The Catalan National Assembly is one of the groups participating in the World Social Forum this year in Montreal, thanks to the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, who invited us to speak about the Catalan independence movement and the importance of the demonstrations that have taken place in the last few years in Catalonia.
This Saturday, August 13, we had the opportunity to explain, in an international context, how the actions of Catalan civil society, and particularly of our own organization, have rewritten the Catalan political agenda and mobilized broad support from people for the right to decide our own political future.
The independence process in Catalonia comes from the people. The turning point occurred in 2010 when the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) handed down a ruling on the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, ruining the chances of a legal accommodation for Catalonia within Spain and of a loyal working relationship.
It must be noted that this new Catalan statute had been approved by the Catalan parliament and had already been whittled down through political negotiation before being ratified by popular referendum, approved by the Spanish Congress, signed by the King of Spain and published in the State Official Register in 2006. Nevertheless, the PP decided to challenge the statute, resulting in the adverse and deeply humiliating Constitutional Court ruling four years later.
It was in 2010 that Catalonia's civic organizations really began to mobilize in an organized way. The year 2012 marks the birth of the Catalan National Assembly, which from that point forward has lead the supporters of Catalan independence and has worked to win that independence in a peaceful and democratic fashion.
Most notable among the group's achievements are the massive demonstrations held on the National Day of Catalonia, in which upwards of 1.8 million people have come out to firmly and festively demand the independence of Catalonia and the establishment of a Catalan Republic (detailed information available at catalanassembly.org).
One of the important obstacles that Catalans have faced is the lack of dialogue from the Spanish state, who has insisted on using the Constitutional Court to resolve a political conflict. For example, we have the 2010 ruling on the Statute of Autonomy and the suspension of a whole series of laws emanating from the Parliament of Catalonia.
Notably, the Constitutional Court prohibited Catalonia's Nov. 9, 2014 non-binding referendum, which was subsequently converted into a "participatory process." Nevertheless, 2.34 million people (out of seven million inhabitants) came out to vote away, and 81 per cent of these chose Yes-Yes, thus declaring that they wanted Catalonia to be an independent state.
Currently, Catalonia has a government with a clear, legitimate, democratic mandate from a sovereign people to move forward with independence and a pro-independence majority in the parliament (72 out of 135 seats), as well as the support from the citizenry, at the side of the Government, to guarantee that in 2017 -- that is, after an 18-month period beginning on Sept. 27, 2015 -- Catalonia will become an independent state.
This new European state will hope that the people of Quebec will also stand beside it with their own independent state, if such were to be chosen at the ballot boxes.
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