In English Voices From Spain

The Rhetoric Path to Independence

Originally published in Spanish. Ricardo Dudda. Letras Libres

As always happens with the process, nothing is a big deal, until the adversary reacts. Mr Puigdemont’s speech in the Catalan Parliament the October 10th, where he declared Catalonia’s independence only to put it on hold, and the subsequent clandestine signing of secession in a Parliament’s room —without the opposition parties and without registering the text— was aimed to force Mr Rajoy’s response. Depending on his response (Article 155 of the Constitution or an indirect appeal to dialogue or to reducing tensions), that event would be a UDI or a further step in the never-ending process.

Mr Rajoy’s response has been a middle way which served as a warning respect the Article 155 and, at the same time, a request for moderation and reduction of tensions. The President has asked Mr Puigdemont what he did mean in the October 10th declaration: “The [national] Government requires the Catalan Govern to confirm if it has declared Catalonia’s independence […] to avoid the resulting confusion. This can be read as the previous requirement established by the Article 155, a sort of preadvise before taking over the autonomous region. Is also a good estrategy. The “Catalan process” is a rhetorical process, and Mr Rajoy has asked its leader to take the discussion down to the facts land, instead of that of gaseous speeches. He asked for clarity, despite Mr Rajoy himself is not a clear leader, and Mr Puigdemont can not offer clarity.

The President of Generalitat has been playing multiple sides: he has asked for dialogue while he was undertaking a coup; he has tried to avoid a strong response from the state without aliening their supporters who wanted an Unilateral Declaration of Independence, and he has sought the mediation of international community, which refuses to involve on it. It is possible that none of the ways works: the CUP is not satisfied and did not applaud Mr Puigdemont’s speech, though they signed the subsequent clandestine declaration with him; there are unsatisfied ERC deputies; the Junts pel Sí coalition could get splitted, and there was disappointment on the streets. The central government, on its hand, is of course asking for a dialogue within the legal frame, and Mr Rajoy has given a few days to Mr Puigdemont to clearly issue —if it is his intention at all— the threat of independence. In the international community, none country supports the unilateral way, and media has read the act as a surrender or a backout.

Mr Puigdemont played with ambiguities in his speech  (“We have earned the right to be an independent state”, something he had said already in a previous declaration), and addressed in many occasions to the international media, describing a history of unfair treatment against Catalonia, largely manipulated or exaggerated; he addressed to all Spaniards —in Spanish— to ask them to understand the independence cause, and he left to give way to a plenary session where opposition behaved as always had: beyond amazed or outraged for a supposed UDI, tired out for the umpteenth rhetoric not-binding declaration. There was some relief because regional election is likely the next real —not rhetoric— step.


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