“I am a Catalan”

“But let me say one thing. I am a Catalan. Today a province of Spain, but what has been Catalonia? Catalonia has been the greatest nation in the world. I will tell you why, Catalonia has had the first parliament, much before England. Catalonia had the beginning of the United Nations. All the authorities of Catalonia in the 11th century met in a city of France, at that time Catalonia, to speak about peace. At the 11th century! Peace in the world and against war, the inhumanity of war. This was Catalonia. I am so, so happy, so moved to be here, with you.”

This speech, given by the great catalan cellist Pau Casals at the UN on October 24, 1971 is a landmark on the road of catalan vindication for independence. Its starting words “I am a Catalan” are perhaps the most iconic sentence when it comes to explain catalan independence to the world, and as such has been chosen as our motto at Reagrupament International.

 

 

“This is the greatest honour of my life. Peace has always been my greatest concern. I learnt to love it when I was but a child. When I was a boy, my mother – an exceptional, marvellous woman -, would talk to me about peace, because at that time there were also many wars. What is more, I am Catalan. Catalonia had the first democratic parliament, well before England did. And the first United Nations were in my country. At that time – the Eleventh Century – there was a meeting in Toluges – now France – to talk about peace, because in that epoch Catalans were already against, AGAINST war. That is why the United Nations, which works solely towards the peace ideal, is in my heart, because anything to do with peace goes straight to my heart.

I have not played the cello in public for many years, but I feel that the time has come to play again. I am going to play a melody from Catalan folklore: El cant dels ocells – The Song of the Birds. Birds sing when they are in the sky, they sing: “Peace, Peace, Peace”, and it is a melody that Bach, Beethoven and all the greats would have admired and loved. What is more, it is born in the soul of my people, Catalonia.”

(English translation of the original version in Catalan, from Enric Casals’ book “PAU CASALS, dades biogràfiques inèdites, cartes íntimes i records viscuts”, Ed. Pòrtic, Col. Memòries, Barcelona, 1979.)