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Catalan President asks Spain to "listen to" Catalonia's "peaceful and democratic claim"

In the institutional speech that the President of the Catalan Government makes each year the evening before Catalonia's National Day, Artur Mas asked the Spanish authorities to "listen to the peaceful and democratic claim" represented by Thursday's massive pro-independence rally. "Silencing the voice of a people that want to speak out is a mistake; denying the vote to those who see ballot boxes as the solution and not the problem is a double mistake", stated Mas. Before the institutional speech was broadcasted on TV, Mas attended the flower offering made to the mass graveyard where those who died defending Barcelona in the 14-month military siege were buried 300 years ago. In September 1714, Catalonia was defeated and lost its sovereignty, self-government institutions and its Constitution, and a long, harsh repression started. After the flower offering, a second ceremony started nearby, with music and poetry as the only ingredients.

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10 September 2014 11:54 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- In the institutional speech that the President of the Catalan Government makes each year the evening before Catalonia's National Day, Artur Mas asked the Spanish authorities to "listen to the peaceful and democratic claim of this people" represented by Thursday's massive pro-independence rally which could gather around 1.5 million citizens in Barcelona. "Silencing the voice of a people that want to speak out is a mistake; denying the vote to those who see ballot boxes as the solution and not the problem is a double mistake", stated Mas. "The Catalan people do not want to impose a decision", it wants "to be heard, speak, vote and reach a good agreement for everybody", he emphasised. Mas added that Catalans "are not driven by the desire to become better than the others, but by the desire to improve ourselves". "We want, like everybody, a better future", he continued. "We want to be treated like the other nations in the world". Before the institutional speech was broadcasted on TV, Mas attended the flower offering made to the mass graveyard where those who died defending Barcelona in the 14-month military siege were buried 300 years ago. On the 11th of September 1714, Barcelona fell and a few days later Catalonia was defeated and lost its sovereignty, self-government institutions and its Constitution. Spain as a Unitarian and centralist State was born, and a political, economic, social and cultural repression was launched against Catalonia. After the flower offering, a second ceremony started nearby, with music and poetry as the only ingredients, which was attended by a broad representation of the Catalan society. However, the conservative People's Party (PP) – running the Spanish Government – and the Spanish nationalist and populist party C's refused to attend both events, arguing that the celebrations had been "kidnapped by pro-independence supporters". However, in the last three decades, the PP has self-excluded itself from the institutional events of Catalonia's National Day on many occasions.


The Catalan President sent yet another message to the Spanish authorities, asking them to listen to what citizens from Catalonia are repeatedly asking: to be able to vote on their collective future as a nation. Mas' speech was particularly symbolic and important, considering the 300th anniversary of the 11th of September 1714, when the Catalan capital city fell to the Bourbon troops which imposed a centralist and homogenising rule based on Castilian language, culture and laws. To remind Catalans about the loss of sovereignty and to honour those who died defending it, Catalonia's National Day was set on the 11th of September.

"Our sense of democracy comes from a long time ago"

In his speech, Mas noticed that he was speaking from the Sant Jordi room of the Generalitat Palace, the seat of the Catalan Government. He said that it was in that room were the Catalan Parliament, known as the Catalan Courts, met for the last time in 1706. Mas stressed that the Catalan Courts were founded in the 13th century, based on the Catalan Assemblies of Peace and Truce, and were considered the birth of parliamentarianism in Europe, together with the Icelandic Althing and the English Parliament. "Our sense of democracy comes from a long time ago", he emphasised.

Mas added that it was also in that room where it was decided that the Catalan Constitution and sovereignty should be defended in 1713, launching the resistance to the draconian military siege of Barcelona. "We have to know our history to know how deep the democratic convictions of Catalan people are", he stated. "In times when some want to downplay, distort and even deny our past as a country, it is more necessary than ever to commemorate what we have been, to remind the heroic defence of Barcelona, and the whole of Catalonia, 300 years ago", Mas stated. Those fighting against the Bourbon troops were fighting "for laws that were among the most advanced at the time, which were opposed to the absolute power that was being exercised in an absolute way". "It was precisely the homogenising absolutism which won the war, which wanted to kill our identity, language and customs", he underlined.

300 years have passed and "everything has happened" in that time. "We have faced such big obstacles and difficulties that we could have been totally erased from the landscape of nations in Europe and the world", Mas highlighted. However, "the Catalan nation is alive", "and we are preparing ourselves to decide our collective future in a democratic, civic-minded and peaceful way", he stressed. "Another year, and the social majority that makes the political process which Catalonia is going through possible does not give up, but continues to be more active and stronger", he noticed. "Some should carefully note this down", Mas said referring to the Spanish Government.

The "unity" of parties supporting self-determination should not be broken

The Catalan President repeated his "commitment to call for the [self-determination] consultation vote, once the Parliament of Catalonia will approve the legal way to make it possible". Mas emphasised that his "will" is that "the unity" of parties supporting self-determination is not broken and, instead, it is "enlarged", in order "to continue giving an answer to the desire and will of the majority of our society". In fact, all the opinion polls issued in the last two years show that between 75% and 80% of the Catalan society want to hold a self-determination vote, regardless whether they would vote for independence or not. Furthermore, the electoral mandate from the last Catalan elections (held in November 2012) was very clear, since 80% of the votes were for parties supporting the organisation of a legal self-determination vote.

For these reasons, the Catalan President sent a direct message to the Spanish Government and institutions once again. According to Mas, they "still have time to listen to the peaceful and democratic claim of this people", which will massively demonstrate for independence on its National Day. "Silencing the voice of a people that wants to speak out is a mistake; denying the vote to those who see ballot boxes as the solution and not the problem is a double mistake", stated Mas. "We Catalans want to vote".

Catalans do "not want to impose a decision", but want to "vote and reach a good agreement for everybody"

"The Catalan people do not want to impose a decision"; they want "to be heard, speak, vote and reach a good agreement for everybody", Mas emphasised. "We want to vote" in order "to decide how to give a better answer to the needs of our fellow citizens", he said. Catalans "are not driven by the desire to become better than the others, but by the desire to improve ourselves". "We want, like everybody, a better future", he continued. "A future that we want to be in harmony and solidarity with the rest of people of Spain and Europe", the Catalan President added.

"We want to be treated like the other nations in the world and therefore should be able to decide ourselves on our economy, our welfare, our public services, our identity and the way to relate to the other nations of Europe and the world. And we want to do so by strengthening the very old ties that we have with this Europe that is still half-way in its political construction", stated the President of the Catalan Government. Catalans "have the opportunity" to "build a country on more solid bases, more transparent and with more democratic quality". The fact of "having had one of the oldest parliaments in Europe should become a powerful stimulus to hope for building one of the best democracies in Europe", he concluded.

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  • The Catalan President, together with the Mayor of Barcelona and the President of the Catalan Parliament, paying tribute to those who died defending Barcelona in 1713 and 1714 (by P. Francesch)

  • The flower offering at the 1714 mass graveyeard in Barcelona (by P. Francesch)

  • The Catalan President, together with the Mayor of Barcelona and the President of the Catalan Parliament, paying tribute to those who died defending Barcelona in 1713 and 1714 (by P. Francesch)
  • The flower offering at the 1714 mass graveyeard in Barcelona (by P. Francesch)