March 4, 2024

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With this verdict a stage is closed in which justice has been done. What happened in 2017 cannot be trivialised

Joaquim Coll

Monday, 10/14/2019 – 10:27

We were already warned that a good part of Catalan society, particularly the pro-sovereignty world, was not going to like the sentence, unless the defendants were acquitted. We had been hearing for weeks that when the verdict was made public there would be a “blunt response” on the street and from the institutions. Since after the summer, we have been told, insistently, that disobedience is legitimate, often with offensive parallels for the real victims, such as comparing our well-to-do pro-independence crew with black Africans. A chaotic scenario has been foreshadowed for the coming days and some dream of Hong Kong-style images, although it is doubtful that they will happen. We are going to live a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy; the same media that have excited the protest will be the most enthusiastic in commenting on its development.

Justice has been done

And yet these days many other Catalans will feel just the opposite. We will think that this ruling closes a stage in which justice has been done. What happened in 2017 cannot be trivialized or turned into a simple ruse of politicians who just wanted to negotiate. No impunity but no revenge. This is unanimously understood by the judges of the Supreme Court after a model trial led by Manuel Marchena. The summary of the sentence is that, although there were violent acts on 20-S and 1-O, violence was not a structural part of the secessionist plan, and hence the criminal type chosen (sedition) and the graduation of penalties for the accused. Ruling, then, with all guarantees. In the days that come many citizens will remain silent in the face of the anger of their friends, neighbors or relatives, and they will resignedly suffer the inconvenience of those who protest, but in their inside they will feel comforted because the rule of law has worked. In Catalonia, it must be as legitimate to take a lime to mourn the fate of the accused, or a gin tonic, not to celebrate anyone’s years of imprisonment, but to greet the strength of our democracy.

It will now be said that with the verdict the conflict will become paralysed, but no sentence is passed to solve a political problem. And yet the acceptance of what justice says is always part of the solution because it marks the limits of politics. The sooner this is internalized, the better for everyone. The pro-independence side will try to lead us the opposite way. The most exalted expect the protest to collapse the metropolitan area and be heard outside of Spain. Most likely, it is the last blow of a defeated and frustrated movement, although still with a great capacity for mobilization.

Despite the initial noise, it will go out as the days go by because the protest is reactive, emotional, and lacks a realistic goal. This week it will receive close attention. But to accept the plurality of Catalan society is to recognize how legitimate it is to regret the sentence as to consider it fair and defend it. Among other things because without criminal reproach we cannot have forgiveness or reconciliation.


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