Statement after the hearing at the Spanish Supreme Court
Catalan Government Delegation in Madrid, 17 September 2020
Good morning everyone,
I have come to Madrid to look into the eyes of the court that wants to bring down another President of the Government of Catalonia. I have come to Madrid to explain to them that they have no right or justification to do so and that we are not afraid of them. I have come to Madrid to remind them that our cause has a long history and will continue to the end: a free and fair Republic for all Catalans. That it is a peaceful, inclusive, positive and democratic cause. And above all, that in legal terms is a fair and legitimate cause, according to international declarations and treaties on fundamental rights. We want to build a better country. And we do not oppose anyone, but we must and will continue to defend ourselves from anyone who wants to make us give up our legitimate political goal.
These magistrates of the Supreme Court who are to decide whether to disqualify a democratic and legitimate president from office for defending free speech, justice for political prisoners and the return of those in exile, these magistrates today hold in their hands something much more important than my political future. They do not wish to disqualify me for any banner; but for a banner that defended the fundamental rights denied to us. This is an utterly disproportionate legal action, lacking all sense of justice. These magistrates hold in their hands the chance to put right an aberrant judicial process, which is a new evidence of the accelerating decadence of this democracy with feet of clay, which they try to pass off as consolidated, mature and comparable to others. A democracy born out of a transition which we now see was born out of the Franco regime and not out of a democratic revolution that brought the dictatorship to an end. This is a democracy that, today in 2020, is light years away from European standards. One that fails all stress tests when forced to be accountable to Europe. A democracy that is repeatedly defeated in the European courts, whenever it tries to take one of the indecent shortcuts to which we have become so accustomed.
We live in a state that tramples on the most basic notions of democracy, justice and fundamental rights due to an authoritarian dogma that defends the indivisible unity of the fatherland, their fatherland. Our lives are subject to the greatest arbitrary court decision of recent times, as the full weight of state apparatus has moved into action to prevent the success of a peaceful, democratic project. They said that all peaceful, democratic projects should be permitted. And it was an enormous lie. The indivisible unity of what they consider Spain is and should be put before the independence of the judiciary, the requirement of a neutral police force and the democratic decency of parliaments. They said that all peaceful, democratic projects could be discussed. Yet today there are people in exile for committing the crime of expressing their opinion. Prisoners are locked in their cells 23 hours a day when they have the right to day release, and an elected president, myself, may well be disqualified for using a banner, a peaceful banner, to demand fundamental rights. They said that anything can be discussed in Spain. And immediately we remember the images of 1 October. What a lie.
But above all we live in a state that persecutes and threatens President Puigdemont, that refuses to allow Vice President Junqueras to take his seat as an MEP, that persecutes those in exile, that imprisons the civic and government leaders who provided the ballot boxes for a referendum, that intends to disqualify a president from office in the middle of a monumental pandemic and crisis, that spies on democratic representatives while protecting a Francoist criminal such as Martin Villa, that supports and covers for a monarch in exile under investigation for corruption, that looks the other way when faced with the dirty, violent war against political dissidence in the Basque Country, in Catalonia, or anywhere else, that does not want congressional committees to investigate the terrorist attacks of summer 2017 and relations between the imam of Ripoll and the state’s secret services.
A state that uses its diplomacy to intimidate organisers of conferences and events involving those who support independence; a state that mercilessly beat up its citizens while they were peacefully queuing to vote on 1 October 2017; a state with a monarch who appeared on television to threaten a country that simply wished to express its opinion freely; a state that leaves citizens defenceless due to their ideology and opinion, rather than standing up for rights and freedoms. A state that structurally and deliberately impoverishes the Catalan-speaking countries by depriving them of their resources. This is the Spanish state and this is how it charms us into staying on friendly terms. A state incapable of reform or being reformed in any way. A state that overturns social legislation whenever it is passed by the Parliament of Catalonia.
I have come to Madrid to look them in the eye. Today the magistrates of the Supreme Court will pose as the great defenders and owners of this state, now governed by a coalition that is supposedly progressive, though no one would guess as much. Nothing has changed since the immovable right-wing government was in power. Where might we find a glimmer of hope that all this might change? Where are the winds of democracy and justice in Spain right now, which were expected of a left-wing coalition government? Where is the solidarity in the face of brute repression? We do not feel it. Only in some corners of the state is this timidly expressed. We find it abroad, beyond these borders imposed on us.
Hence today’s decision could not be clearer: either the decadence of a monarchical Spain that is an embarrassment to Europe or the hope of a Catalan Republic committed to its people.
The attitude shown by the Spanish state towards the Catalan independence movement over the next few months will set the moral and ethical foundations for its future. Without a firm and urgent rectification, Spain will seal its failure as a modern European state. Allowing Catalonia to exercise its right to self-determination is a great historic opportunity to drag itself into the 21st century.
It is an opportunity for the Spanish State to seize or ignore. But it needs to be fully aware that it cannot hold back the will of the Catalan people forever. We will not wait for change in the Spanish state to exercise our inalienable right. If the majority of Catalans wish to build a free Republic, this peaceful, democratic expression will prosper. I do not doubt this for a moment. Let no one doubt it.
Today I am in Madrid because the judicialisation of politics and the repression have gone too far.
Only a week ago, a group of fascists, arms raised in salute, held a demonstration in front of the Catalan government’s office in Madrid, in front of a bookshop full of letters and words. They did so with total impunity, while here, in Madrid, Dani Gallardo inexplicably and unjustifiably remains in prison.
I would like to speak directly to the citizens of my country: whatever the judges now decide, even though it contravenes a parliament’s democratic mandate, it must not force us to cede one inch in our political convictions and goals. Neither judges, nor administrators, nor the army: no one can cut back the sovereignty of the Catalan Parliament by even a millimetre.
And nor do I or will I pose an obstacle, or much less a condition, to anything. I accepted the office of president to serve the country at a very difficult and delicate time. I have no party commitments; but I will never give up this unflinching commitment to my country and freedom. I have no personal ambition that might get in the way of the broad, collective project to achieve independence. Today I am here, tomorrow I will be working hard for independence on whatever front I can.
I just want you to know that I am completely dedicated to the battle against the pandemic and its economic and social consequences. Since the very start of this emergency, this battle has been my sole concern from the moment I wake to the moment I go to bed. It is my impression that a banner calling for the release of political prisoners and return of those in exile is more important to the Spanish state than a president and his government’s fight against the pandemic and the gravest economic crisis of recent years. Clearly, everyone has their own order of priorities. This is how they show their love of Catalonia, which they want to enslave, along with its people.
I will not shift one inch from my duty as President, which is to serve the public. And today such service means fighting the pandemic 24 hours a day right up to the last moment, until my disqualification comes into force, if this is indeed the Supreme Court’s eventual, utterly disproportionate decision. I will not stop doing so for one instant. If the Spanish state reaches a point of such absolute irresponsibility as to disqualify me, only one party is to blame: the state itself. I'm not the one who will bring this country, at such a critical time, through an irresponsible electoral period that will paralyse Catalan administration.
They need to know that, whatever happens, they will not just be disqualifying me. Today this court holds in its hands the fall of a government, the end of this term of parliament. This is not a punishment imposed on me because of a banner, but a punishment for a whole country in the middle of a pandemic. Can anyone remember such a thing in a European democracy? If it happens, the responsibility will lie wholly and exclusively with the Spanish state, obsessed as it is with its revenge against Catalonia’s democratic wishes.
My trust in the Catalan people, in a dynamic and modern society, full of talent and social commitment, is undying. I have complete trust in them and all I can say is that I feel greatly honoured to represent them at the head of their institutions.
I thank everyone who has accompanied me today on behalf of their parties and organisations, everyone who has sent messages of support and encouragement.
Many thanks and long live free Catalonia.