Secretary General Marta Rovira: “I feel immense political pride in the 2017 independence referendum; lessons learnt in order to win”

Catalonia’s President Aragonès appeals to the “red thread of republicanism” to transform Catalonia

Last weekend Esquerra Republicana held its National Conference at La Farga de L'Hospitalet Conference Centre. On Saturday, the party’s Secretary General Marta Rovira—in exile in Geneva—and the party’s National Coordinator and President of Catalonia’s Generalitat government Pere Aragonès, opened the day’s debate alluding to the strengths gathered over the last years, from the 2017 independence referendum and the “red thread” in order to build a new country.

Marta Rovira, who has now been in exile for 4 years, pointed out that repression surrounding the 1st October 2017 referendum is continuing for many citizens, and assured that in her own case she felt “immense political pride” in the referendum – “we did it together”– she said. Her pride has served for her to focus on exile as a new form of struggle for the cause for independence.

“For the men and women of Esquerra Republicana, that 1st of October represents the lessons learned that we will improve upon, because we mean to win! These are lessons learned from what we did wrong, lessons learned in a positive light, the pride we garnered that day as a people,” said the Secretary General.

Ms Rovira defended that the independence movement won on that 1st of October the “power to come back.” And she called the people not to engage in “sterile partisan debates and tactics.” “We know what our strengths are, those the 1st of October gave us and that must guide us,” she insisted.

That guide, that power and strength that must be used to confront the Spanish state in the forthcoming stages to unravel the political conflict with Catalonia. “We know very well who is at the negotiating table: a democracy-phobic state, but one we have forced to sit at the table,” she added. That is why, for Esquerra that table is a “new democratic pivot, a step we need to take towards the Catalan Republic.” The negotiation is simply “to pave the way for a democratic debate on the solution to the political conflict: self-determination and amnesty; a referendum and an end to repression.”

President Aragonès: “The future of the nation lies in our hands”

The General Coordinator of Esquerra Republicana and President of the Generalitat government Pere Aragonès began his speech by stating that “Our goal is to create opportunities, welfare and prosperity for all, to serve the people and to build a better country.” Mr Aragonés called for “the whole country” to speak out and govern, adding that Esquerra is “the most loyal partner for the country.” “We have the future of the nation in our hands. That is our responsibility,” he said.

“A country never progresses with empty proclamations and with conjured up solutions, but based on the principle of reality, on work and effort and commitment, learning from the path trodden thus far,” he said. That has meant that 80 years after a member of Esquerra was last the President of Catalonia, he has now taken over that responsibility, “and I am proud,” he confessed.

Mr Aragonès said that the “red thread of republicanism” represented by Esquerra Republicana “guides each and every one of the decisions” he takes as the President. “We want a country where it is clear that without equality, freedom is not possible,” he said. An ecological, solidary country that understands that “there are many ways to love,” that builds the nation “from the plurality of origin and languages that enrich us”, feminist because “with a patriarchy there is no freedom” and that “will confront any government in which the far right participates,” he said. This country must also be “free, free of repression, one that offers the citizens the opportunity to decide their future freely, peacefully and democratically.”

This “transformative ambition” of the first “pro-independence and progressive” government of Catalonia must reach all towns and cities in the next municipal elections, he added. The National Coordinator of Esquerra Republicana thanked “all the Republican mayors” who are already transforming the country and picked up the gauntlet of the municipal elections, where Esquerra must provoke “a real shock-wave throughout the country” by winning cities such as L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Santa Coloma and Badalona. In short, he has called for progress “with full pride and conviction,” with “feet on the ground and fists raised high.”

No to war
Secretary General Rovira raised her voice against the war in Ukraine. “No to war means doing everything possible to stop this barbarity and this stupidity; doing everything possible means opening our arms to refugees, taking decisions so that it is not the same people as who always pay the cost,” she said. For his part, Mr Aragonès called for a “pro-European nation committed to peace and human rights” conveying “all our solidarity” to the Ukrainian people: “We are a welcoming country by definition and we stand in solidarity with all oppressed peoples of the world,” he added.

The total amendment
At the end of Saturday’s session at La Farga, the first of two days of debate, the members rejected a total amendment of the manifesto that had been maintained through to the Conference. 94.8% of the votes were against, 1.5% blank and 3.7% in favour.

A total of 512 amendments were tabled, 511 of which were partial. Of these, 61 were accepted in their entirety by the drafting committee and a further 380 were transacted with the person amending, so the final draft includes over 400 contributions by the members. In addition, 11 were withdrawn due to questions of form and 59 were dropped.