The political disease of our time is storytelling. Parties and trench journalism distort reality until it is diversified into parallel stories that do not coincide, not even by chance. It has happened, once again, with the report of the Commission on Human Rights of the Council of Europe, which will be debated in a future plenary session. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs states: “The report indicates that the actions of the pro-independence politicians have been unconstitutional and illegal, and that the Administration of Justice of Spain in defense of the violated legality took place within the parameters of a rule of law”. Consequently, the Spanish press hardly echoed the report. In the other trench, Carles Puigdemont maintains that the report “is devastating for Spain”; and the president Aragones affirms: “Once again, Europe underlines the repression and harshly questions Spanish justice”.
In reality, the report is an ambiguous and nuanced statement. Yes, it confirms a good part of the pro-independence theses: remember that Catalan politicians were sentenced to long prison terms “for statements made in the exercise of their political mandates” during the illegal consultation in 2017. Calls for the correction of the crimes of sedition and rebellion, used to punish a referendum that, being illegal, is decriminalized. It also calls for the release of those convicted and the suspension of judicial proceedings against pro-independence fellows abroad. And it argues that the authorities should not require the incarcerated to renounce “their deep political opinions” in exchange for improving their situation (pardon).
The pardon does not serve to satisfy, but to overcome, the blocks
Despite this, it also maintains that the pro-independence side can be “forced to undertake their political objectives without resorting to illegal means”. It says ‘compel’, not ‘suggest’ or ‘recommend’. The fact is that the document does not buy the pro-independence propaganda according to which the Spanish and Turkish states are identical. On the contrary. It makes it clear that it trusts the rule of law and “in the independence of the Spanish courts”. A generic idea frames the document: freedom of expression is not unlimited and it is not possible to “call for the violent overthrow of democratic institutions”. This generic framework can only be interpreted as an approximation to the fiscal thesis, accepted by the Supreme Court, of the coercive violence of the independence movement in October 2017.
This example is worth highlighting among thousands. If parallel narratives persist, will a productive debate on our problems ever be possible? Right now only the pardon can help us converge a bit. That is why it is a good measure: both sides give in and no one is satisfied. The pardon does not have to satisfy anyone: it serves to unlock.
Josep M. Carbonell, dean of the Faculty of Communication and International Relations of Blanquerna (URL), has defended the pardon in the digital Catalunya Plural for five reasons. Because no one is blameless in this conflict. Because the consensus that it arouses in Catalonia is medicine for internal fracture. To get out of the trenches. To overcome the blocks. And on a positive note, which is not taken into account but which illuminates the situation. In recent years, similar conflicts have occurred in other countries. In all of them, there have been deaths: 34 in the social outbreak of Chile in 2019; 47 in Colombia these days; 11 with the yellow vests in France. And the five from the assault on the Capitol in the US. Comparisons are not always odious: sometimes they put the problems at their right point and angle. Carbonell maintains, and I also think so, that the pro-independence movement is civic and that the forces of order have been quite weighted in the use of force. Let’s not let the problem rot any more. Every day that passes with the leaders in prison, the force of the State becomes more abusive and the pro-independence civility is allowed to be possessed by woodworm.