Jordi Juan, 29 September 2021
Director La Vanguardia
The Catalan independence movement was united until the unilateral declaration of 2017 but once it was voted in the Parliament, it lives in an intense climate of division about the best strategy to follow in the future. The pragmatic route chosen by Esquerra was solemnized yesterday in a clear and diaphanous way by Pere Aragonès on the same stage where it was intended to break with Spain four years ago. The president reaffirmed his commitment to negotiation with the central government, opposed to the “sterile gestures” that seek to maintain the confrontation against the State, in clear allusion to the independence movement of the Junts and the CUP. His formula is to agree on a referendum with the central government – never impose it – that is endorsed by all citizens, independentists or not, and that has the support of the international community. Few times the president was so insistent in opening himself to all sectors of the country when he insisted: “I am and will be the president of all Catalans.”
Aragonès plan is clear. As he himself said, it will be very complicated and difficult, and he put himself in the shoes of the skeptical independentist who distrusts the promises of the Central Government and the actions of what he called deep state, in a few days that the arrest and subsequent release of Carles Puigdemont has set the political agenda. But Esquerra’s leader was clear: his bet is the only one that he considers possible, despite all the problems, mistrust and resentments that he can arouse.
For those who reject the path of negotiation, he reminded them that “there are no shortcuts, no magic bullets.” For Aragonès, the big difference compared to 2017 is that now in front, in Moncloa, there is a government that is willing to dialogue.
His intervention yesterday, within the framework and at the time in which it occurred, is a declaration of intent. ERC is trying to square the circle consisting of setting up such a difficult negotiation with the central government at the dialogue table, while in Catalonia it is trying to agree on the next budgets with the CUP. A risky and complex bet that can only be understood by the stiff competition for the leadership of the independence bloc.