactive period.

It is the moment to recover our self-confidence, stop playing defensively and once again regain the initiative to mark out a clear route that ends in independence.

“Objective independence” is the rallying cry for this Diada.

And this is what we are working towards. I know we will not falter, responding in the only way possible: with institutions and civil society working together until we gain our freedom.

This is why this year’s Diada must be a massive event.

To show the world that, despite repression, threats and violence from the Spanish state, the Catalan people remain firm in their convictions and continue their tireless, decisive, peaceful and exemplary fight to create the Catalan Republic.

[Article publicat al diari The National, l'11 de setembre de 2019]

Teixir l’única resposta possible

La voluntat popular és la primera institució republicana. He fet meva aquesta afirmació de Josep Carner des que la vaig llegir. I més ara que he assumit una responsabilitat màxima en fer efectiva aquesta voluntat popular. Com a polític, soc fill de l’1 d’octubre. Fins aleshores, havia dedicat tot el meu temps i esforç a empènyer cap a la llibertat des de la societat civil, mirant de servir el país de la millor manera, tal com ens va dir Mercè Rodoreda, fent bé la meva feina.

Vaig ser candidat en una llista electoral per un compromís personal amb el Primer d’Octubre. Amb aquell dia que durarà anys en què el poble de Catalunya va afirmar-se en la democràcia i la dignitat, la solidaritat i la generositat, en la mirada al futur i no al passat. Vaig esdevenir diputat per fer realitat allò que la gran majoria dels catalans vam votar en el referèndum sobre la independència: esdevenir un estat independent en forma de República.

Quan no es va investir el president Carles Puigdemont, ni tampoc els candidats Jordi Sánchez i Jordi Turull, empresonat a mig ple d’investidura, vaig acceptar la proposta d’esdevenir president de Catalunya pel mateix compromís que m’havia portat a ser candidat i diputat. Vam formar govern i hem cercat la fórmula per avançar per fer realitat la voluntat popular.

Certament, el camí no ha estat fàcil. I les dificultats i entrebancs –i sí, també contradiccions– han fet alentir el nostre pas. Des de la gran inestabilitat institucional a Espanya, amb convocatòria d’eleccions, diàlegs fallits o avortats intencionadament, judicis de la vergonya, trasllats de presoners, victòries judicials a l’exili, amenaces de nous 155, cicles electorals llargs, repressió i persecució constant, noves causes judicials obertes, crispació induïda per grups organitzats de l’unionisme més autoritari, etc. I mentre passava tot això, el govern dels serveis públics, dels programes de dinamització econòmica, de les emergències, dels conflictes socials, les vagues, les demandes, les propostes… Treballar per la gent, per les persones, per un país d’oportunitats i d’esperança.

Un any intens en què he defensat sempre una actuació coherent amb la defensa del dret d’autodeterminació, que, en conseqüència, impedia tramitar el pressupost del govern espanyol, i que ens feia dir que no la setmana passada a la investidura d’un Pedro Sánchez perquè es va tancar a parlar de diàleg per a una solució política al conflicte. Un any que ens encarrila cap a una nova tardor plena de desafiaments. Ja ho sabem: venen uns mesos que tornaran a demanar el millor de tots nosaltres. I segons quina resposta sapiguem donar als mesos que vindran, Catalunya en sortirà enfortida i més lliure, o debilitada i dividida.

És per això que amb els partits independentistes i les entitats compromeses amb la llibertat de Catalunya ens hem posat a treballar per tenir una resposta compartida i a l’altura del moment. Ho he dit en moltes ocasions, que aquest era el meu compromís perquè no estava ni estic disposat a acceptar unes sentències del Tribunal Suprem que no siguin d’absolució.

Si ens prohibeixen un dret, la nostra obligació és tornar-lo a exercir. Si ens neguen la llibertat d’expressió, ens continuarem expressant. I si ens impedeixen d’autodeterminar-nos, ho tornarem a fer. És exercint-los que els drets es fan realitat.

He demanat als partits i entitats que, com deia el president Macià, sàpiguen fer-se dignes de Catalunya. I recordant, com deia el president Companys de les causes justes del món, que la causa de Catalunya només ens té a nosaltres. Ara tornem a ser davant d’un moment que ens obliga a deixar les disputes a un costat. No és el moment de tornar a competir entre nosaltres, sinó de cooperar a favor de tots.

És el moment de teixir l’única resposta possible a les sentències del judici polític contra els nostres companys i companyes i el dret d’autodeterminació de Catalunya: l’entesa de totes les forces independentistes per avançar plegats en el tram final cap a la independència de Catalunya. Fidels sempre a la voluntat popular, la primera institució republicana.

[Article publicat a El Punt Avui, l'1 d'agost de 2019]

The Catalan independence movement is not behind the rise of Spain’s far right

The Spanish extreme right is fueled by a fear of true democracy, of diversity, of equal opportunities and women’s rights. They have used fear and hate as their main tools to cultivate growth, as Anne Applebaum’s deeply reported essay shows. 

In Spain, the rise of the extreme right originated from internal divisions and power struggles within the conservative Partido Popular (PP). Vox, the far-right party that just recently won its first seats in the national Congress, emerged from this rift. Under the leadership of party leader José María Aznar, the extreme right felt that it was well-represented by the PP, but the period led by Mariano Rajoy led to the breakaway of leaders and the creating of parties such as Vox, which are far more willing to admire former dictator Francisco Franco and the traditional goals of Spanish fascism.

The Catalan independence movement, for its part, has grown more intense since 2010 as a result of attacks made by the Constitutional Court and Spanish parties to undermine the main law that governs Catalonia, which had been approved by the Catalan people in a binding referendum in 2006. These aggressive blows against the statute and the Catalan people´s will for self-determination were mainly instigated by the PP. Could we then say that it was the right that fueled the independence movement, contradicting the theory, included in Applebaum’s essay, that independence was a factor in the rise of Vox?

It’s clear that this new far-right movement is a global phenomenon that transcends Spanish borders and has gained force because of multiple factors. How could we otherwise explain the rise of the extreme right in many European countries without independence movements? In the case of Spain, corruption scandals that engulfed the PP were also a factor that fed the extreme right-wing populist reaction? What about immigration and refugees fleeing armed conflicts, hunger and persecution in their own countries?

Spanish political parties have decided to single out the independence movement as the culprit for all Spain’s misfortunes to absolve themselves of any responsibility for their poor record and management. For many years, the parties that have governed Spain, regardless of their political leanings, have subjected Catalonia to a disturbing lack of public investment and have discriminated against the Catalan people.

Instead of assuming responsibility for this structural discrimination, the Spanish political parties and their academic, intellectual and media spokespeople have preferred to build a false narrative, linking the Catalan independence movement to the growth of the extreme right. This fiction is now underpinning the administrative and political recentralization of the kingdom of Spain.

An accurate analysis of the election results of April 28 shows that, in fact, Vox has gained a lot of support from conservatives who traditionally have voted for the PP or the more recently established center-right party Ciudadanos, according to polling by the Center for Sociological Research.

In other words, this extremist vote already existed and is not new. The real phenomenon that Spain has experienced is not the emergence of the extreme right but rather its fragmentation into three different formations that are competing for this space.

The far right, part of the legacy of Franco’s dictatorship in Spain, had been sitting quietly because 40 years of dictatorship prevented their rapid entrance in the political system. However, the threatening and violent response of the Spanish government against the peaceful and democratic Catalan process endorsed the discourse of the extreme right, which they previously had not dared to express openly. The biggest parties in Spain have legitimized the idea that the unity of Spain is more important than respect for democracy and justice. This argument has normalized a political attitude central to the Spanish extreme right.

If Spain had reacted democratically to the peaceful demands of the Catalan people (such as that of Britain toward Scotland or Canada toward Quebec) Spanish right-wing extremism would not have had the endorsement of the political system in espousing its radical and antidemocratic ideas.

But this is why we must not retreat from our defense of democracy. Indeed, the best response to fascism or, in this case, to ultranationalism, will always be to promote peace, free information and the unity of democrats.

Catalonia will keep moving forward to gain recognition for its right to self-determination through peace and democracy. We hope that Spain will rise to the occasion and give a 21st-century democratic response: that the Catalans should decide on their political future through a referendum.

[Article publicat al Washington Post, el 7 de maig de 2019]

It's Been A Year And Catalonia Is Still Not Free

It has been more than a year since the people of Catalonia voted in a referendum for independence from Spain. Despite fears of violence and abuse by Spanish police, around 2.3 million people hit the polls on October 1, 2017.

It was clear that the fear was not as strong as the collective will to decide our own future. People of all ages risked their safety to defend those ballot boxes as if democracy itself was inside. In a big way, it was.

Contrary to the story presented in the media of two Catalonias, according to a survey in September 2017, 80 percent of the Catalan population believes that the future of Catalonia must be settled through a legally binding referendum. Catalans are united by the will to decide their future in a democratic way. But when will the Spanish government listen?

In a few days, some of our political prisoners will have spent one year in jail. One year behind bars without trial; their only "crime" was to support and to organize that referendum. According to the latest polls, around 80 percent of the Catalan population is against repression (as well as against the Spanish monarchy, by the way.)

We have been left with several key questions: Can a referendum be treated as a rebellion in a member state of the European Union? Can politicians be kept in jail or exile because they helped to organize a democratic event? Why has excessive police violence not been investigated in Spanish courts?

Fortunately, the decision to go into exile has allowed us to see how an independent justice system works: The German Court of Schleswig-Holstein rejected that the referendum could be considered as a rebellion or sedition, Belgium rejected the European arrest warrant and Switzerland did not even consider it. European justice sent a strong signal—will Spanish judges and prosecutors listen?

There is no question that going into exile is difficult, but it has been successful in showing the world the non-violent nature of the Catalan struggle and the lack of European standards when it comes to justice in Spain.

The EU's de facto tolerance of the violence last year, and over the existence of political prisoners and exiled leaders, sends an alarming message for the future of Europe. The use of physical force and repression against political rivals seems to be accepted as a legitimate tool.

According to the Spanish criminal code, organizing a referendum or declaring independence in a peaceful way is not a crime. Moreover, the right of self-determination is recognized in several international treaties that Spain ratified over the years. It is surprising that so-called independent judges treat the unity of the state as the highest concern, over human rights or democracy itself.

Despite the downfall of Mariano Rajoy as prime minister, one year after the referendum there is still a lack of concrete proposals from the Spanish Government, led by Pedro Sanchez. If they do exist, there is clearly a lack of will to implement them.

The political and media pressure against any proposal for Catalonia coming from the right-wing People's Party (PP) and Ciudadanos (Cs) is enormous, and difficult to resist without European support and mediation. King Felipe VI has been clearly so biased against Catalonia that he is not able to be the arbiter of Spanish democracy.

It is our belief that the right to self-determination in Catalonia needs to be recognized in order to find any political solution. And international mediation will certainly be needed.

A solution that is based on the principals of democracy and self-determination should always be more acceptable that the mere settlement of a political problem through force. This is all we want for Catalonia.

[Article publicat conjuntament amb el president Carles Puigdemont al setmanari Newsweek, el 26 d'octubre de 2018]

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