Read in Catalan

I don't remember the last time that José Montilla1 signed a joint open letter alongside the other presidents of Catalonia there have been since 1980. And on which the living former speakers of the Catalan Parliament from the last 38 years, when the first Catalan election was held, have stamped their signature, neither. Maybe, even, never. This Wednesday, the nine figures from different political parties (under the coordination of the ombudsman, Rafael Ribó) have published a letter calling for the political prisoners on hunger strike (Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull for 19 days and Quim Forn and Josep Rull for 16) to put an end to their protest.

The text recognises the success of the exceptional strong measure adopted by Sànchez, Turull, Forn and Rull, the visibility it's given to their legal situation and the fact that the hunger strike has raised awareness nationally and internationally. It's signed by, as former presidents of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol, Pasqual Maragall, José Montilla, Artur Mas and Carles Puigdemont and, as former speakers of the Parliament, Joan Rigol, Ernest Benach, Núria de Gispert and Carme Forcadell. President Quim Torra also later joined the call. At this point, it's hard to argue that the hunger strike that was being carried out fundamentally to denounce the paralysation of their appeals by the Constitutional Court has not been effective. And that with the Constitutional Court having taken the steps it has, the political prisoners will even be able to start the corresponding processes before European justice for the violation of their rights.

The hunger strike was going to coincide with Friday's Spanish cabinet meeting in Barcelona and it's clear that it will weigh heavily on the Spanish government's visit to Catalonia. In recent hours, the mini-summit has been agreed between the governments who will meet in Pedralbes palace in an exceptional format since it will involve the presence of the heads of government of Spain and Catalonia as well as their deputies and various ministers. Although there remain a few loose ends over the meeting this Thursday and no political move on the part of the Spanish government should be expected on Catalan requests to agree on holding an independence referendum, nor would it be right to undervalue the meeting.

Politics has many fronts and victories are won with persistence and imagination. The independence movement has managed to avoid the risk of leaving the standard of dialogue, the shibboleth of this whole process which began in 2012, in the hands of its political adversary. How the meeting will go is a different matter. The shame is that they're thinking more in the photo of the dialogue than in the dialogue and negotiation itself. Words which in Madrid cause true panic.


Translator's note:

1. José Montilla was president of Catalonia for PSC 2006-2010; he is currently a senator in Madrid.