This is part of a short series called People, which will consist of interviews with people who are Catalans or who live or have lived in Catalunya, trying to catch a glimpse of the ideas and opinion of these people referring to the current conflict.
The questions were framed by me, the given answers were written by the people themselves and were not edited afterwards. To keep the balance, there will be an equal number of both female and male persons interviewed, as well as there will be shown as many different political opinions and positions as possible.
Everyone interviewed is a friend or a friend of a friend of mine and anonymity will be kept, not giving any further information than the one they provide them self.
Of course, the interviews can only show a highly subjective point of view without the aim of being representative.
What does Catalonian Independence generally mean to you?
To me the independence of Catalonia is the opportunity to create a country more similar to the average of our European partners. This is something that Spain as a whole should probably do and relevant parts of the Spanish society already strive for it. The problem is that the social diversity of Spanish and Catalan societies is too big and the pace of the social changing as well. Only being an independent State we will be able to implement policies that in Catalonia have a general acceptance but won’t be acceptable for the majority of Spanish voters for the decades to come.
What does the Spanish State represent for you? What do you think about the current government?
At some very concrete historical periods the Spanish State has meant a space of opportunities and mutual understanding for the different nations cohabitating in Spain. Nevertheless, as a general rule, in history and nowadays it has acted as just the opposite. After the worst period for the self-being of Catalonia, the Franco’s Dictatopship, the best time for autonomy arrived for Catalonia with the so-called State of Autonomies. But during the early 2000s a process of recentralization was started by the Partido Popular and it appeared to be acceptable by the other big Spanish Party, the PSOE. The fact is that the Spanish Constitution says very little about the territorial political order and the distribution of powers among the “federal” entities. In sum it means that it is not a real federation but a conditional transfer of powers that is not constitutionally granted but subject to the political will of the Spanish central power –comprising the Government, Administration and Judicial power–. Consequently, to me the Spanish State and the Government is an abusive paternalistic figure which its way of treating Catalonia goes from paternalism to bigotry depending on the circumstances.
How would you describe the Catalonian movement for independence?
I consider the independence movement as an extremely heterogeneous phenomenon. From the ideological point of view there are several motivations for being so and for each individual is important one or several of them in varying proportions.
There is an independentism mostly based on identity that considers that Catalonia should be an independent state because it has its own language, culture, Law and a History of self-ruling. Probably this is the oldest independentism but the one with the least consensus. For many people the economical reason is very convincing: mostly the tax deficit and the lacking of investments in infrastructures. Thirdly the rejection to the recentralization policies is a powerful reason for many people that embraced independentism recently. And lastly we have to point out the reason of considering Spain as a country with a shortage of democracy and separation of powers: unseen (and uncontested) corruption levels, brutal repression of voters, public prosecutors acting at the orders of the Government, overtolerance with fascist groups, etc.
But the movement of independence is diverse also for the organization of it. The are some parties that support it but also a huge amount of associations, NGOs and informal groups rooted in the civil society that work for it counting only on donations and the efforts of its supporters.
Are you for or against the independence? Why? Since when?
I am for the independence since I was 19 years old. Until then I considered myself Spanish and I thought that the independentist movement was a nationalistic idea that I rejected. It was when I went to live to the UK when I realized that my identity was Catalan. I saw that nothing of what is understood to be Spain defined me and all of a sudden the fact of being legally Spanish became very abstract. From this very moment the objective reasons for supporting the independence (economicals, but specially politicals) became very natural to me.
How important is it to consider the historical background of the region for understanding the conflict? Crucial or not all? Do you consider the current conflict result of a historical conflict?
As in any social or political conflict the origins of it has to be found in the historical background. I think that history demonstrates that the relationship between Spain and Catalonia is most of the time very difficult and negative for one part at least. Probably the reasons of the conflict are based in the fact that from the point of view of Madrid since Catalonia was invaded at the beginning of the XVIII century the logics of a region that has to be exploited, kept captive and that at any moment can claim its sovereignty has been a constant (conqueror syndrome?).
But this is just a hypothesis and impossible to demonstrate. In addition other regions in different countries have similar experiences without deriving necessarily in independentism. That’s why we shouldn’t base our political positions in historical explanations, especially if it means to dig three centuries. Being the reasons of the current conflict historical or not there are plenty of reasons to want to be independent taking in account only the political facts of an individual life time (even if you are one week old).
How do you imagine Catalunya in 10 years?
I imagine Catalonia as an independent State in the EU (or what remains of it).