Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Salamanca Papers: The Litmus Test

About the author of this article for Help Catalonia

Antoni Strubell i Trueta

Catalan Linguist and Professor.
Member of the Catalan Parliament.
Coordinator of Dignity Commission.
In 2002 he received the prestigious Saint George's Cross any 2002.


As professor Henry Ettinghausen said in a memorable article, the return of the Salamanca Papers—the wealth of private and public documents stolen by Franco’s troops as they entered Catalonia, used as evidence against republicans, and stored for decades in an “archive” in the city of Salamanca—is the litmus test of Spanish “democracy”. I write democracy between quotation marks because in my opinion Spain is not a democracy—certainly not a democracy with a level comparable to neighbouring countries. Spain has failed to build a democracy in the same way as it has failed to return the entirety of the documents sequestered in Salamanca. The act that established the obligation to return the Papers was reluctantly passed by the Spanish parliament six years ago, in 2005, and it has not yet been fully implemented. This is surely the slowest process of documentary restitution in history. Curiously, though, when the Spanish socialists requested their own documents, they got them back in just few weeks.

The case of the Catalan documents in Salamanca is symptomatic of Spanish political reality. Democracy suffers because the Spanish Socialist Party—who probably would like to see a different state of things—must follow the pace set by the neofrancoist and quasi-fascist drums of the Popular Party. We live in a regime in which—let’s call a spade a spade—an “excess” of democracy might give rise to social unrest. In Spain, social unrest is not caused by the powers that be and their lack of democracy, but by an “excess” of it, as seen from the Puerta del Sol—incidentally, the same place where exactly a year ago the President of the Madrid region, Esperanza Aguirre (PP), banned an event in memory of Lluís Companys, the 123rd President of Catalonia, who in 1940 was tortured in the basement of the building where Aguirre has her presidential offices.

As author Matthew Tree puts it, the Spaniards will never change. Cryptodemocracy suits them well. They don’t want anything better, and they want us Catalans to stay put. They want to dominate us while we foot the bill; they want to humiliate us and see us impoverished. This is why we need to secede from Spain at the first opportunity—with the Salamanca Papers finally back at home. A victory that, only ten years ago, many said was an impossible feat. The effort of patriots such as lawyer Pep Cruanyes made it possible. We will always fight on in order to create a free, fully democratic Catalan state within the concert of Europe’s free nations.

Toni Strubell i Trueta
Member of the Catalan Parliament


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