Salvador Illa, 9 September 2021
President of the parliamentary group Socialistes i Units per Avançar.
A large video-projected flag of Catalonia (senyera) on the facade of the Generalitat inaugurates the acts of the Diada. / ACN / PAU CORTINA
THE ANECDOTE. In an informal conversation that I had at the end of June with one of the most influential Spanish politicians on the international scene in recent decades and for whom I have sincere admiration, regarding the first measures of the Biden administration, I was interested in his opinion about US policy toward China. “It will not vary substantially,” he replied. And he was quick to tell me why: “Americans,” he told me, “are united by three things: the flag of their country, the Arlington cemetery and fear of China. That is why there will be no substantive changes ”.
THE CATALAN CORRELATIVE STORY. A few weeks later, during a control session of the Government in the Parliament of Catalonia, in the course of a rather tense debate that delved into the account of the division -something too common- this anecdote came to mind, and I did the parallelism with Catalonia: What unites us today as Catalans? I asked myself. It is not the flag, which a part of the citizenry has cornered and replaced by the ‘estelada’. Neither the Fossar de la Pedrera. What unites us, then, to the whole of Catalan citizenship? I shared my reflections with Miquel Iceta and he warned me of the serious risk we run that what ends up uniting us with the Catalans is a feeling of collective frustration.
WHAT UNITED US. In the 70s and 80s, the illusion of recovering self-government, with the return of ‘president’ Tarradellas, was something that united the Catalans. Also the ‘senyera’, common flag of all citizens, and the normalization of the use of Catalan, of those born here, yes, but also of those who, coming from other parts of the rest of Spain, found in Catalonia a land in the to build a future. It was the beginning of decades of progress and advances in Catalonia in all areas, with Barcelona at the forefront.
Miquel Iceta warned me of the serious risk that we run that what ends up uniting us with the Catalans is a feeling of collective frustration
THE SPAIN-CATALONIA DIALOGUE. These days, the leaders of the pro-independence parties speak insistently about the dialogue table with the Government of Spain. They refer to the contents of this dialogue, their interlocutors and what their demands and approaches are. Sometimes they do so with an attitude that does not seem the most appropriate to bring this necessary dialogue to fruition, by setting deadlines and warning that they will opt for other procedures if their claims are not met. Another attitude would be recommended and, above all, to focus on what is most important: the Spain-Catalonia dialogue through their respective governments is very necessary, but it is not enough. It is lame.
THE CATALUNYA-CATALUNYA DIALOGUE. In my opinion, it is essential to address a dialogue between Catalans. And it is because only in this way can we respond, from respect and mutual recognition, to the question of what it is that unites us, what can help to minimally unite our society to move forward again around shared objectives. This dialogue between Catalonia and Catalonia, led by the political representatives that citizens chose at the polls on February 14, is as or more important than the dialogue between the Government of Spain and the Government of the Generalitat. And it is that only from a minimum consensus in Catalonia can a true dialogue with the Government of Spain be faced with guarantees.
THE URGENCY OF CONSENSUS. I am afraid that we cannot afford to delay this dialogue between Catalans for long. At a time of profound changes on the international scene, with a rapidly evolving geopolitical context, a necessary reinforcement of the European sphere, and the profound economic, social and cultural effects that COVID-19 has accelerated, only minimally cohesive societies are in a position to making the most of the opportunities and challenges that we must face. We cannot afford now the luxury of being distracted or divided.
FOR A DAY OF THE RE-ENCOUNTER. The celebration this Saturday of the National Day of Catalonia is an opportunity to take a first step in the right direction. The reunion is not a whim of the Catalan and Spanish socialists. The reunion is the best formula to solve the concrete problems of citizenship and to find again horizons of hope for the whole of Catalonia.
I want Catalonia to accumulate victories, advances, gains again. I want a positive Catalonia, with strength, with determination, with a pact and agreement. I want a Catalonia that is capable of rediscovering what unites us because, if not, we run a real risk that what unites us will be a deep feeling of frustration. Neither Catalonia can afford it, nor do the Catalans deserve it.