JUST over one year ago, on October 27, 2017, the Catalan Parliament made a declaration of independence of Catalonia from Spain, applying the result of the referendum on October 1. Despite the Spanish Government sending 10,000 anti-riot police officers, who beat and injured voters, it could not prevent 2,300,000 people from voting, with 92% supporting independence.

In fact, the statement was only a symbolic one, because the Catalan Government and its president, Carles Puigdemont (exiled in Belgium), faced with the threats of the Spanish state, did not want fatal violence – and so did not implement it.

In fact, the process of organising the referendum on October 1 had in itself been a claim that Catalonia wanted to decide its future in a referendum agreed with Spain, as they had done in Scotland and Quebec, but since Spain totally refused it, Catalonia proceeded with the unilateral referendum as a mechanism of denunciation, always waiting for a negotiation at some time.

It had come a long way, from 2010 and especially since 2012, when a rally with a million people was organised calling for us to be able to decide our future as a nation – and this has been repeated every year. Spain opposes it, arguing that the constitution does not allow it, but hides that this constitution is vitiated from its origin.

The transition from Franco to democracy did not work well and, for this reason, 40 years later, Spain still maintains Francoist values in the foundations of the structures of the state. This has become apparent when the state has refused to engage in dialogue with Catalonia, when police officers have been sent to strike voters in the referendum, when the army has been mobilised to threaten peaceful demonstrators, when half of the Catalan Government has been imprisoned for political reasons (the other half is in exile) and they face 30-year penalties that would have required that there was violence, when the government of Catalonia was temporarily suspended, when Spain represses peaceful activists with fines and threats of imprisonment, when there is a permissive attitude to the pro-Spain right-wing extremist groups who attack pro-independence activists...

Europe must become involved and oblige the Spanish state to organise a referendum on independence, respecting the result. If we are not allowed to vote in this country there will be no stability, with more than two million independentist people obligated to remain in Spain by force.
Jordi Oriola Folch

ON a sunny and promising Sunday morning in October, driving on the straight road towards the Catalan prison of Lledoners, the beauty of the natural surroundings is a wake-up call to embrace hope over fear. Over there, right behind the modern prison, lies a very meaningful and powerful hill, where thousands and thousands of loyal and committed people stand guard for the Catalan Republic as well as the universal rights of democracy.

They gather every Sunday morning to sing encouraging and patriotic songs for the Catalan political prisoners. Their music and songs relentlessly calling from the loudspeakers to the Catalan political prisoners’ souls; keep strong and hopeful, because you are not alone; more than two million people are thinking about you, staying by your side despite the odds being against your much yearned release.

Such a surreal, strongly unfair scenario is taking place within the so-called democratic European Union in the 21st century, where the thorny, highly exceptional political situation of the historical nation of Catalonia is still neglected and ignored by the most powerful EU states. It’s an uncomfortable truth one must acknowledge, creating a highly important precedent for the next nations destined to become an independent state in a hopefully not-so-far future: Scotland and the Basque Country.

However, the worst is probably yet to come next year, when the politicised Spanish judiciary’s sentences will be kept silent to try to disunite the Catalan pro-independence movement, being caught up in the complex process of staying united to implement the Catalan Republic amid the municipal elections. Unfortunately, the Catalan Parliament has recently lost its majority of pro-independence deputies because of the lack of agreement about how to delegate the votes of the politicians in exile, including former president Carles Puigdemont.

Somehow, the Catalans have come to have the unpredictability of an at-times chaotic, non-pragmatic and highly partisan nature, even when a much needed unity on strategy is required. The Counsel of the Republic begins to see the light this month from Waterloo ... only time and events can make real the song lyrics sung weekly, deep inside from the heart on top of the empowering hill; keep strong and united and the prison walls rifts will show the light of freedom and truth.
Marta Vallbona Pujol