Although the reunion between Carles Puigdemont and Oriol Junqueras at the Casa de la República in Waterloo had many things projected onto it, who knows if it will close a wound between the two most significant figures of that unforgettable October 2017. One thousand three hundred and forty-six days have had to go by since that day in Parliament in which the independence of Catalonia was proclaimed until, in a radically different context, they could once again meet face to face.
Puigdemont, exiled, and Junqueras, recently pardoned, shared lunch, photographs and a few hours of relaxation, in what was above all a personal and emotional re-encounter accompanied by speaker Carme Forcadell, minister Dolors Bassa and minister Toni Comín, three who injected their good spirits into a reunion that was necessary and unavoidable. There was also the dessert which the host personally prepared. An occasion without reproaches and leading to more tweets than press statements. In any case, no unnecessary words, no outstanding headline, no concession to complicity.
Despite the passing of time, and almost four years have indeed gone by, the unity of the Catalan independence movement inevitably depends on the cessation of hostilities between the two leaders of the movement, who today share neither strategy, calendar, nor methodology. They share, of course, repression. The unjust repression of the Spanish state, as the visible leaders of the independence movement. And there is no Spanish party capable of reversing this, as has been seen these days with the Court of Accounts, but there are many court proceedings open which exemplify this same situation and all they do is leave a trail of injustice and repression.
Luckily, they both know this, and that is perhaps why they could not deny a not-insignificant part of the independence movement a photo, something which for all those people, is much more than an image. It is the symbol of the unity that they desire but see nowhere. The unity of those who always emphasize that there are 74 pro-independence deputies in the Parliament of Catalonia and yet, when they wake up, they always have to smell the coffee: it is a good headline that sometimes does not hold up in the day-to-day, which is much more tactical, partisan and difficult to manage. It is also the photo that reminds us that exile continues and that the pardons have not resolved the conflict between Catalonia and Spain. In any case, they have put the focus on the message that the political situation in Catalonia continues to be an anomaly in a democratic Europe.
The good intentions are that there will be another meeting, yes, this time to talk about politics. Who knows if those intentions will ever arrive or, when the meeting happens, it will be too late. Both men are hostages of history to a greater extent than they think and perhaps desire. Among other reasons, because the new protagonists rest, for now, on the authority and leadership that these two both exercise.