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‟Catalonia is a nation!" — Meritxell Borràs in the political show trial to Madrid

Prof. Dr. Axel Schönberger

Jul 23, 2019 — 

"Catalonia is a nation!” — Closing remarks of the legitimate Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Housing of the Catalan Government, Meritxell Borràs, in the political show trial at Madrid on 12 June 2019.

The legitimate Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Housing of the Catalan Government, Meritxell Borràs, was dismissed by Spain on 28 October 2017 in breach of the organic law of the Spanish State — without sufficient legal basis in the Spanish Constitution — and subsequently imprisoned by the Spanish judiciary on 2 November 2017 in evident collusive cooperation with the Spanish Government, without there being any basis for this in Spanish criminal law. Since 4 December 2017, she has been released from prison on presentation of a deposit. The charges against them are alleged ‘misuse of public funds’ and ‘disobedience’. The prosecution is requesting a seven-year prison sentence. However, as the Madrid show trial has shown, there is no conclusive evidence that any form of public money was spent on the Catalan referendum of 1 October 2017. The Catalan Government had always asserted that the referendum had been paid exclusively from private funds. The second charge of ‘disobedience’, as currently applied in Spain, is hardly understandable by people living in democracies governed by the rule of law. The apparently politically motivated trial of Meritxell Borràs is being followed with sympathy for her around the world.

And Europe remains silent and watching!

The closing words of Meritxell Borràs in the Madrid show trial are published below in German translation. Her famous father, Jacint Borràs, to whom she refers, was one of the founders of the Catalan party Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya. Castilian,‟ castellano”, is the real name of the language which for ideological reasons is often called ‘Spanish’. In Spain, several major and some minor languages are spoken. Castilian is the ‘master language’ of the majority of the population, which for several centuries has been referred to as the ‘true’ language of Spain and is therefore referred to as ‘Spanish’ in Europe, while in Hispanic America it is generally still called ‘Castilian’. Basques, Galicians and Catalans in particular have for centuries resisted attempts to suppress their languages and replace them with Castilian. The Catalan National Day, 11 September, commemorates every year the military conquest of Catalonia by Spain in 1714 and the subsequent suppression of the Catalan language and culture by the Spanish monarchy.

Closing remarks by Meritxell Borràs before the Supreme Court in Madrid on 12 June 2019:

«Mr. President, members of the court!

I do not know if I have found the right words in the preparation of this plea. I am sure, however, that I will begin with the best words. My father always said that when you read the speeches of Catalan Members in the then Spanish Parliament, many of them are still relevant. He was right. And he continued: ‟This is because the cultural Renaissance at the end of the 19th century paved the way for the birth of political Catalanism and claimed old freedoms. From then on, political Catalanism was articulated by political parties that met the new demands of the 20th century.”

I think the poem by Joan Maragall from the end of the 19th century, his ‟Ode to Spain”, which conveys his vision of the Catalan relationship with Spain, illustrates this. This poem begins with a lament, a request:

«Escolta Espanya, la veu d'un fill que et parla en llengua no castellana.»

(‟Listen, o Spain, the voice of a son who speaks to you in a language other than Castilian.”)

And it ends after it feels it hasn't been heard, with a breakup.:

‟Adéu, Espanya.”

(‟Farewell, Spain.”)

Catalonia is a historical, political, cultural and linguistic reality. Catalonia is a nation! A nation without a state that has claimed its right to exist. When democratic conditions existed, ways were sought to do justice to this reality. All of them were accepted to a greater or lesser extent, but so far they have all been destroyed or suffocated by the rise of dictatorships. In this last phase, after the long night of the dictatorship, the Catalan government was restored in exile, the concept of historical nationality was incorporated into the [Spanish] constitution and it was accepted with this formula that [in Spain] there are national realities like the Catalan one. Nevertheless, the will to improve our self-government remained, and over time we Catalans have given ourselves a new Statute of Autonomy which, after negotiations, received the approval of the [Spanish] House of Representatives and the approval of the Catalan people. But even on this occasion it did not come about. And this led to the dissatisfaction of millions of people in Catalonia, to peaceful demonstrations every September 11, a major change in the election results of the last elections, which brought in majorities in the Catalan parliament and in the Congress of Deputies [in Madrid from the Catalan electorate] of the parties advocating Catalan state independence.

I have entered politics, especially local politics, in my town of L'Hospitalet, to respond to the needs of Catalan citizens and for social cohesion, territorial division, the defence of our language, our rights and freedoms, equal opportunities, in short: to leave my country a little better than I found it. That was and is my goal until the last day of my public engagement. Our chapter is undoubtedly another in this history of the survival of our country Catalonia. It is in the tradition of Joan Maragall and asks to be heard. As a mature society, we claim peacefully and democratically to be able to vote and decide on our future without imposing anything on anyone. On the contrary, we want to listen to everyone and derive our decision from it. That is why our electoral programme for the tenth and eleventh terms was drawn up; everything was about citizens having the opportunity to shape their future. That is why our government programme, which has not been called into question by either the Central Electoral Committee or any other body, comes from our desire to hold a referendum [negotiated with the Spanish state] through dialogue.

And that's what was done without public spending. Each one of us was well aware that there should be no public spending, that we would not put anyone at risk. We knew that if we had, we would have exposed civil servants and civil employees to risk. Of course, we didn't want that!. That was my firm will, and I'm sure it was the will of the other members of the government. On the other hand, as you know, I am not accused of ‘rebellion’, but I was logically in Catalonia at the time, and there was no situation of ‘violence’ or ‘insurrection’ in Catalonia. From my point of view, there is a political conflict, which is not little. In addition, I have had a great relationship with my government colleagues, and none of them have ever thought of using violence to achieve a goal. I think the same applies to Mr Jordi Sànchez, Mr Jordi Cuixart and Mrs Carme Forcadell, with regard to whom I must admit that the greatest contact I have ever had with them took place in this Chamber, in this trial.

As you know, I am no longer active in politics and I will no longer be politically active. That's why I'm not making this statement because of me. But someone should consider, and I humbly think that this court should do the same, that there are new politicians, that new ones will come and that the desire of a good part of the Catalan people to decide for themselves how to participate in modern Europe will continue. I am in favour and I want to believe that, in a democracy, we will all know how we can find the right way to an appropriate solution, through dialogue, which will satisfy us all.

Thank you!»

A transcription of the Castilian original on which the English translation was based was kindly provided by the journal L'Unilateral — El digital de la República Catalana.

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