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Interview with Alfred Bosch Pascual, representative for Barcelona and Speaker for the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) in the Congress of Deputies (Madrid)

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15 October Update

As a consequence of yesterday’s press conference by Catalan President Artur Mas, Mr. Bosch contacted me and authorized me to publish our interview with the very significant caveat that it is now – obviously – out of date.

I have not spoken with Mr. Bosch since our interview, but it seems evident that he and his ERC colleagues are upset and unconvinced by the new direction proposed by the Mr. Mas. In an interview with La Vanguardia[1] yesterday, Mr. Bosch stated that his party views that plan as “blurry” and that they would prefer a plebiscitary election with a single, unified pro-independence list. Mr. Bosch underlined that this list would not necessarily have to be headed by a party official, but could be led by a non-partisan member of civil society.

Mr. Bosch also stated that, despite their misgivings, Esquerra Republicana would continue to support the Generalitat in its new proposal; at least until the government had had a chance to more fully explain its proposal.

08 October

I had a second opportunity to interview with the delegate Alfred Bosch, representative for the Republican Left of Catalonia for Barcelona. Our first conversation had been on the 9th of May after the publication of y article “Catalonia-Spain End Game Scenarios”. This interview was conducted by phone in Spanish. What follows is a condensed summary of our dialogue, not a verbatim transcript. The opinions expressed belong to the person being interviewed and none of the declarations or assertions have been validated by me. Any error in expression or translation is wholly my responsibility. The person interviewed has reviewed this document prior to its publication.

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(CS) September has been a very busy month: on the 11th you celebrated the 300th anniversary of the Diada festivity in Catalonia; on the 19th the Scots had their referendum; on the 19th the Catalan Parliament debated and approved the Consultation Law which President Mas signed into law on the 27th; finally, on the 29th the Constitutional Court intervened and declared a precautionary suspension of the consultation and all related activities while it deliberated the law’s constitutionality.

What were the Diada celebrations like this year?

(Sr. Bosch) There were a great number of events and meetings, a wonderful organization that we experienced with great intensity in Barcelona. It’s been a privilege to live through these historic moments; not only as a spectator and a participant, but an active contributor as well. For someone who wishes to contribute to the improvement of his country and his community, these are unforgettable days

(CS) What are your feelings regarding the Scottish referendum? Are you disappointed with the result?

(Sr. Bosch) No, no, I’m not disappointed in the least. Of course we were in favor of a “Yes” victory. We would have liked for Scotland to have begun her path towards independence; firstly for Scotland and the Scots, with whom we’ve always maintained very close relation; and also for the precedent it would have set in Europe. It would have illuminated our own path.

More importantly, however, is the simple fact that millions of people could have organized and voted in a perfectly peaceful manner, united in a demonstration of democracy: a celebration that they are trying to deny to us. This has inspired us and will continue to inspire us greatly. What arguments do they have, those who say that it’s not possible or permitted to vote peacefully when the Scots have already demonstrated the contrary so powerfully? The desire of millions of citizens to determine their own political future was made plain; it doesn’t matter what the final vote was. It was a brilliant lesson in democracy and respect, a lesson that Mr. Rajoy ought to study closely.

(CS) Were you present when the Catalan mayors presented their petition in support of the consultation to Mr. Mas? Could you describe the event?

I did have the opportunity to observe it: it was incredibly emotional. In all, 97% of townships approved a motion in favor of the consultation and offering their support: 920 of the 947 in Catalonia. You have to bear in mind that the mayors and the townships are precisely those who are closest to citizens; the fact that they are the first and foremost in supporting the consultation is immeasurably important. It gives me goose bumps: this demonstration is so overwhelming that there can no longer be any doubt of the degree of popular support for the measure.  This is an entire people who are eager to vote, eager to decide their future. After that, each person can vote whichever way they want.

(CS) This month we also had the reaction of the Spanish government and the Constitutional Court. What do you think Mr. Rajoy’s next steps will be?

(Sr. Bosch) You should ask him!

I think we can expect more of the same. They will continue to weave a bureaucratic and legalistic web, mixed with threats as well. But I don’t think it will go beyond that.

Threats accompanied by writs, citations and lots of paper: you have to understand that at bottom these people are bureaucrats whose livelihood is paperwork; it is what they know and understand. After all, even Mr. Rajoy is a Property Registrar; but I don’t think it will go beyond this. On the streets of Catalonia, the people are demonstrating their strength and their will; there is nothing comparable on the other side. The people are democratic and the efforts to stop them are not; the efforts the government bureaucracy is organizing from their offices is anti-democratic and will not succeed.

(CS) After the Constitutional Court issued its precautionary suspension, there was a meeting of the Catalan political parties. What were the arguments for and against a continuation of the consultation process despite the suspension?

(Sr. Bosch) Well, the most important arguments were the people themselves, out on the street demanding their right to decide; the majority in the Parliament, debating and voting on the law democratically; the overwhelming support of the Catalan mayors and towns. Of course there were doubts, because no one know exactly where all this leads or how it will end; but we have faith in the process. The future is uncertain, but there is a firm conviction on how to proceed. No one wants to derail the movement and fail the people. All the civic and political forces are decided on maintaining the consultation date, because it is the democratic and legitimate alternative.

(CS) What was the reaction in the Congress of Deputies with regards to Mr. Mas’ decision to continue organizing the consultation and appointing an organizing committee?

(Sr. Bosch) Well! the great majority of the representatives are none too pleased right now with the Catalan parties nor with what the Catalan government is doing in continuing to organize the consultation. The Catalan representatives presented an initiative yesterday (7 October) to urge the government to revoke its opposition to the consultation, but it was voted down by a rather substantial majority.

(CS) What will happen if there is a consultation on the 9th of November and the “Yes-Yes” vote wins?

(Sr. Bosch) If the “Yes-Yes” vote wins, that is only the first step, we will have to continue preparing the way towards independence. Much will depend on the attitude of the Spanish government, but in the end they’ll have to come to accept the reality of the situation. Even if they don’t want to negotiate at first; if the vote is in favor of independence then we’ll have to adjust our reality to that decision and begin to work independently. Of course, we will always be open to negotiating with the Spanish government; this has to be an entirely peaceful process, and I think that in the end we will be successful.

 (CS) That you for granting us this interview, for your time and for your kind reception, Mr. Bosch.


 

Sources and Notes:

[1] “ERC apuesta por una “lista de país” en unas elecciones plebiscitarias,” La Vanguardia, 15 October 2014

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