300 days

Not only do I believe that we can win, but I believe that we are winning already

Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'. Viktor Frankl

Last Monday I was able to bake my first mugs in the oven. Pottery and meditation help me to stay in peace and focused, as well as to live in prison happily and to the full. Today it is August 12 and it has been 300 days since Jordi Sànchez and I were taken into custody and, once again, I want to thank you for your support 300 million times.

Leadership, trust and courage: nobody is redundant, here. I do not believe those who claim either that prison and exile are pointless or that it is up to us to do everything. We need to make the most of the existing leadership whilst new leaders arise. There isn’t enough prison and exile to stop so much democracy. The anti-repressive struggle is one of the main unitary fronts for the pro-independence camp and it would be absurd to shun that because it is a basic tool for any national liberation movement willing to make progress.

Predictions such as “if the Guardia Civil seize a single ballot box, we will have won” and “Europe will not allow the Spanish government’s violence” have been proven wrong. We always said that everything would come at a price. Now we know to what extent they are prepared to twist their own legal system for the sake of Spain’s unity.

So let’s be straight with each other: we need to strengthen our leadership and reach the sort of massive consensus that has always yielded results for us. And we also need leaders in our institutions and in the streets in order to achieve that. For instance, with clear actions in response to Catalonia’s energy poverty and housing issues. We need to manage the interim period without relinquishing the ground we have conquered already.

My friend Manuel Delgado asked me: “If we were bold enough to fight, why weren’t we bold enough to win?”. I do not have a definitive answer and I am unable to throw anything back in anyone’s face, but an observation by Eduard Voltas is a key starting point: “There needs to be more of us, and more determined”. A prison’s walls cannot set the boundaries of the resistance and perseverance of the independence movement, and we cannot afford to strengthen the legitimacy of the decisions taken at the expense of eroding our much-needed majorities. Therefore, not only do I believe that we can win, but I believe that we are winning already.

Now we need to overcome the massive blow dealt by the Spanish State (batons and direct rule included) as soon as possible. Yet we must remain very proud of how Catalan society has withstood, peacefully and without any outside support, the onslaught of such a mighty State. On such an uneven playing field, endurance also means victory.

The Rights and Liberties manifesto, signed by 200 prominent names from all over Spain, also provides some respite for democrats. Indeed, we cannot but keep denouncing ours as a trial against a legitimately elected government, as well as against the representatives of grassroots groups: it is an unprecedented instance of ideological and cultural repression within the EU that can only presently be compared to Turkey and Russia.

Swiss lawyer Olivier Peters gave me a copy of Amnistíe, a book that includes a quote by K. Liebknecht during his trial in Berlin in 1916: “I am here to accuse, not to defend myself”. This must be our attitude during our trial: rather than defend ourselves, we must accuse the Spanish State of blatantly infringing upon our basic rights and, at the same time, we must query the public opinion at large about the democratic regression that we are experiencing.

We, the political prisoners and exiles, provide democratic leverage: we must persuade the international community to denounce our imprisonment. We mustn’t give in to the attempt by Spain’s justice system to conceal this judicial outrage, with baseless, disproportionate accusations. A German court of law has confirmed that much, as they would have done in Switzerland, Belgium and Scotland.

In the meantime, we must keep strengthening Catalonia’s collective imaginary with a militant attitude in our shared struggle to turn culture into the main antidote against intolerance and totalitarianism.

Far from weakening my resolve, each and every one of these 300 days I have spent in prison has strengthened my democratic convictions: for months now I have felt that no penalty will be hefty enough to bend me. I am convinced that, as the years go by, our sentences will be a heavier burden for them to bear than for us. I am also convinced that honest, unconditional dialogue is the only way forward out of this political conflict. Meanwhile, we will persevere with our dignity untouched, like anyone who refuses to see their smile and their mad lust for life taken away from them.

Good health, tenderness, understanding and republic.