SHE is a highly educated and well-respected economist and political activist – and, as president of the popular organization the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Elisenda Paluzie has never been far from the frontline of the independence movement in Catalonia.
She is now in the last four months of her presidency and as such has traveled to these coasts to meet with ANC branches in Glasgow and London and forge links with the unions here.
Catalonia still vividly remembers the horrors of October 1, 2017, when agents of the Spanish National Police tried to stop the independence referendum by beating defenseless people trying to vote. Images and films of police violence quickly gained traction on social media, shocking millions around the world.
Four years later, with the Republican Left (Esquerra) at the head of a Catalan coalition government with Ensemble pour la Catalogne (Junts), the party of former President Carles Puigdemont, Paluzie insists that the conditions of independence remains strong.
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She told the Sunday National: âThe arguments for independence were strengthened after the events of October 2017 and the political pressures that followed.
âSo in terms of structural conditions, we have strengthened them in terms of the legitimacy of our self-determination process. We still have the integrated majority for independence which was reinforced during the elections of the last electoral circuit and of the parliament.
âWe still have the same problems in political relations with the Spanish state and the non-progress of autonomy and autonomy. We have also strengthened the legitimacy of self-determination with [Spainâs] violation of human rights.
However, Paluzie admitted that the past four years have been spent more on reaction and resistance than on tactical progress on the independence front, which has highlighted the differences in approach between the Esquerra. somewhat cautious and the Junts more impulsive.
âThe political divisions between the pro-independence parties are relatively large and this creates a bit of frustration and immobilization on an electoral basis,â she said.
âThe path to independence is a more complex path than previously thought until 2017, so going back on this path to independence is becoming more and more difficult. But I think we’ll find opportunities again to do a push for sovereignty, a push for independence in the near future. ”
In the run-up to the 2017 poll – which Spain ruled illegal – Puigdemont and Junts frequently promoted its roadmap to independence, a document outlining the steps Catalonia would take to follow its own path in the world after that his people voted yes.
However, the absence of such a plan now annoys Paluzie: âThis is the main problem, the absence of a common roadmap towards independence and which is linked to the strategic division between the parties.
âEach pro-independence actor, including the ANC, including popular movements, has its own roadmap. We have not reached another common roadmap. In our [ANC] case, we always defend unilateral independence, not because we prefer it, but because we see it as a more realistic way to gain independence in the context of the Spanish state.
âWe don’t think it’s realistic to expect a referendum on self-determination and independence with the Spanish government, regardless of which political party leads it.
“So our path to independence has to come back, and in the ANC roadmap, what we did was change the movement’s approach a bit towards preparing the conditions for unilateral independence to be successful.” â¦ Think more in terms of power, be stronger in civil society, in business associations; in all those things where political power is not something that resides only in parliaments but extends its arms to other parts of society.
The ANC tried to strengthen the separatist unions which were weak at the time of the Catalan referendum.
However, this is a work in progress given the relatively low levels of unionization in Catalonia compared to Scotland, for example.
âWe realized that we needed them to call for a general strike, for example. So that’s something we’ve been working on. We have tried to motivate citizens and workers to strengthen pro-independence unions.
The ANC has even targeted the corporate sector and tries to persuade consumers to use small renewable energy companies, independent of Spanish political influence, to undermine the strength of “very tight oligopolies and linked to Spanish political power.” “.
However, this is fraught with pitfalls as those in political and economic power in Spain know the danger such campaigns could pose for them and do not hesitate to involve the courts, which are notoriously conservative.
Spain’s coalition government, led by Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, relies on the support of a dozen Esquerra MPs – and others – to push the legislation through Congress, but Paluzie said the ANC feared that he was not energetic enough to exert this influence.
âThey should have used this political blocking power to gain greater national recognition and really a solution to the problem. [Catalan] conflict.
âWhat Esquerra Republicana obtained from their votes to elect a first central president of the Spanish government is this dialogue table. In principle, what the Catalan side wants to propose is a self-determination referendum, an amnesty and the end of repression. But the Spanish government says there is no way to talk about self-determination because it is against the Spanish Constitution [which] does not recognize these rights, according to them.
“Esquerra’s thesis is that while this may not bear fruit, it is one more step in demonstrating that it is impossible to have a referendum of agreement.”
This could strengthen the Catalan case internationally, but she said it also created a sense of “normalization” of the conflict that left people across Europe thinking the dialogue table was a harbinger of a solution.
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Paluzie told us that Nicola Sturgeon should have held a referendum with Brexit as the trigger and, if the result was yes, made a unilateral declaration of independence.
With the Catalan dialogue table already having six months, with 18 months to run, she added:
continue to do what we have to do internationally to denounce the violation of human rights. What we need to do in general is mobilize society.
âThe Catalan government must return to a unilateral act of sovereignty. In the case of the ANC, we believe that it is a unilateral declaration of independence which must be supported and reinforced by popular mobilization. Other parties are defending another referendum. I think it’s not that important.