Jordi Cuixart announced today, January 14th, his intention to step down as president of Òmnium Cultural and proposed doctor in philosophy and member of the entity’s board, Xavier Antich, as his replacement. With this decision, which he communicated to the entity’s the workers via an e-mail, Cuixart intends to promote the renewal process and the emergence of new leaderships within the pro-independence space he has always defended.
Cuixart made his decision public in an interview to RAC1, in which he announced that both he and vice-president Marcel Mauri will step down as leaders of the organization in the next assembly, convened for February 26th, so he is already "acting president".
"We need new leaderships without renouncing the existing ones, and this is a society that can generate them. We need to leave spaces so that they can emerge, it is surely the best service we can do to the country", he explained during the interview to RAC1, in which he defended the need for a shared strategy that promotes all the diversity of the pro-independence movement. The pro-independence leader, who did not hide the emotion caused by this decision, assured it was not improvised but very thought out and that he communicated it to the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès; to the president in exile, Carles Puigdemont; to the president of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, and to CUP member Anna Gabriel.
Challenge the ECHR
After stepping down, one of Cuixart's objectives will be to concentrate on the defence of the procedure he has raised before the European Court of Human Rights, which has accepted his complaint against the Spanish State for the persecution and conviction he has suffered as a result of his participation in the pro-independence process. He denied having any intention of going into politics.
Despite this decision, Cuixart will maintain his presence in Òmnium, which he will concentrate in the Guillem Agulló Training School. This is a recently created space in the entity for training in democratic strengthening tools for the defence and exercise of civil and political rights. Among other points, this initiative aims to promote non-violent struggle and civil disobedience.
Six years as president
The current president of Òmnium was chosen for this responsibility in December 2015. It was the only candidacy presented to replace Muriel Casals’s board after she had to leave the leadership of the entity to enter the elections under Junts pel Sí (a united front between ERC and what now are Junts per Catalunya and PDeCat). Quim Torra had assumed the presidency on an interim basis at the time.
Cuixart, who was imprisoned in October 2017 for his actions during the September 20th protests in front of the headquarters of the Spanish ministry of Economy, was sentenced in 2019 to 9 years in prison and total disqualification from politics for sedition. He was released last June, after three years and eight months in prison, following a partial pardon by the Spanish government.
The vice-president of the entity and Cuixart's right-hand man during these last years, Marcel Mauri, will also abandon his responsibility as number two. "If anyone responds to Òmnium’s DNA it is Marcel, who has been able to stand up to repression," emphasized Cuixart.
The entity’s president proposed Xavier Antich as his replacement. Born in La Seu d'Urgell, he holds a doctorate in philosophy and teaches aesthetics at the University of Girona. He is also director of the master's degree in Communication and Criticism.
"Xavier is a cultured, wise, very sensitive man, sensitivity made man. He knows Òmnium very well and has been working hard, trying to balance simultaneous jobs. We are sure that he will do it well, that he will work hard to do the same as we will do," he explained.
Antich assured that should Òmnium’s members accept his candidacy, he will assume the presidency motivated by “duty and commitment to the country, with the possibility to transform and improve it”. He explained that Òmnium’s challenge, which has grown from 30,000 to 180,000 members, is “growing stronger, more determined and more decisive; to continue the legacy created by many people and, especially, by Cuixart and Mauri”. “It’s hard to refuse given Òmnium’s power” he admitted.
In the main image, president of Òmnium, Jordi Cuixart, in a concentration in front of the High Court of Catalonia / Carlos Baglietto