Óscar Benítez -30 noviembre, 2019
Historian and former deputy of the Popular Party, Fernando Sánchez Costa (Barcelona, 1984) is president of the most important constitutional entity in Catalonia: Catalan Civil Society (SCC). As he explains to El Catalán, Sánchez Costa is in favor of political dialogue, but whenever it occurs within the democratic framework and does not disregard the demands of non-nationalist Catalans, now “visible and empowered”.
Although practically no democracy contemplates the right of self-determination, for many Catalans it is an irrevocable aspiration. How would you convince them otherwise?
Anyone with a minimum of political training knows that Catalonia has no legal right to self-determination. This right is not contemplated in the Spanish Constitution, nor in the European political system, nor in international treaties. In addition, it is important to remember that Catalonia constantly determines itself, since it enjoys very wide powers in multiple fields. What happens is that this determination is not absolute: it is delimited by Catalan, Spanish and European laws. In fact, neither does Spain decide everything about its future. Their decisions are also subject to restrictions.
Thus, it is a false, simplified debate. The only thing he achieves is to thin the coexistence in Catalonia and to waste his enormous economic opportunities – remember that we are the door of Europe and a bridge with America. But because of the process, we threw a decade of the 21st century into the bin.
Nationalism and part of the left continue to argue that linguistic immersion in Catalan is the only guarantee of “social cohesion” in Catalonia. Is that so?
That is a mantra without any scientific basis – rather the opposite. At SCC, we want to give voice to that majority of Catalans who wish to remain linked to Spain and that has been silenced for decades. In order to meet their rights, we demand the normalization of Spanish in Catalan public life, both at school and in institutions.
At the time, a normalization of Catalan was carried out in institutional and school spaces. This made sense because the Catalan language had been discriminated against for decades. However, now corresponds to normalize the language of our country and 55% of Catalans. It should be normal in school what is normal in the street. Spanish cannot continue to be treated as a foreign language. In addition, 90% of Catalans, when asked, are in favor of a trilingual education, which can only enrich us. For the rest, proof that the immersion is no longer sustained is that the Government has stopped using the term in its public communication.
The TV3 style book indicates that the news should present the information “impartially and without taking advantage of any option”. Are they fulfilling it?
Catalan public media have been the great engine of the independence process. Not so much for the content, but for the agenda, which they have been marking for six years. These means have permanently focused on the process. In this way, other issues, also problematic and burning, have been diluted. It is time that journalism, in Catalonia and the rest of Spain, also pay attention to other problems.
Likewise, it is unpresentable that prominent TV3 presenters, who receive millionaire salaries paid by all Catalans, have dedicated themselves to insulting half of the population with denigrating political comments.
The Generalitat will remove the paintings on the history of Spain from the Palau. According to the experts of the Government, they are “ideologically very connoted” paintings that hide others of greater artistic value. Do you think it is a credible explanation?
In this case, the sectarianism and radicalism of the current leaders of the process leads them to act as Taliban. That is, to destroy works of art because they do not fit their ideological preferences. It is a good example of that independence fraud that consists in denying the evidence. Why do those paintings bother you? Because they demonstrate the involvement of Catalonia in the history of Spain. Something that pretends to be denied in public discourse and in school, where Spain is always presented as a foreign, distant and imposed phenomenon. However, Spain has a very clear Catalan accent. It is only necessary to walk through the streets of Ensanche and see the names of the illustrious Catalans who, while contributing to the Catalan cultural resurgence, were decisive in the configuration of contemporary Spain.
We may like Spain more or less, but it is largely a projection of the ideals defended by classical Catalanism. The great ideals of noucentisme were embodied in the Constitution of 78: territorial, linguistic pluralism, and so on. If so, let’s stop playing with the history and feelings of the citizens. It is so much that unites us that a break can only generate very deep tears.
The recent assault on a motorist by the CDR barely raised condemnation reactions inside the political class. Are we normalizing these types of episodes?
Certainly, bullying and violence are normalizing. And it is everyone’s responsibility not to allow it. It is striking that one of the richest and most prosperous regions in Europe has assumed the anti-systemic discourse of the CUP, which has colonized Convergence and the Generalitat. We will end up paying all this, because the process is synonymous with decay. The other day, for example, one person told me that, every time they cut a road, their company suffered and lost money. The figures indicate that the attractiveness of Barcelona as a business location has collapsed in the last decade linked to the process. Not counting all the companies that have left. We cannot allow the anti-system, the bourgeois who play anarchism, to lead us all to disaster.
And why doesn’t such economic deterioration undermine secession support?
It is explained because the process is, above all, an emotional cause. An attachment to an ideological family that, regardless of what it does, remains unwavering. Thus it is understood that, despite all that has happened, the vote for the separatist parties in the Parliament remains stable at 47%.
These circumstances indicate, however, the strategy that must be followed to overcome the process. On the one hand, obviously, we must deepen the application of democratic law. But, on the other, we must generate a climate that reduces the emotional blockage of the population to be able to look forward. Thus, it is necessary to change the Catalan electoral law, which overrepresents sovereign zones and prevents political alternation in Catalonia. But also to send a message of hope: if we promote a cultural change in Catalonia, the political change will also occur. Political parties are important, but sometimes we have a too messianic view of their role. The change will only come if the group of Catalan and Spanish constitutionalists – who are the majority – is willing to get involved in overcoming this toxic stage. We cannot continue to outsource the responsibility of citizens.
Both PSC and Comuns have supported the eviction of the Police Headquarters of Via Laietana proposed by ERC. Is it a timely measure?
I am aware of the historical resonances that the commissioner of Via Laietana has for the left. But from SCC we consider that it is an inappropriate and wrong measure. Now that the police are being harassed – in a climate of tension that had not been lived in Catalonia for decades -, the main thing is to be next to those who defend our freedoms. Because those who demonstrate in front of this police station are not facing the gray, but before those who defend freedom and legality. This is how we understand it in our organization, which was visiting the Headquarters in a show of solidarity and affection.
The PSC has reaffirmed its will that Spain be considered “plurinational.” Is the so-called plurinationality a good idea?
Within SCC, there are different opinions about it. In any case, what seems important to us is that Spain’s national sovereignty and its internal plurality be guaranteed. Also that any political dynamics adopted should not be paid in the future by the constitutionalists of historical communities. The Catalan constitutionalists cannot be the currency of exchange again.
Particularly, what worries me most about plurinationality is that, at the cost of recognizing the internal diversity of Spain, the internal diversity of Catalonia or the Basque Country ends up being denied. That it is established that in Catalonia there is a national culture of its own and that, therefore, we must all speak in the same language and have the same feelings. And that deep diversity that exists in Catalonia has not been recognized for centuries and that constitutes our true identity. In fact, the main deficits in terms of diversity occur in Catalan institutions, which refuse to recognize it in school, in posters and in public discourse. These practices are those that in no way can we allow them to consolidate.
The bet of Sánchez e Iglesias in Catalonia is “dialogue within the law”. But under what conditions should such a dialogue take place?
Dialogue within the law is what SCC has always defended since 2014. But that dialogue cannot again be exclusively a negotiation between the elites of Madrid and the Catalan nationalist elites. Neither meekly accept the diktat of nationalism. It must be a broad dialogue that, for the first time in 40 years, also incorporates the meaning and proposals of the Catalan constitutionalists. After this process, we have become visible and empowered, and we are not willing to accept new Majestic deals.
So that half of the non-nationalist population be taken into account, SCC has put a series of great demands on the table. Among them, the reform of the electoral law, the normalization of Spanish in public life, the depoliticization of the Mossos and the media, the neutrality of public space or an audit of the process to know where our money has been spent the last years. Didn’t Torra want to talk? Well, let’s talk. We want Torra to listen to us and, for once, make an effort to persuade the Catalans that we have disconnected. Only, in our case, not from Spain, but from the Government of the Generalitat.