30 May 2021
Lawyer Gonzalo Boye, with Carles Puigdemont, at the Brussels Prosecutor’s Office. DELMI ÁLVAREZ
The inhabitants of the Catacombs of Waterloo
In Catalonia, 70% of the population has a mother or father or grandparents born outside Catalonia. And on this basis, the country has been an example of social integration and cohesion
During the investiture debate, President Pere Aragonès made several references to the unity of the Catalan people and their cohesion and coexistence from respect for the plurality of thoughts. I was glad of the approach that came out of the mouth of a pro-independence president. This approach contrasts with the theory of the “national minority” disseminated by former President Carles Puigdemont and his lawyer, Gonzalo Boye. On the occasion of the memory of the three years of October 1, 2017, Puigdemont made an “institutional message” stating that “independence is the only alternative that involves the protection of the Catalan national minority” and linked the membership in this national minority of those people “who make the free decision to become Catalans”.
It was not an isolated statement, but has been repeated in several interviews and in his statements on social media. The first to develop the theory of Catalans as members of an oppressed national minority was the lawyer Gonzalo Boye, who has been reiterating this concept as a touchstone in the defense of his pro-independence clients in court. Boye wrote an article on November 27, 2020 in the weekly La República in which he stated: “In Catalonia, Catalans have never felt a minority for a reason as simple as not being in Catalonia. […] It happens to Catalans as any minority: they are treated as such but do not assume this condition until they assume the group consciousness, in this case national, which makes them claim rights that the majority does not want to recognize”.
The claim that President Pere Aragonès makes of the strong idea “Catalonia, one people” formulated by the historian Josep Benet and bequeathed to the leaders of the Catalan political transition, contrasts with this dangerous reduction of the condition of Catalan only to those who ascribe to the condition of oppressed national minority. Boye puts all his hopes of defense in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, which calls for respect for human rights and in particular for the phrase: “Even the rights of persons belonging to minorities”. Someone has to tell lawyer Boye that he is going the wrong way and is doing a terrible disservice to social cohesion, which has been an essential element of the Catalan political tradition. It is alarming to read in Boye that in Catalonia there are majorities and minorities and where Catalans are “majority”. This means that Boye, and Puigdemont, who follows him in his approach, consider that in Catalonia there are citizens who have a Catalan civil neighborhood but who are not Catalan because they do not have a “group consciousness” of an oppressed national minority.
Reducing the status of Catalan only to those who belong to the status of oppressed national minority is dangerous
A desolate degradation of a tradition of political Catalanism that had provided great services and that today is guided by the ethnicist ideas of a lawyer who comes to tell us that Catalans without a group consciousness of oppressed national minority are poor unfortunates. There are Catalans, all of them Catalans, with different perceptions of ascription of their identity. To enter into a discussion about rights, one must first be deeply democratic and respectful of each person’s free determination as to their identity. In Catalonia, 70% of the population has a mother or father or grandparents born outside Catalonia. And on this basis, the country has been an example of social integration and cohesion. Because the offer of “Catalanness” has been inclusive and open, dynamic and enriched with constant contributions. A successful option because it has had nothing ethnic. And I refuse to accept that some staple Catalanness in this way. In the end, will Catalans be the ones who have experienced the revelation of the “group consciousness” according to the catacombs inhabitants of the Council for the Republic?
It is already clear that this is not successful nor a path to tread. But Carlism went through several generations on the defensive and comfortable in its “group” castles and President Joaquim Torra always said that he liked Catalonia more in the thirties of the twentieth century than the one he had to preside over.
Not everyone is like that. Jordi Cuixart is a pro-independence activist who embraces Minister Miquel Iceta and states: “I do not want the seed of hatred and resentment to germinate. When I see Iceta I embrace him to build a single people and avoid confrontation between democrats. These two paths are resolved within independence. There is no doubt with which to dialogue.