I never cease to be amazed by people’s capacity for enthusiasm. Each act of repression is met with a bold, peaceful response. We’re not messing around. We know we’re not alone: we’re always joined by others.
A few years ago, we were full of caution. Sure, we may have been in favour of independence, but we had to be somewhat secretive about it. The way we did things could be described with one of the saddest expressions I’ve ever heard: “we can make no noise about our pain”, which is a way of recognizing that our lot as Catalans involved choking down one bitter reality after another without making faces.
I’d say that something snapped collectively in 2010, when the protest held on September 11th didn’t just call overwhelmingly for things like justice, freedom or more autonomy. It was calling for something more: what we wanted was independence. After years and years protesting on Catalan National Day, for the first time we were ready to get our hands dirty. We had no more patience left. The ones shouting were people who, until then, had never thought they’d roll up their sleeves and go to a protest where they’d yell their lungs out in favour of something that had been taboo until then. Plus, we decided we liked it. Our patience had run out: we were sick and tired of it all. And from then on, there was an increasingly solid mass of grandpas, aunties, executives, adolescents, grandmas and uncles who would take to the streets with an Estelada,1 no longer the flag of a few crazy young people. And they’d take pictures of one another. And they’d let their feelings show. And they’d give a hug to the neighbour who was from Murcia but who was at the protest, too. And elderly people started to talk about going to protests. But after years and years, tiredness began to set in. Man, let’s hope this is the last protest. But if need be, we went; we were there in the front row, with a smile on our faces.
We should especially recall the integrity of the people of all ages who, on October 1st, stood up to police armed with the worst of all weapons: contempt and hate for their peaceful victims. And if the victims were women, the contempt was even greater: they’d spit out phrases like what’re you doing here, (insult)? Shouldn’t you be doing dishes, (insult)? And they’d pull their hair to make sure they knew who was in charge, here. But those poor vilified people didn’t step aside. I can’t help it: I’m proud of the brave folks who are all around us, dedicated people who don’t brag about their actions, who’ve stood their ground for hours at a time without losing their courage, without losing their sense of humour… People who don’t feel like giving up. They’ll go on an endless trip to Brussels with the same joy and energy as if they were going to see their football team’s big final match. With people like this, we have it all to win: it’ll come sooner or later, but the future is ours. We’ve learned that we can indeed make noise about our pain, we can do so with loudspeakers and with facts. But now, it’s no longer pain: it’s hope.