This Saturday marked a hundred days since Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras and minister Joaquim Forn were sent to prison. Indeed, a hundred days since the entry into the prisons of Estremera and Alcalá Meco of all the members of the Catalan government who did not opt for the path of exile in Brussels. As we know, six of those government ministers were released from custody after a little more than a month. Civil society leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart have been deprived of their freedom in Soto del Real prison for even some weeks longer than Junqueras and Forn. And there are up to a thousand people under investigation —the vast majority of them local mayors— on a list that simply has not stopped getting longer, related to the independence referendum of 1st October and the declaration of independence in the Catalan Parliament in that same month.
This week, the audio recordings of the Supreme Court testimonies made by all those under arrest —the ministers along with the presidents of the civil groups ANC and Òmnium— have been leaked to the press, in an action that only seeks to humiliate and publicly taunt the defendants. Noone has admitted knowing anything about this flagrant violation of rights, which the defence lawyers have denounced. Meanwhile, the two main pro-independence parliamentary groups, JuntsxCat and ERC, are at each other's throats in a dispute that woud be a legitimate party confrontation in normal times, but is incomprehensible in the current political situation. Defeatism gains ground day by day among ordinary people in the Catalan independence block; those people who say I told you so.
And yet the Spanish government and Mariano Rajoy are so far away from winning the Catalan battle that, at the moment, it is impossible that they will end up prevailing. Unionism has always made the same mistake: interpreting the discrepancies of its opponents as an opportunity to attack the central elements of Catalanism without hesitation: from the language to civil servants, from teachers to the Catalan police, from the institutions of self-government to TV3 and Catalonia Radio, from democracy to freedom of speech. Because of this approach, the electoral result on December 21st was not the one that Madrid expected. And also because of this, the electoral victory of the independence movement has not been accepted in practice, the repression of those accused of crimes has increased and there are more and more people whose names have been added to the lists of those investigated by the Civil Guard or by Court of Instruction Number 13 in Barcelona.
As long as the political discourse from Madrid is in the hands of clumsy and ignorant ministers, of individuals like the Popular Party's Martínez-Maillo and Pablo Casado; of Socialist (PSOE) spokespeople like Óscar Puente and José Luis Ábalos, and of the several versions of Ciutadados (Cs), insults and invective are the only possible script. And the different facets of repression, the only discourse. Because of that they need Junqueras, Sànchez, Cuixart and Forn in prison, even if it is unfair, excessive and disproportionate. And also because of that, their captivity — harsh and inhumane — is not being discussed. Force is always the image of defeat, never of victory.