Thursday, October 15, 2009

Joan Laporta calls people to rise against those who mistreat Catalonia

The president of Barça* participates in a torch march organized by Esquerra • 'We are a political colony,' declares Puigcercós • The Generalitat demands that the Supreme Court overturn the ruling against Companys

The president of F.C. Barcelona, Joan Laporta, has made a call to "rise up and face those who treat Catalonia with intransigence every day of the year." (audio) Laporta made the statement in a speech that he gave this morning at Montjuïc Castle, after participating in the torch march organized by Esquerra to give homage to Lluís Companys on the anniversary of his execution by firing squad. Also today, the Generalitat will ask the Spanish Supreme Court to revise Companys' sentence, so that it be nullified.

"The memory of that assassination must make us speak clearly and stop making us afraid, and it should help us act accordingly all the rest of the year," declared Laporta, who asked himself what Companys would think if he could judge what Catalonia is doing currently. And, accompanied by the president of Esquerra, Joan Puigcercós, he remarked, "They often try to silence politicans by appealing to your wish for the common good. They've tried to silence me as well, many times." (audio) Laporta also remembered the former president of Barça, Josep Sunyol, who was also executed by the Franquist regime.

Catalonia, 'political colony'

For his part, Joan Puigcercós praised Companys and defended political discourse as the tool that permits going forward in a difficult moment. Puigcercós added that "social justice" and the liberty of Catalonia is "the same thing".

Puigcercós added that "it's all downhill from here", since "the most difficult part has passed". "That resurgent Spain that seemed like it was going to be a new power in Europe," he said, "is a model that is entering a situation of economic and political crisis, like the Spain that lost its colonies in Cuba and the Phillipines." According to Puigcercós, "there remain other colonies, like Catalonia, a political colony that hopes to emancipate itself."

Petition to nullify the sentence against Companys

The government of Catalonia will meet today in an extraordinary plenary to demand from the Spanish Supreme Court the revision of the sentence against Companys. "This has been a pending matter for the Catalan government, and it comes a bit late," said Josep Cruanyes, the spokesperson for the Commission for Dignity. It required the petition of a whole range of entities to pressure the government to ask for the nullification of the sentence.

Cruanyes has asked the Catalan Executive to, if the Spanish Supreme Court does not revise the sentence, continue to demand its nullification until it succeeds. For now, the Catalan government must approve an agreement that invites the Catalan attorney general to ask the Spanish Supreme Court to revise the sentence. This is because, with respect to revising sentences, the only ones who can intervene are the defendents, their relatives, or the attorney general. In accordance with the law of criminal justice, the body with the power to settle a suit for revision, and to declare, if that were the outcome, the nullification of the given sentence, is the Spanish Supreme Court.

"The Spanish government has not done its job"

"The Spanish Executive should get involved and work toward the revision of Companys' sentence," according to Cruanyes, who thinks that the Spanish government has not done its job. He also believes that, if the Spanish Supreme Court denies the revision of the sentence, it will be the responsibility of the Spanish Executive.

The Spanish government has not made any progress toward stopping the process against Companys, despite promises made by the Vice-president, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, five years ago at Montjuïc. When she heard about the initiative by the Catalan government, De la Vega only said that she "respected" it, but that it was the courts who have the "word on this decision, and not the Spanish government". Similarly, the previous Spanish Minister of Justice, Mariano Fernández Bermejo, when he was asked a year ago, how the Spanish Supreme Court would act in case of a suit of nullification of the sentence, answered that he couldn't know and noted that the decree of the development of the law of Historical Memory was still in the State Council.

The act of moral reparation of Companys

For now, Zapatero's government has limited itself to acts of moral reparation for Companys, as the president's granddaughter, Maria Lluïsa Gally and the Interior minister, Joan Saura, asked Bermejo for a year ago. In effect, Gally finally received, yesterday in Mexico, the document of moral reparation from the current Spanish Minister of Justice, Francisco Camaño. But the ex-president's granddaughter said that the document only has meaning if it serves to achieve the nullification of the summary judgment against Companys. The Minister of the Interior, Joan Saura, sees it similarly, and said, "The reparation of Company's memory is the first step in the nullification of the sentence that condemned him."

Lluís Companys is the only European president to be elected democratically and then executed by a fascist regime. His execution by firing squad was sentenced by the War Council of General Officials, held in Barcelona on October 14, 1940, which accused him of rebellion. A sentence which has never been annulled and that the government is now asking be revoked.

The first steps, a year ago

A year ago, Saura and Companys' granddaughter met with Bermejo to ask for an act of moral reparation for the president. Among the documents they gave him were a letter from Companys' granddaughter that says her grandfather was executed because he was "the maximum institutional representation of the Generalitat de Catalonia." This was the first step so that the Spanish Supreme Court could begin the paperwork necessary for the nulllification of the military sentence that was handed down without due process.

Translation notes

*Barça is Futbol Club Barcelona, of which Joan Laporta is the current president.
**Esquerra is Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, or "Republican Left of Catalonia", an independentist party, of which Joan Puigcercós is the current president.

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