José María Olmo, Antonio Fernández, Barcelona 09/23/2021
Gonzalo Boyé acknowledged in a private message that Brussels would only recognize the self-determination of Catalonia in the event of a “flagrant violation of rights” of a hypothetical “Catalan social minority”
Message from Gonzalo Boyé to Josep Lluís Alay
The back room of the ‘procés’ reveals that the independence leaders were aware that they were leading their followers towards a dead end. Gonzalo Boyé, lawyer and advisor to Carles Puigdemont, recognized in October 2020 in a conversation with another of the main collaborators of the ‘former-president’, Josep Lluís Alay, that the European Union will never recognize the right of a region to become independent from a democratic state According to Boyé, Brussels will only support the self-determination of a territory if it can be demonstrated that its citizens are a “national minority” that suffers a “flagrant violation of rights”, a case in which Catalonia does not fit.
The conversation between Boyé and Alay shows that the leaders of parties such as ERC and the CUP had doubts or were directly against introducing the concept of “Catalan social minority” in their speeches. But Puigdemont’s lawyer reminded Alay that this was the only way that secessionism would one day achieve its political goals. “If it is not by this means, in the EU there is no room for the rest … It is that self-determination is only possible in Europe if it is framed in the context of a flagrant violation of the rights of a national minority”, warned Boyé.
The phrase reveals a gulf between the official discourse of the independence leaders and the diagnosis that they later make in private. The Civil Guard found Boyé’s text on Alay’s mobile phone after he was arrested in the Voloh operation, the investigation led by the head of the Court of Instruction number 1 of Barcelona, Joaquín Aguirre, on the alleged diversion of public funds to the ‘procés‘ and other crimes of corruption.
The technology experts from the Armed Institute found that Puigdemont’s right-hand man in Waterloo had used the Signal instant messaging application, considered highly secure, to communicate with dozens of secessionist leaders, including the ‘ex-president’ himself. Fearing that the chats would be found, Alay even asked Boyé to delete all the messages that the two had crossed. But Alay did not follow his own advice and investigators have used their conversations to reconstruct his movements and those of his surroundings.
One of the key episodes occurred on October 17, 2020, just two weeks before Operation Voloh. Alay told Boyé at 4:54 p.m. on that day that “Marta”, referring to Marta Rovira, the ERC general secretary who fled to Switzerland, did not understand the idea of ”Catalan social minority.” “She wants me to explain the key to the use of the term,” he told to Alay. “She says that in her party there is a great rejection of it,” he added. “Damn … they haven’t understood anything,” replied Boyé, notably annoyed. But Alay had other bad news. The concept did not generate a great adhesion in the CUP either: “: “David [Fernández, leader of that formation] is open, but somewhat skeptical about it”.
At that time, Boyé told Alay that this strategy was the only feasible one to achieve the recognition of the European Union for an independent Catalonia. “It is the problem of talking to non-jurists about a concept that is legal … Well, that of self-determination is also legal, only in another normative and political framework,” Boyé wrote. “I think if they are asking those questions it is clear that we are far behind on the subject.” Boyé already helped Puigdemont in 2019 to denounce Spain before the Belgian Justice for alleged “systematic violations” of rights against the “Catalan minority”. Although that complaint and other similar ones have been archived, the leader of Junts per Catalunya has been trying since 2017 to internationalize the ‘procés’ with that argument.
But ERC and CUP leaders had reason to question the efficacy of that concept, as Alay made explicit. In March 2020, seven months before the intervened conversation, the independence movement sold as a victory that the UN special rapporteur for National Minorities, Fernand de Varennes, issued a report after a visit to Spain in which he included the Catalans in that category and denounced alleged “gaps” in the State’s respect for some of its rights, such as “language” and “teaching.” It was the first time that Catalans were considered a “national minority”.
But the theoretical triumph had little travel in the ranks of the ‘procés’. The assumption of this concept collides with one of the main ideas of the secessionist discourse: that the right to self-determination has the support of a vast majority of Catalans. Reality also denies that the independence movement is a marginal movement. The parties of this ideological current have been part of the different governments of Catalonia without interruption during the last 40 years. In addition, they control all spheres of power, from the public media to the universities, through the regional Security Forces, education, unions and health. Likewise, Catalan is the vehicular language in their classrooms. It is Spanish that occupies a residual space.
However, Boyé remarked in the chat discovered that it was necessary to repeat the discourse of the “social minority” because there was no other formula to aspire to a recognition of Brussels. Alay showed him his support, according to the summary of the Voloh case, to which El Confidencial has had access. “Totally agree. Delayed, “said Alay at 4:57 p.m. on October 17, 2020.” It’s what best defines the situation, ” Boyé settled moments later.
Alay’s messages on Signal have revealed Puigdemont’s approach to the Kremlin in search of a possible political alliance, given the lack of progress on the European route. To enter into contact with Moscow, Alay would have used as an intermediary the businessman Alexander Dmitrenko, ambassador of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce in Russia. Along with this intermediary, Alay participated in an alleged sale of Russian gas to a Kong Kong instrumental company and there was a payment of $ 295,000. The Audiencia Provincial de Barcelona has ordered this week that this operation be investigated.
Alay’s mobile phone has also shown that, despite receiving a public salary from the Generalitat as director of the office of the ‘ex-president’, he concealed from the Parliament trips to Moscow and other destinations to carry out procedures that were not related to his position. For these facts, he faces a possible crime of embezzlement. Another court, number 28 in Barcelona, was already investigating him for financing similar activities with public funds.