in Catalonia

In the Bruce Springsteen song “No Surrender” we are reminded of it; from the same humility but also determination, we sing together to neither go backwards nor surrender.

We are conscious that it would be the retreat and surrender of future generations, and we don’t have that right.

MHP Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó

With those words, spoken whilst still awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings in Germany, the former President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, implored supporters of independence that there can be no retreat from the progress made so far.

The Catalan Government was forcibly removed from office immediately after the independence referendum and subsequent declaration of independence last October. Six members of that Government are now in prison awaiting trial and a further five are in self-imposed exile. They are:

  • Oriol Junqueras – Vice President and Minister of Economy and Finance
    In prison since 2 November 2017
  • Joaquim Forn – Minister of the Interior
    In prison since 2 November 2017
  • Dolors Bassa – Minister of Social Welfare, Employment and Family
    In prison since 23 March 2018, previously in prison between 2 November 2017 and 4 December 2017
  • Raül Romeva – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations, and Transparency
    In prison since 23 March 2018, previously in prison between 2 November 2017 and 4 December 2017
  • Josep Rull – Minister of Planning and Sustainability
    In prison since 23 March 2018, previously in prison between 2 November 2017 and 4 December 2017
  • Jordi Turull – Minister of Presidency and Spokesperson of the Government
    In prison since 23 March 2018, previously in prison between 2 November 2017 and 4 December 2017
  • Carles Puigdemont – President
    In exile since 30 October 2017
  • Antoni Comín – Minister of Health
    In exile since 30 October 2017
  • Meritxell Serret – Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food
    In exile since 30 October 2017
  • Lluís Puig – Minister of Culture
    In exile since 30 October 2017
  • Clara Ponsatí – Minister of Education
    In exile since 30 October 2017

Other politicians and civil society leaders are also in prison or self-imposed exile (or on bail awaiting trial) for their role in the referendum. These include:

  • Jordi Cuixart – President of Òmnium Cultural
    In prison since 16 October 2017
  • Jordi Sànchez – President of the Catalan National Assembly
    In prison since 16 October 2017
  • Carme Forcadell – President of the Parliament of Catalonia
    In prison since 23 March 2018, previously in prison between 9 November 2017 and 10 November 2017
  • Meritxell Borràs – Minister of Governance, Public Administration and Housing
    Previously in prison between 2 November 2017 and 4 December 2017
  • Marta Rovira – General Secretary of the Republican Left of Catalonia
    In exile since 23 March 2018

In recognition of these political prisoners and exiles, a group of supportive Catalan singers and songwriters, organised by director Hèctor Suñol, performed a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “No Surrender”, with lyrics powerfully reminding Catalans that, despite everything that has happened, they should not lose faith.

Starting in April, Suñol crowdfunded some €5,000 for the project, which was released on 13 July. The video includes archive footage of the political prisoners and exiles and the police violence against voters on the day of the referendum. It starts with a dedication from Carles Puigdemont (quoted above).

The video is, above all, a reminder that, whatever obstacles are placed in the way, democracy and the will of the people will, ultimately, prevail.

The lyrics roughly translate* as follows:

They have locked us up behind bars
Or we have had to go far away
But never give up
Despite having your heart squeezed

They raided our schools
With a spirit of revenge
You remember it while you cry
Reliving that Sunday

Together we promised
That it would be forever
That we would not take a singe step backwards
Their injustice will want you to obey
But, friend, do not surrender

We have armed ourselves with good reasons
We have armed ourselves with patience
Everyone knows that they lie
If they accuse us of violence

We don’t look for a way out
We do not change our desires
We have been a land of welcome
For hundreds of years

Together we promised
That it would be forever
That we would not take a singe step backwards
Their injustice will want you to obey
But, friend, do not surrender

Now my son takes my hands
And asks me what it means to surrender
“I don’t know, son, we are Catalans
There is no time to become depressed”

For those who left and for those who will come
For exile and for those who are locked up
Like Almogavars leaping into the field
They will not see us kneeling down

Together we promised
That it would be forever
That we would not take a singe step backwards
Their injustice will want you to obey
But, friend, do not surrender

Credits
Director: Hèctor Suñol
Lyrics: Guillem Solé
Musical Adaptation: David Rosell
Voices: Èric Vergés (Els Catarres), Guillem Solé (Buhos), Pemi Fortuny, Gemma Humet, Ivette Nadal, Suu
Collaborators: Jordi Nus (Music Intro/Credits), Els Catarres, Buhos, Brams, Els Pets, Sopa de Cabra, Gossos, Pepet i Marieta, Joan Rovira, Crossing, Pastorets Rock, Cesk Freixas, A Sound of Thunder, Meritxell Gené, Xeic!, Gerry Mulvenna, Jaume Jové, Quim Vila, Jordi Calvís, Lleida Esportiu

* Roughly translated by me, so apologies for any errors!

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