Over a year after moving to Geneva, ERC's secretary general, Marta Rovira, is now settled in Switzerland with her husband and daughter. Reappearing in Catalan politics just a fortnight before the start of the new political year and the Diada (Catalan National Day) on 11th September, she has today given news agency ACN an interview discussing the current state of the independence movement and its outlook in the near future.
Rovira says that the confrontation between Spain and Catalonia is inevitable: "We're in a political conflict and that implies confrontation, even if it's never sought out". That said, she has no arguments with the current strategy, not wanting to "gift the flag of dialogue to Pedro Sánchez". She also believes that "repression [by Spain] has come to stay" and that the independence movement has to accept it when considering its strategy.
She dedicates a large portion of her time to the internal management of ERC, the rest to maintaining international contacts on subjects like human rights, the Catalan cause and independence. She's aware of the difficulties posed in this work by her distance from her native Vic, but is also determined to take advantage of "the opportunities exile offers".
"Previously there was institutional disloyalty and the most serious political crisis there was was the statutory crisis. But now we have to go up a few notches and we're in a political conflict. And that, to a large extent, is fed by the political repression," she says.
This doesn't mean, however, that Rovira doesn't defend the strategy of dialogue. She believes that independence supporters, in the current situation, "shouldn't renounce nor abandon any strategy; on the contrary, they have to embrace absolutely all of them". "Internationally, I realise that we have to kindle more the path of dialogue and negotiation than Mr Pedro Sánchez, even if very often it seems to us that this path continues to lack a representative on the other side of the table," she says.
This isn't to say she's unaware of the difficulties of the moment: "When a Spanish government gives up politics, looks to a side and puts on the table political repression as a response, the situation is troubled. And in this situation there can be dialogue and negotiation. Indeed, internationally what's promoted is resolution by these means."
She says they should never let the other side become the standard bearers for this path because: "For among other reasons, we've never stood up from the dialogue table. It's them who've left their chairs empty for months, they're the ones who aren't accepting the democratic and political resolution of the conflict and trusting in a sentence which will worsen the political situation in our country and in the [Spanish] state. We will never give up the standard of dialogue; I don't believe any independence supporter should nor is doing so". That said, for Rovira, "it's a different matter to think that this dialogue can meet open doors once the correlation of forces and Pedro Sánchez's attitude have been seen". In short, "the independence movement and ERC at its head will use all the peaceful and democratic means possible to defend what they believe is best for the country, independence and building the republic".
Rovira does believe, however, that the Spanish state will continue with its "repression" of the independence movement: "Repression, from the moment that a state and a government are prepared to use it as a political tool, has come to stay. Repression creates this temptation. Sadly, we have to foresee that political repression has become a tool to try to stop, block or cancel the independence movement's agenda. And it's good for us to become aware that it's like this because we also need a strategy against the repression which has to go beyond the independence movement, because the repression ends up affecting all citizens and undermines democracy".
She also believes that this repression could end up endangering her situation again once the sentences in the trial have been announced, with a high risk the European Arrest Warrant against her will be reactivated.