José Antonio made this intervention during the memorial session for Francesc Macià, the president of the Generalitat of Catalonia, who had died on Christmas Day 1933. Moments before a speech José María Albiñana of the Spanish Nationalist Party had provoked cries of "Viva España!" from the right, which was answered by shouts in favour of the Republic from the Left.
On April 14th 1931, after the results of the municipal elections came in, the Second Spanish Republic was declared across Spain. In Catalonia, Francesc Macià leader of the pro-independence Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, the Catalan Republican Left, who had won the election proclaimed "A Catalan State, which with all cordiality we will try to integrate into a Federation of Iberian Republics".
After negotiating with three ministers from the provisional government of the Republic, Macià was persuaded to back down from his declaration of independence in return for the re-establishment of the Generalitat, Catalonia's historic government, which had been abolished in 1714 following the War of the Spanish Succession.
Throughout the first legislature of the Republic, which was controlled by socialists and republicans, the Catalan issue caused relatively few problems. However, both sides of the House were in favour of the unity of Spain. José Maria Albiñana's speech provoked shouts of both "Viva España!" and "Viva la República!" during the session was an expression of the feeling that Catalonia was a threat to both the right-wing and left-wing projects for Spain.
On Catalonia is José Antonio's response to this. He points out that being anti-Catalan is antithetical to any project for Spanish unity because Spain cannot be whole unless constituent parts, such as Catalonia and the Basque Country, are fully included, while their differences are at the same time are respected and celebrated.
It is disappointing that today José Antonio has a reputation for being anti-Catalan. He may have opposed Catalan independence, but he saw Catalonia as an integral part of his beloved Spain.
Having lived in Barcelona when his father was Captain-General of Catalonia, José Antonio had direct experience of Catalan culture. He was sensitive to the demands of moderate middle-class Catalans in particular.
Congress of Deputies,
January 4th, 1934
Given that I am not a member of any
minority faction, I believe that I can lay claim on my own behalf
more freely than anyone, and I venture to think on behalf of all, to
what is held in trust: namely, the fact that when we speak the name
of Spain—and remember that I have not joined in any call to arms—we
are moved by something at a higher level than the wish to offend any
government and that is high above the wish to offend a land so noble,
so great, so illustrious and so beloved as the land of Catalonia. If
any offence was given, I would like the President and the House to
set apart those of us who in the present circumstances are thinking,
as always and without any mental reservations, of Spain and nothing
but Spain; because Spain is more than a constitutional entity;
because Spain is more than a historical circumstance; because Spain
can never be in opposition to the sum of her lands and each one of
I am pleased that the problem of Catalonia has arisen indirectly in the midst of all this disorder, so that not another day may go by before I make it clear that anyone who agrees with me inside the House or outside the House must feel that Catalonia, the land of Catalonia, should be treated henceforth and forever with the love, consideration and understanding that it has never received in any debate. For whenever the problem of the unity of Spain has been brought up at different times inside and outside this House, the noble defence of Spanish unity has been adulterated by a series of petty affronts to Catalonia, a series of minor exasperations, which amount to nothing other than a separatism promoted from this side of the Ebro.
We love Catalonia because it is Spanish, and because we love Catalonia we want to see it become ever more Spanish, like the Basque country, like all the other regions; smply, because we understand that a nation is not merely the attraction of the land where we were born, not just the direct and sentimental emotion we feel when we are close to our homeland, but rather that a nation is unity in universal terms, it is the level a people attains when it fulfils its universal destiny in history. For this reason, because Spain fulfilled her universal destiny when all her peoples were one, because Spain was an outward-looking nation, which is the way to really be a nation, when the Basque admirals roamed the seas of the world in the ships of Castile, when the admirable Catalans conquered the Mediterranean in the ships of Aragon—because that is the way we see it, we want all the peoples of Spain to feel not only that basic patriotism aroused in us by the land, but the patriotism of a great mission, the patriotism of transcendence, the patriotism of a truly great Spain.
I assure the President and the House that I believe us all to be thinking only of Spain's greatness when we cheer for Spain or express a longing for what is not on certain commemorative occasions. If anyone had shouted, Down with Catalonia, this would not only have been tremendously improper, it would also have been a crime against Spain, and such a person would not ever be worthy of sitting amongst Spaniards. Everyone who loves Spain says, Long live Catalonia and long live all the lands involved as brothers in the admirable, indestructible and glorious mission, that was handed down to us through many centuries of effort under the name of Spain. (Applause.)