On the streets, in spite of everything
Despite internal divisions, despite disorientation and disappointment, despite the harshness of covid, the independence movement has denied in this 2021 Catalonia Day the worst predictions and has once again shown its strength on the streets, with thousands of citizens demonstrating in the centre of Barcelona. The historic events of the Catalan independence bid are far away, but it is also clear that the popular strength of the movement continues to exist and that the civil leadership shared by Òmnium and the Assamblea Nacional Catalana (ANC) maintains its capacity to mobilise.
The political meaning of this force is another matter. Neither of the two leaders, Jordi Cuixart (Òmnium) and Elisenda Paluzie (ANC), made explicit reference in their speech to the dialogue table. The former limited himself to emphasising the unitary spirit, the persistence of demands and the civic spirit, without, however, setting milestones. For her part, Paluzie made an implicit amendment to the whole of the government strategy agreed by ERC and JxCat (with little or no conviction on the part of the latter) - with the external support of the CUP - of giving itself two years to try to negotiate politically with the state on the basis of the defence of self-determination and amnesty. The ANC is therefore pressing to change the course of the strategic minimum pact and to bring the movement back to confrontation.
It is clear that the dialogue table does not move the masses, but it is also clear that the people - those who have demonstrated this Catalonia Day and many who have stayed at home - are aware of the history of recent years, of the impasse of October 2017, of the repressive and judicial response of the State - still with exiles and thousands of persecuted people - and, last but not least, of the economic and social scourge of covid. This sum of factors cannot be ignored, just as one cannot ignore the correlation of forces in the State, where there is now a PSOE-Podemos coalition government willing to explore political dialogue. No one can have too many hopes, but this path must be trodden. Independentism, therefore, maintains its political objectives, maintains its strength in the street, should keep its hands open to all sovereignty and the maximum capacity for inclusiveness and cohesion. And, lastly, it also has the no lesser responsibility of governing with the day-to-day life of the whole country in mind, and thinking of strengthening and restoring prestige to the institutions of self-government.
This 2021 Catalonia Day was, therefore, a reminder of the persistence of sovereignty and its diversity. The State must also take note. Turning the dialogue table into a diversionary manoeuvre will not make independentism disappear, quite the contrary.