The View from Catalunya

“…the independetist left and its political representation, the CUP, are trying to summon a referendum, with or without Spanish permission, and working to introduce a social and ecological agenda in this process, shoulder to shoulder with social movements and left wing political parties.”

This is the text of the contribution to the Europe workshop at RIC 2013 by Adam Majo of the of  CUP Països Catalans.

Good afternoon, I must admit that this is my first speech in English in all my life so I’ll do my best but and I hope I can make myself understood.

First of all, we would like to thank you very much for the invitation we received to this Radical Independence conference. It’s for us a pleasure and an honour to be here trying to make a contribution to this debate.

CUPCurrently, in Catalonia, there is a great expectation about what’s happening in Scotland. There are some parallelisms between the political process in our land and here, and there are, as well, some important differences. The most important difference is not about us but about the other side, the state. Maybe the UK is not a perfect democracy, but the kingdom of Spain is for sure much worse than that.  Just this week, the former president of Spain, George Bush’s friend Jose Maria Aznar, said that if the Catalan government sets a date for a referendum in Catalonia, the president of the Catalan government should go to jail. They, the Spanish right wing Partido Popular and the not so right wing PSOE, share the same position: there cannot be a referendum asking for the independence of Catalonia because it’s illegal according to the 1978 Spanish Constitution, and because, according to them, it is simply impossible. Even when 87 of the 135 members of the Catalan Parliament are for the referendum and all the polls say that a vast majority of the Catalan agree with a referendum and that the yes to independence will win when that referendum takes place. And, last but not least, there are millions of people mobilized for what we call “the right to decide” and towards the creation of a new Catalan republic. Another difference between here and there is the question of territoriality. The Scottish borders are clear-cut and defined; however, Catalan borders are not the same. We think that the Catalan nation is not only Catalonia but also northern Catalonia (in France, nowadays), the region of Valencia and the Balearic islands. In other words, the whole area where the Catalan language is still alive and where a cultural and historical background is shared. The movement towards Independence is much stronger in Catalonia, but we want to open the door to all those other territories to be part of this project, the Catalan republic, if they decide so democratically.

Regarding the coincidences with the Scottish process, there are also many. We both want to do it democratically, we are not against the English people or against Spaniards; but for ourselves, for the right to have our own rule in order to build better relations and cooperation, first of all with our neighbours and then with peoples and nations all over the world. And, of course, nor in Scotland, neither in Catalonia, we are not ethnic movements, we share an open vision of what is to be a Catalan or a Scot in the  21st century with no exclusion of anybody who lives and wants to live in our countries, no matter where this individual comes from. We regard diversity as a positive thing.

And another coincidence between our two countries is the existence of a movement which says: yes, we need independence, that is a goal, we want to have our own voice among peoples and nations in the world, but it is not enough, we want to build not only a new country but a better one. You say “Another Scotland is possible”, we say “Independence to change it all”. We all think that Independence is a precious opportunity to rethink all aspects of our societies, to strengthen the role of the state as a provider and a guardian of social rights, the right for a public school system, public health, a home, social services… The state must protect the weak and must control strategic economic sectors like finances, energy or land properties. We want a republic with no exclusions for anybody, not for women, not for the newly-arrived from other parts of the world. How far can we get in the changes we want to introduce? As far as people want, of course, but we are convinced that, nowadays, especially after the hard economic crisis that we are suffering, we, the people, are much more in the left and that a country where people’s will is respected will be, for sure, a much more fair and good place to live in.

This is where we are now, the independetist left and its political representation, the CUP, are trying to summon a referendum, with or without Spanish permission, and working to introduce a social and ecological agenda in this process, shoulder to shoulder with social movements and left wing political parties.

In all this process, we see the European Union more as an enemy than as an ally. We strongly believe in a union of peoples of this continent and from both sides of the Mediterranean too, but as a means to achieve cooperation and justice. Now, we are afraid, the EU is more a tool in the hands of financial markets and big corporations than in the hands of the people. To change this situation, it’s important, for sure, that an international movement claiming another Europe is created. We hope that today we are contributing to building it.

 Finally, we would like to say that maybe you have the feeling that nobody cares about what’s happening in Scotland. Maybe you think that Europe or the world is not looking at you. We don’t think so but it’s difficult for us to say. What we know, for sure, is that there in Catalonia we certainly do, we are watching you. Because we know that what happens here will have consequences in our country. We trust in you and we are sure that hope will win over fear, and over those who promote fear .

All the luck and all the strength to build not only a free Scotland but also a better and more fair one.

Thank you very much for your attention.

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