Of trees, books and politics

3 min
D’arbres, llibres i política

The road arrives at a small ochre village in the Garrigues between fields and windmills. The president of Òmnium, Jordi Cuixart, has chosen a corner in a field in the shade of a magnificent birch tree to talk to the ARA.

It is the first time we see him in freedom after more than three and a half years. This time there is no glass between us, no intercom to talk on, and no one is in a hurry. There are no iron doors that close behind us.

The conversation is different, just as intense but less hurried. Cuixart wears a white shirt that brings to mind the verses of Pasolini.

The person who suggested the setting for the recording is his wife, Txell Bonet, the same one who made the very long journeys to Estremera with their month-old son and who later gave birth to another child who is now twenty months old and who allows us to connect some points of Cuixart's political personality. Inside the prison, the president of Òmnium read the classic by Henry David Thoreau, Walden or, Life in the Woods. A libertarian classic, important for the back to nature movement, simple life and individual resistance against a government considered unjust. "I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, facing only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could learn what it could teach me; lest I should find, when I had to die, that I had not lived", writes Thoreau, who stayed in a cabin for two years, two months and two days on the road devoted to connecting with nature and his freedom. The child who today runs and laughs, begotten in prison, is called Camí Walden.

Cuixart entered prison as president of Òmnium and is also leaving as president to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of a civil entity designed to protect and promote Catalan culture. Òmnium does politics, but it has managed to place itself in a position above partisanship within the sovereigntist world.

Its activist profile has placed it in the spotlight of Amnesty International and the Council of Europe, and it trusts that the support of the European courts, when it arrives, will internationally legitimise the path it has taken.

Cuixart launches several messages in the interview: Òmnium will continue to press for political action from the street and "the negotiating table is doomed to failure if people are not listened to". He maintains the defense of the "non-violent struggle that is civil disobedience", and makes it clear that returning to prison "is not an option that can be ruled out".

Cuixart considers that the social fracture will not occur if the language is maintained as an element of social cohesion in the country and highlights the position of the PSC historically in this regard. The protection of the language, the transversal agreement, is built with activism and hugs.


Another book hovers over the pages of ARA Diumenge with an interview to the most similar to a fairy of words, stories, knowledge and culture that illuminates and brings closer. Her name is Irene Vallejo and her book, El infinito en un junco [Infinity in a reed] has become an international phenomenon. Vallejo wrote a scholarly essay with touches of adventure novel when she believed it would be the last she would be able to write before she had to devote all her time to family care. From this passionate last attempt to save words, knowledge, ideas, knowledge, culture, has come a healing book in a time of pain and withdrawal. It speaks of mythical libraries, of mermaids, of horsemen who ride to fight the darkness and Amazons who distribute wisdom. Vallejo, wide-eyed with the surprise of her success, explains how books have saved ideas and how ignorance and fanaticism turn them to ashes.

Her attitude as a weaver of complicity coincides and contrasts with the week in which a far-right party targets and threatens the editor of a satirical magazine and reminds us that ignorance has always burned the written word. "Wherever books are burned, people are burned", wrote Heinrich Heine, prophesying what would happen after the 1933 book burnings in Berlin and Munich organised by the Nazi student federation. They called it Action Against the Anti-German Spirit and it was one more piece of the systematic persecution of Jewish, Marxist, pacifist authors, whether they were Brecht, Freud, Mann, Zweig, Benjamin, Luxemburg, Einstein or Marx. What an exaggeration to connect the two subjects, isn't it? I don't know what brought me to this, but perhaps we should be alert.