Francesc Macià

Generalitat more than two centuries after its abolition and became its first President. On April 14th 1931 Macià proclaimed the Catalan Republic, which he envisioned as part of an Iberian Federation, and following negotiations with Madrid's provisional republican government he agreed to limited autonomy under the name "Generalitat", a mediaeval institution which symbolized Cataloniaïs long history, constitutional traditions, and democratic ideals. A military engineer by training, Macià reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel but left the Spanish Army in 1906 after a group of officers assaulted the offices of Catalan publications "Cu-cut" and "La Veu de Catalunya", entering politics as a parliamentary candidate.

In 1923, a coup by General Primo de Rivera prompted Macià to go into exile, and from France he organized an armed incursion to free Catalonia. Exposed, he was judged in Paris and condemned to two months in prison, which he had already served. The well-publicized trial brought Cataloniaïs plight to an international audience. Free again, he moved to South America. His "Estat Català" (Catalan State) party was one of the main components of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), founded in 1931. Macià was hugely popular and affectionately known as "l'Avi" (the Grandfather). His life-long goal, in his own words, was a "politically free, socially just, economically prosperous, and spiritually glorious" Catalonia. He passed away while in office.