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3 de jul. 2015

"Catalonia's self-determination process: a bottom-up movement?"


Public lecture delivered at the Centre Català de Luxemburg, Luxembourg, July 7th 2015.
88, rue de la Semois.

First of all I am most grateful to the Luxembourg delegation of the Catalan National Assembly, an NGO to which I will devote much of my talk, for this invitation to speak to you this evening. Secondly, I should like to thank the Centre Català de Luxemburg for hosting the event. 

To read the rest of this paper, please click on "Més informació" below.

And my special thanks to the audience! Your presence makes my trip worthwhile, and I am sure there were plenty of appealing alternative activities to attract you! So I hope you will feel free to make your own remarks at the end of my contribution! In fact, I would have much preferred a short presentation and then a long session of questions and answers, as I could not know beforehand what the profile of those attending the event would be: I neither want to bore you with information that you are familiar with, nor take for granted information without which you simply cannot understand what is happening!

I have never before visited Luxembourg, perhaps the last west European country I can say this about! But I am familiar with your official language policies and their status, a unique and ambitious scheme to promote proficiency in three languages or more (no other EU country has such a high proportion of trilingual inhabitants!) while ensuring that the future of Letzeburgesch is ensured and its use is nurtured in society. 

I have long admired two Luxembourgers. One was Gaston Thorn (1928-2007), who was presdient of the Eureopeanb Commission in the 1980s. He was a good friend of my uncle Ramon Trias Fargas, and who built Mas Thorn, a holiday home in Vall-Llobrega, just inland from Catalonia's Costa Brava. The other is Mme. Viviane Reding, who was the rapporteur for the first European Resoilution on the Catalan language, in December 1990, and enjoyed until very recently a successful political career in the European Commission. Only last year I attended a lecture she gave in Barcelona, on the future of Europe (and the issue of the future of Catalonia was also raised by the public at the session!). 

I should like to make my presentation, "Catalonia's self-determination process: a bottom-up movement?" in four separate parts. I shall try to be objective, wherever possible, and to make it clear when I am giving my personal opinion.

These parts will be answers to the following four questions:

1. Why has the number of Catalans seeking independence grown so much in recent years?
2. What is the role in the independence process of the Catalan National Assembly and other grass-roots organisations?
3. What is the role in the independence process of the Catalan political parties and government?
4. What have the Spanish authorities done in the face of Catalonia's independence process? 

1. Why has the number of Catalans seeking independence grown so much in recent years?

The Catalans were one of the founding peoples of what we call Spain today, though they were dwarfed by the Castilian people when they began to share the head of State - the king of Spain - both with other peoples in the Iberian peninsula, and very soon, Flanders, much of Germany, etc.
The Catalans lost their direct relationship, through a rudimentary parliamentary system, with the head of State, on losing the War of Spanish Succession in 1714. Philip V imposed a highly centralised form of government which was to remain in place for virtually centuries. But the Catalans, along with many other peoples in Europe, campaigned for devolution / home rule, from around 1860 onward. In the face of increasing pressure by Spanish governments towards complete assimilation, they both felt different (having a language, traditions, history, culture, institutions and civil code of their own) and that their political demands were not being heeded. In particular they felt that while Catalonia was developing a productive, industrial economy, Spain was principally based on an extractive economic system, which is one that derives "most of its productivity from non-renewable resources, with the implication that elites are skimming a certain percentage off the top, and instead of investing that money in productive enterprises, spend it on non-productive activities instead" (DeMarquis).

For 150 years Catalan politician waged a constant (outside the periods of dictatorship) campaign in favour of a federal structuring of Spain, to accommodate Catalonia. The number of federalists in the rest of Spain, however, never allowed any advance to be made. Grudging concessions were made, midst hysterical fears that Spain was breaking up, in 1914, to allow the four provincial councils to work in conjunction. This lasted only 10 years before a dictatorship abolished it. In 1931 Catalonia recovered, under a Republican regime, a fair degree of home rule, but this was very soon to lead to high-level military contacts with Hitler as soon as he came to power, and to the Spanish civil war in 1936. The right-wing had a number of grounds to try and topple the Republic, and regional devolution was clearly one of the main ones. This was made evident at the end of the War: Catalonia's institutions of home rule were abolished, its language banned in public and in official circles. Much of Catalonia's intellectual and academic leadership fled into exile (like my grandfather and his family), alongside the political leadership.


The Catalans were among the best organised opponents of the Franco regime when it came to an end, and the promise of the recovery of home rule was a condition for Catalonia to help design a democratic system after 1975. And since 1980 Catalonia has had executive powers in a wide range of areas (including crucial areas such as health and edcucation), and more limited legislative powers. 

However, the fact that Catalans have always "enjoyed" a negative stereotype among Spaniards (as being mean and stingey, and not friendly or sociable - while being regarded as efficient and hard-working), began to be used in the 1990s by the main Spanish rightist party (the People's Party) as a vote-winner in the rest of Spain. 

The increasingly shared view among political parties that the 1979 Statute of Autonomy was insufficient given the new challenges of globalisation and a number of court judgments that had cut back the effectiveness of the Statute, and also the central government and parliaments frequent attacks at its scope, lead to a new proposal being drafted and agreed upon by 89% of MPs in the Catalan Parliament, in September 2005. However, despite a previous public commitment on the part of the Spanish socialist leader, it was considerably cut back by the Spanish parliament (with offensive remarks being made about the Catalans having been put in their place), and four years later, at the behest of the (centralist and nationalist) People's Party, by the Constitutional court. The latter decision, in late June 2010, partly overruling a referendum voted by the Catalan people, was for many the last straw: the last bridge for Spain to offer a reasonable fit for Catalonia had been broken.


2. What is the role in the independence process of the Catalan National Assembly and other grass-roots organisations? 


In parallel with the negotiation and fate of the Statute of Autonomy the number of many locals groups campaigning for independence grew exponentially, recovering the dynamic that had been broken by the Spanish police (inclduing accusations of torture) in the run-up to the Barcelona Olympic games in 1992.

The first big umbrella organisation,Plataforma pel Dret de Decidir, or Platform for the Right to Decide, brought together hundreds of organisations and aimed to support the 89% parliamentary majority in its negotiations with the Spanish parliament, on the content of the 2005 draft Statute. Despite having very little support from political parties and unions, it struck a popular chord, and the demonstration it held in February 2006 exceeded their wildest expectations. It clearly showed that increasing home rule was a clear priority for hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Catalans. Note, however, that it was a pro-the right of self-determination, rather than a pro-independence organisation.

Febrer 18 2006: Som una nació (Plataforma pel Dret de Decidir)

Ad (0'15"):


News: (1'50")






https://youtu.be/02jE2J7EFEA

While the Statute was in the pipelines of the Constitutional court waiting to be scrutinised, a local initiative in Arenys de Munt sparked off a spate of hundreds of local popular referendums (with no official status, beyond -in some cases- municipal premises being ceded for the voting itself) across the whole country. The question asked was:

  • "Està d'acord que Catalunya esdevingui un Estat de dret, independent, democràtic i social, integrat a la Unió Europea?"
  • "De you agree that Catalonia becomes a recognised, independent, democratic and social State, within the European Union?"
Over 800,000 took part in these votes, despite their being purely symbolical in nature. 90% voted yes (as could be foreseen).


Despite not being official it was very carefully monitored to ensure voting was secret and that only those eligible to take part did so... and could do so only once. In the four tranches of voting over the following year and a half, delegations of international observers supervised the process.

Consulta popular Arenys de Munt (September 2009, 6'25")

Falange: 5'35" -->

Once these hundreds of local polls had taken place, the groups of local organizers asked themselves: What next? The answer will come shortly!

After the long-awaited June 2010 Constitutional court judgment on the Statute of Autonomy, a carefully organised demonstration was held. It was spear-headed by a prestigious (and not at all revolutionary!) cultural organisation, Omnium Cultural. It collapsed the centre of Barcelona and was supported by parties and unions, and hundreds of other organisations. As before it was not a pro-independence demonstration, though that was the spontaneous chant of many! I am convinced over a million people took part.

July 10 2010 (0'30"): Som una nació - Nosaltres decidim! 


https://youtu.be/Y7uRf2P5V_Q

At this time other sophisticated initiatives (in organisational terms) began to aim for a wide audience. One example was a lip dub filmed in Vic, 50 km north of Barcelona. The video has been seen by 
2.269.819 people, to date!

"Lip Dub per a la independència" (Vic, October 2010: 6'36")



In a very carefully organised sequence of ever-growing concentric circles, word spread of a plan to offer a new, umbrella organisation to the dozens of local groups keen on working actively towards independence. In 2011 at the Montjuic conference hall the plan to set up the "Catalan National Assembly" was publically launched. In under a year it had enough members, and a numerous enough local set-up covering several hundred towns and districts, for the formal establishment of the Assemblea at the Palau Sant Jordi. The new organisation was non-partisan and opted for radically democratic means of achieving Catalonia's independence. The procedure running up to this event was to submit draft documents to successive phases of amendment: down-to-earth discussing and voting. Within three years it has grown to over 35,000 poaid-up members, and 40,00 more volunteers. It is entirely self-funding, thanks to members' fees, merchandising and private donations. Each new member can join one of over 50 sectoral assemblies (from firemen to economists, from teachers to immigrants or clowns) or even propose to set a new one up. 

The Assemblea realises that working for a social majority in favour of independence is crucial. It has organised hundreds of local events to discuss the challenges, advantages and doubts about independence, and distributes brochures thanks to hundreds of pavement tents all over Catalonia...and especially in districts and towns heavily inhabited by people of non-Catalan extraction. Nearly all of Catalonia's growth from about 2·9 million inhabitants in 1939 to 7·5 million has been thanks for Spanish in-migration (in 2006 3·0 million adult inhabitants had a Spanish-born mother, and only 2·4 million had a Catalan-born mother) and foreign immigrants (1,1 million foreigners in 2014). This means that more than half of the voting population has a by default, initial leaning against Catalonia becoming independent. Yet recent surveys, since 2008-2009, reveal that those who would say they would vote yes in a referendum far outnumber those that say they would vote against: abstention among those of non-Catalan extraction is much greater.

Apart from the street level interstitial work, the Assemblea has organised three colossal demonstrations on Catalonia's National Day: 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The 11 September 2012 demonstration was in central Barcelona. Not a single coach was left in Catalonia that day: they were all hired for the event. Those taking part (some estimates spoke of 1·5 million people!) "voted" symbolically using green cards. There were no incidents of any kind. Unlike the 2010 demonstration, which was the last large scale event to complain about Spain, the 2012 one was a positive, festive, forward-looking, family event.... in which virtually all the flags were independence flags (designed in about 1905, and based on the Cuban flag, shortly after that island won its independence from Spain). 


1'20" starts.

5 questions
1. (4'08") Do we want to exercise our right of self-determination?
2. (4'15") Do we want the independence of our country?
3. (4'22") Do we want a Catalan flag at the UN?
4. (4'32") Do we want our political representatives to committ themselves to starting the process of secession?
5. (4'48") Do we commit ourselves to work together to build a free, independent and prosperous country?

The next memorable event was when Barcelona football ground was filled to the brim by Òmnium Cultural, with the support of the Assmeblea, in a "Concert for Freedom" in which many. many locals singers, a large choir and even a symphonic orchestra took part.  

Concert per la independència, June 29 2013 (National Anthem and mosaic) (4'13"):

Shortly before that the Assemblea secretariat had announced that the September 11 2013 event would be a 400 km-long human chain spanning Catalonia from one end to another. Many thought this was simply impossible: the path passed through several sparcely populated areas. But the on-line enrolment procedure allowed everyone to see where the gaps might be, and on the day thanks, also to last-minute changes in destinations and to the effectiveness of the ad "It's in your hands" the chain was made perfectly, without incidents or road accidents. The only significant problem was that there were not enough mobile toilets in the whole of Catalonia to meet the needs of those taking part in the chain. International press coverage, which was good in 2012, was excellent this time.

The 11 September 2013 "Via Catalana" 


Ad: "És a les teves mans" (It's in your hands) (1'22")



Chronicle: Via Catalana: "Catalonia should have the right to vote" [EN SUBT] (3'29')



TV3 news: 
(3'22")



In French (22'30"):



During the month before the Via Catalana in Catalonia (based on the Baltic Way: we invited organisers of that 1989 watershed event to explainb their experience in Barcelona), Catalans around the world built over 120 local "Vies Catalanes", from Norway to Australia, from Canada to Thailand. A video also brings them together.


A "gigaphoto" was made of the Catalan Way, by over 700 photographers simultaneously taking pictures of their 1/2 km stretches, and opponents of Catalonia's independence were kind enough to estimate the number of people that joined hands at just under 900,000... by counting them! 

The clamour for independence has reached unprecedented levels and environments. The Boxing Day (St. Stephen's) concert given every year by a stalwart of the Barcelona bourgeoisie, the century-old choir Orfeó Català, was marked in 2013 by the appearance of independence flags when the "El Cant de la Senyera" anthem was sung, and by the chanting of "in- inde- independència" at the end.



Another, more spontaneous initiative has taken root when Barcelona plays football on its home ground. At minute 17'14" (often in the second half as well) thousands of spectators start to chant independence. And for some years now, several football cup finals (e.g. in Valencia and in Barcelona this year) have featured large scale booing when the Spanish national anthem is played (at which moment the King takes his place in the stand). The Berlin Champions league football finall, described as being incident-free by those responsible for security, may end up with FC Barcelona being fined because there, too, the Spanish national anthem was booed. I personally dislike such gestures, but they are clearly aimed at institutions that refuse to allow Catalans to express their political will in democratically normal ways.


The Assembly designed yet another challenging September 11 demonstration the following year, 2014, in Barcelona (5'48"). This was a human "V", made by lining up people dressed in yellow or red tee-shirts, four abreast, in the nine stripes of the Catalan flag, along 11 km of two central Barcelona avenues. The view from the air is breath-taking.



Everyone had to enrol through the internet, and this gave the organisers a huge data base of people committed to independence, ready for the next phases of the movement. 


Moreover, as in the previous year's "Catalan Way", Catalan colonies throughout the world made their own "V"s and sent in films to share.

On November 9 2014 2·4 million Catalans took part in arguably the l
argest act of civil/civic disobedience in Europe... ever. We know exactly how many did so, because they had to introduce a "vote" in a ballot box. This, despite dire warnings from the Spanish government that this was illegal. I shall return to this shortly.

"Hem votat, hem guanyat". ? (11'16")



International observers, from 6'00".

This year we are going to fill the "Avinguda Meridiana" in Barcelona, which runs through a heavily populated district which was fields only 70 years ago. It is no coincidence that it will take place on the first day of the election campaign to the crucial September 27 elections.


Ad for September 11 2015: Benvinguts a la República Independent de tots (1'22"):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJkn3BGcAO4

Other video reports:


The Assemblea's activity can be summarised in six "E"s:

  • a. "Espoir". The Assemblea has enormously boosted Catalans' self-esteem and belief that we can indeed achieve our dream.
  • b. "Electronic" means and social networks are being used to the full by the Assemblea, though we are fully aware, from the experience of Quebec and Scotland, that votes will have to be won in the street.
  • c. "Energy" is visible everywhere. Volunteers appear from nowhere, mobilisation is very straight-forward!
  • d. "Enthusiasm" is also key. The amount of creativity going into all the Assemblea's activities is enormous. The best publicity people, the best audiovisual people, the best political strategists, the best economists, the best marketing specialists... give their time free of charge to help the Assemblea in its work. Many many dozens of books have been published on the subject, including a few against independence.
  • e. "Epic": What the Catalans are trying to achieve is the same as (45% of) the Scots, without bloodshed. But this is David against Goliath: As we shall see, Spain is set on crushing this movement and all hopes of independence.
  • f. "Emocracy": time and again, we chant "We want to vote" to decide our future democratically!
To close this part, I must emphatically state that the whole movement got under way with the reforms to the Statute of Autonomy that began in 2004. It is in no way the result of the financial and economic crisis, though the crisis has undeniably produced bother positive and negative effects on the process.

3. What is the role in the independence process of the Catalan political parties and government?

Had there not been a consensus in the 2003 elections that a new Statute of Autonomy was needed, independence would have remained in the hands of a single parliamentary party, Esquerra Republicana. But the sheer scale of the September 11 2012 demonstration (let me repeat; organised by Catalan civil society, not by the Catalan government or political parties) led the Catalan president, the moderate "Catalanista" Artur Mas, to call an early election, moving from a nebulous commitment to increasing home rule to a fully-fledged official poll on independence. Though he failed to get an overall majority, the three pro-independence parties between them command a clear majority (74 out of 135 seats). From the outset Mas aimed for a referendum under Spanish legislation (which requires central government authorisation) but failing that, a lower-level consultation in the form of an official poll held in accordance with the powers laid down in the 2006 Catalan Statute of Autonomy would be held.


He set up an Advisory Council on National Transition, with top experts in all relevant fields (by no means all favourable to independence as a goal) and they drafted and published a detailed 700-page White Paper on the steps, and options, in the road towards independence.

The Catalan parliament adopted, with a comfortable majority, a Declaration on sovereignty and the right to decide. This Declaration, for the first time ever, was referred to the Constitutional court by the Spanish government (which deemd it unconstitutional, while saying that it was in the Spanish government's hands to channel a request for a vote.

With another comfortable majority, in the summer of 2014, the Catalan parliament adopted its Act on official polls other than referendums, bearing in mind the Constitutionasl court's position.

On the same day, on a Saturday morning, president Mas signed the Act and a decree calling an official poll (not a referendum, which would have been illegal) for November 9th. By Monday afternoon, the Spanish government and the Council of State had (presumably) read the decree, and presented a request for a court order to stop the poll from taking place, before the Constitutional court, which again in record time granted the request. 

Seen from the outside I cannot understand how the political parties endorsing the November 9 decree had not foreseen this step and jointly negotiated a common stance before it happened. In the event, there followed several weeks of bickering until the government, on its own, without publishing any documents, said that that on November 9th a "popular consultation process" would take place: that is, a system not in accordance with the act and the decree, but allowing the exercise of a fundamental human right: the freedom of expression. It could not use the electoral census (this would have been illegal), it would not ask any civil servant to follow instructions that might lead to legal problems. In the event, and after a considerable battle between the Barcelona and Madrid offices of the public prosecutor, the position of the latter prevailed, and Mas and several of his ministers are being taken to court on penal charges: an unheard-of step by Spain. He might well be disqualified from holding public office (I say this because a Catalan judge was disqualified for three years for drafting a Catalan constitution in his spare time, along with several unnamed colleagues!).

The latest chapter, following this November 9 "popular consultation process" in which over 1·8 million people defied the Spanish state and cast their votes saying "Yes" to an independent Catalonia (and a further  0·5 million voted either for Catalonia to become a non-indpendent State, or against independence), is the lead-up to an election on September 27th, which has orally been announced as having a plebiscitary nature: one or more options will clearly state as their first point in their election manifesto, that if they achieve an outright majority in Parliament, they will put the machinery into place (whatever that means) for Catalonia to become independent. This is only because Spain has blocked the possibility of a Scotland-style referendum.

Even now plans are being made way for "State structures" to be organised (particularly in the crucial field of tax-collecting, but also in security, broadcasting, etc.) but only on paper. Even so, the recent appointment - to coordinate all this work - of one of the most prestigious legal men in the country, has already been blocked by the Constitutional court at the reuqest of the Spanisbh goverment.

Last but not least, it is significant that the independence issue has effectively split several parties down the middle. 


4. What have the Spanish authorities done in the face of Catalonia's independence process?


4.1. Political initiatives. 
The Spanish government (which when looked at in perspective, is partly the cause of the whole independence movement moving away from a federal ideal) has done everything in its power, except for military force, to hold up, prevent and neutralise the independence movement and the political steps taken within in. It argues that the Catalans are not a political subject (though the Constitution, in its preamble, speaks of the "people of Spain" quite openly) and says that the Catalans cannot make decisions, only Spain as a whole. This ban on decision-making includes even the freedom of expression in a nin-binding official poll. 

The Catalan government recently commissioned a report on the disloyal treatment of Catalonia by the Spanish authorities. It is 122 pages long. In synthesis it speaks of nine main offensives against Catalonia. I strongly advise that you read 'Crònica d'una ofensiva premeditada' (PDF, www.vilaweb.cat/media/continguts/000/103/540/540.pdf, which I hope will very soon be available in other languages. It is a devastating indictment, to my mind quite legitimate, as regards the treatment of Catalonia by the central authorities. Their financial strategy is to financially strangle the Catalan government and then to base the exclusion of Catalonia from a range of agreements on the fact that the government of Catalonia is not fulfilling (to my layman's mind!) arbitrary, excessive and unilaterally imposed limits to its financial deficit.



  



The absence of dialogue is part of the strategy. Bilateral commissions are frozen, requests for dialogue go unattended.

The economic strangling of Catalonia is evident. While Catalonia is the third largest tax contributor in per capita terms, it is 10th in per capita public spending. Four regions whose tax contribution is above the average overtake Catalonia.

The net outflow of taxes from Catalonia in 2011 was €15,006 million, equivalent to Spain's total defence and security spending, and nearly as much as Catalonia spent on health, education and welfare! It amopunted to 7·7% of Catalonia's GDP. Spain's net inflow of public money from the EU in 2011 was €1,048M (€13,265M - €12,117M), which means that Catalonia funds Spain nearly 14 times as much as does the EU.

The effort that Catalonia has made to reduce its public deficit has been proportionately much larger than that of central government.


The impact has meant a severe reduction of resources in field of social welfare. The Spanish parliament adopted a law in 2006 which was to be co-funded by regions and by central government. The latter's contribution has been decreasing, to 17·5% last year. 

This kind of disdain towards Catalonia reappears in a range of social welfare policies, but central government has ignored 12 Constitutional court judgments in this field.

In the field of health, central government refuses to refund the approximately €50 million that Spaniards resident in other parts of Spain using the Catalan health system cost. Furthermore, the Catalan government has to pay €58 million per year more because of VAT increases, which are 100% retained by central govenrment (instead of splitting VAT income 50% - 50% as laid down).

In education, finalist budgetary assignments to Catalonia from central government have been slashed from €147·3M in 2010 to €2·8 this year: 98% less.

In culture, grants for Catalonia (which have gone down by 42% since 2011) have been further cut by 6·3% this year, while those for the Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen Museums and the Teatro Real have all increased. In fact overall grants increase by 12·7% this year. Many other issues relating to the return of Catalan documents confiscated by Franco or the Gestapo, or to the Catalan government prior to its first abolishment, in 1714, remain pending, despite laws to this effect.

There have also been reductions in resources to reactivate the economy. Between 2009 and 2014, regionalised central government investment dropped by 53% in the whole of Spain, but by 71% in Catalonia. The shortage of modern(ised) infrastructures in, or spanning, Catalonia (railways, ports, roads...) is damaging Catalan industry's competitiveness, and contrasts with the treatment of Madrid, both by Spain and by the EU (cohesion fund), in for instance the two metropolitan underground railway systems. Multiannual plans abound in which central government has not met its commitments, in all areas. 

Central government encourages foreign airlines to use Barajas airport, and has arguably the most centralised airport management system in Europe.

Central government support for active employment policies, essential at such a time, has dropped by half.


4.2. Measures against the pro-independence organisations.

Both the Assemblea and Omnium have been threatened with detailed tax inspections to try and find reasons to fine them. The Assemblea has been threatened on the grounds of not fulfilling the requirements of the personal data protection legislation. 

The websites of both the Assemblea and Omnium, and those of other similar organisations, have been subjected to concerted attacks. 

Hundreds of mobile telephones, including mine, were rendered useless for receiving calls by getting hundred upon hundred calls through an automated robot on crucial days (10-11th September 2014, 8-9th November 2014), and we expcect this to be repeated next September 11th.

Pro-government media have joined in the assault. An editorial in ABC called for the Assemblea to be banned, for secession. It has been accused of connexions with ETA. It has been hacked to steal data of its members… 

4.3. On the public opinion front.

Since September 2012 there has been a barrage of attacks, insults, insinuations and disqualifications of Catalan politicians, independence organisations and those who are separatists through the Spanish media. Hundreds have been collected. Media.cat published a report on the utterly biassed, one-sided treatment of the whole issue in chat shows. In particular, we have accused of being Nazis, believe or not. This strategy includes the release of fabricated police documents to the Madrid press, without any official having been investigated (and without the Minister having resigned). They have accused serving pro-independence politicians of having undeclared money stached abroad, of corruption, in (largely successful) attempts to discredit the leadership, interfere (successfully) in election results, and also to distract attention from their own huge scandals.

The Spanish govenrment, or politicians belonging to its party, have been instrumental in helping the "No" camp to organise itself. Apart from funding a glossy pamphlet by the FAES, the People's Party's own foundation, it is reported as having managed to obtain €1 million from large Spanish companies to support the "Unionist" activities of "Societat Civil Catalana" (literally!) which within six months of being established, and having organised two fairly unsuccessful rallies in the centre of Barcelona and Tarragona, were awarded a "European Citizens' Prize" at the proposal of a Spanish People's Party MEP.  I cannot vouch for the veracity of the source of their funding (they have not published it), but I doubt that an organisation with 70 paid-up members can survive on the subscription fees of its members!

4.4. On the diplomatic front.

Spain has been actively trying to neutralise attempts by the Catalans to explain their cause abroad. It has funded the People Party's foundation in a glossy publication in several languages on all the terrible plagues of Egypt that would befall if Catalonia became independent... which, they add, is impossible becaise it cannot happen!

The Spanish government itself has published and widely distributed a similar report.
It has attempted to have think tanks and academic institutions to cancel seminars and round tables on the subject in a number of countries.

It postponed a book launch in Utrecht, much to the surprise of the locals: the book is a historical novel written in Spanish by a wellknown Catalan author, and is based on a highly suspicious subject and period: the aftermath of the War of Spanish Succession!

I know personally of such cases. In a recent, somewhat pathetic, case the Spanish foreign minister almost bullied the Danish foreign minister into making a declaration before a Spanish TV camera to try to diminish the enormous impact of a Danish Parliament resolution on Catalonia and the need for the two parties to negotiate a solution. (Declarations of the two ministers, video:  http://www.ccma.cat/tv3/alacarta/noticies-324/declaracions-dels-ministres-dexteriors/video/5526275/)

Conclusion

In conclusion, this is an on-going issue. I hope to have convinced you that the whole movement is bottom-up: the most convincing evidence of this is the fact that there is serious talk of the proindependence parties standing back and giving their support to a civil society election list, to reinforce the plebiscitary appearnace of the election, and to mobilise eveny single person who believes that in an independent Catalonia, all its inhabitants will benefit.

I would like to insist on the private, bottom-up, self-funding and non-partisan nature of the organisation, and the fact that it faces an extremely powerful adversary that puts national unity before basic democratic rights, including the freedom of expression.

I hope that sooner or later Europe,m however discretely, will play a role in helping to solve Spain's problem, and bring it to the negotiating table to work out a friendly, mutually beneficial secession.

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