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Interview: building solidarity with Catalonia

Michelle Robidoux

November 17, 2017 spoke with Montreal activist André Frappier as he headed to Catalonia to take part in international solidarity actions.

“Everyone has to know Catalans are not alone,” said André Frappier, a long-time trade-union activist. Frappier represented Québec solidaire in an international solidarity delegation following the October 1st referendum on independence.

What is your reaction to the decision by the Catalan Parliament to declare independence?

It’s a very good decision. I think that [Catalan President Carles] Puigdemont has played all the cards in his hand so far, and there was no other choice. He tried to announce a possible election in December, but this election would have had to be in line with the Spanish Constitution. And in fact, that doesn’t allow any candidate in favour of independence for Catalonia. So somehow I don’t know what other choice he could have in these times. We’ll see now what will be the reaction of Madrid.

There is a lot of confusion on the left around the world, including here in English Canada, about the significance of what happened and need for progressive forces to engage fully to support the Catalan people. What role do you think international solidarity can play?

It’s a major issue for Catalonia. International solidarity is a major factor of support that we absolutely need right now. First, I must say, it is a matter of democracy. The Catalan people have the right to self-determination, and to decide of their future. Whether or not they support independence, it is their decision, and they have a right to do that.

Also, they have the right to decide without any act of repression or intimidation such as has been done by Madrid so far.

But more than that, the fact that Catalonia wants its independence is not only a matter of culture or language. For the past four years, the Catalan government adopted many progressive laws, for example making it illegal to cut the electricity or water services of someone who doesn’t have money to pay their rent. Many social initiatives were adopted by the Catalan Parliament, but every time they were cancelled by Madrid. So they cannot put in place a social state for the people under this Constitution. This is very important also.

What concretely can the left do in solidarity with the Catalan struggle, in the face of likely repression from the Spanish state?

For right now, it’s very important to try to build solidarity in every city in Canada, and also in Québec. Committees of solidarity with Catalonia which every union, left organisation, women’s organisation get along and say we are asking Trudeau to support the right to self-determination, and to say it publicly. We have to organize the pressure so that the federal government will say that they respect the decision of Catalonia. This is very important. Just as an example, that kind of committee is already in place in Scotland. And recently, there was a meeting in Montreal to start such a committee, and it is going to organize in the days ahead. So, we have to do something. And adopting resolutions of support in unions, in organizations, and sending a copy to Trudeau, and to Catalan organizations to tell them “we are supporting you, we are here”. And we need to send a copy to Madrid also. Everyone has to know that Catalans are not alone.

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