Antonio Fernandez. Barcelona
The Catalan pro-independence crew does not trust the board that the Spanish Government intends to open with the Catalan Government. The Asamblea Nacional Catalana (ANC), the civil arm of pro-sovereignty, will closely monitor what is said in it, but in parallel it will continue to prepare a unilateral declaration of independence to be launched in the indeterminate future.
This was expressed by the president of the ANC, Elisenda Paluzie, in an event of the organization that took place on January 16 in Valls (Tarragona). The pro-independence leader explained the contacts of ANC with Òmnium Cultural, the Government and the pro-independence parties to articulate the common front against the Spanish Government. “We have decided to participate exclusively to ensure that what is discussed at this board is based on the principle of self-determination and concretizing it, because some can interpret self-determination in different ways, connecting it with a binary referendum on independence, agreed or starting with a statement in the Parliament and, on the other hand, we also will defend in this stance that who will negotiate will be a pro-independence Government formed by JxCAT and ERC, but the advice of this Government, the follow-up of this negotiation, must come from the pro-independence groups”.
The ANC is not only responsible for the massive mobilizations of recent years, but also has great ascendancy over the strategy of the pro-independence parties and the Catalan Government. Quim Torra was a member of the permanent secretariat of the ANC until June 2016, when he had to leave that position because he was appointed director of the Center d’Estudis de Temes Contemporanis, a public body of the Generalitat, which was incompatible with belonging to an entity like the ANC.
At another moment, Paluzie emphasizes that from the pro-sovereignty entity the board promised by Pedro Sánchez is seen “with much skepticism” and then she emphasizes: “That is, this board is kept open by us just to see if there is any option for self-determination, but in reality we have to prepare for unilateral independence. That is, what cannot be done is that by the fact that there is this board we believe it and stop preparing ourselves or preparing the conditions for effective independence. Because, in fact, whenever we have made a mistake it was because we have believed in the dialogue, and that has been recognized by the ‘president’ Puigdemont (…) These days he has remembered again, he said that he regretted believing them, because they deceived him, so let’s try not to repeat mistakes In any case, this has been decided, but we don’t believe it”.
Just to “keep up the appearances”
At her side, the former president of the entity, Tomàs Alcoberro, clarifies the position of the pro-independence club in the face of the dialogue with the Spanish Government: “What happens is that we cannot give the European public opinion the image that we do not want dialogue and the others do want to dialogue. Therefore, we have to keep up the appearances scrupulously, but as Elisenda has said, we have lost naivety and therefore we know that this is not the case and we must continue working on another line”. As if that were not enough, the former leader stresses: “I think we must always continue with the task of pressing all parties for independence, so that they go in one line”.
The main pro-sovereignty organization, then, not only mistrusts the result of the dialogue, but also takes the notary role of the situation
The main sovereignty organization, then, not only mistrusts the result of the dialogue, but also takes the role of notary of the situation and claims that through the back door, even if there is dialogue, work continues on a DUI. “In the ANC we debate very honestly what our role in this dialogue scenario should be, in which we see many risks because they do not recognize the right to self-determination, repression does not stop and we are afraid to enter a dialogue scenario that ends up taking us to an undesirable path, a path of second transition, of statutory reform, of a scenario in which we talk about other things and that we end up entangled in a kind of trap”, Elisenda Paluzie assured to a handful of its militants.
Meanwhile, the ANC advocates a strategy of permanent mobilization, non-cooperation and civil disobedience. One of the fronts it claims is the judicial one. “It is true that in these judicial battles we are making the State make mistakes and discredit and be less strong in the sense that their deficiencies are revealed, it is losing prestige”, she said. And then she dropped a resounding criticism: “Spanish justice is autarkic, is not very much subject to international competition and believes that the way it solves things is correct, is a world locked in itself. Therefore, every time we make them cross the border is when we have the possibility of defeating them (…) We must lead them to systematic error”.
The leader of the ANC is aware that “we will not make independence with this battle [the judicial one on the international front], but it will reinforce the conditions so that at the time we do independence, the international community will understand better why we are doing it and why we want it”. At another time in her talk, Paluzie said that “the violation of rights [in Spain] is to repress a national minority and an independence movement. This is the violation of rights that occurs in the Spanish State. And that is the discourse that we have to do abroad”.
A bad comparison with ETA
Alcoberro, on the other hand, explained an anecdote that illustrates the morality with which the ANC faces reality: “I remember that being vice president of the ANC, I once met Arnaldo Otegi and he said: ‘You are not aware of what you have done. Referring to our prisoners of ETA, they ask for a punishment of 15 years for terrorism. And for you yourselves,they are asking for 30 years’. That is to say, for the Spanish State it is much more serious what we did on October 1 or October 27 than the Hipercor attack, to give an example. That, as much as we may be shocked, works like this. It is a diabolical logic and all the examples confirm this logic”. In fact, the main members of the Barcelona ETA command, responsible for the Hipercor attack, were sentenced to almost 800 years in jail each one.
And Paluzie said, in that sense, “that this is the signal that they really noticed that the unity of the state was in danger because the 1-O and that independence was possible. They believed it even more than ourselves”. Therefore, she assured that the machinery cannot be stopped. “We must go ahead and not stop. It’s a bit of the idea of always going forward and forcing them into error even if it has a cost. We don’t have to accept beforehand a single battle as already lost. We have to have a victory moral, a moral to win all the battles we have ahead, sometimes the Catalans miss the moral of victory, even when we win, we are not even aware that we have won, that is a bit what happened to us on October 1. That day we won and we did not transfer this victory with enough force publicly; possibly because we were very shocked and collectively exhausted”.
For its strategy, the ANC has commissioned a study in order to gather ideas and then develop what it calls “argument campaigns”. In this sense, she reasoned that “we now have many more reasons than we used to have in 2012 and 2013 and 2014, when we talked about infrastructure, we talked about economy, we talked about fiscal deficits, we talked about social welfare, we talked about the minimum wage. Now we also know that this is a State that is willing to violate fundamental rights in order to preserve the unity of Spain, so we have commissioned a sociological study only to see how we put the arguments for independence back into the center but taking into account everything that has happened, not only reproducing the campaigns we did four years ago and updating the figures. Now we may have to use other types of arguments”.