OPEN LETTER FROM QUIM TORRA TO PEDRO SÁNCHEZ:

The exile and the principles that we have shared and we want to share.

Quim Torra. President of the Catalan Government.

You may say, Mr Pedro Sánchez, that we are masters of our silence. A silence that, coming from a party like yours, built from the fight against tyranny, hurts even more.

In one of your blog entries, you refer to some of my writings. Which you don’t quote properly and which, I suspect, you have not read either. If you took the time to do so —entirely, of course—, I am sure you would find out that some of your consultants are playing a dirty trick on you and they might let you look bad.

During the last several years that I have devoted myself to historical and journalistic research into an exciting and dramatic period of our recent past —the discovery and tracking of the traces of socialist activists who lined up on the path to exile because of the arrival of fascism— has been constant. A path that socialists covered together with the Catalan parties back in 1939, nearly eighty years ago.

They all fought for freedom, justice and the republic.

The PSOE and the Catalan parties defended together the peoples right to self-determination as a fundamental political right. Then, antifascist and republican solidarity united Catalan and Spanish politicians. The border crossing was certainly not just a geographical accident and it has never again has it been so…

Forty years of dictatorship followed that exile of Catalan and Spanish republicans. It was a fierce dictatorship. Mr Sánchez, the PSOE ended that fight and period of survival with a conviction that was approved on the Suresnes Congress of 1974, and that was widened and held for three more years. It was the clear and convincing defense of the right to self-determination of Spain’s peoples. Your party members wrote it down as follows: “the definitive solution to the problem of the different nationalities that form the Spanish state depends inevitably on the acknowledgement of their right to self-determination, which entails each nation’s faculty to freely decide the relationship it will hold with the other nations that form the Spanish State”.

As you said, we are all masters of our silence and slaves of our words.

I welcome that you remember that past collective fight against fascism in Catalonia, Spain and Europe. But let’s remember the whole history of it. Let’s check together the reason why those democratic principles —self-determination, republicanism, respect for different cultures and languages— have dissolved after a while like sugarcube. What happened in those complicated and confusing years of a transition darkened by shadowy curtains? What happened that allowed the opportunity to be missed to bury the most reactionary visions of Spain and, instead, keep them awake until today?

We experienced the republican exile together due to Francoism and together we defended the peoples right to self-determination. Now we have been forced to march toward exile and jail, but this time without your company, Mr Sánchez. Where are the Spanish republicans today? We persist with this old and beautiful commitment to freedom, democracy and, definitely, the republic. No you stand side by side with those who want to prevent everything by any means possible and without any scruples.

Let me be honest: we miss you all.

Mr Sánchez, those politicians forced to go into the exile, such as the legitimate President of the Generalitat Carles Puigdemont, haven’t absconded from justice. On the contrary, they have left in search of it in Europe. You talk about a cosmopolitan Catalonia open to the world. This is exactly the Catalonia which is best symbolized by none other than President Puigdemont, the Ministers Toni Comín and Lluís Puig, the general secretary of ERC, Marta Rovira, the former deputy of CUP, Anna Gabriel, and the former Ministers Meritxell Serret and Clara Ponsatí. They are in Brussels, Berlin, Switzerland and Scotland, as European citizens, in custody of these countries’ justice. Now a musician has joined them. A rapper that the Spanish justice wanted to jail because of the lyrics of a song. Don’t you see to what extent this has come?

How long will you remain silent?

The exiles have gone because of the same political persecution that has imprisoned the Vice-President Oriol Junqueras, the President of the Parliament Carme Forcadell, the Ministers Jordi Turull and Josep Rull, the former Ministers Joaquim Forn, Dolors Bassa and Raül Romeva, and two leaders of democratic and peaceful organizations, such as Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sánchez, currently a deputy of the Parliament. I will remind you of it, just in case you have lost the notion of the magnitude of such a political persecution. All these people would now be free if they were tried by the courts of any other European country. We have proof of that in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Pay attention: they are all free everywhere except in Spain. Who’s wrong here?

You say that to nominate two ministers who live freely in the EU after submitting themselves to the Belgian courts, and two ministers arrested in Estremera, whose right to be nominated is intact, is a provocation and an institutional dishonour.

I can assure you that having Mr Turull, Mr Rull, Mr Comín and Mr Puig in our government is an honour and a matter of dignity. You also say that Catalonia deserves a government who can bring back its “lost normality”. Let me remind you that we didn’t lose our normality. You destroyed it by means of article 155. In a way that doesn’t fit within the Constitution that you allegedly defend so much. Normality was disrupted on the 1st October when the Spanish government sent hundreds of agents to beat citizens. Those citiizens only wanted to put a ballot paper into a ballot box. Then they suspended normality with a coup against democracy.

And despite of all that, I am still willing to talk and to discuss. These are words that your party has defended historically and recently.  You did it precisely to find a solution with those who indeed had use violence with a political aim. I would like to acknowledge that courage here and now. But allow me also to be surprised if that commitment to dialogue above all —so necessary for democracy— is not possible with you now. I invite you to recover the thread of the above mentioned history and help us to defend the civil and political rights of all Spanish and Catalan people. Have no doubt, Mr Sánchez, that we will be by your side in the struggle for rights and freedoms of all Spanish and Catalan citizens.

I have the feeling, Mr Sánchez, that you would like us to have reached an agreement.

Or that I say that you were right, even before we sit and talk. It is obvious that we both have very different visions of the political conflict which our nations are involved in. A respectful dialogue is therefore essential. We should not be afraid of talking.

Nelson Mandela —who probably knew it better than anybody— used to say that

“to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”.

 

Shall we get started?

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