Catalonia’s President Aragonès to the Spanish Senate: “I have come to defend amnesty and self-determination”

President Pere Aragonès took part this morning in the Spanish Senate’s Committee on Autonomous Communities, where he defended amnesty and a referendum on self-determination

“You have taken it for granted that you could talk about Catalonia without Catalonia. The People’s Party does not care about the opinion, the will, the aspirations or the yearnings of the Catalans. If they did care about Catalonia, they would call us to hear what we think of the 22 billion euro fiscal deficit, of the deplorable commuter train service, of why, when the Parliament of Catalonia approves advanced regulations in the field of climate change or equality between men and women, these are overturned by the Constitutional Court. If they cared about Catalonia, they would be at our side to promote the Catalan language in Catalonia and in the rest of the territories we share the language with. In short, if they cared, they would listen to Catalonia.”

That is how the president of the Catalan Generalitat government, Pere Aragonès, began his address this morning before the Spanish Senate’s Committee on Autonomous Communities, of which the senators by autonomous parliamentary designation are members, and which met today in an extraordinary session which also convened the presidents of the Autonomous Communities.

President Aragonès made it very clear from the beginning – after remarking “I don’t think you expected me” – that he had come to “defend amnesty and a referendum on self-determination.” What was meant to be a meeting of People’s Party regional presidents – there were no other leaders from any other party – to unanimously denounce an amnesty law that would end the repression that the independence movement has suffered and continues to suffer in Catalonia, thus met with President Aragonès’ response and his clear position, which he defended without beating about the bush.

And not only did he defend amnesty. He spelled out that “amnesty is not the endpoint. It must be the beginning of a pathway that has one destination: for the citizens of Catalonia to vote in a referendum on their political future.” “On independence,” the president made clear.

Mr Aragonès denounced at the same time that the objective of the Senate session in which the Peoples Party – with an absolute majority in the upper house – thought it was alone was none other than “to once again use Catalonia for partisan clashes in the arena of the Spanish State. To once again encourage anti-Catalanism in order to wear down their opponent.”

He also recalled and vindicated the history of Catalonia as a nation, “forged through the centuries thanks to the contributions of those born in Catalonia and those from far and wide,” assuring that “as a grandson of Andalusians, in the South of Spain, I can testify to that fully.” He added that “beyond what the Spanish right represents and does” in regard to inciting hatred between Spain and Catalonia, considering only their party interest, “there are many citizens in the rest of the state who know, who love and appreciate Catalonia, and with whom there are fraternal bonds.”

When it came to defending amnesty, Mr Aragonès said that it is “indispensable” in order to further the resolution of the political conflict between Catalonia and the institutions of the Spanish state, and to return to politics what is a political conflict, “so as not to repeat the imprisonment of citizens for political reasons, to put an end to forced exiles, to fines, to espionage, to disqualifications for political reasons, and to the persecution for having exercised the right to demonstration. To put an end to the general cause against independence.”