Peru Erroteta 14/09/2019 19:08
Interview Manel Sanz
Law degree and diploma in general function of the Public Administrations. Associate Professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. He has worked in several town halls, with the Catalan Ombudsman and now in the Barcelona City Council.
Many people continue to wonder what is the origin of the conflict we have in Catalonia.
Thirty years ago we were in a world ruled by Convergence and Pujolism. Then I already disagreed and was very critical of the way of seeing Catalonia and the Catalans on the part of pujolism. There was a pattern that was fulfilled: being from Barça, going to Montserrat, speaking Catalan and wearing barretina. I say it as a cartoon, because if not, it is not a pattern. One of the things I appreciate most from my trainers is the critical spirit that they transmitted to me, which is not always well seen. In Catalan, someone like that is usually called a tiquismiquis. About ten or fifteen years ago I was part of a coral and one day, at the bar where we sang, I found some brochures signed by an organization called Vía Outside (a cry of medieval Catalan alarm), in which among other things it was said that you could not be Catalan and Spanish at the same time. Nothing had happened, but that worried me.
How could we call that state of affairs: low intensity nationalism, neo-nationalism …?
We have defended Catalanism from the left, with the idea of a Catalonia of all, integrated. What was not like that in pujolism, even if it pretended to look like. Segregation was part of his speech to the extent that there were identification patterns that if you did not comply, you were not admitted to the club. And that’s how I lived it. But you have to keep in mind that Pujol was very skilled and a great communicator. He was a character that attracted. But behind all this, I think he was clear about his goals. I do not know if you can call that indoctrination, but in any case there has been indifference in Catalonia with respect to Spain, and even in the world. It has not been explained to the people that we were part of the same family and that the people, the nationality, Catalonia, are transcended by other realities, other projects and other people with whom we live.
And, somehow, the left was letting go by that pujolist speech?
Historically, the left has a bad conscience about the national issue. And when these questions related to identity are raised, the left is silent. As Franco did what he did, now that we are in the process of recovering identity, especially the subject of language, we will not put sticks on the wheels, the left said. Therefore, we stayed in the background and ended up giving up the initiative to pujolism. When the process of the year 2012 begins, with the demonstration of 11th of September (to put a date), there were still people like me who planned to go for social issues such as cuts. Carmen Forcadell was in charge of making it very clear that in that act the independence of Catalonia was going to be requested. I stayed at home. In the field of my friends and contacts, I was silent for more than three years when these topics were touched. To avoid creating conflicts, stir up tensions. Until one day I decided to leave the closet and said that I was not sure what kind of things were considered. There began a process of isolation and self-censorship.
And, in a general way, one begins to become aware, often with perplexity, of how far things have gone …
There are several layers in all this. Pujolism, which is building a nationalism of low intensity but with clear objectives. And also things like the Pasqual Maragall initiative to reform the Statute of autonomy. A door opened without being necessary. Perhaps in good faith, he tried not to reform the Constitution, but the Statute, to obtain more self-government, and thus began a race of competition to see who had it bigger.
The thing is not limited to politics, but it fully impacts the social group. A crack opens in Catalonia …
I am not so much against independence, which is an option that I consider legitimate, although I do not share it (because I miss a rigorous discussion about the pros and cons of such an option), as against the process. What derives from my status as a citizen and also from my professional work as a lawyer. Everything they taught me in the faculty – which I incorporate into my culture – of legal securities goes to hell with the process. The fracture is not expressed in the street, but in social relationships, in family, friendship, work environments … For circumstances oblige you to force dichotomous decantation, yes or no. There are no nuances. The gray disappear. And that creates tensions. As with Franco, there have been people in my environment who have told me: “Do not show yourself, do not get into politics because you will suffer.” We have returned to the unique thought, whether you are with me or not, the country, the nation … Concepts that we reproduce again in a supposedly progressive and modern way.
What role does ignorance, lack of culture, the destructuring of evidence, principles, knowledge play in all this?
In addition to the deterioration of the social environment, which produces self-censorship, silences, phobias … it is undoubtedly the lack of training. What worries me especially, perhaps because of my teaching status. Not only is the past unknown and distorted, but it ignores social functioning. Concepts as basic as what is the town hall, the Autonomous Community or the State, it is not known how they work or what they are for. This leads to situations such as the anarchist climate that is lived in Catalonia, in which it is allowed to skip the law, or not to know how things work. And the most serious perhaps is yet to come, because the fundamentals of democratic culture are disappearing. When the president of the Generalitat says that democracy is above the laws, he is going in this direction. The law is a product of democracy, it is a pact, coexistence …
There is a tendency to blame the process on Catalan nationalism and on the PP, Spanish nationalism, and reduce the rest almost to the condition of spectators. Actually, it is not nationalism the only who decides to take the shortcut on his own?
The causes are not usually unique. Nationalism is obviously responsible for what we are living. Let’s say it was latent. Enforcing his victimhood understood as justification for its actions. And from the left, and nobody talks much about that, there has been a responsibility not to do, because we came from Franco time and we believed that claims such as language were justified. And also because we never thought it was possible to break the agreed, democratic principles, exhibiting a majority that does not exist and perverting the language. What does democracy mean? Self Determination Freedom? Coexistence? … That’s why we have to do a great job of recovery, of revaluation of language.
Beyond, then, of the necessary political solutions, it is not precisely this ideological, cultural battle that is already being fought, what must be produced in Catalonia?
This happens by incorporating into the political action a value as transcendental as empathy, knowing how to listen. Because if politics is the management of things to procure the common good, in Catalonia we are worse than ever. We have a duty to try to build well-being for everyone. To say that we Catalans are oppressed or that there are no freedoms in Catalonia cannot be understood.
Do you think people should be outspoken in Catalan politics?
We are at a time when the social projection of the image is very important. We miss people capable of recognizing mistakes, and there is also hypocrisy from the error of not wanting to appear before the public opinion as a traitor. Recall Carles Puigdemont, in October 2017, when for a few tweets he backs down in his decision to call for elections.
In this context, does federalism have anything to say, not only for Spain and Europe, but also for Catalonia?
Federalism has many things to say, because it is based on concepts such as solidarity, loyalty, equity, respect for minorities … A professor of administrative law, friend, made fun of me when I told him I was a federalist, which caused me perplexity and restlessness.