I WAS very grateful to be named The National’s person of 2018 last week and wish to send my thanks and affection to everyone at the newspaper. I am sure there were many more Scottish people who were more deserving, but I am very grateful nevertheless.

I simply did what I had to do after the Catalan independence referendum in 2017. We couldn’t accept our politicians being imprisoned so we sought justice, which was not available in Spain. I went to Brussels first and then came to Scotland. I have two homes. One is out of reach at this point. I am glad that I can be here in Scotland, given the circumstances.

There is a lot of sympathy here for the Catalan cause and myself. I think that is an expression of the Scots’ love of democracy and human rights and their understanding of the right to self-determination.

That’s why we in Catalonia feel so much support from Scottish people, regardless of whether they support Scottish independence or not. They understand the value of freedom of expression.

It is very hard to make predictions about what will happen next in Catalonia. I suspect we are not that close to a solution. We are entering the big trial of the political prisoners, which will start late in January and will expose to the world the abuses of human rights the Spanish are perpetrating against our leaders. In a way it will be a lesson to the world and I hope democrats in the world will pay more attention to what is going on there.

While people in Scotland and other places have been paying attention, we have seen many so-called democratic institutions tolerate what has been going on in Spain while at the same time complaining about abuses of human rights in other countries. It is appalling that there is all this criticism of Turkey, China – even Hungary or Poland – when what is going on in Spain is equally serious. There are no political prisoners in Hungary or Poland.

So we keep claiming that institutions and governments in western Europe should stop tolerating the abuses and violence we have seen in Spain.

The fact is that the High Courts in Spain has lost any claim to fairness or impartiality. It has created an imaginary story about violence on the pro-independence side that did not exist and has not prosecuted the violence that did exist in October 2017. The fact is that the High Courts and special courts in the Audiencia Nacional follow the example of the Francoist courts.

The fact that high justices in Spain have explicitly said that the unity of Spain is a priority above democracy and human rights shows that they are ready to do whatever it takes to punish dissidents and the independence movement.

They know that once the case gets to the European Court of Human Rights their decisions will not be supported, but they know that this will take a lot of time. It is totally clear that this is an abuse of procedure, but they just don’t care.

What is outrageous is that other democratic governments in Europe are keeping their silence about this and looking the other way. It is Franco reborn.

The rest of Europe has been looking the other way and when they realise this, they will find a monster.

When we saw the first arrest in September 2017 and the juries were called to the Audiencia Nacional before the referendum and then there was this movement of thousands of Spanish police troops to stop the referendum it was clear that there was going to a violent reaction to the push for independence.

What was amazing was that the people of Catalonia just went to the polls and defended the ballot boxes and carried on with the referendum regardless of the heavy violence against them. That was the amazing thing about those days.

The hierarchies of the political parties and institutions and parliament at this stage is not clear. Our parliament is not acting as such at this point.

It has been under threat by the High Courts and in a way, it has accepted obediently the threats that have come from Judge Llarena. The people know what they want but the politicians are figuring out the next steps. It is an impasse, but I hope that ideas will clarify as we go along.

Meanwhile I have been working and teaching at the University of St Andrews, where I am a full-time professor. I still devote some time to following the news and I am a member of the Council of the Republic – but it is unclear what that will mean in practical terms for me.

I am back to my professorial life with the condition that I can’t return to Spain. I talk to a lot of people and follow the Catalan news on a closer basis than before I became involved in this story. I am very grateful to my principal Sally Mapstone and very loyal to the University of St Andrews.

Spain is now descending into the infernos of fascism. It is extremely scary but there is a lot of talk after the far-right party Vox got into the parliament in Andalusia.

Vox is a new brand, but Spain never quite cleared up its bigoted and undemocratic traditions and unfortunately that has popular support in elections. The fact that the electorates are so different in Catalonia and Spain and the Basque Country is the most persuasive proof that there is an indispensable need for self-determination AS for me, I could say that I would be satisfied if I could go home and be free there, but my suspicion is that this will not happen before we have a Catalan Republic. I don’t see the Spanish institutions opening a fair and serious political dialogue for another democratic transition.

Spain went through a democratic transition in the late 1970s and it is now at another juncture. Democrats in Spain should realise there is a need for another deal. There may be a need for a democratic rupture, which did not happen in the 1970s and 1980s. We will see.

Democracy in Spain at this point is tantamount to the drive to self-determination. There will not be democracy in Spain without Spain recognising the fact that Catalonia has reached the point of self-determination.

I am now working on a research project that is indirectly related to my experience, looking at how multi-level territorial administrations maintain stability and more generally about how we think about power and obedience and disobedience. I have other projects more focused on voting procedures.

I feel at home in Scotland, but I don’t think that at this point I should give opinions about Scottish independence. The Scottish movement has a lot of lessons for us and at the same time the Catalan way, which is going through very hard times right now, has lessons for the Scots.

It will be interesting to see when each nation materialises independence. I see things unravelling in Scotland within the next few years or even months, but it is hard to tell how things will come out.

It is a fascinating time to be in Britain. I follow what is happening with Brexit as much as I can, and I think the way the Scottish Government and MPs have been addressing the issue is quite impressive.

The past year has been a year of intense learning for the leadership for the Catalan movement and everyone – this is a mature society and people know that the popular movement is led by people who know what they want.

For our leadership there is a lot to learn. We have been subjected to colonial occupation – it wasn’t called so but that is what it was.

It is in our minds and in our mission and in the way we play our international cards.

It has been the year that Catalonia appeared in the world. Let’s see what the new year brings. I know that it will probably bring pain, but I am hopeful that it also brings progress.