The address by the president of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès, on the first anniversary of the elections on 14th February last year which brought him to power, contained four fundamental ideas: that the negotiation process with the state is going though a difficult period due to the lack of courage of the Spanish government, which refuses to make any political proposal on Catalonia; that it is necessary to rebuild the independence movement's confidence and activate all mechanisms of pressure on the state to unblock the negotiation, and if it does not then move forward, it will be impossible to stand idly by; that the independence movement cannot accept as a response that there will never be a democratic way for Catalans to decide their future; and that a large majority wants to vote in a democratic referendum recognized by all parties to decide whether Catalonia should be an independent republic within the framework of the European Union. And a message to Pedro Sánchez after the results of the Castilla y León elections: a failure to resolve the Catalan conflict opens the door to a PP-Vox government in Spain.
It could be said that the president has moved on pessimistic ground - perhaps more than ever - in negotiations with the state after months without any meeting, and in the face of continued and unacceptable contempt from the Spanish government. In fact, he only listed one element as an example of confidence in Pedro Sánchez and a credit to the state's negotiating will: that of the pardons granted by the Spanish government to the pro-independence political prisoners, who left prison last June after four years inside. He also explained that the pardons, which are only partial, were an important step because they acknowledge that the Supreme Court judgment was unjust. It is probably the first time for the Catalan president that the pardons have descended to the status of being a political asset that shows a will to negotiate in the state.
Despite some hints to the Spanish government, the speech was aimed at the rest of the pro-independence actors with whom it has not been possible to draw up a strategy to date. Something that, when you consider it, may affect the development of the legislature. Are we facing a change in the script of this Catalan legislature and do we have to assume already that independence must come up with a plan B? We have to repair our unity, as Aragonès stated - but in order to do what? And most importantly, what is meant by the instruction to activate all pressure mechanisms in the state to unblock the negotiation? Because this is a central point, as so far the state has remained in very comfortable terrain in its relations with both the Catalan government and the passing of votes in the Congress of Deputies. You don't need to know much about politics to know that in Madrid there is no better way to show your political strength than to force the Spanish government to lose parliamentary votes over and over again. Are you willing to do that? Use the votes of ERC, Junts and the CUP for this purpose? Because if you don't do it, the pressure is useless.
As I said, when addressing Catalonia's interior situation, one has to highlight the president's will, expressed on more than one occasion in the speech, to restore mutual confidence among the pro-independence actors. Today we are very far from this point and on the horizon there is no indication that the easing of strains that Aragonés speaks of can be consolidated. The newspaper headlines in recent weeks are a clear example of the missile exchanges between different parties and the existing guerilla warfare. On the other hand, given that politics is also generosity, the references made to the exiled president Carles Puigdemont could not be more discreet in 14 pages: just once, when referring to the need for the Spanish government to "withdraw the cases against president Puigdemont and the rest of the exiled politicians." You can be sure that this did not go unnoticed to Junts.
We will have to wait for more specific responses on the issue of language and the Catalan school, threatened with the imposition of 25% of Spanish, the 2030 Winter Games bid, which has more and more opponents in the face of the silence - or doubts - of the government, Sánchez's refusal to cede the management of the Next Generation funds and the chronic mistreatment through the continuing deficit in autonomous funding. Because "Catalonia in its entirety", a concept officially coined tonight, will be free or it will not.