Jaume Reixach, 22 February 2023
The corruption trial against the former president of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, and the investigation opened by the Public Prosecutor’s Office into Barça’s bribes to the vice-president of the Technical Committee of Referees, José María Enríquez Negreira, mark the lowest point in the history of Catalonia since the death of the dictator Francisco Franco, almost 50 years ago. The whole “story” that has been built and sold to us in recent decades about the supposed “goodness”, “prestige” and “superiority” of Catalans has gone down the drain this February 2023.
We could add to this the discovery of the scandalous, excessive and unjustified severance payments authorised by the ex-president of the Parliament, Ernest Benach. Or the maintenance of the false allowances – exempt from personal income tax – that the 135 Catalan MPs still receive. This, in a context of “laundering” of the public image of the ex-president of the Generalitat, Jordi Pujol, who, in addition to tolerating the misdeeds of some of his children, between the years 2000-10, was the holder of account 63810 of the Andorran bank Andbank, where he kept two million euros.
Since 1980, when Jordi Pujol was elected president of Catalonia, very serious cases of corruption have been uncovered (CARIC, Cullell, Lotteries, Casinos, De la Rosa, Millet, 3%…). But these attacks on morality and democratic ethics were camouflaged with the results of the “work of government” (mini-diversion of the Ebro, TV3, Mossos, motorways and toll tunnels…) and with the appeal to the Catalan homeland, to the Catalan flag and to the Catalanophobia of the Spaniards.
This permanent victimism, together with an iron control and direction of the Catalan media, explains why Jordi Pujol remained in power for 23 years. This and the complicity of the then highest institutional powers in Madrid – King Juan Carlos I and presidents Felipe González and José María Aznar – who did not hesitate to cut off the action of justice against the corruption that stifled Catalonia (the “Catalan oasis”, they said it was).
After the two tripartite governments and after the failure of the new Statute, Artur Mas – representative of the most rotten Convergència – returned to the Generalitat through the front door, with the support of the PP. As revenge for the “decapitation” of Oriol Pujol – heir to the dynasty, destined to be Very Honourable President one day -, forced to resign because of the ITV scandal, Jordi Pujol launched the independence process in 2012.
Over the last ten years, Catalonia has been shaken by a permanent earthquake, which reached its most critical moment in the autumn of 2017. The results have been devastating for Catalan society as a whole – both pro- and anti-independence -, which has suffered deep internal wounds.
The defeat of the process has been total and unappealable, as could not be otherwise in a state such as constitutional Spain, which is part of the European Union and NATO. The pardons, granted by President Pedro Sánchez, have helped to restore normality and Carles Puigdemont knows that, with “baraka”, his destiny is to go and live discreetly with his family in Romania.
The imaginary of Pujolist Catalonia had four pillars – Montserrat, Barça, Palau de la Música and TV3 – and a slogan: “A job well done has no borders, a job badly done has no future”. These four pillars have collapsed: Montserrat, after the homosexuality and pederasty scandals that have tainted the Benedictine community; Barça, because of the inadmissible bribery of the referee José María Enríquez Negreira, which will destroy the club’s reputation forever; the Palau de la Música, for the plundering of Fèlix Millet and Jordi Montull and for the corruption of Convergència; and TV3, for having committed the “sacrilege” of having broadcast a report on the great families of the Catalan bourgeoisie who enriched themselves through the slave trade.
This “descent into hell” of a certain Catalonia, which had the ambition and will to be hegemonic and eternal, has hit rock bottom with the trial of Laura Borràs. She had everything to be the perfect pro-Pujolista woman: a staunch defender of Catalan and Catalan literature, married to a doctor from a good family in Igualada, professor at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, unabashedly pro-independence, Junts MP, Minister of Culture and President of the Catalan Parliament. Until the Mossos found the emails she exchanged with her pupil Isaías Herrero.
We need to turn the page. We can be indulgent with Pujolism, but only if we roundly condemn its great sin: corruption. We cannot compromise on this in any way, because it is the source of all the ills that afflict Catalonia.
Those of us who have staked our careers and our professional credibility on fighting the scourge of corruption have been accused of having “self-hatred” towards Catalonia. The same criticism has now been levelled at the authors of the report “Negrers. La Catalunya esclavista”, broadcast by the TV3 programme “Sense ficció”.
To demand a clean country, without scams, without nepotism, without waste of public money and without cheating, is not to have “self-hatred”. To demand that the Parliament of Catalonia, as the highest institution of self-government, should be exemplary, and not a den of profiteers and shysters, is not to have “self-hatred”.
Catalan nationalism and Catalanism begin with Laura Borràs admitting her mistakes – the witnesses and evidence in the trial are conclusive – and then abandoning political activity. Catalan nationalism and Catalanism require Joan Laporta to publicly apologise for the José María Enríquez Negreira case, in his own name and in the name of the club, and to assume all the consequences that derive from it.
Those of us who put our finger on the sore spot have no “self-hatred”. On the contrary: I feel proud to belong to a people with a millenary history, full, yes, of brilliant pages and characters worthy of admiration, and for this very reason I am revolted when the good name of Catalonia is sullied and used by unscrupulous corrupt characters.