Catalonia Calling! #22

We're a Nation, We Decide for Muriel Casals - 20/2/2016

Catalonia Calling #22 is called We're a Nation, We Decide and links the very sad death of former Òmnium Cultural President and Junts pel Sí politician, Muriel Casals, last Saturday.

We go on to look at the current state of the Catalan independence process in the context of both the Spanish Transition to Democracy after the death of General Franco and the Constitutional Court decision in 2010, which cut the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia and also provoked the first major demonstration in favour of independence for Catalonia on July 10th 2010.

The slogan of the demonstration was "We are a Nation. We Decide" and it was one of Muriel Casals first major acts after having become president of Òmnium Cultural earlier that year.


Muriel Casals

The death of Muriel Casals in hospital last Saturday due to injuries received after being hit by a cyclist when crossing the road in Barcelona has not only affected those that were close to her but has also moved the whole Catalan independence movement and upset the people of Catalonia as a whole.

At the time of her death, Casals was 70 years old and a member of the Catalan Parliament as one of the leading members of the Junts pel Sí coalition. In fact, she had stood at Number Three in the Junts pel Sí electoral list for the elections of September 27th 2015 and she was also President of the key parliamentary Commission on the Constituent Process.

She had been a committed activist all her life and was involved in the anti-Franco opposition as a member of PSUC, the Catalan communist party, in the 1960s and 70s. Her professional was mainly dedicated to academia and she was Professor of Economics at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

However, she became well known after being elected president of the Catalan cultural association, Òmnium Cultural, in 2010 and alongside Carme Forcadell, the president of the Catalan National Assembly, becoming one the leaders of the grassroots movement for Catalan independence.

Her friend and colleague Forcadell, who is shown in the picture, had particularly sincere and emotive words of eulogy for her. Many commentators remembered her serenity combined commitment and her words at the Festa de la Llibertat at Camp Nou in 2013 "We aren't here in search of a dream. We are the dream. And this is our strength" summed up her attitude and leadership very well.

We are a Nation, We Decide

Muriel Casal's death has got me thinking about where the idea of independence got started - well, for me, at least, and for a lot of other people here in Catalonia.

Back in June in June 2010, the now ubiquitous Spanish Constitutional Court made a ruling cutting key articles of the the new Catalan Statute of Autonomy of 2006 four years after it had been approved by the Parliament of Catalonia, the Spanish Cortes and the Catalan people had voted in favour of it at referendum. The Partido Popular, the Spanish Ombudsman and a number of other Autonomous communities had appealed against it and the ruling had been a long protracted process that was full of irregularities.

The ruling itself cut a number of competencies of the Generalitat in the areas of finance, education and the judiciary, amongst other things, but more importantly it ruled that the use of the word 'nation' rather than 'nationality' to refer to the Catalan people in the preamble had no legal validity. Hence, the slogan of the demonstration: "We are a nation, we decide."

If you stop and think about it, this affirmation remains one of the keys to understanding how and why the Catalan independence process has progressed as it has done over the last 6 years. It's all about sovereignty and challenging Article 2 of the Spanish Constitution, which claims the "the indissoluble unity" of the Spanish nation and that sovereignty resides in the Spanish people as a whole.

The Catalan Declaration of Sovereignty, which was passed by the Parliament of Catalonia in January 2013, directly challenges this and it is also why neither the Partido Popular will never allow the Catalan people to hold a referendum on independence and decide for themselves.

The Transition to Democracy

There are complex reasons why the Spanish Constitution is as it is and the powers of the historic nations, such as Catalonia, were limited by the so-called café para todos or coffee for everybody, which diluted their claims and turned regions like La Rioja, Murcia or Extremadura, into Autonomous Communities with roughly the same powers but basically it comes down to the fear of a military coup by the Francoist right, who were unwilling to give up power or allow Franco's legacy to be lost after the dictator's death in November 1975.

Let's not forget that the whole Spanish government of the late-1970s was made up of former Franco ministers and reformers, such as Torcuato Fernández Miranda and Adolfo Suárez deserve our complete admiration for the way they managed to dismantle Franco's totalitarian regime without the country descending into a downward spiral of violence.

Torcuato Fernández Miranda's famous catchphrase was that democracy would be introduced "law by law via the law" and the crucial law through which the Francoist Spanish Cortes legislated itself out of existence was the Law for the Political Reform of 1976, which paved the way for the first democratic elections in Spain a year later.

The Transition to Independence

At this point in time, the situation here in Catalonia is somewhat analogous. Through the Llei de Transitorietat Jurídica or Transitory Legality, which will have to be passed sometime in the near future, Catalonia is trying to become independent "law by law via the law".

The threat isn't from the far right and the army but rather the Constitutional Court, which fired by Franco's heirs, the Partido Popular, will do everything in its power to block any Catalan independence initiaves.

The claim that the Partido Popular are Franco's heirs is not a crass one, by the way. The PP changed its name from Alianza Popular only in 1989 and the Alianza Popular had been founded by Francoist minister Manuel Fraga and brought together some of the more reactionary survivors of Francoism, who incidentally voted against the now sacrosanct Constitution when it was debated in the Cortes in 1978.

Essentially the children of the Francoist reactionaries who formed Alianza Popular now lead the Partido Popular so it is completely fair to say that it is Franco's heirs who are unwilling to allow Spain to change.

For Muriel Casals

But Catalonia is a nation and we will decide because the precedent goes back to the Statute of Nuria in 1933 and please remember that the Generalitat was restored in 1977 before the Constitution was passed so Catalonia has a very strong democratic claim to sovereignty.

As Catalonia moves into this crucial last stage, Muriel Casals, the president of the Commission for the Constituent Process will be sorely missed but don't doubt that her inspiration lives on.

Catalonia must gain independence not only for present and future generations but also for those, like Muriel Casals, that we've lost along the way.

A Final Thought

Anyway, thanks very much for watching. Please subscribe, like and comment. Also remember that I do all this completely free. So if you want to support my work and research, you can click on an ad, buy my book Catalonia Is Not Spain: A Historical Perspective on Amazon or make a donation a

That's it from me for this week.

Viscal el Barça! Visca Catalunya! Visca Murial Casals Look after yourselves.

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