In English Voices From Spain

Provocation and Disloyalty

Originally published in Spanish (2015): «Provocación y deslealtad». Ignacio Martín Blanco. El País.

I’m breaking a confidentiality agreement about pro-independence movement’s real plans. I do it because of a moral obligation. Why should I keep loyalty to someone that is behaving with such disloyalty to their fellow citizens?

On October 27th, 2015, Junts pel Sí and CUP presented to the Bureau of Catalan Parliament a motion for resolution where they urged the unborn government of the Generalitat to open a process to create a “Catalan independent state as a republican system”. But what was behind that supposed pro-independence parties’ effort? Are they really determined to unilaterally declare independence? Are they even going to do so against the will of more than half of the Catalans? They are really thinking that any of the state around us would recognise as an independent state a Catalonia splitting from Spain this way?

I am sure that many of my fellow citizens, worried about the drift that events are taking in Catalonia, are asking themselves this kind of questions. Hence that I decided to reveal an episode that took place few days after the regional election on September 27th, specifically the night of October 5th, when I shared a dinner table with the current National Catalan Assembly (ANC), Jordi Sánchez. The rest of guests were businessmen, scholars, some journalist and even a politician: the Generalitat’s culture counsellor, Ferràn Mascarell. Sixteen people, in all.

At first, my intention was to keep the confidentiality agreement about anything discussed there, a verbal compromise which above all would serve for the main guest, Jordi Sánchez, to speak freely about the political situation in Catalonia after the regional election. However, he said some things that, while I found them intolerable back then, now make perfect sense in the light of the events during last week in the Catalan Parliament, so I feel myself morally compelled to reveal them. I think that general interest must prevail over individual compromises. After all, what Sánchez said allows to know the exact level of disloyalty to Catalan society that lately has been driving the pro-independence leaders. Why should I keep loyalty to someone that is behaving with such disloyalty to their fellow citizens? I am talking about someone who privately says things radically different of what he says publicly, feeding up vain illusions that only can generate frustration. His double-speak seems to me inacceptable when the coexistence between Catalans, and between Catalans and Spaniards, is at stake. Let us see what I found so alarming about what the ANC leader said.

For starters, he constantly used the first person plural to refer to Junts pel Sí, which should not be surprising, given that the organization that he presides —along with Òmnium Cultural, Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) and Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC)— was among the signers of the agreement on the pro-independence roadmap. But such assumption of partisan identity results particularly reprehensible if we consider the controversy on whether the last Diada rallies were an electoral act or not. Everyone knew it was, starting with the pro-independence leaders themselves, who even appeared publicly outraged when anyone dared to put the democratic character of the event into question.

Despite of the fact that Junts pel Sí did not obtained the absolute majority in seats, Sánchez expressed satisfaction for the result. “If we obtain an absolute majority, I can not even imagine how much pressure would be exerting the CUP, which would have had not the force it has now, to take irreversible steps toward independence. It is better this way”. That is, that if Junts pel Sí get to obtain the required majority to forming a government without having to count on CUP’s support, it would have a bigger problem than it has now, because they would be inevitably compelled to implement their electoral platform, and they could not to blame the anti-establishment CUP of their own particular infringements. Legal questions aside, this is a taunt to Junts pel Sí voters, largely persuaded that secession was around the election’s corner. Even so, that was not the most alarming thing Sánchez said that night. The pro-independence leader openly admitted that the election results do not legitimate the separatist parties to declare independence, in opposition of what pro-independence leaders, including Sánchez himself, publicly argue. He referred, specifically, the fact that they did not obtain even the half of the votes, and admitted that “no one outside Spain would understand”, in such circumstances, a declaration of independence by the Catalan Parliament. “We have to admit that this is too difficult to buy for someone outside here”, he concluded. It would not be bad that Sánchez & co. started by recognizing that before all Catalan citizens, starting with their own voters.

Deep down aware that the results of regional election do not legitimate their roadmaps, Sánchez exposed undauntedly that pro-independence parties must to keep acting as if independence were a matter of hours, as if they were fully legitimated to culminate the process. “From now on, what we need to do is to carry out sovereignty actions, meaning that this is serious business, in order to force the issue”. Asked about what did he meant by “forcing the issue”, he replied that the point is to provoke the state’s response. He admitted that it would be terrific for the pro-independence movement if the Spanish were to enforce the Article 155 of Constitution, however, he admitted the unlikely of that, since “the Spanish government would be lost” before the international community.

Ruling out the enforcement of Article 155, Sánchez explained that the point was to project to the world, through such cunning acts of sovereignty, the impression of a Parliament that is already acting as if it were de facto independent, aiming to force an international mediation for a resolution to the “dispute between Spain in Catalonia”. Sánchez is hoping that the election results that he himself consider insufficient will lead the international community to impose the Spanish state to hold a referendum on self-determination for Catalonia. The recent comments on Catalonia by the secretary general of UN, Ban Ki-moon, do not seem to follow that line.

For the Catalan process ideologists, the goal is now to take the situation to a point of no return. We should keep in mind that they do not even have the support of half of Catalans. Under the consenting eye of the counsellor Mascarell, sitting to his right, Sánchez was anticipating the background of measures as the motion for resolution presented last week to the Parliament, admitting that they are bluffing about their challenge to the state. An “act of sovereignty” to trigger the state’s response, that is, a provocation, as the prime minister Mariano Rajoy put it. Furthermore, the motion represents a disdain for the Catalan Parliament, but above all, a disloyalty to Catalan citizens and all of Spain.

Back To Top