Right in the middle of the trial of the procés I receive the unexpected visit of my publisherf, Ramon Perelló, with whom during one of the breaks of the hearing I take lunch in the Barrutia, the famous tavern on the street of Santa Teresa, in Madrid. He wants to remind me of his affection and that of many other friends who, although they have not travelled to the capital, empathize with our suffering as defendants and yearn for the Catalans and all the Spaniards being able to overcome the conflict in which we have been bogged down at least since 2012. During the meal, the conversation inevitably leads to politics, which in our talks is never sectarian but a true intellectual fun, inseparable from our civic commitment.
“We have come this far because there are no more statesmen,” laments Perelló. “Because, do not you think that beyond Suarez, Gonzalez and Pujol, in Spain there have not been statesmen?” I nod immediately, convinced even that, with the last of the aforementioned, Jordi Pujol, history has not yet said its last word and that the passage of time will play in his favor.
If we are to review the list of our political leaders, current and from the recent past, who perhaps deserve more than one line in the books of our collective history, I effectively note the sidereal distance between Suarez, Gonzalez or Pujol and their successors. It is no less true that many other names quickly emerge who, without having managed to become the helmsperson of their respective political ships, I believe will also be remembered, and for the better. I am thinking of Josep Tarradellas and Miquel Roca, but also of Narcís Serra and, how not to do it today, of Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, may he rest in peace.
Of this last I remember with special emotion the dinner we had the night of September 11, 2013, in the house of some common friends, Manuel Campo Vidal and María Rey. Concerned about the drift of events in Catalonia and, moreover, the unusual immobility of those who at that time ruled Spain, Alfredo’s analysis impressed me strongly.
“It is very irresponsible not to take what happens in Catalonia seriously, perhaps as the main challenge that Spain has in the medium term”, he snapped.
Then he developed what he called the theory of the three E’s against one.
“The pro-sovereignty Catalans have in your favor three E’s: the E of hope, the E of aesthetics and the E of epic. So, who with 20 years would not join a movement that invites you to dream of a better future? Or to be part of a movement capable of activating hundreds of thousands of citizens, willing to sing and dress in unison and, as if that were not enough, they would conjure up to fight a state in crisis, shaken by corruption, sectarianism and lack of shared project? What do we have left to the rest of the Spaniards?”, he asked rhetorically. “Is it just the E of a Spain ready to stumble into its old uniformizing and manichaean ghosts?”
We debated extensively about his provocative analysis, all convinced that the future was not written and that, consequently, sooner or later, the whole of the citizenship could be reconciled with the values for which it is worthwhile to be part of a country and not another. Pérez Rubalcaba spoke that night with a sense of state, sure that his party, the PSOE, had to assume sacrifices and risks to be an active agent in the solution of the Catalan conflict. Since then I maintained a fluid relationship with him, who, although already removed from the political front, did not cease his efforts to avoid the institutional conflict that unfortunately precipitated in October 2017. We both met for the last time in a debate-colloquium in La Granja, in Segovia, having already resigned as minister and being prosecuted for my participation in the events of October 1, 2017. Once again his words were encouraging and hopeful: “Everything will end well, Santi, but we will have to demand to all sense of State and constitutional loyalty?”
The wheel of fortune plays with the lives of men and perhaps some who may well have been true statesmen in their day, were in the wrong government, at the wrong time. Others, however, perhaps pretending not to have the virtues, skills or training to be one, when history gave them their opportunity they took advantage of it, and ended up inscribing their name with golden letters and forever. Or was this not the case of the young Juan Carlos, considered as prince of Spain a minor and inconsequential personality, but who, turned into a King, opted to make his homeland a constitutional and parliamentary monarchy and, consequently, a country comparable to rest of the world’s democracies? Statemen! Surely there are, and sooner or later they will appear again. We need them. Yesterday, one of them died.