Catalonia: the conflict is democratic, not nationalistic
In the last five years we have seen that the pro-independence movement in Catalonia, one of the most productive regions of Spain, has grown in a significant way. Some claim to see this as a sign of a lack of solidarity or of nationalistic selfishness, not understanding the real reasons which have brought us to this situation.
Catalonia has always led democratic reforms in Spain, and has contributed in a big way to solidarity with the rest of Spain's regions with its efforts. However, in 2010, after the verdict of the Constitutional Court against our self-government, it became evident that it was impossible to continue progressing towards a quasi-federal model within the current Spain; in addition, we are going through an economic crisis, which has especially affected the Mediterranean countries and has put in danger the welfare of its citizens. Since then we have suffered a continuous regression in our social and democratic rights, with reactionary and re-centralising reforms from the Spanish Government; attacks on self-government and the Catalan language and culture; a territorial funding scheme which is profoundly unfair to Catalonia which, far from being based on "solidarity", feeds on a model of public money waste; and the impossibility of undertaking any reform that untangles the situation.
Thus, pro-independence support becomes the answer to a failed model that the two big majority parties in Spain do not want to change. By the way, these two parties are increasingly irrelevant in Catalonia; two distinct and more distant political systems are being consolidated, adding a crisis of legitimacy and representativeness between the citizens and those who decide their issues.
Pro-independence demands have an undeniably nationalistic or identity-related component in their origin, but this is by no means the most important aspect today. You just need to dig a little deeper to observe that, if pro-independence movement is currently spread out among Catalan society, it is precisely because it has ceased to be 'nationalistic'. The Spanish language, which is not threatened in Catalonia, is the usual language for 55% of Catalans; more than 60% feel Spanish in some way; the majority of surnames in Catalonia are Spanish, and 70% of Catalans were born or at least one of their parents was born in the rest of Spain, as Catalonia has always been a blending and welcoming land. And, despite all these elements, the majority of Catalans are now pro-independence. So, what's happening?
Paradoxically, those who support Spanish unionism only use identity-based arguments to trying to stop the situation. They appeal to blood-ties, identity and surnames, not understanding that in Catalonia there are not two confronted communities, nor is the issue about nationalistic or identity-based claims. It goes much beyond that. Furthermore, unionists also try to spread a fear-inducing discourse, with threats and apocalyptic prophecies, without offering any alternative or reasons to continue being together. They simply say that an independence vote would be illegal, although the law actually allows it; the point is that there is a lack of political will.
However, you cannot keep a people subjected against its will. We the Catalans, from different origins, have started the process to change the situation. Our organisation, Súmate, is formed by people who are proud of their Spanish origin and their language, Spanish, but who want a leading role in their own future. We want to decide, we want to be listened to and to have the opportunity to progress and build a new country, without going against anyone. We are working on being able to vote on the 9th of November because we believe that democracy is not the problem, it is the solution. Who could be scared of listening people's opinion?
by Eduardo Reyes
President of Súmate, a pro-independence Spanish-speakers' organisation