Since the Parliament of Catalonia voted on September 6 in favour of holding a referendum to enable the Catalan people to exercise the right to self-determination, a new period has begun in the history of Catalonia. The past was left behind or what until now had been the present for centuries, from a political, legal and cultural point of view. Catalonia entered the phase that should take it, on October 1, to emancipate itself and recover its national freedom, its independence. If this is, of course, the will of the Catalan people called to the polls.
As this date approaches, the Catalans have been presented an occasion to express publicly and individually the meaning they want to give to their vote: the September 11 demonstration in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, had as a motto (as chosen by the civil society entities calling the demonstration), “YES” to independence.
The popular response scrupulously followed the plan designed by the organizers of the demonstration: to fill with people certain streets in the centre of Barcelona, so that the distribution of the demonstrators took the form of a plus sign, that is to say a cross. The planned stretches were completely filled, to overflowing pitch. The demonstrators’ t-shirts printed in different languages, held the affirmative proposition. The event was a success, in the number of participants and from a civic, peaceful, aesthetic and festive point of view. The expectations were met perfectly. Similar to what had already happened in previous demonstrations on September 11, the National Day of Catalonia, as from 2012.
Immediately many of those opposed to holding the referendum, even those opposed to allowing citizens to freely put a ballot paper in the ballot box to say NO to independence, instead of feeling themselves addressed by a massive rally and reflecting on what their eyes had seen, have obsessively denied the demo’s obvious success, proclaiming that there were less demonstrators than on previous years and that it had been a failure. Opponents just preferred to cover their ears when told that the organizers of the event had had to extend the planned stretches to fit all in (something that was done and checked with the images that the media published). In this sense, the number of protesters was not important to them. To push things home, the blind who did claim to see something put forward the absurd idea that most Catalans had not gone to the demonstration because they were favourable to the NO vote. This was the final test to accuse and threaten those who had demonstrated of being a bunch of holigans out to tread on the law and any norm of coexistence. That is, those who had gone out to the street thinking of the country’s future, to improve coexistence between citizens, as it turned out for these media, were troublemakers out to create division in society and cause violence. Imagine!
What the demonstration of September 11 this year has shown is that, once again, for some, the laws emanating from the popular sovereignty represented by the Parliament of Catalonia are intrinsically perverse, while those dictated by the servants of the Spanish State are all wonderful. The same thing was said of Spain’s overseas colonies regarding the metropolis. The demonstration also showed that the legality of the referendum, admitted by the majority of the elected Members of the Catalan people, is the opposite to the legality arising in a Statute of Autonomy that had not been voted for by this same people, despite having passed through the ballots of a referendum.
Has the 11 September demonstration shown that there has already been a head-on crash in Spain? Not really. Because, in fact, the demonstration has come to indicate that at least many Catalans and Spaniards live in different worlds, increasingly distant from each other.
If one day the possibility arises of a welcome reunion, it will no longer be possible for it to serve to call for surrender but for defending rights. The rights of the Catalan people and the rights of the Spanish people. The rights of a people, the Catalans, that on October 1 are called to free themselves of a situation that has favoured their being wiped out politically. And the rights of the Spanish people that have been manipulated by a series of governments that have used it to oppress and discriminate a people, the Catalans -among others- presented as part of a whole, like a child dependends on its parents, and not as a subject which has the right to stand alone, to be independent of any guardianship because it is a mature, adult society.
Finally, the 11 September demonstration was the first major public and massive act after the approval of the referendum on the Law of self-determination. It was the proclamation, in front of the world, that so many Catalans have already decided to do what the representatives of the Catalan people approved in their parliament, in application of the programme being applied since the last elections.
The demonstration was, undoubtedly, an exemplary democratic act which all Catalans are invited to see as a step in defense of the dignity and expectation of a whole nation, two values that distinguish it before the whole world.
Emeritus President of CIEMEN and President of PDD