President of Esquerra Republicana, Oriol Junqueras / Marc Puig
President of Esquerra Republicana, Oriol Junqueras / Marc Puig

The president of Esquerra Republicana wrote a letter to the militancy after knowing the sentence of the Supreme Court, which sentenced him to 13 years in prison.

Dearest Friends,

Today, they wanted to finish us off, a whole generation of Catalans fighting to attain our freedom. With this verdict, they want to destroy lives, decapitate parties and leaderships, cut short a democratic political movement and bring it to an end, silencing an entire people that demands to express itself at the ballot box. Democracy in Spain today has failed and the powers that be are taking revenge because they do not understand justice, politics or democratic process. They are demonstrating once again that the unity of the Kingdom of Spain comes before anything else, even before their own international reputation, and probably before the survival of the very State itself.

But above all, they are showing us something else: that the Catalans do not have any alternative, that there is no other option than to build a new state in order to flee from one that pursues democrats, forbids the ballot and forbids protest, and jails its people for their political ideals. Independence has today become, more than ever, a necessity in order to live in a freer, more just and democratic society. I do not wish my children to grow up in this corrupt, insensitive State that seems to have a phobia of democracy, and I swear I shall not rest until I achieve it.

How often have we said that jail, however hard and unfair, is only one more step on the way to attaining freedom, a stage at which to plant the seed that is to mark our future?

We have said on several occasions that we have not had a fair pre-trial court investigation, that we would not have a fair trial, and that the State would be ruthless. Two years in pre-trial detention was the prelude to this sentence, a sentence that does nothing but strengthen my democratic and republican convictions.

During the long night of the Franco regime, the Republicans suffered such shame as we had not known since Catalonia’s defeat before the Spanish and French armies in 1714. Dead, imprisoned and exiled by the hundreds of thousands. Our grandparents, especially our grandmothers, lived on so that we could live. The victors wanted to erase us from the face of the earth, there was no hope, as you have often heard me explain.

One October just like this month, but 79 years ago, President Companys was put before a firing squad. It was the dawn of October 15, 1940. They went to fetch him in the cell in Montjuïc Castle, where just a few minutes earlier he had finished writing his life testament, ending it with “For Catalonia.”

While they escorted him in handcuffs to the castle moat where he was to be executed, President Companys looked out over the city of Barcelona, devastated, occupied by Franco’s insurgent army which had entered Catalonia as the National Army and had then become the self-styled Army of Occupation. A significant nuance.

Forget vengeance, let us fill ourselves with hope in these difficult times and turn injustice into energy, courage and democratic strength.
Oriol Junqueras President of Esquerra Republicana

So much so that when the insurgent general Queipo de Llano broadcast the progress of war from Seville, he declaimed: “We will make Madrid a lush garden, we will make Bilbao a great factory, and we will make Barcelona an immense wasteland.”

The Franco regime had occupied Catalonia so as to hurt, to punish its population, to end their craving for freedom and justice, to erase the Republic. The question is “what hope was there?” The answer is extremely cruel: “There was none.” But a generation of Catalans, especially of Catalan women, lived so that we could live. They lived, as poet Salvador Espriu wrote, to save our words, to recover the name of every single thing, so we should follow the straight and narrow path to attain the full mastery of the land, to keep us always more faithful to the service of this people.

Today, they want to finish off a whole generation of Catalans willing to decide the future of their country, determined to fight to win our ultimate liberty. And they will be unable to. If our grandmothers managed in immensely more difficult conditions, we too will succeed. Forget vengeance, let us fill ourselves with hope in these difficult times and turn injustice into energy, courage and democratic strength.

Before those who are only moved by their wish to harm, we say that today nothing has ended, that they have neither conquered nor convinced. Only revenge moves them, blinded by their wounded pride. We will return stronger still. We are the generation that was born to win. We are the seed of all victories. Doubt not, for we shall return and we shall prevail.

Persevere Catalans, persevere, for if we do, we shall prevail!

Long live Catalonia! Long live the Catalan Republic!