JAUME REIXACH, 24 AUGUST 2023
Catalan nationalism goes from failure to failure. This is its historical constant and it would be time for its leaders to take a look at it. The strategy of attack and confrontation with the Spanish state always ends badly and in the same way: begging for clemency – also called “negotiation” – from Madrid to obtain forgiveness of sins and exoneration from punishment. And back to square one…
Rafael de Casanova, the hero of the Barcelona resistance and symbol of 11 September 1714, died peacefully at his home in Sant Boi de Llobregat in 1743, after obtaining a royal pardon from Philip V, as happened with the vast majority of the leaders of the Austrianist cause. Jordi Pujol was also acquitted in 1986 by the Barcelona High Court of the bankruptcy of Banca Catalana, despite the very serious and documented accusations made by prosecutors Carlos Jiménez Villarejo and José María Mena against the directors of this financial group.
Unlike the ETA militants, many of whom are still serving prison sentences 12 years after the dissolution of the terrorist organisation, the Terra Lliure activists were all pardoned in 1996, thanks to the good offices of Jordi Pujol and his “partner” José María Aznar. Now, taking advantage of the mathematical factor left by the 23-J general elections, the pro-independence parties are trying to obtain an “amnesty” for all those involved in the 1-O referendum of 2017.
For years, the pro-independence movement has been hijacked by a Marquetinian obsession based on big words and high-impact slogans (“the right to decide”, “the vote of your life”, “now is the time”, “one people”, “we will do it again”…) which, in view of the results, has been a resounding failure. In the last general elections, ERC and JxCat came behind the PSC and Sumar, and the CUP did not obtain parliamentary representation.
In spite of these meagre electoral results, the 14 seats of ERC and JxCat seem decisive for the investiture of the Socialist candidate, Pedro Sánchez. Taking advantage of this “carambola”, the pro-independence supporters have launched the slogan of “amnesty” as a sine qua non demand to support the re-election of the Spanish president.
“Amnesty” is a demand that goes back to the anti-Francoist struggle and which headed the roadmap of the united platform of the Catalan Assembly to get out of the dictatorship. It was finally agreed by the Congress of Deputies in 1977, shortly after the first democratic elections and before embarking on the drafting of the new Constitution.
But, just as the current Catalan National Assembly (ANC) has nothing to do with the Assembly of Catalonia, the amnesty now demanded by the pro-independence supporters has nothing to do with the 1977 amnesty. At that time it was about breaking with the dictatorship in order to move towards democracy and emptying the prisons of anti-Franco fighters.
It should be made clear that, after the pardons were granted, there is currently not a single pro-independence activist in prison for the events of 1-O. There are still, however, important cases pending trial: those involving Carles Puigdemont and former councillors Toni Comín, Lluís Puig and Clara Ponsatí, fugitives from Spanish justice; that of the organisers of the Tsunami riots, including ERC secretary general Marta Rovira; that of the logistical apparatus of the 1-O referendum, which directly involves two ERC “heavyweights”, such as Josep Maria Jové and Lluís Salvadó, Oriol Junqueras’ lieutenants; the CDR of Operation Judas, accused of terrorism; and the trial to be held in the Court of Auditors on 17 November, for the public funds diverted for the holding of the 1-O referendum, in which the Prosecutor’s Office is asking for fines of 3.4 million euros for some thirty politicians and former high-ranking officials of the Generalitat.
The amnesty demanded by ERC and JxCat to the PSOE in exchange for the investiture of Pedro Sánchez is not to open a new page in the history of Catalonia and Spain, as was that of 1977. It is an amnesty to maintain the current autonomous status quo, but freeing the protagonists of the failed secession attempt of 2017 from criminal responsibility, which began, let us not forget, as a result of the imputation, in 2012, of Oriol Pujol, the dynastic heir to the Generalitat, for the ITV corruption case.
The perversion and distortion of words and history, amplified by the powerful propaganda apparatus at the service of the pro-process cause – generously subsidised with public money – is one of the key factors in understanding everything we have experienced and suffered in Catalonia over the last ten years. To equate the struggle and suffering of the anti-Franco militants with that of the “salon pro-independence fighters” that we have is a mockery – yet another one – of memory and democratic dignity. That is why the amnesty they are now demanding is a farce.
We all know that if the pro-independence leaders are amnestied by the future government of Pedro Sánchez, “they will do it again”. Moreover, a legislature that depends on the seven seats of JxCat is doomed to instability and will be short-lived.
On the horizon are the predictions of the pharmacist Alexandre Deulofeu, who, applying his “mathematics of history”, predicted that Catalonia’s independence will come about in 2029. This Nostradamus of Figueres will surely become the guru and the spur of the secessionist movement to forge and provoke, in the next six years, a new mess… and, once it has failed, to ask for amnesty again. Let’s time pass….