As part of the Catalan National Assembly, we are working to gather international support for the ongoing process of democratic and peaceful self-determination of Catalonia
The ANC was officially established in March 2012, although it originated at the National Conference For Our Own State held a year earlier (April 2011). It is not a party and does not wish to become one. It is an association of citizens who participate freely as individuals, and who vote at elections for different options. What unites all of its members is the conviction that Catalonia has a right to its own voice in the world. That is, to become a democratic state, just like any other.
The ANC is in no way a public institution. It is not a parliament or a political party. It has no interest in participating in electoral processes. It works at a grassroots level, with the aim of building up even further the social majority that is committed to the independence of Catalonia and increasingly tired of an inward-looking, discriminatory Spain. The ANC promotes wide-ranging initiatives and encourages Catalan political parties not to deviate from the citizens’ mandate that emerged from the November 2012 elections: to convene a consultation in the near future to exercise the right of Catalans to decide their own future.
Catalonia is a nation with a history going back over a thousand years. Catalanism – the political expression of the Catalans’ will to exist – has for decades tried to modernize Spain, to adapt it to European standards and to achieve a comfortable recognition of our political reality.
These efforts have doubled since the end of the Franco dictatorship and the restoration of democracy. In this context, to improve the political and territorial fit, the government of Catalonia led a federalising reform of the Statute of Autonomy in 2006. However, the Spanish Constitutional Court severely cut it back in 2010, even though it had already been endorsed by the people in a democratic referendum. This made it absolutely clear that autonomy had hit its ceiling and this was the understanding of the vast majority of Catalans. Since then, public opinion has opted for exercising the right of self-determination as the only way to ensure the survival of Catalonia, which through its Parliament has defined itself as a nation. Catalanism is thus a political and citizen movement that goes back a long way. In this context, a group of Catalans without a partisan political background got to work to “change the course of our country’s history”, in the words of one of the ANC’s founders. A unitary tool was put in place to channel the people’s desire for liberty
Although the Assembly is a new platform, it has deep roots. One of its most obvious precursors was the Assemblea de Catalunya (Assembly of Catalonia), a unitary movement that brought together all the country’s democratic groups towards the end of the Franco dictatorship, with the goal of restoring the national and social liberties that the dictatorship had tried to suppress for ever.
This is channelled through a National Secretariat, a collective body consisting of men and women who are democratically elected as individuals. The main strength of the ANC, however, is in its grassroots organization, in its regional and sectoral assemblies. Everyone belongs to a territorial assembly in their village, town or city. The sectoral assemblies bring together members who share some feature, affinity, quality, profession, etc. Entrepreneurs, farmers and journalists for independence, to mention just a few of these groups, convey the pro-sovereignty message to professional groups or associations. Meanwhile, Catalans living in different parts of the world and sharing this goal also have their own sectoral asssembly, Catalunya Exterior (Catalonia Abroad), which allows them to coordinate ideas and messages. The whole of this vast structure (which as of March 2014 has about 55,000 supporters, of which 30,000 are fully contributing members), developed in a relatively short time, has from the outset applied scrupulous criteria for internal, participatory democracy.
Paradoxically, Catalans commemorate on this day their 1714 defeat at the hands of the Bourbon troops during the War of the Spanish Succession. Traditionally, it has been a day for remembrance and national reivindication. In the lead up to the 2012 commemoration, the Assembly held the so-called March for Independence, which sought to present the organization throughout the country, to encourage young people to join the movement and, above all, to call the public in general to a mass demonstration in Barcelona. The success of the initiative exceeded the Assembly’s own forecasts. That afternoon over one and a half million Catalans gathered in the streets of the Catalan capital to demand that their country should become a new European State. It was a peaceful, incident-free march, led by civil society, with families paying out of their own pockets the coach ride from around the country, and with political parties joining in just like any other organisation of society. The President of the Generalitat, Artur Mas, listened to and heeded the grassroots message, and shortly afterwards he dissolved Parliament and called a snap election to put the people’s message to the electoral test. The election gave an irrefutable victory to the groups supporting the self-determination of Catalonia.
The Catalan Way (Catalan: Via Catalana) was a 480-kilometre (300 mi) human chain in support of Catalan independence from Spain. It was organized by the ANC, and took place in Catalonia on 11 September 2013, which is the National Day of Catalonia. The human chain followed the ancient Via Augusta, from Le Perthus (France, Vallespir) up to Alcanar (Spain, Montsià). According to Carme Forcadell, president of the ANC, it was “a symbol of the unity of Catalan people to achieve national sovereignty”
At the ANC, we would like everyone from outside Spain to get to know, with due rigour and transparency, why thousands upon thousands of Catalans want to peacefully exercise their right to decide through a consultation, like other nations such as Scotland and Quebec. We strongly believe that this is, as has been said, “a time for more nations”.
Despite its short life, the history of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) comes from afar, for the Catalanist movement has for decades sought unitary platforms to defend its limited self-government from the attacks of a traditionally centralist Spanish state. Some of these groups have focused their work in the electoral arena, such as the unitary movement Solidaritat Catalana, in the early 20th Century. Others have for various reasons focused their struggle in the social field. The Assemblea de Catalunya brought together Catalan groups opposing the Franco dictatorship and showed its strength by mobilizing citizens in mass demonstrations to call for Catalonia’s national liberties and rights. Read More
Our most significant milestone to this date has been the “March for Independence”, which began in summer 2012 in Lleida. The March for Independence came to a head in Barcelona on September 11 2012, Catalonia’s National Day, in one of the most massive demonstrations in recent Catalan history.
Outside of Catalonia, the Catalan National Assembly is organized in Foreign Assemblies (Assemblees Exteriors). These have been constituted by Catalans living abroad in order to foster the self-determination process of Catalonia in their host countries. There are now Foreign Assemblies in all continents, from the Americas to Asia, from Central Europe to Southern Africa.