A strong and clear message was delivered by Catalan parliamentary speaker Roger Torrent in a speech on Saturday morning at the "Republic is democracy" event organised by the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) in Barcelona's Cotxeres de Sants hall. Torrent asserted that "to implement the Republic, we are ready to risk everything we've got".
Visibly showing his discontent, the speaker of the Catalan chamber regretted that, despite the event being held to commemorate the Second Spanish Republic and the 87th anniversary of the party, "today we are unable to celabrate" because "there are too many yellow ribbons in the front row" - referring to the Catalan political prisoners and government leaders in exile, whose absence was marked by the ribbons. He said that for the last few months, perhaps even years, Catalonia "has been undergoing one of the worst waves of repression in memory" and, precisely because of that, Torrent considered that it was time to once again throw everything into the effort to implement the Republic, as Catalans are doing now and as they also did in the 1930s.
In this regard, he stressed that "ERC will put the interests of the country ahead of those of the party" because, he recalled, "the times we have made progress are when civil society and politics have gone hand in hand".
Broadening the base to build a better country
ERC presidential adjunct Pere Aragonès also delivered some strong words, encouraging the independence movement to broaden its social base in order to be able to build a better country. He also reiterated that, as a party, ERC will never renounce any democratic space where it might be able to explain its policies, and that therefore, it would always be on the front line of political action and taking the lead in order to achieve the creation of the republic.
Aragonès once again stated the will to form a Catalan government and throw out article 155, and for the Catalan people to recover control of their governmental institutions. Finally, he affirmed that all republicans form a body that represents all Catalan prisoners and political exiles.
'Mastergate' and Catalonia
The event also featured the participation of ERC figures such as Alfred Bosch, Ester Capella and Teresa Jordà, and also one of the ERC representatives in the Spanish congress, Gabriel Rufián, who, after the recent controversy on the masters' degree supposedly held by Cristina Cifuentes and the cavalier way this question is being handled, asserted that "those who are lying about their masters' degrees are also lying about Catalonia".
Rufián, who did not hesitate to assert that he thought that "terrorism means the CIE (Spain's Internment Centres for Foreigners) and not the CDR (Committees for the Defence of the Republic)", also urging the Spanish justice system to "investigate the committees of defence of the Ibex35 share index, not the CDRs". In turn, his colleague in the Madrid congress, Joan Tardà, spoke in favour of "guaranteeing that people have minimum rights" because, in his opinion, "rights have to be won and we have to be aware of their price". "They want us to be violent," added Tardà, but precisely because of that he asked people "to make sure they are worthy of Catalonia".
Party secretary general Marta Rovira took part in the event by videoconference from her exile in Switzerland, explaining how she "decided, by being forced, that it was necesary for her to go into exile".
In turn, Barcelona city councillor and mayoral candidate Alfred Bosch recalled that local elections - the next elections currently scheduled in Catalonia, due in 2019 - were the political event that led to the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic and that Barcelona would be, very soon, the capital of the new republic - the Catalan one. Bosch also had some words for imprisoned ERC leader Oriol Junqueras, who turned 49 last week, as well as making a dedication to his family, present at the event.
Finally, the third of ERC's MPs in the Madrid congress, Teresa Jordà, also stated strongly that the future Catalan Republic "will be feminist or it will not be at all", since we "live in a patriarchal system" that undervalues and scorns a collective which represents half of Catalan society, that of women. She also asserted that ERC no longer had any fear, and that the party will not cease its efforts until the Catalan Republic is achieved.