Following a decision made on 14 December 2018 by its Management Committee, UNPO is pleased to formally welcome the Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC) as its newest Member. The Catalan people has been historically subjected to State-driven political and cultural oppression, even before Spain’s official inception. In spite of the region’s current status as an Autonomous Community, its laws and decisions are subjected to the Spanish State, which has culminated in the Catalan people’s struggle for their right to self-determination.
With a population of over 7,500,000 million people, the nation of Catalonia is currently one of the wealthiest in Spain. While the reference to Catalonia precedes the unification of the Spanish state, the region’s history has been marked by periods of different levels of autonomy and oppression, which often meant political persecution and a crackdown on the Catalan language and culture, as observed during the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Following Franco’s death in 1975, the recognition of Catalonia’s autonomy and language was regained and the region obtained the status of an Autonomous Community, which continues to this day. Although the new status enabled the region to conduct internal affairs as well as greater autonomy in matters of education and culture, it is more restricted when it comes to justice and public order.
With the debt crisis that has erupted in Spain in 2008, the movement for Catalonia’s independence has gained more force and supporters who believe the region’s wealth makes feasible the prospect of it becoming a sovereign state. In 2010, the Constitutional Court of Spain invalidated some articles of the new Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia that established its autonomous system of justice and some aspects of its financing, as well as the status of the Catalan language and references to its composing a nation. Civil society subsequently initiated a process to defend Catalonia’s right to self-determination. In July 2010, demonstrations gathered over one million people and the support of about 1,600 organisations.
In face of the increasing mobilisation of civil society, a first independence referendum was organised by the Government of Catalonia on November 2014 and its results showed the support of over 80% of the voters for Catalonia’s independence, leading the parliament to approve on 9 November 2015 a declaration to start the process to create an independent State. In October 2017, a second referendum was held, expressing once again the majority’s support for independence. However, claiming that Catalonia has no legal right to hold referendums or to declare independence, the Spanish Government declared the referendum as illegal and independence leaders were imprisoned, some even led to exile. Subsequently, as Catalonia declared its independence on 27 October 2017 and started the process to construct an independent, sovereign, democratic and social Catalan Republic, the Spanish government invoked Article 155 of the Constitution, which is applicable when a region does not comply with the Constitution, further imposing temporary direct rule on the region and suppressing its rightful autonomy. Nevertheless, Spanish repressive measures to undermine Catalonia’s efforts to become an independent State has not refrained the region’s civil society and its organisations from advocating for Catalonia to constitute an independent and sovereign State.
In this context, the UNPO welcomes ANC as the representative of the Catalan people’s interests within UNPO. The Assembly makes active efforts to defend Catalans’ rights, denounce the oppressions endured by them and promote the goal of independence, which is desired by the majority of Catalonia’s population, as expressed in the two referendums. Operating through democratic, socially-inclusive, civil and peaceful means, the ANC seeks to bring all around the cause of independence and it has organised a number of initiatives such as petitions and demonstrations. For instance, on 11 September 2012, also known as Catalonia’s National Day, the ANC organised a demonstration demanding the independence of the nation, which gathered up to two million people and constituted a marking event on the Catalan political agenda. The ANC believes in achieving the goal of the Catalan Nation’s independence through awareness-raising, international support, and peaceful and democratic means.
UNPO will support its newest Member in strengthening international awareness around the question of Catalonia and reinforcing its advocacy for Catalonia’s right to self-determination, since the nation remains unrepresented in international institutions and forums such as the United Nations.
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