Published on July 13, 2019 – 00: 15
Fernando Sánchez Costa, new president of Sociedad Civil Catalana EFE
Fernando Sánchez Costa assumes the presidency of the Catalan Civil Society with strong support, 97% of the votes, and the conviction that the turn led by Ramón Bosch is necessary to achieve the “reconnection” of Catalonia with Spain and its own inner plurality. But he warns that they will continue to face the ANC both on the street and in Catalan civil institutions, and calls for support from all Spaniards “from those who we have been fighting for the Constitution in Catalonia for five years”.
Question.-How has SCC overcome the crisis caused by the fall of a directive with accusations of fraudulent management?
Answer.-SCC is in a very exciting moment of re-launching. It is true that we have gone through an important internal crisis, because we have also worked with people of varied ideological origin and under a lot of pressure. That has led to great successes and also to moments of inevitable friction, but we have learned and now we are going to a new stage in which we are very close. My candidacy was supported by 97% of the members and integrates all the ideological sensitivities.
Q.-Have you asked to meet with Quim Torra?
A. – Not formally, but we are willing to meet with all the world if necessary to give a voice to non-independent Catalans and contribute to build a future of Catalonia in common. It is our obligation to do so, and to tell Torra that more and more the Generalitat looks like a gag of the television parody “Polònia”, it has become a caricature of itself. There has been a disconnection of many Catalans with those institutions that were previously respected by all Catalans. We want to ask Torra to work for all Catalans … to start working, because it is difficult to name a single measure taken by the Govern in favor of anything beyond travelling to and from Waterloo.
Q- Is the division of the independence movement an opportunity for constitutionalism?
A. – We are not happy with the bad news about other people, and it is good that in Catalonia some sanitary cords are lifted, they are undemocratic. Surprisingly, those who presented the socialists almost as lepers have now agreed with them in the Diputación de Barcelona, but if that serves to dilute the stage of procés and start a new era in Catalonia with new logics, our welcome to it!
Q. – In the last months an ideological turn has been taken in SCC, building bridges with the Catalanism and less combative, which not everyone shares in the organization.
A. – It is true that in some moments of special tension we have had to reinforce the opposition to this very toxic process of segregation that they have imposed on us, but the political climate in Catalonia is now a little different. The electoral results show that the majority of Catalans are exhausted from the confrontation and want to join those who offer central spaces for the future, horizons of reconstruction of Catalan society. SCC wants to play an important role in opening up these horizons for the future.
Q. – It seems risky to believe that the soufflé has gone down when Carles Puigdemont continues to win elections as it happened in the European ones.
A. – The way to win this battle is to take advantage of that vital force that the independence movement implies to reform Catalonia and Spain. With the mere ‘no’, we will not overcome this situation of blockade that we live in Catalonia. Nobody loves Catalonia and Spain more than we do, we have been fighting for the Constitution in Catalonia for five years. For that reason, we are convinced that now what is convenient is a persuasive discourse, reconnecting the Catalan social majority with Spain.
Q. – Controversies such as the supposed danger of disappearance of Catalan language, using language to victimize Catalans, how do they fit with that willingness to build bridges?
A. – We cannot leave the Catalan flag exclusively to the pro-independence side. Catalan is my mother tongue, it is a magnificent Spanish language. We strongly claim Catalan, just as we ask that Spanish have a normalized presence in Catalonia, we will never stop asking for bilingualism in institutions or at school. We address that 75% of Catalans who define themselves as Catalans and Spaniards at the same time, in different degrees. What the procés has achieved is to force us to choose between these two feelings that have been historically compatible, and continue to be so. That is the way to lower the separatist wave.
SCC is ready to go out to the streets again if necessary and stand up to those who want to impose their project of rupture”.
Q. – How does SCC prepare that “hot autumn” foreseen thanks to the ruling of the procés, in which the independence movement will once again turn the streets into its pressure lever?
A. – SCC is ready to go out again if necessary and stand up against those who want to impose their project of rupture. And we are also ready to give voice to the majority of non-independence Catalans who for many years have felt invisible to the Catalan institutions and to the Spanish Government. It is possible that in the coming months there will be a dialogue between the Government and the Generalitat, and it cannot be the same type of dialogue between the Government and Catalan institutions that always demand more competences and power. We want that in this dialogue also the demands of the invisible Catalans not recognized during the last 40 years by the Catalan public administration are included. We will give them a voice in any situation, be it a demonstration, a dialogue or a stand up.
Q. – Are you afraid that the Catalan socialists will not be able to defend that voice in possible negotiations between the Government and the Generalitat?
A. – Socialists represent an important part of Catalan constitutionalism, but not all. We want to give voice to all the sensitivities of constitutionalism.
Q.-What voices can be silenced? Those who defend Spanish at school?
A. – We will continue to be belligerent in the defense of the rights of all Catalans. We are going to vindicate with force the neutrality of the public space and that the pro-independence parties stop patrimonializing the Catalan institutions. We are going to defend that the judicial rulings in the school are fulfilled and the Spanish language stops being treated like a foreign language in the Catalan classrooms, like a pariah language.
In the end, independence does not depend on the Government or on what Madrid does, it depends on the ability of non-independence Catalans to fight for a new hegemony”.
Q.- Will SCC oppose the ANC and Omnium on the streets as it did in 2017?
A. – One of the objectives of SCC in this new stage is giving muscle to the entity, multiply the number of partners and give them more prominence. That implies more sectorial and territorial expansion, it cannot be that the ANC again assaults Catalan trade union or business spheres without none facing them. We need a very strong entity and we invite all non-separatist Catalans to join this project. From this position, we will be present again in the street if the ANC and Òmnium go to a stage of radicalization and collective disobedience, we will not stay with our arms crossed. We will show again that Catalonia is very plural, and that is also demonstrated on the street. In the end, the long-term independence of Catalonia does not depend on the Government or on what Madrid does, it depends on the ability of the non-independent Catalan people to mobilize and commit themselves, to fight for a new hegemony and also to scratch our pockets. And not only of the Catalans; we invite all Spaniards to support those of us who are the voice of the Constitution and of coexistence in Catalonia.
Q.- Does this explain the expansion project of SCC in the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community, in addition to its international representation?
A.- In Baleares and Valencia we have sister organizations with which we cooperate. But I want to draw attention to the situation in the Balearic Islands, which is especially worrisome. There is a remarkable advance of nationalism with logics very similar to those we lived here ten years ago. This will also explode in the Balearics. At international level, yes, we are the ones acting in several cities with two objectives: to counteract the black legend that some diffuse on Spain and to explain the reality of the democratic Spain of the XXI century.
“The independence movement is a great vital force that cannot be contained, it must be channeled towards the reform of Spain”
Q.- You come from the militancy in the PP. Have you come to the conclusion that this defense of Spain is better articulated from a social entity than from a party?
A. – All actors are important, and nobody can patrimonialize the idea of Spain. It is important that the defense of Spain is not identified only with certain political parties, that it is also civil society that continues to demonstrate that this shared project is worthwhile. We need to see this crisis as an opportunity. The separatism is a great vital force that has been in Catalonia before a crisis situation, very well fed by certain political and media sectors. The vital forces cannot simply be contained, what must be done is to channel them towards the reform of Spain and Catalonia; this is the way to make them effective and not generate more frustration.
Q. – What would be the position of SCC before an eventual concession of pardons to the leaders of the 1-O? Will it accept them or will it demonstrate against it?
A. – We have extreme respect for the Supreme Court, which has conducted the trial impeccably, abide by and respect its decisions. The pardon should be preceded by the acknowledgment of responsibility and a certain request at least for apologies for the crimes for which they are condemned. When that happens, we can consider our political positioning in this regard.
“The pardon should be preceded by the acknowledgment of responsibility and a certain request for an apology”.
Q. – One thing is respect for judicial decisions and another a discretionary decision of the Government.
R. – Please, do not advance events.
Q. – You seem convinced that this pardon will occur.
A. – I do not know, I do not have telepathic capacity with the president of the Government.
Q.- When talking about reviewing the recognition of Catalonia do you refer to a reform of the Constitution?
A. – We must not be afraid of the reform of the Constitution. It is a magnificent Constitution that put an end to two centuries of clashes between Spaniards, but that does not mean that it is not good to adapt it. What is to be feared is sectarianism, partisanship, and oblivion of the spirit of transition.
Q. – Do the circumstances exist to recover that spirit?
A. – With political will it is possible to redirect the Spanish and Catalan political panorama. The last CIS demonstrates a depletion of the Spaniards on the political dynamics that are due to these crossed blockades. The population as a whole requires a sense of state, of responsibility.
“The three constitutionalist parties must have the courage to move ahead so that the government does not depend on those who want to dilute Spain”
Q. – Does the sense of State go through facilitating the investiture of Pedro Sánchez to avoid being dependent on ERC and Bildu?
A. – The parties are adult people, we do not have to tell them what they have to do. But we do make a firm appeal to generosity and to agreements that allow a stable government in defense of the Constitution. For that it is good to remove the sanitary cords, which are nothing more than democratic ropes. We ask for a sense of the historical moment so that the Government of Spain does not depend on those who want to dilute Spain, and there everyone, especially the three constitutionalist parties, must have the courage to move ahead.
Q.- How do you rate the slamming of the European Parliament to the aspirations of Carles Puigdemont?
A.- Some independence leaders are the David Copperfield of politics, they are great illusionists. They promise things and have made citizens believe in a house of cards. Reality remains, Puigdemont is not an MEP and Borrell is going to be Foreign Commissioner. Out of fantasy there is no building up nor advamces. The independence movement should do an exercise of realism, since out of confrontation nothing is built.
P. – That battle has been won with the complicity of the former president of the Eurocámara, Antonio Tajani; the battle of international public opinion has been won?
A. – The previous government of the PP made a very good international policy at the institutional level. No country has ever received the independence fighters. But he forgot the battle of international public opinion, and Josep Borrell has been very clear about this from the beginning. We try to contribute to this.