Lluís Llach: “The coup d’état is here; either we accept it, or I don’t know what we are doing”

  • Interview with Lluís Llach after his election as new President of the Assemblea Nacional Catalana

(Photo by Albert Salamé)
Txell Partal
05.06.2024 - 23:56
Actualització: 05.06.2024 - 23:58

It has not even been a week since Lluís Llach became the new president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), and he has already appeared on numerous TV and radio stations. The interest in his figure as the new ANC president is quite evident. Llach has a clear vision of the strategy the entity must follow from now on, despite the initial difficulties in reaching the presidency. He asserts that it’s necessary to regain mobilization and transform it, allying with other entities in the country. But how should this be done? In this interview with VilaWeb, he explains it in detail.

—In February, you told me in a VilaWeb interview that you did not want to be the president of the Assembly… And now, four months later, here we are, interviewing you as the president of the Assembly!
—[Laughs] Yes, it was precisely after that interview with you that everything changed. Those statements brought me a lot of headaches, all because of you… That’s when people started calling me, saying I should run. Among them were people I greatly respect. So, I weighed the comforts and discomforts… I like to get on trains. And I thought I could serve. I hope to serve. If not, I will admit my failure and return home to write or to my foundation.

—Why did you decide to take the step?
—I think it’s necessary right now for someone to go to the people and say: “Listen, we need to mobilize again.” Maybe depending on who says it, they won’t listen, but if a singer says it… [laughs]. There’s work to be done, and I believe if people see that I get involved, they will realize that they also need to get involved again. Many people tell me: “Let us know when you really go for it!” No, gentlemen, we won’t have time to notify you because we are in a situation of national destruction. We must mobilize beforehand. No one will warn us. We have to do it ourselves. Faced with this situation, I thought I had to say yes. I accept all the problems and contradictions… It’s very difficult, especially in interviews, to separate Lluís Llach of all time from the president of the ANC. In the end, journalists mix things up, and this causes confusion. Now, I have to learn to manage everything together, but I hope to correct myself soon.

—It has not even been a week since you took the position, and you’ve already done a marathon to learn what it means to be the president of the Assembly?
—Absolutely! Yes! I started by breaking a record. It took time to appoint me as president, there was a lot of reluctance. I don’t know if it’s an honor, but I don’t dislike it; it has been a lesson in humility. Some people don’t see me favorably within the national secretariat. But I am clear that I cannot give up on implementing the program for which people voted for me, and at the same time, I must try to integrate them. There must be a willingness to integrate on everyone’s part. I want to try to create a roadmap together that will be approved by the members in October or November. From there, everything will be much clearer. The problem is that now we have a somewhat strange roadmap…

—That roadmap are currently talking about promoting a civic list to the elections.
—Yes, but, of course, after the vote, the same secretariat that had promoted it already discarded it.

—What happened from one Saturday to the next? How did you manage to obtain two-thirds of the secretariat? Did you make a pact? Were there agreements?
—I think “agreements” is not the word. But yes, some people, although I must say few, because in the end, it was a matter of one vote, listened to us. We had time to explain ourselves. We must remember that on the first Saturday, I did not become president because I was 0.3% short of the two-thirds votes. In the end, I understand that some secretariat member who was not very affiliated with either side decided to vote for me. We must remember that the statutes are the statutes, and we were elected considering them. But it happens that the national secretaries who were behind me had 20,000 accumulated votes. The other group had about 10,000… Therefore, we have a very strong majority again. Even more so if you remove the votes of Josep Costa, who has maintained a neutral stance throughout. Seeing this, I suppose someone decided they could no longer continue blocking. Anyway, we have talked. In fact, I want to integrate people from the old secretariat.

—Therefore, there is still tension within the secretariat?
—This Saturday we meet again. We are in a hurry. We need to decide things. We have September 11th around the corner. Consequently, I hope that on Saturday we can start talking about things and begin to smooth out positions. I believe that as we explain our action plan, we will understand each other. The political program we want to implement does not deserve this blockade. Although I understand that some people may not have understood my stance against the civic list. Maybe I was wrong, but I was trying to defend the Assembly. I believed that committing the ANC to a single parliamentary option was a grave mistake. I can understand the reluctance, but I am sure we will understand each other.

—The first thing you did as president was to join the farmers’ protest. On Tuesday, you went to the protest in front of the Via Laietana police station. I understand that mobilization will be important…
—Yes, but mainly based on the consequences of our dependence. Those who know me a little know that for me, independence goes beyond historical, national, linguistic, or identity claims; it is primarily about service. I want to make the people of the Assemblea understand that from now on, we must serve the consequences of dependence.

—What do you mean?
—Why are the farmers protesting? Their problems are due to an absurd administration that hinders them with bureaucracy and demands that they then ignore when making agreements with the King of Morocco. Or a globalization that hits them from all sides. It is also due to economic manipulation by oligopolies that strangle them. Considering all this, I think it’s important that they know we see them as a state structure. And, therefore, we stand by them to mobilize. And we will do the same with everything that is necessary. We will also stand by those who say independence starts on the train tracks. We need to explain this. The disinvestment in our structures, as well as the denationalization of the country, has brought us to where we are. Denationalization does not only come through language; it also comes through structures that weaken us as a society. And when the people from the health centers protest, we will be there too! And when immigrants arrive and are sent to L’Estartit to a hotel, and they stay there for six months, and only learn two hours of Spanish a week, we will go there. We will stop knitting at home and go there to explain to them that Catalan is spoken here. Offer them help to learn the language. Explain to them where they are. Simple things like saying “good morning” and people will respond with a smile. We must use the tools we have. We don’t have the tools of political or economic power, but we have the citizenship, and we must use it. Without forgetting the functions that each local assembly decides, we must include in their functions all this that I am explaining… We need to participate in all struggles.

—What kind of relationship do you think should be had with other entities?
—It is necessary to stop seeing the Assemblea as the only protagonist. Humbly, we must understand that to achieve independence in a country as complex as ours, we need to work with organizations that we may not fully agree with. We must stop fighting with the other entities. If we work on cultural issues, we must count on Òmnium Cultural. If we work on external projection, we must work with the Council for the Republic. Or if we do municipal work, we must consider the AMI. We must do it humbly, and at the same time without losing the significance of the Assembly, because, along with the CDRs, we are among the most powerful organizations we have in the goal of independence. But this should not mean isolating ourselves; we need to open windows and communicate again. What the independence movement needs, within the world of entities, is what we need in the political sphere: for each of us to occupy a space in defending our national coexistence parameters: from language to economic needs. If each of us specializes in our function, we will be much more effective. Look, now I have an example in mind. It’s old, but I think it helps to understand. It’s all about strategic consumption. If instead of doing it from the Assembly, it had been done from the Council for the Republic, we wouldn’t have had the legal problems we had… We need to collaborate to be more effective.

—And with the political parties?
—We must have a critical stance. We believe they are not fulfilling the function they should when they say they are independence parties. We must be critical because their disunity, plus the repression, as well as the aftermath of Article 155 and the failure of 2017, lead to the disillusionment of many independence supporters. Therefore, we must tell politicians: for doing this, do not count on us. Now, if they make efforts, we will have to push. But our job is to strengthen society to be able to return.

—So, do you think it’s especially important now for the parties to come to an agreement?
Exactly, to start with the parliamentary bureau. And then continue negotiating. Despite acknowledging that Mr. Salvador Illa has all the democratic and statutory legitimacy to try, we also have it. And even more so, although I know it’s not popular, if it is proposed that we need to repeat the elections to define clearer and more definitive majorities, let’s repeat them! I have witnessed Salvador Illa protesting with Ciudadanos when no one else went! Not even Iceta. I am clear that if he becomes president, he will continue the denationalization of this country. I don’t want that.

—But for Carles Puigdemont to become president of the Generalitat, he needs the abstention of Salvador Illa and the socialist party.
—That is political maneuvering, and I don’t understand it. I understand that, behind the scenes, both Esquerra and Junts have leverage on important people in Madrid. So, they should use it. Play all the political cards they need to play. And if they don’t succeed, go to the last consequences. Just as the best gambler in the kingdom since the time of Adolfo Suárez takes five days to reflect, leaving the state in the air to ensure that the highway that was already open to Salvador Illa works. Politics is that, and all cards must be played.

—You said you were in favor of the DUI (unilateral declaration of independence), but lately, ERC and Junts talk about a negotiated referendum with Spain.
—Fine, that’s their problem! I left the Council for the Republic, partly because of this. But this is not the ANC’s problem. If politicians ever tell us that we need a referendum as the only way to independence, we will discuss it, but at the moment I do not see this possibility as feasible. I don’t see the PSOE willing to hold any referendum. We are under a judicial coup d’état, and I honestly do not understand certain things being said. Precisely now, we will be able to see the extent of this coup. We must be cautious; we could find ourselves in a very negative situation. I do not believe that is possible. A gambler like Sánchez, I think, as soon as he can, will use it to call elections, win them, and not depend on us.

—You have repeatedly said you do not trust the amnesty.
—I believe that the negotiation was somehow contradictory for some people who until that moment said they would not negotiate. Now, I also believe that the fact that the Spanish parliament has approved the amnesty is a gain. It means the annihilation by law of all the repression from Article 155. It is an acknowledgment that the state acted improperly, undemocratically. Now, the big doubt is whether it will be applied. They already say it will take two years. The most progressive Constitutional Court already says the amnesty is a disaster. Okay, do we have them by the balls? And if it’s the other way around? I don’t want to believe it. That’s why I ask the independence parties to shake things up as much as they can until something happens.

—This judicial coup also complicates Puigdemont’s return?
—That is his issue. I want the president of the Generalitat in exile to return if he has guarantees. I want him to return if he has a democratic title that accredits that he has representation in parliament. The president of the Generalitat should not return here as an amnesty recipient, by no means. He should return as an elected parliamentarian, by the will of the people. And if he can return to work, even better. I was one of those who supported the government going into exile. In fact, only one person said no. Later, for personal or family reasons, some accepted going to prison. Maybe they thought they wouldn’t be imprisoned. And that has created disunity. For me, the president should be in exile working for the country. And even more, a personality like Puigdemont, who is one of the twenty-five most recognized people in Europe. Please, do you think we as a society can afford to lose that? I don’t think so.

—But if he returns and there is no amnesty, he could go to prison.
—That is his decision; it goes beyond my opinions. But if he returns as an elected official because people voted for him, his role will be magnificent.

—These weeks, one of the accusations against you is that you belong to Junts.

—Ah! Yes! Of course! All Junts knows that I don’t vote for them, right! You maintain a personal position of coherence, which I understand is complex, but truly is coherent. But, of course, if I say I used to vote for Esquerra, then switched to the CUP—because I know the northeastern area and Poble Lliure, and I love them—and then it turns out I vote for the president in exile… Some may see that as incoherent, but for me, it is of absolute coherence. But maybe I’m wrong; however, they will manage. I think people voted for me knowing this. Maybe even because of this. For me, this is an issue that goes beyond the matter of the parties. Here, what’s at stake is the existence of a community that has managed to survive the destruction of many nations in Europe and that we have maintained so far with the will to be. Suddenly, should democracy be what destroys us if all the dictatorships and civil wars couldn’t? No, sorry, I refuse. And I don’t think this compromises anyone in the ANC. It’s just that now they tell me that because I explain a personal matter, that I will vote for Toni Comín because of the friendship we have. It seems that this is the ANC’s option. And no, as I said, it’s a personal thing. People know me!

—Yesterday on Catalunya Ràdio, they criticized you, saying you are very critical of Esquerra and then don’t understand how you want to build a united Assembly.
—Yes, but I have always explained the reason for my criticisms. My natural party is Esquerra Republicana. And if they hadn’t made a 180-degree turn, I would still be with them. Mr. Junqueras seduced me; I guess that’s why I feel sexually betrayed. Inside Esquerra, I know wonderful people. But it’s Esquerra that made a strategy change that caused a separation from the independence movement. It’s undeniable that Mr. Junqueras did this. He himself expressed it to me at Lledoners. Although this is a personal matter that I won’t explain.

—Will you explain it someday?
—Yes, when the amnesty is effective, I will explain everything I know. But, of course, I must also say that I know that inside Esquerra, there are people like Marta who are making a great effort to reach agreements. And if Esquerra returns to what it was, I will most likely join them right away. But what the hell is strange about that. I am not loyal to a tool; I am loyal to the purposes of the tool. I joined a tool that told me that in eighteen months, we had to achieve independence. I leave when they tell me we have to wait twelve years or twenty years. They tell me we have to wait two generations. No, sorry, no! I believe it’s a very mistaken strategy. I said it two years ago: all this was a highway for Mr. Illa. And look, here we have it. Look at the abstentionism!

—You talk about abstentionism. There is also demobilization. How do you turn this around?
—By going there! In the ANC, we have many people with great communication skills. I believe there are three or four people who are very good communicators, and they will have to go village by village to explain why we need to mobilize again. We need to explain the causes and the routes we have from now on. Although for all this, we should wait until October or November, because the ANC has to approve a new roadmap. But we cannot wait because the country is slipping out of our hands. Therefore, I believe that the members of the Assembly must accept that their president and the national secretariat make decisions that, under normal circumstances, we should wait a bit longer. But if we wait, I understand that some might accuse us of doing nothing while everything falls apart. Now comes September 11th, we will hold a demonstration as committed to society as possible. It will not be a party! We will try to send a message. But we cannot ignore society’s aspirations. For example, now there are the European elections, we must vote, we have a conflict with Spain, we must vote for the parties that explain it in Europe. We must vote for independence! And if there are elections in October, we must be there…

—So, I understand that the mobilizations should not only be on September 11th…
—To put it one way, if we want to explain why we need to be independent, we need to explain all these problems that are consequences of dependence. And, to do so, in addition to our own initiatives, of which we will do many, because the ANC has a lot of strength, we will be proactive and collaborative with other entities. We will be behind social mobilizations that are consequences of this suffocating dependence. We don’t need to take the lead or say we are independence supporters. But the health centers can’t take it anymore, and it’s not because of cuts: it’s because we are missing 22,000 million every year, and that is outrageous. It’s half the national budget. We will go to see the farmers and help them, we will go to see all the people who mobilize. We don’t need prominence, but we will be there. Whether it’s the farmers, the problems with the train tracks, or the problems with the language. We will be there.

—Last week, another political prisoner entered prison
—Yes, three years, right? Three years for Abel.

—At another time, we would have been called to the town halls…
—Well, it’s because we are discussing whether the European elections, the amnesty, whether… Oh, they don’t agree. Meanwhile, the country is falling apart. And that’s why the amnesty will only be valuable the day the last CDR—considered the most dangerous by them—has no criminal or political responsibility of any kind. This cannot be! How do we say it? The coup d’état is still in effect, am I clear?

—We are in a coup d’état, and any of us, you, me, anyone reading what we say, can be imprisoned. They say someone is a terrorist, that this guy who went to prison tortured a policeman on the street, which is hard to imagine… We are in a coup d’état, and until we accept that it is a reality that is here and not in the future; as long as the behavior of the judicial power, in the face of the original power of the three, which is the legislative, is a direct heir of Francoism, this has no other name. It is a judicial coup; just look at how the names repeat themselves. We don’t need the military, congratulations, because now not so many people will die, but the coup d’état is here, gentlemen. We accept it, or if not, I don’t know what we are doing. Sorry.


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