Josep Borrell
In English Voices From Spain

Josep Borrel. Full speech. Demonstration on October 8th in Barcelona. «Recuperem El Seny»

Citizens of Catalonia,

Because that is what you are, citizens of this country. I see some estelades (T.N. star-bearing secessionist flag). This is our estelada [while displaying a European Union flag].

It carries the stars of peace, of coexistance, of civil rights… that is what defines Europe today. My friends, comrades, citizens of this country, we are here because we have summoned ourselves to defend peaceful coexistence, political pluralism and solidarity. And it is really needed that we do so, because coexistence has been broken in this country. It’s broken between friends, between family members. It’s broken in the streets. We have to rebuild it. We have to defend political pluralism because it is not recognized. We have a President of the Parliament, a President of the Parliament, who dares to say that those who don’t vote for some specific political parties are not Catalans, they tear apart all of our values.

Mrs. Forcadell, didn’t it cross your mind that before you said these things you should have resigned as President of the Parlament de Catalunya? But how is it possible?

[To the public] No, don’t applaud yet, I’ve been told I only have ten minutes.

How is it possible that a president of a parliament – I have been president of the European Parliament- How is it possible that a president of an institution that represents all the citizens dares to say that those who vote for other political parties, in an open and democratic way, are not Catalans? Of course they are! As much as anybody else!

And how is it possible that we have a conseller del govern de la Generalitat who says that those that don’t agree with the independence referendum, it is because they are not citizens but vassals?

You are not vassals!

And if you are here, if so many of you have come, it is indeed to tell the world that those who don’t have the same views as the nationalists are as much citizens of Catalonia as they are!


My friends, I have a friend who lives in the Moon and since he sees us from afar, when he looks at us through his telescope he tells me:  “Josep, in Catalonia there are only independence supporters”.


“No, of course not”, I reply, but of course he sees us from very far away, he only sees independence supporters and asks me “where are the others who say they aren’t?”

So here you are. My friend in the Moon, now you can see us!

But up to now we have not been seen nor heard. From now on we have to make the voice of all Catalans heard equally. And for that, a democratic control of the public mass media [applause], which right now are a democratic embarrassment, is required.

[Applause and shouts]

[To the public] Well, it looks like you do agree with me, don’t you?

It is required that people express themselves with utmost respect. I don’t want to exaggerate, but we are living almost dramatic moments in the history of this country.

We shouldn’t issue passionate demands. We must ask people to be sensible, to be respectful with us and with others. We should be very careful with what we do in the next days because if independence is declared in a unilateral way, this country will go off the cliff. Mr Puigdemont, don’t throw it off the cliff, don’t let it go off the cliff.

[Audience chanting “Puigdemont a prisión” (Puigdemont to prison)]

[To the public] No, no, don’t shout like a mob at the roman circus. The only people that go to jail are those being sent there by a judge.

I beg you, please, I beg you to be extremely respectful, that we rebuild the affection, that we love each other. Every time I argue with my pro-independence friends and I explain how many false stories are there in their calculations, every time that I explain to them the lies that have been told to increase their disdain for others. At the end, when they realize they have no more reasons or arguments, they reply “the problem is that they don’t love us”. But we do, we do love you.

I’m going to ask all of you a favor, also to those of you who have come also from outside Catalonia: when you go back to your homes all over Spain, please do something: go and buy a bottle of Catalan cava. (NdT: Catalan champagne)


Go and buy a bottle of Catalan cava because the sales of Catalan cava have dropped by 15% and this means that there are more unemployed workers in Catalonia. I don’t want to hear about boycotts, about offences. We have to work all together to recover the sanity that has vanished.

And now I want to address the businessmen of Catalonia. Now I want to address all of those who are making the decision to leave Catalonia in a hurry: Couldn’t you have spoken up earlier?

All the things you said in private, why didn’t you say them in public too?

Two years ago when… while publishing my first book, I said that if independence was declared, this would happen, that businesses would flee and that banks would be the first to do so. And Mr Junqueras and Mr Mas, who were great prophets, said that not even one would leave.

Not even one, isn’t it Mr. Mas?

All those businesses that are now leaving should have said so before. That, if what is happening now, happened, they would do what they are doing. Because had they said so, had they said so, maybe this wouldn’t be happening.

We all are to be blamed a bit for being too quiet. Now it is the moment for those who feel they belong to this land to make a plea for serenity, for good judgement, for peaceful coexistence, for solidarity, for political pluralism.

These are the emblems of the starry European flag, and for that we have to work, my friends.


This will not be fixed by making unilateral decisions. This is not a problem of public order, or not only. This is not a problem that can be fixed just by saying that we do it better and that Europe will welcome us with open arms.

Mr. Junqueras, please stop deceiving the Catalans. Stop saying things that aren’t true. You believe your own lies, but if you really do what you say you’ll do, let me tell you that in Catalonia, in Spain and in Europe, the price we will pay will be very high.

Because what you defend is the opposite of the European ideal.

The European ideal is respect for the law and solidarity. You are breaking one and don’t want to fulfill the other.

Do you think that with that introduction card you would be welcomed with open arms? No. They would tell you to come back another day, and in the meantime we all would suffer a lot. Because I see that there are people suffering. I see it in the streets, in trains, in restaurants. Good people that are afraid, fearful of what can happen. They don’t know what will happen with their pensions. They don’t know if they will have to leave this country. What they ask of us is to do something, and quick, because we are on the brink of what can end up being a civil confrontation. And we have to contribute to prevent it.

I want to finish, I have many things to say but we don’t have enough time. I only want to say two more things.

First: When President Kennedy sent the National Guard to end with… to make Southern states comply with racial laws, he said that no man, no man, however powerful, and no mob, however boisterous, is entitled to defy the law. Because [switches to Spanish] the day they are not bound by the law, no judge will be able to do their job, nobody will be safe from arbitrariness of the Government and no citizen will be certain of what their neighbors could do.


[Switches back to Catalonian] And we want to be certain of what our neighbors can do to us. Things have happened here that shouldn’t have. We have seen images that we don’t like. We are hurting each other. Enough is enough, let’s recover the good judgement and think about the world we are living in, in the 21st Century we are entitled to live in peace. We are entitled to peace. We should be enjoying this wonderful land, the progress in this democratic Spain we can be very proud of.


There are problems, of course there are. Which country doesn’t have problems?

[In English] But believe me, do you think that Catalonia is like Lithuania, or Kosovo? No.

[In French] Do you believe that Catalonia is like Algeria for France? No, Catalonia is not a colony.

[In Spanish] Catalonia is not a state that is military occupied, as Lithuania was by the soviet army.

[In English] Catalonia is not a state like Kosovo, where there was violence and Human Rights were violated.

[In Catalan]For that reason Catalonia must keep on working based on the respect for the law and those who say that international law is on their side must not be believed, because it is not true, it is not on their side!

And here in Barcelona, Ban Ki Moon himself, Secretary General of the United Nations came to say so.

My friends: No more borders. This flag [displaying the European flag] represents the suppression of borders.

What are borders? Borders are the scars that History has left on the surface of Earth.

[In Spanish] Borders are the scars that History has left engraved in the surface of Earth. Engraved with blood and fire.

We shouldn’t create any more since we already had to endure too much to build them.

Thank you


Vídeo from rtve.

Photo: © European Union, 2005 – Source: European Parliament

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