Oriol Junqueras: 'We are not afraid, we never have been; we will exercise self-determination again'

On his return to Parliament to appear before an inquiry, the President of Esquerra Republicana and political prisoner Oriol Junqueras called for "dialogue with everyone," and assured that despite repression the Republicans would never renounce the Catalan Republic

Oriol Junqueras, Dolors Bassa, Raül Romeva, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Quim Forn, vice-president and ministers of the Government of Catalonia, who made possible the holding of the Catalan referendum for self-determination in 2017, reappeared in the Catalan Parliament for the first time since their imprisonment over two years ago. They did so to appear before the committee inquiring into the suspension of Catalan home rule by the Spanish Government through article 155 of the Constitution. The President of Esquerra, who was the first to intervene, assured that the repression of the Spanish State had not achieved its objective: "We are not afraid, we never have been, and still less now; we will exercise self-determination again."

Mr Junqueras is convinced that "prison is just one more step on the road to freedom" and that the referendum is the best tool to achieve this: "Throughout the twentieth century there have been 106 referendums for self-determination in the world; so a referendum is commonplace and normal and we want to call one again."

He also called for "dialogue with everyone" and said that the Republicans would never condition dialogue on imprisonment: "Jail is irrelevant compared to the interests and needs of the country as a whole," he stated. "We are the champions of the cause of the Republic and also of dialogue, which is why we demand it and exercise it by sitting at the negotiating table," said Junqueras, referring to the negotiations with the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), convinced that "wanting to talk to everyone is not a sign of weakness, but of strength, of confidence in ourselves, our arguments and ideas."

The best way to build a fairer society is to build it with the tools of a State
Oriol Junqueras President of Esquerra Republicana

On the application of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, he stated that "it only served to halt application of social policies, such as the citizens’ guaranteed income," in a way that "harmed the interests and needs of the citizens of Catalonia." The Republican president said the Spanish state sought to impose itself by incarcerating its political rivals, but had failed: "All the elections in 2019 have been is an accumulation of victories for the victims of that repression, and a succession of defeats for those who applauded it." In fact, "those who championed the application of article 155 and wanted to decapitate us are no longer there; but I am, and I shall be, and my colleagues too," he assured.

He also warned those who "celebrated repression the most", unfortunately, at some point get a "taste of the State’s cesspit." The fact is that "the deep state cannot go without using the instruments it has always used, including the fabrication of false evidence against its opponents." In the face of that, Junqueras is more convinced than ever that "the best way to build a fairer society is to build it with the tools of a State", which is why the Republicans will never renounce the Catalan Republic.