María Jesús Cañizares – 18/02/2020 – Image: Lena Prieto
“Neither the Catalan “procés” has died nor the Catalan Civil Society (SCC) should cease to exist.” Alex Ramos speaks, first vice president of this entity strongly criticized by the PSC youth for a meeting held with Vox leaders. In this sense, Ramos points out that this meeting is part of a round of contacts with all parties, including independentists, to present their decalogue of proposals.
“Another thing is the relationship we could have in the future with Vox, which we have not yet defined,” says the leader of this association, which in less than a year has gone from 90 to 300 members and currently has 20,000 active supporters and 4,000 collaborators SCC has exceeded the debt owed to its suppliers in 2018 and faces its new stage with full transparency.
– Is that meeting with Vox necessary?
-In the governing board we made the decision to meet with all the parties after the general elections, simply to deliver our decalogue. Also with the pro-independence parties, if they welcome us, and we also hope that Barcelona en Comú will answer us. Obviously some people like one party more than another, because we are a transversal entity. There is nothing else. And in the future we will decide what kind of relationship we have with each party.
-The Socialist youth believe that this meeting bleached Vox …
-It is not true. Perhaps to have a method we should see all the parties one after the other, but we cannot fit the agendas. So we do not bleach anything. Nor are we going to whiten any pro-independence party. We remain the same entity and we must see each other because it is a new moment. And by institutional courtesy.
– Was there debate within SCC to decide those meetings and then, after the controversy generated?
-After the elections we planned to make a round of visits to the parties. The in-depth debate on what issues should be addressed with each one is pending because that will be decided later. With the constitutionalist parties with whom we have always related, we have it very clear. But we have not decided what relationship we will have with this new party that has no representation in the Parliament.
-You are linked to the PSC. Did the criticisms of socialist youths hurt you? Have you contacted them later?
-Yes, they hurt, I didn’t like them. I can understand it coming from your party’s point of view. But I, as first vice president of SCC, a cross-sectional entity in which we are not united by ideological issues, would have preferred that not to happen. We have contacted them and hope to redirect the situation.
– Is transversality a good idea, but impractical?
-It is difficult and complex, but also necessary. Someone has to do it. We represent the Catalan citizens who feel Catalan, Spanish and constitutionalist. Within the democratic arc we defend the self-government and the structure of the Constitution of 78. We want to give visibility to those Catalans after 40 years of being invisible. Without us there is no solution. We were able to summon hundreds of thousands of people on the street who seemed not to exist. We are going to defend that political subject and defend it. We have been doing it for six years and we will continue doing it. It is complex and we have learned to do it. We believe that parties should do this more often. It is easy to agree with those who think like you, but the difficulty is to agree with those who do not think like you to promote shared projects. We are not going to sit down and talk about the left-right axis.
-It is true that SCC has brought together leaders of various ideologies in the zero row of its manifestations. Will the next Catalan elections prevent that image from being seen again?
-It has been difficult from the beginning. We got it and we will get it again, I say it with absolute firmness. Our mission is, from plurality, to promote what we share, what can be a common minimum denominator. It was much complicated what happened. I can assure you that no party wanted to go to the big demonstrations, but in the end we managed to attract them. Also in the last one we organized, attended by thousands of protesters. It was difficult to organize it, but the logic of the parties cannot be imposed and that in the end they understand.
-There are those who think that the process has died. What is the point of SCC?
-Nor the process has died nor does SCC have to cease to exist. Among other reasons because the procés was born in 2012 as an acute episode of Catalan nationalism, a much longer chronic process. That acute process occurred because there was no SCC. It seemed that here there was a political, ideological and monothematic hegemony and that the rest did not exist. When you don’t have a counterweight in society, it’s easier to politically hegemonize, impose your postulates. SCC is necessary because it must be demonstrated that there is plurality and diversity, and not a monothematic country in language and culture. We cannot ask Spain to be plural and then impose a monothematic Catalonia. Now more than ever an entity like ours cannot cease to exist. If in the past we had a Òmnium that did underground work in the dictatorship and now has great means, we, with less means, must continue and do a job similar to that done by that entity, not so much what the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) does. Societat Civil Catalana (SCC) must be fighting until this is normalized and there is an integrated and inclusive society, and not that some would like to impose on others.
-The statements of the mayor of Vic about how Catalans look like, or those of the Minister of Culture, about the Catalan race, are they an anecdote or symptom of a fracture?
– It is not an anecdote, it is something that has been happening for years. There is a part of Catalans who wants to impose something that cannot be assumed by the other side. We must build Catalonia based on something that we all agree. They turn to the past in a victimistic way to focus on a future. We want a Catalonia of all, with neutrality in the institutions, with Catalan police (Mossos d’Esquadra) that are a civic and not political police. We want our own electoral law in Catalonia so that there is no nationalist bias in the Parliament. Because Lleida’s votes are not worth the same as those in Barcelona, and they have a nationalist / Catalan overrepresentation that does not represent citizenship. The public media cannot be colonized by the nationalist ideology, they have to be the means of all.
-The Government and the Generalitat prepare a dialogue table to address the situation in Catalonia. The ANC asked to be at that table, does SCC look at it too?
-On that table, we do not agree with a bilateral dialogue between two allegedly equal entities. The table that we visualize is not the one that ERC intends. That’s what the Parliament or the Congress is for. We agree with the dialogue, but it must be clear that without the Spanish constitutionalist Catalans there is no solution. We are not going to be a currency for the nationalists to be happy, we are not going to consent to a mechanism of contentment, as Stéphane Riand says, because the rest of us have been invisible for years. If the reading is that by riding a chicken for 20 years, nationalists have an advantage in reaching an agreement, we will have to ride chicken for 20 years to match the rest. We want an equal position to define our future. The problem is not between Catalonia and the rest of Spain, we Catalans have to agree with each other. Here there is great wealth. Let’s not cover it with something homogeneous. We want to contribute. We are an active political subject and we have demonstrated it for years.
-I insist, if the ANC were at that table, should SCC also be there?
-We do not want to legitimize tables that are not in the current legal field. But politicians must speak, of course. We also want to contribute our position, we have told the President of the Government, we will try to tell the President of the Generalitat. We want to give our vision. Where in? Within the current legal framework, not in bilateral inventions with the same range of power.
-Is SCC in a more ideological phase than in an activist mode?
-We had six years of activism to give voice and visibility to Catalans who did not exist. We appeared at a time when we were not expected. Now there is a slower work, with a different method. With our decalogue, we want to politically normalize what is normal in Catalan society. Language, cultural plurality … We want neutrality in public institutions. A partisan and ideological interest cannot be imposed on the other party, which has been immersed in a spiral of silence. We want to decolonize the public space of ideology. Catalonia belongs to everyone, it is not one of those in charge. We need an electoral law in Catalonia that does not favor one territory more than another. They have 8 or 10 more gifted deputies and that inclines the balance and maintains an ethnically homogeneous nationalism. And we cannot accept that.
-You made a reference to immersion, an untouchable topic …
-We want the end of linguistic immersion, which made sense in the 80s to correct deficit in the use of Catalan as the language of Catalonia in schools and institutions. But that cannot be a normalization in eternum when another official and natural language is being penalized, which uses 60% of the population. What needs to be normalized now is bilingualism. How? The Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia already said that 25% of the matters would have to be taught in Spanish. Not rigidly, but to influence more in one language or another depending on the territory. Let’s share both languages, which are a great asset. Let’s normalize what is normal, because Spanish is socially normalized. The dome of the Mossos must be depoliticized, they cannot have a political mission. And also the Catalan Audiovisual Media Corporation (CCMA), because it cannot be that public television and radio, many private and regional media are parasitized or doped with public money so that political messages that only interest half of them are transmitted to the population. Barcelona and its metropolitan area have to be a large global city, it is an asset to develop. The rule of law must always be respected. What happened on September 6 and 7 and the DUI is not going anywhere and they know it.
-SCC urged the Court of Auditors to investigate the diversion of money towards the independence project. And it has proved you were right.
-They have used resources from all Catalans for that. If they do not respect the rule of law, we will also disobey the Catalan institutions to see what happens. We must end the customer networks. Public money has bought many wills for a long time. Catalonia, which has always been an entrepreneur, has settled into these nationalist networks, which has numbed citizens. And finally, we believe that there has to be an audit of the process, how much money has been spent since the year 80 by Mr. Pujol, how many entities have been subsidized, to know every penny of public money.
-There are those who affirm that one thing is the process and another, the social rupture, which will take a generation to reconcile. Would you agree? Is it optimistic?
-I’m not pessimistic, I am realistic. It does not look good what is happening. We have learned to solve it democratically because a century ago this would have ended very badly. Now we are becoming aware of what is there. Before Pujol negotiated, he played the whore and the Ramoneta. Now we know what they want. They have sold an illusion and that must be corrected because the exciting project that is Spain, with Catalonia included, with all its culture and language, has to be on the table. It is a subject of pedagogy. There has been a lot of propaganda, a lot of mental framework sold to the population that has bought it. The process has not achieved its objectives. Although it has 40 years behind and 40,000 million euros of annual budget, they are stagnant in 47% of the population. You have to solve this. We are in a new stage where we want to be an active part. The solution must be done through dialogue, see if what they ask for is acceptable and legal, and if it is part of the rule of law. If a pact is reached, it can be endorsed, but referendums cannot be proposed to split Catalonia in two. There will have to be assignments, but always in the legal field, by everyone, and find ourselves at a point where we normalize the situation in Catalonia
-What would that common denominator be? Reform or develop the powers of the Statute? Vote that reform in a referendum?
-We are a civic platform that we have always said that it is better to be together. For many reasons. But give up more competencies so they are happy? It makes no sense to give them to be closer to independence. It makes sense to agree on something we all give up, not that some win and others lose. The referendum is not the solution, we have seen it with Brexit. You can be part of a project that is Spain, which is exciting. But it is a very emotional and emotional issue, so it takes time. There has to be loyalty and cooperation, the State of Autonomies has worked, but autonomies must cooperate more and optimize resources.
-I link here with the beginning of the interview. Vox rejects the State of Autonomies.
-We defend self-government and those who do not defend autonomy do not agree with us. It is non-negotiable, as is the Constitution of 78. But collaboration must be improved. We need that subsidiarity in decision making, that it is closer to citizens, but also to think about the whole, as is the case in Germany and the United States. The common homeland can be built from Catalonia speaking in Catalan, from Galicia speaking Galician or from the Canary Islands from its insularity. What happens is that nationalism has stirred the low passions. And that nineteenth-century nationalism is not good, it separates.
– Would federalism be an improvement?
-For example. To federate is to agree. This is an option. In SCC, as we are transversal, there are those who believe that the current state is already well, others that the confederation is better and there are even those who think of recentralization. It is not for us to defend a specific initiative if it does not have a common denominator. It is up to governments to decide.