Some key statements by Catalan leader Artur Mas


Although Artur Mas, the leader of Catalonia, did not attend the independence demonstration on September 11th, he changed his tone from then on. He was unprecedentedly clear in Madrid two days later, in a public speech addressed to Spanish businessmen and politicians. He raised the pressure a week later, after Spain's president rejection to a fiscal agreement (The government of Catalonia is pauperizing itself by paying $20 billion more per year in taxes than it receives in services from Madrid, with the paradoxical result that the regional government is forced to beg money back from Madrid).

President Mas spoke about the demonstration on September 12th:
  • "Yesterday, the people who came out on the street weren't just angry, hostile, ignorant people, they were people with huge civic spirit and patriotic feeling. People who love their country and who are ready to defend it and the only thing they want for Catalonia is what other countries in the world have."
  • "During 30 years [since general Franco's death], part of Catalonia's energy as a country have gone to help the Spanish state be a better country, with the hope that these efforts would help configure a state that was more open and respectful toward Catalan aspirations and in a territory in which progress could be achieved from the point of view of the progress of our self-government. We have spent 30 years in this way, and now there has been a change of direction, a new path."

 President Mas called for early elections in Catalan Parliament on September 25th:

  • "The voice from the street has to be expressed at the polls [...]. It's time for Catalonia to exercise its right to self-determination."
  • "It is the people of Catalonia who are the rightful masters of their own destiny, and who should decide who should represent them in these historic moments, and with how much strength, and how much legitimacy."
  • [The call for elections] “is the only way to know if those who didn't go to the demonstration are all against what was declared there, or if all those who went were actually in favor [...] This is the greatness of democracy.”
  • "In exceptional circumstances, that may well have a weighty historical dimension, what is paramount is the verdict of the people, who must, with their vote, decide which paths should be taken in the future”.
  • “Once the national objectives that the Catalan people decide on have been achieved, I will not run for re-election. [...] Objectives might be achieved in the next legislature, better in one than in two”.
  • “The path that Catalonia is prepared to follow is full of obstacles. [...] There will be insults, provocations, and threats of all kinds. [...] Language and geographic origin will be manipulated in order to pit people against each other. [...] Catalonia will have to construct large majorities, and have a strong will and a huge capacity for resistance. [...] Nothing will be easy, but everything is possible.”
  • “We needn't look for outside enemies, we must only concentrate on our interior strength as a people and as a nation”.
  • [Fiscal agreement was] “a good opportunity for repairing the relationship between Catalonia and the rest of the State and reversing the growing fatigue between the two. [...] Time will prove that the Spanish Socialist Party and the People's Party have acted with gross political shortsightedness”.
  • President Rajoy's proposed to bring the fiscal pact to the Spanish Congress. Artur Mas explained that his answer was no “because I wasn't willing to go undergo further tribulations or humiliation. This time, it won't be the [Spanish] Congress who votes, but rather we the People of Catalonia”. 
  • “This is not the time for institutions to play it safe [but rather] to go for it, beyond personal comfort or partisan interests. [...] It is the People of Catalonia, authentic masters of their own destiny, who should decide who should represent them in these historic times, and with how much strength and legitimacy."
  • “We the Catalans want respect for who we are and not to have to beg every day nor have to justify ourselves for being what we are. [...] We want the same instruments that other nations have in order to preserve our collective national character and to develop our own project as a country and a society”.

New York Times interviewed Artur Mas on October 4th. Interview, "Catalan Leader Boldly Grasps a Separatist Lever", by Raphael Minder, was published two days later, as "The Saturday Profile":

  • If the opportunity arises, he will vote for independence ("In fact, he said in an interview this week, he would personally vote for independence if the opportunity arose.").
  • “Our ideal is to be part of the United States of Europe. [...] When you get a clear no, you have to change direction. [...] The worst-case scenario is not to try, and the second-worst is to try and not get there.”
  • “Spain without Catalonia is not insolvent but more limited”.
  • “We have created a big feeling of hope among a big part of our society”.

PS: During Spanish national day, on October 12th, conservative and prudent newspaper La Vanguardia, from Barcelona, published an extensive interview to Artur Mas, by Jordi Barbeta. Probably it is the best one till now.

PS: On November 7th, Artur Mas was in Brussels. He explained Catalan vision for independence in Friends of Europe, a not-for-profit think tank.
Photo: Jordi Bedmar (www.president.cat)


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