Patriotism and Dignity

This text was published on April 18, 2009 in Avui newspaper. It had a huge impact and is considered a keystone in Reagrupament Independentista history.

Half way through March, Spanish and Andalusian governments agreed to settle the so called historical debt, an obscure concept that as both governments conceded surpassed €1,2 bn. To do it, Spain had to pay Andalucia dutifully within the period stipulated by the Statute of Andalusia. Apparently some stipulated periods are dutifully respected!
From that moment and in a matter of weeks, Spanish government decided to endorse, with €9 bn, a savings bank which was struggling and whose president is a regional leader of the PSOE. Moreover, according to the agreements reached in the G20 summit, Spain has to hand over €4 bn more to the IMF. It’s obvious that the crisis is just an excuse for the Spanish government not to increase funding for Catalonia.
Meanwhile, the Spanish president offered Catalonia an amount of money that wouldn’t actually increase Catalan resources, but –according to data from the Ministry of Economy and Finances– would make up for just over a third of the drop in income that the Generalitat suffered in 2008 due to the crisis. Basically, it’s a mockery.
10,000 CATALANS MARCH TO BRUSSELS (07.03.2009)On top of that, after nearly three years of having passed the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, the Renfe commuter train service in Barcelona, the Catalan airports of El Prat, Reus and Girona, and even services that the Spanish Constitutional Court considered Catalan competences a long time ago such as university grants, haven’t been transferred to the government of Catalonia.
We supposedly (and I say supposedly because we have been waiting for months) are at the end of the negotiations on the new funding system and the judgment of the Constitutional Court about the Statute of Autonomy. Yet, both of them seem to be jinxed and the political situation in Catalonia is distressing. There is also a deep rift between the political class and the electorate as we can observe in the huge abstention rates and the official surveys where the citizens are asked to rank their satisfaction with politics.
Since catalanist political parties aren’t very enthusiastic about showing their true nature by acting in favour of Catalonia, catalanists tend to organise themselves on the fringes of political parties through organisms and entities that make the most of the latest communication technologies, which make things much easier for the circulation of their messages. The fact that the Independence Demonstration on the 7th of March in Brussels was a success demonstrates that this new wide range of sovereignty supporters has the power to rally and take action. However, although these entities are doing a good job when it comes to patriotism, we need their objectives to be unequivocally adopted by political parties.
Our new Statute of Autonomy, which was modified in favour of the Spanish government, has provided neither national recognition nor increased our government’s competences or funding –and we still don’t know how much more the Spanish Constitutional Court is going to cut out of it. Seeing this failure should make us realise once and for all that we need to stop pursuing the strategy of demanding competences only when the Spanish need our support, of asking them to read our legal texts in a kind way, of assuming that Spanish Liberals would be willing to advance towards federalism together with supporters of Catalan independence and of social patriotism with its lack of civil action.
At this stage no Plurinational State, no Multicultural Spain or Asymmetrical federalism (nor symmetrical, or of any other kind) is good. It‘s worthless with Spain.
And it‘s not as if the catalanists haven’t tried to regenerate Spain to make Catalonia fit in. We have been trying for over a century. Now, our survival as a nation, our progress and the welfare of the Catalan citizens are only viable through independence. And according to some studies, this is a point of view that more and more Catalans are adopting.
Catalanism and Independence, along with the political parties that claim them need to internalise a new paradigm in their relations with the state. It isn’t a catalanist mission to watch over the stability of the changing Spanish governments in exchange for a few minor concessions. Catalan governments shouldn’t have to beg Spanish governments to recognise them. It should be the Spanish governments, when they are in the minority, who should make an effort to get the votes of the catalanist parties. And the former should only give them their support if they obtain remarkable improvements towards self-government and national recognition for Catalonia: decent funding, big infrastructures, national sports team, actual intervention in international organisations, our own territorial organisation, a reduction of the law providing the bases for regional regulations, an increase of the exclusively Catalan competences, scrupulous respect for the use of the Catalan language as a common language in all fields… If they don’t make these kinds of commitments, according to Heribert Barrera’s proposal, catalanist MPs shouldn’t support any Spanish initiative presented in the Spanish Parliament.
I am aware that this is a lot to ask of any Spanish government, but the various strategies based on negotiation and implication in the governability of the state have taken our country to the impasse we are in. The Catalans need to use the political power we have in Madrid, bearing only our national interests in mind.
The social pro-independence sector needs to have once again a clear electoral point of reference. That is why as far as I am concerned, in the next Parliament elections we need to present a long-ranged candidacy which focuses on unilaterally declaring independence for Catalonia by a majority decision of our Parliament, which would be subsequently ratified with the corresponding referendum. I respectfully disagree with those who think that the aforementioned referendum should be staged within the legislation currently in force, because it would need to be authorised by the Spanish government, which as we all know, would never endorse it. Logically thinking we shall assume that this candidacy should be presented by the only parliamentary party which declares itself a pro-independence party and its charter so provides. However, this declaration clashes violently with the strategy this party is using at the moment.

While it doesn’t obtain the majority to come to power, the parliamentary pro-independence bloc should not participate or actively support any government that doesn’t have devolution and increasing national recognition for Catalonia among its objectives, recuperating with this the essential matters to which I referred above.
The pro-independence bloc representatives should also have clear that ethics are crucial when exercising politics: it’s the best way to regain the general public’s trust. Pro- independence should embody honesty, rigour, efficiency and austerity in the performance of public offices. Pro- independence representatives should not take part in the monopoly of current politics, with politicians that have no other occupation, with plenty of institutional consultants, with dodgy hiring procedures, with a large sum of external reports with questionable efficiency, politicians that relish luxury and ostentation and pull strings to get jobs for their relatives, friends and acquaintances. Consequently, having an electoral act that enforces an effective bond between the candidates and the electorate is a priority which can be postponed.
The political manifesto that I have tried to outline is based on the two values that give this article a title: Patriotism and Dignity. Patriotism means placing the national interest of Catalonia ahead of anything else, of any other personal interests, no matter how legitimate they are. Dignity means not tolerating any humiliation to our nation, as it’s the least we can do to honour those who fought and gave their lives for the freedom of our country before us. Patriotism and dignity: Catalonia deserves no less.
Translation: PM