Dialogue – it is never too late to turn to dialogue

It may seem that I am unquestioningly supportive of the Catalan Government’s recent actions – the referendum and the announcement of Independence after a long period of frustrated attempts to engage Madrid in talks.

But behind the scenes I am always reading and talking and listening and doing my best to understand what is happening now and why it has come to this.

You can’t really begin to understand the politics unless you start digging into some pretty unpleasant places where there are buried and half buried stories and emotions and histories.  Just go to Twitter and read comments about  Catalunya and Catalans and soon you are in vast chambers of grief and hurt and rage and sadness and fear.

(Can we start talking about Franco yet?)

A friend put a post on Facebook asking why Spain won’t talk to Catalunya and why do many Spanish dislike Catalans so much. Some of the answers made me have to switch off the computer and go outside for some fresh air. Just reading the answers made my heart start pounding and my brain go into electric overdrive.

People from Spain are often the ones to start calling names and swearing and making wild accusations. From my detached point of view I wonder why they want Catalunya to stay when so many appear to have no care or respect for Catalans or their culture. But history is more than facts in a text book – there are real stories and everyone needs to be heard – even though it is difficult to listen to those who can’t speak kindly or with empathy. It is clear there is a huge amount of buried feelings that when we begin to uncover them, burst forth in smelly gaseous putrid form.

But there is truth even in those places that we don’t want to look. And I think it is vital to seek out those who have a differing opinion on this issue. There are people who want Catalunya to remain part of Spain and there are Catalans who feel Catalan and Spanish – it is a fact that many families have parents or grandparents from outside Catalunya and so of course they have mixed and complicated loyalties.  Many people have found a leader in the person of Ada Colau who is the present mayor of Barcelona. She is a voice of reason and promotes a different view of how dialogue should lead the way, even if it takes a lot longer than the path we are now on. I don’t know a lot about her party or about her but here is a recent message she put out on Facebook which while it is not my view, is a fair and reasonable opinion expressed in a decent and honorable way.

Ada Colau  Mayor of Barcelona 27.10.17

“After talking about a train crash in the conditional or future tense for so long, it’s difficult to take on the fact that today it has happened.
A decade of PP carelessness with Catalonia has culminated with the adoption of article 155 by the Senate today.
Rajoy presented the motion to the applause of his party and to the shame of all of us who respect dignity and democracy.
Were they applauding his failure?
Those who have been incapable of proposing a single solution, incapable of listening or of governing for all, have enacted a coup against democracy today with the annihilation of Catalan self-government.
On the same track, in the other direction, the pro-independence parties are in their, smaller train with no breaks, advancing at a kamikazi pace (“now is the moment”, we’re in a hurry”), after their mistaken reading of the results of the Catalan elections. Their speed has been the result of partisan interests, a headlong dash which has been consumated today with a Declaration of Independence in the name of Catalonia that doesn’t have the support of a majority of Catalans.
We won’t tire of repeating it: it’s a mistake to renounce the 80% in favour of a negotiated referendum for the 48% in favour of independence.
Many of us have been warning of this danger for years and, over recent weeks, working in public and in private to avoid this collision. We’re a majority, in Catalonia and in Spain, who want a halt to the trains and for dialogue, common sense and an agreed solution to take hold.
There’s always time to turn to dialogue. Whatever happens, we won’t cease to demand it. But now our task is to defend Catalan institutions and to fight to maintain the social cohesion and prosperity of Barcelona and Catalonia. We’ll be with the people, struggling to make sure that their rights are not violated. Healing the wounds that all of this has caused and calling on people in the rest of the country to fight with us, because the democracy that is at risk today is theirs too. We will also continue to call on the Socialist Party to stop supporting those who have applauded Rajoy today, otherwise it will be impossible for them to be part of any credible or inspiring alternative.
I know where I’ll be: involved in the construction of new forms of self-government that give us more democracy, not less. That includes working to kick out the PP which, with its cruel applause today, has celebrated the pain of a people. But also, above all, I’ll be working to feminize politics so that empathy becomes an everyday practice that allows us to build broad consensuses through which diversity can become our greatest treasure.
Nor Article 155 nor Unilateral Declaration of Independence: not in my name.”

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