dimecres, 22 de febrer de 2012

The Scottish Temptation

About the author of this article for Help Catalonia

Marc Monells 
 Director of Institutional Relations at the Catalan government 
Generalitat de Catalunya, Territori

Catalonia is usually compared to some other nations with no state, specially with those who aspire to become or have become independent. Some countries like Scotland, Quebec and Montenegro have called or are in the process of calling referendums in order to become independent, internationally recognised states.

Recently, the most common comparison has been with Scotland, which has called a referendum on independence by 2014. Ironies of history, 2014 will be the 300th anniversary of Catalonia‘s loss of independence. September 11th, 1714, is a specially remembered date in Catalonia. We could find lots of things in common between the Scottish and Catalan cases, but there is one big difference: Spain is not England. The British respect democratic principles, including the freedom of their people, and they will respect the decision of the Scottish people in case they wish to become a separate state.

Some days ago, I watched an interesting match at the Six Nations Rugby League between Scotland and England. A match between Catalonia and Spain, not even a friendly match, is unthinkable. Spain does not allow Catalonia to compete.

Unfortunately, Spanish thinking and Spanish laws do not contemplate the possibility of calling a referendum. This is not different from other states, but what really frightens me is that the Spanish constitution confers upon the Spanish army the responsibility “to save the indivisibility of the Spanish nation.”

The question in the Scottish referendum has already been decided—even though it may still change: “Do you agree that Scotland become and independent state?” It seems like there are more and more people in favor, but this might end up being a disputed match. And in the end, the the final result at the polls will be accepted by both parties, as it happened in Quebec, which remained part of Canada, or as it happened in Montenegro, which became independent. But here, in Catalonia, it won't be that easy.

Political Catalanism has always defended the position that in order to take a step this big, we should be sure of victory. I believe that in the last years pro-independence feeling has become the majority's position. Many different polls show that trend. So, right now it looks like a YES to independence would win.

So the question is: Where is the current Catalan government going? I believe we have to analyze President Mas’ words. I attended the conference at the Palau de Congressos in November 2007. The (then) candidate Mr. Mas spoke about the Great House of Catalanism, but the small print pointed towards sovereignty and the right to self-determination. Maybe the government does not explain every single day where we’re headed. I believe that Catalans have to trust that we are getting there. A few days ago, President Mas made a statement in the French paper Le Monde: “Catalonia could perfectly be a state in the European Union.”

Personally, I don't hide my pro-independence ideals, like many others in the current Catalan government, or like the majority of Catalan political parties. Some people say that members of political parties are more belligerent than our own activist voters. I'd go even further. At our next party Congress we will change our organizational chart. Also, the speech The National Transition gives important clues about the coming of the slow train of national freedom. The initial speech has a style of a model we've followed until now, to talk about independence, but we will get there. I know for a fact that many of our members have a great desire to advance in that direction.

I never get tired of insisting that our internal disagreements will lead us nowhere. You will never find me arguing with other Catalan independentists. When the day comes, we will all be as one.

In the last month, I have read that people in Catalonia have the feeling they are living in a kind of Groundhog Day movie, because year after year, century after century, Catalans are treated the same way. I do not agree with that. We have made progress, and soon it will have been 40 years of fighting between Catalonia and Spain, but this whole game is not producing any results. Forty years is time enough to give Spain a chance as we did when Franco died. But I don't want to fall in the Scottish temptation. In Catalonia we are still in the last stages.

Of course, the fiscal pact the Catalan government is proposing will be rejected by Spain, with or without a referendum. And that will be the right time. Catalans will have tried everything possible to live alongside the Spaniards. We cannot forget that timing is essential in politics. And our time is very very close. So, I don't want to miss it. When the final refusal for coexistence from the Spanish government arrives, we will have no option. We will be the captains of our fishing boats, the owners of our fishing nets.

Marc Monells

Read previous articles by this author here

0 comentaris:

Publica un comentari a l'entrada