The Catalan pro-independence movement mobilized massively in Perpinyà, North Catalonia last Saturday, February 29, at an event held by Consell per la República Catalana or Council for the Catalan Republic, along with the Catalan National Assembly. The Parc des Expositions was packed to the gills with a huge crowd attending the first event of the Consell on Catalan soil.
The president of the Catalan National Assembly, Elisenda Paluzie, emphasized before the event that “people were breathing optimism once again.” She stated it was critical to “recharge batteries and morale” and to celebrate the victory at the European Court of Justice, recognizing the immunity of Catalan MEPs, including that of Oriol Junqueras, despite not being respected by Spain. Ms Paluzie then insisted that this morale of victory must be transformed “into real actions of citizen empowerment and political determination”.
Finally, the president of Catalan National Assembly thanked both the institutions and the volunteers in Northern Catalonia for their involvement in the defence of the fundamental rights violated by the Spanish State.
The Council for the Catalan Republic, on Catalan soil
The highlight of the event was the presence of president Carles Puigdemont, an MEP and the president of the Council for the Catalan Republic, together with Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, exiles and now also MEPs. Mr Puigdemont emphasized that Spain only understands the voice of a mobilized people and urged the pro-independence movement to remain in “permanent mobilization” and to prepare for the “final struggle”.
Toni Comín warned that greater commitment and sacrifice will be needed in the future but wanted to make it clear that “if any cause deserves the sacrifices we have made and will have to make, it is the cause of freedom.” Ponsatí, in turn, emphasized that the next step must be the total break-away from Spain, both from the street and from the institutions, and that it should not be postponed: “we have seen that it is useless to postpone independence. We will not become free with fear, or through promises of dialogue with those who never keep their promises” she said, in reference to the negotiating table with the Spanish government.
Former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras could not participate in the event despite the parliamentary immunity as an MEP being recognized by the European Court of Justice. Mr Junqueras sent a pre-recorded message, in which he stated that “We have to use the 1-October [the date the referendum was held in 2017] to prepare for the final push” and emphasized that “when we act together, we have enough strength to force Spain’s hand.”
In the same vein, Marta Rovira, secretary-general in exile of the left-wing party Esquerra Republicana also emphasized the need for all to take the next steps towards independence united.
Many more ‘voices of repression’ were heard at the event. Through video messages, the crowd heard jailed political and civic leaders Jordi Turull, Joaquim Forn, Josep Rull, Jordi Cuixart, Jordi Sànchez and Lluís Puig; but also people like rapper Valtònyc, activists like Adri and Tamara Carrasco, as well as Eduard Garzón and Jordi Ros, who spoke on behalf of the Committees for the Defence of the Republic members detained on the 23rd of September 2019.
200,000 people in Perpignan, but many more unable to arrive
More than 200,000 people according to the organization, made the Council for the Catalan Republic event the biggest ever recorded in North Catalonia, despite the traffic and the obstacles of the Spanish police, who prevented the arrival of thousands who were stuck on the road.
The event exceeded every forecast, which is why the Catalan National Assembly, having organized more than 600 coaches, apologized to all those who could not finally arrive on time.