The first law passed by the new regional Parliament of Catalonia in 1980, under the presidency of Jordi Pujol, was a decree of June 12 establishing September 11 as the Day of the Catalans. The text on which the law was based affirmed that the proposal "commemorates the sad memory of the loss of our freedoms on September 11, 1714, and the protest and active resistance against oppression." Unfortunately, it was a big mistake to choose that date. Actually, the surrender of Barcelona to the Bourbon army took place, according to the Duke of Berwick, not on the 11th, but shortly after noon on September 12. When the republican historian Salvador Sanpere i Miquel subsequently published in 1905 a detailed history of the siege of Barcelona, according to him the crucial day, the day that " meant the death of the Catalan nation ", it was not the 11th but the 15th of September, when The city handed its flags to the new governor of the city.
Sanpere i Miquel had a clear objective: to specify the moment of death to later proclaim the rebirth of the nation. However, the mistake made in 1980 on the date of the Diada was compounded by some later writers whose purpose was to create a nationalist myth about the events of the year 1714. The result is that a stream of dedicated pseudo-information has now not developed. to the rebirth of the nation but to an insensitive distortion of its history, culture and politics. This flow, enthusiastically promoted for example by TV3 of Catalonia, is actively financed by the current leadership of the Generalitat. The situation obviously affects the way we view the political context of the Diada.
Today we are at a crossroads in the development of the Catalan nation, when those who say they love it must make a decision about their future. Can the Diada, whose celebration we can accept as September 11, offer some hope for the rebirth of the nation that went through the tribulations of the year 1714? Can the errors of the year 2017, which now await their evaluation in the verdict of the process, be resolved as part of a progress towards a quiet and prosperous Catalonia? The problem is that there are groups that see no mistakes in the past and are determined to repeat those mistakes in the future. In many public places in Catalonia, today there are huge posters that proudly proclaim: Tornarem a fer-ho (We will do it again). Those who promote this point of view are, we can be sure, the enemies of the Day.
Let's be clear about who the enemies of a democratic nation are. They are, first of all, those who wish to subvert their political traditions by refusing to hold free elections and at the same time affirming that 80% of the population supports them. A Minister of the Generalitat has proclaimed this week that they do not need elections because they already have a majority. The president of the Generalitat affirms that although there are neither elections nor referendum, the only objective is independence, which can be proclaimed without consulting the democratic wishes of the majority of the population.
The enemies, in other words, do not respect the political life of the nation. Two years ago, under the leadership of the president of the Parliament of Catalonia, Carme Forcadell, the separatist leaders formally proclaimed and approved a declaration by an independent republic. This immediately gave hope to the separatists among the population. A few days later, however, Forcadell and other participants declared that the whole process had been symbolic and that in fact it was not intended or declared independence. Did this show any respect for the political process? Obviously not.
The enemies of the nation, indeed, are those who do not respect their past. They have systematically distorted and distorted all relevant aspects of the history of Catalonia. A typical product of counterfeiting is the rehabilitation in Barcelona del Born, a work that cost more than 90 million euros and is dedicated to falsifying the events of the siege of the city in 1714. The attempt to eliminate the presence of the Catholic Monarchs of School textbooks in Catalonia is another clear example of disrespect for the nation's past. During the reign of the Catholic Monarchs there were in fact profound advances in the cooperation of the two crowns (of Castile and Aragon) in all the main areas: in the long campaign of conquest of Granada, in the idea of establishing a common religious policy , or in a joint military policy in Italy. It was an unprecedented collaboration experience in the Europe of that time. The Generalitat, however, has long since lost interest in what really happened in the past of the nation.
The enemies of the nation today are those who entrench themselves in illegality by defying the laws that they themselves must observe. The president of the Generalitat has declared that if the verdict of the procés in Madrid goes against the defendants, his supporters will initiate a campaign of "persistent civil disobedience" and "constant and persevering mobilization". If we follow the evidence of what has already happened during the last two years, "disobedience" means a sustained campaign to "stop Catalonia", that is, to destabilize the country. The objective would be to paralyze, from one day to the next, important sections of road and rail transport , movement of taxis, buses and aviation, operation of school education and public stores. This deliberate destruction of all normal public life in the region, of course, is not civil disobedience; it is public terrorism perpetrated not by the population but by the Government of the Generalitat itself.
The enemies of the nation are, finally, those who divide civil society causing tensions and violence, organizing mass demonstrations and subverting the tranquility of families and friends. There is little need to go into details about the violence that the nonviolence of the separatists has caused in all parts of Catalan society. There is ample evidence, as video records have shown. We have seen masses of young people mocking the police, challenging them to attack, with shouts of " Som gent de pau !" (We are people of peace!). The fact that the separatists had no weapons was part of the strategy. It is the confrontation (attitudes of aggression, collective hysteria, ideological fury, simple hatred of the crowd) that has been the driving force.
The impending verdict of the procés offers the Catalans the opportunity to celebrate a Diada that will proclaim civil peace between the population and democratic health among those involved in politics. As the former president of the Generalitat, José Montilla, expressed this week, the Diada must express "the unity of the country, in all its plurality." However, the open threat of some separatist politicians that the masses will imitate Hong Kong students and start a rebellion against their oppressors offers little hope of improving the attitudes of some who currently govern the destinies of the Catalan people.
Henry Kamen is a British historian; Among his books is Spain and Catalonia. History of a passion (The Sphere of Books, 2014).
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