Catalonia's Sant Jordi celebrations have made possible a significant gesture of re-encounter in the pro-independence space centred on the Together for Catalonia (Junts) party, with the reuniting of the 129th and 130th presidents of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Artur Mas and Carles Puigdemont respectively, following the political distancing between them, due to the recent split between Junts and the PDeCAT party from which it emerged. The meeting of the two Catalan presidents also coincided with the day on which it became known that Spain's Court of Auditors is investigating both of them for the management of the Diplocat network of Catalan offices abroad.
Mas, accompanied by his wife, Elena Rakosnik, occupied the front row of the Sant Jordi presentation of Puigdemont's audiobook El dies clau ("The key days") in which he relates the main episodes he addresses in his two biographical books M'explico and La lluita a l'exili. The event took place in Barcelona's Hotel Duquesa de Cardona, and also present was Catalan minister Jordi Puigneró, who presented his book La República Digital ("The Digital Republic").
Conflict as the constant
At a moment when Catalan government negotiations have once again fanned tension between pro-independence parties Junts and ERC, Puigdemont avoided points of internal controversy that could be extracted from his book, and focused on the larger trends and, in particular, the historical continuity of confrontation with the Spanish state.
Puigdemont denounced the "inability" of the Spanish state to accept others and warned that, given the 1st October referendum, the subsequent application of direct rule by Spanish government, and the news about the Court of Auditors announced today, "there is nothing that suggests they have changed tactics".
He used a football analogy, saying that the 2017 independence referendum outplayed the Spanish state, finding a way around its "wall", something Spain did not like, finding out that "it could be beaten". "When we come up against that wall again, which will be sooner rather than later, this time let's make sure we know how to leave it behind forever," he asserted, insisting on the need to prepare for that contention.
Regarding the independence movement's strategy to overcome the Spanish state in the European courts, he continued with the same metaphor, arguing that Europe offered "a neutral ground, it is not the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, and the referees are not crooked, as they are in Spanish justice. They are independent judges."
As for the ultimate objective of this contention, he explained that it must be to "go all out" and "until the end", that being the formal recognition of the Catalan Republic. Along the way, he acknowledged that there may be "other finals" to be played, such as putting an end to the repression in Catalonia and dismantling "this court of repressors which the spheres of the Bourbon king, the Spanish government and Spanish justice have become."
The event brought together some of best known faces of the Junts party - such as parliamentary speaker Laura Borràs, ministers Meritxell Budó and Miquel Samper, along with key leadership figures Elsa Artadi and Josep Rius. This is the first time that Puigdemont and Mas have shared an event since the break-up between Junts and PDeCAT, leaving the latter party, supported by its founder Mas, to stand on its own in the February 14th elections. Led by Àngels Chacón, the PDeCAT list failed to get any seats.