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There is no "honest dialogue" without an "amnesty", says exiled ERC secretary general Marta Rovira. In an appearance at the Catalan Parliament's commission into article 155 this Tuesday, giving a video conference from Geneva for the first time since her departure into exile almost two years ago, Rovira called on the independence movement to "lose its complexes" and "wave the flag of dialogue" - while also asserting that "skepticism" had to maintained due to the attitude of the Spanish Socialists in recent years.

"Honest dialogue" with the Spanish state would be impossible, she warned, unless an "amnesty" was granted - to end the judicial repression and put an end to "so much injustice". Nevertheless, the exiled Catalan politician called on the entire independence movement to get over its "complexes" and take hold of this "flag" before anyone else did. "We have to take up the flag of dialogue! What are we so complexed about? It's our flag, we must pick it up before anyone else does," she asserted.

Rovira was seeking to address the criticisms from part of the independence movement of the negotiating table agreed with the PSOE, expressing her pride that for the first time the Catalan situation had been recognised by the state as a "political conflict" in which the state itself was a "party". The dialogue route had to be undertaken "holding our heads high", she asserted, but also with an attitude of "skepticism" due to the attitude of the PSOE in recent years, since the 2006 failure of Catalonia's Statute of Autonomy

The pro-independence ERC leader asserted that the dialogue table was an "opportunity to internationalize" the process because, as she put it, countries "start to react" when they see that the Spanish government has recognized the conflict. "Dialogue and negotiation never means renouncing [objectives]," she added.

The Spanish Transition as mere "makeup"

With regard to the application of Article 155 in Catalonia, Rovira stated that it had signified a "breach of the principle of democracy" and that the application of 155 meant that "[Spain's 1978 constitutional pact] had been renewed in a way that was clearly authoritarian and unilateral". "The '78 regime was unmasked," she said, and thus Spain's democratic transition after the death of Franco had been revealed as simply "makeup".

In spite of everything, she called on the independence movement to be self-critical, but also noted the "lessons learned" from October 2017 and assured that the independence referendum had succeeded "in planting a seed, very deeply rooted, which will one day bear fruit". "It is a point of no return" for many generations to come, she argued.

"Think before opening your mouth"

Rovira also gave a loud wake-up call to the independence movement on its internal relations, saying that people needed "to go out for a walk and think it over three times before opening their mouths".

Following last week's crisis in the Catalan government, which ended with a promise to call an early election, Rovira called on all members of the movement to "isolate" those who do not "generate a minimal consensus", and to decrease "toxicity". She warned that people "have to keep their bearings" and "mustn't get confused about who the adversary is", calling for more communication and meetings between the different groups to avoid public confrontation. "We ourselves must not feed the internal divide," she said.

However, she also spoke about the need for "great consensus", going beyond the independence movement to include the left wing Commons, because, she asserted, this consensus must not "exclude". "We'll try to build it with everyone who wants to move forward," she said.

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