Originally published in Avui.cat and indirecte.cat on January 8, 2010
by Alfons López Tena
The experience of having coordinated a referendum on independence for Catalonia in Osona, where 42% of the 120,000 citizens with the right to vote actually exercised that right, despite being organized with absolutely no institutional support nor public funds, being under the constant vigilance and yet boycotted by the Spanish and Catalan governments as well as the PSC*, with the silencing of the media by the pro-Spanish and PSC-controlled media outlets, counting only on the strength of the grass-roots, from the base and with the base, engenders so many emotions and reflections, so many and such a variety of feelings, that it's difficult to describe them in a single article.
We were successful because we didn't know it was impossible, as was often said about those who struggled for the independence of the United States of America, and because we didn't listen to the know-it-alls, to the sensible, and to those who use rose-colored glasses to justify inaction. We trusted the people, and the result has been wonderful. This is the first lesson that the more than 2000 of us who volunteered have learned: without the trust of the people, without their collaboration, nothing is possible. You need organization, you need to know what you want and to never lose site of your goal, you need to work beyond tirelessly, but none of that matters if you don't trust the people, if you don't earn their trust by trusting them first.
Today, however, we must also speak of the conclusions that can be gleaned from this experience and of the repeated meditations on the history of the Nation. Those of us who have or have had a notable presence in Catalan public life—in whatever aspect: social, political, cultural, etc.—have the obligation of speaking clearly and with complete frankness, of proclaiming the truth that comes from the experience of more than a century of pro-autonomy Catalanism.
The conclusions about the national and political path that Catalonia has followed between the end of the 19th century and the present can be summed up in this opinion: Catalonia has gone down the wrong road and is now, to a great degree, a victim of her own blindness. This wrong road is "Catalan Autonomy", that is, the search for self-government by way of fitting in or with Spain.
While Catalanism bullheadedly insisted, from Almirall to Carod, from Prat de la Riba to Maragall, from Macià to Pujol, from Cambó to Porcioles, in achieving self-government within the Spanish state, one nation after another in Europe and in the world was obtaining their independence. More than 150 States in the world today did not exist when we started out on the wrong road of Catalan Autonomy. The vast majority of the States of Europe were created while in Catalonia we have only fallen again in again into the Spanish trap.
*PSC - Partit Socialista de Catalunya, Catalan wing of the ruling center-left party in Spain, PSOE.