Siscu Baiges, 1 January 2024
Life is conflict. It seems that everything was going well until the famous serpent deceived Eve and she and Adam ate the apple of discord, and since then things have been messy. You have to earn your bread with blood, sweat and tears and spend your life arguing for a parking space, a place in the supermarket queue, a place to play in the Champions League, to pass an exam, to have the biggest flag or to speak the most beautiful language or dance the most beautiful typical dance in the world.
In other words, we have to get used to living in conflict. Sometimes conflicts lead to violence and wars – we have had so many throughout human history! And now we have a horrible one knocking on the door of our mobiles, computers and televisions, with thousands of dead children in the middle of the Christmas and welcome to 2024 festivities. It’s not the only one going on, of course. Iraq, Sudan, Yemen,…
2024 will not bring us the peace we have called for in our well-meaning end-of-year phrases. Conflicts do not disappear from one day to the next, from one year to the next. At the most, they are softening, and that is the most we can hope for in all the conflicts in the world. Starting with the one that Catalonia has been experiencing since the outbreak of the passion for independence a dozen years ago. It was not a new conflict. The fact is that part of Catalan society has been calling for independence for a long time. Normally it had been a minority demand, but one that often made itself heard. The 2008 crisis, the political interests of Convergència i Unió and the Popular Party, the ruling of the Constitutional Court cutting back the Statute of Autonomy that the Catalan citizens had approved, the unconditional support for the pro-independence cause of TV3 and a good handful of media outlets subsidised by the Generalitat, caused this support to skyrocket and the conflict increased in tone and number of followers.
The conflict grew in magnitude. The icing on the cake came when a slim minority in Parliament proclaimed Catalonia’s independence on the basis of a referendum in which only supporters of independence and a few innocent people took part. After many plot twists, including the imprisonment and pardoning of some of those who led the pro-independence process and the amnesty law that will soon be debated in the Congress of Deputies, there are those who say that the conflict will be resolved with a referendum.
No, the conflict was here – first muffled and then omnipresent – and will continue to be, whether there is a referendum or not. People do not stop being pro-independence or anti-independence depending on the result of a referendum. Many pro-independence supporters say they will cease to be so the day Catalonia becomes independent. But they will remain so if they lose the referendum. The rest, the same. If a referendum is resolved with a Yes to independence, those who live in Catalonia and believe more in bridges than barriers will continue to advocate more solidarity between territories and fewer borders.
Human conflicts are not resolved by tossing a coin or in a penalty shoot-out. They are solved by talking among those involved and with goodwill on all sides. This is what we can ask of 2024. For the Catalan conflict and for all the big and small conflicts in our neighbourhood, in Gaza or in the most remote corner of the planet.