Catalan president Quim Torra took advantage of his speech this Wednesday in the Kursaal theatre in San Sebastian to call on the Basque Country to set up with Catalonia a "democratic front in defence of our liberties, including the right to decide and the right to self-determination". "Let's walk forward together, Basques and Catalans. Together we're stronger and more free", he said.
"The right to self-determination is not negotiable, it belongs to those of you who aspire to achieve freedom for your nation. And it's through the path to recover their sovereignty that Catalonia and the Basque Country can advance together and vanquish the authoritarianism of the Spanish state," he said.
The president even suggested the possibility of standing together in next year's European election to sound "the clamour of sovereignty and democracy" in the European Parliament together with Valencians, Galicians, Mallorcans and others. "Shall we consider it?" he asked.
The president gave his speech, entitled "Catalonia: sovereignty, democracy and liberty", at the invitation of the civil Basque platform Gure Esku Dago. The platform was created in 2003 with the objective of activating the Basque political process. It has promoted the consultations on the right to decide which are taking place there.
Torra expressed pride of the Basques for wanting "to peacefully and democratically decide their political future", describing the consultations as great news, showing how people organise themselves around ballot boxes. "Every hand which puts a vote into a ballot box is a tool of social construction. Ballot boxes are the weapons of mass construction that we peoples have," he said.
Referendums around Spain
Torra didn't just address his speech to the Basque Country, but to the Spanish people as a whole, urging them to "empower themselves and be aware of the sovereignty they have. "Monarchy or republic. This is the referendum that Spain has to carry out," he said.
Present at the event were senior members of Gure Esku Dago and left-wing pro-independence Basque politicians like Arnaldo Otegi, as well as some leaders from the EAJ, like Joseba Egibar. One of the remarks that got the greatest support from the audience was that he won't support Pedro Sánchez's 2019 budget.
Shouts of "liberty"
When he took the stage, the president started with a few words in Basque, received by a long applause, following which he said he was moved by the support of a "brother people". The greatest ovation, however, was saved for when he mentioned the imprisoned and exiled pro-independence leaders. Torra asked for a round of applause for them, to which those present responded with a standing ovation and shouts of "freedom".
Also received particularly enthusiastically was Torra's statement that they won't accept sentences in the trial over last year's referendum that are anything other than full acquittal. "It's a question of staying faithful to our consciences as free people. Their desire for revenge will be the seed of our liberty and we'll defend it to the final consequences".
They shall not pass
Torra also wanted to respond to those who talk of division within Catalan society. He expressed "pride" at the response of the Catalan people to pressure, repression and apocalyptic prophecies, the response of a "plural and free people". "There are no problems of coexistence in Catalonia; after what we've been through we're stronger than ever. Never should social ," he said.
"We won't allow fascism to be installed in our streets. They shall not pass", he said, quoting Jordi Cuixart.
The president started his speech denouncing the regression of democracy in Spain, saying the "mask has fallen off". "We're starting to think that it's not a regression, but latent Francoism which has been emboldened. The monarchy is going through its deepest crisis since Juan Carlos was nominated [Franco's] successor", he said, before accusing the state's institutions of covering up each others embarrassments: "Today for you, tomorrow for me".