Catalanismo y españolismo en el pensamiento de Prat de la Riba (1899)
Enclavada Cataluña en el área geográfica conocida con el nombre de España, somos españoles, del mismo modo que somos europeos por estar comprendida España dentro del continente Europa. Gobernada España por el Estado español, los catalanes somos españoles como miembros de este Estado, como ciudadanos de esta sociedad política
No somos, pues, enemigos de España, tomada en este sentido (el único real), ni al combatir el Estado español queremos otra cosa que rehacerlo con equidad y justicia y con una organización más adecuada y perfecta, dentro de la cual Cataluña puede encontrar una vida de libertad y de progreso.
La Veu de Catalunya no es ni ha sido nunca separatista, como no lo son ni lo han sido nunca las Asambleas catalanistas: las Bases de Manresa, programa de la gran mayoría de los autonomistas catalanes, son incompatibles con una aspiración separatista. Y esto que decimos ahora lo hemos dicho siempre...
Queremos ver la patria catalana unida con vínculos de hermandad con los demás pueblos de España, formando una familia fuerte y bien avenida, sin Cenicientas explotadas ni herederas altivas.
· Primary and written historical source.
· Political source.
· Public document.
· Context: the text was written in Spain in 1899.
· Intended audience: everyone interested in politics and social affairs.
· Author: Prat de la Riba was a Catalan politician who belonged to Unió Catalanista, a federation of catalanist associations opposed to Centre Català, another autonomist party. As Unió rejected to participate in politics, Prat de la Riba and other Catalanists created the Lliga Regionalista Catalana, a conservative alternative to the dynastic parties in Catalonia. In the 1901 elections to Cortes the Lliga got 6 deputies and broke the alternation of the dynastic parties for the first time.
In this text, Prat de la Riba defends that the Catalans are Spaniards but that they should have more autonomy and contribute less to the regional solidarity.
“La Veu de Catalunya” was a very important Catalanist newspaper that was published in Barcelona from 1899 to 1937. The diary had a double purpose: literary and political purpose. The edition was started by Enric Prat de la Riba, with a mainly political orientation and as a defender of Lliga Regionalista’s program (the Lliga was the conservative alternative to the dynastic parties in Catalonia). The “Bases de Manresa” was the name of Unió Catalanista’s program, where they defended the organization of Spain as a confederation of states, political autonomy for Catalonia, the re-establishment of ancient institutions, like the Audiencia and the Cortes and Catalan as the official language.
When he talks about “Cenicientas explotadas”, he refers to Catalonia because he thinks that Catalonia must give too much money to the central government (he calls them “herederas altivas”).
This document is related to the appearance of nationalist and regionalist movements in Catalonia, the Basque Provinces and Galicia, which was one of the most relevant facts of the Restoration. These movements appeared as a reaction against the State centralization and a political and administrative system that didn’t take the specific cultural and linguistic features of other regions into account. In some way, it was a reaction against Spanish nationalism, which tried to impose a Castilian official culture, ignoring the plural reality of the country.
Catalanism had a cultural origin. During the 1830s the Renaixença, a cultural and literary movement had developed, in the context of Romanticism. Their goal was recovering the Catalan language and culture, but they didn’t have political expectations. The first political approach took place in 1880, when Valentí Almirall, a former federal republican, called the Catalanist Congress and tried to unify the two Catalanist currents: the republican and progressive current and the literary current, more conservative and apolitical. In 1885 Almirall wrote the Memorial of Grievances (Memorial de Greuges), a document signed by businessmen, industrialists, workers’ delegates, intellectuals and professionals. It denounced the oppression Catalonia suffered due to the centralist policy of the government and claimed for a better treatment for the interests of the rest of the Spanish regions and was presented to King Alphonse XII, but it didn’t have any relevant consequence.
As we have said, Prat de la Riba was a Catalanist man. Catalanism had a cultural origin. During the 1830s the Renaixença, a cultural and literary movement, had developed, in the context of Romanticism. Their goal was recovering the Catalan language and culture, but they didn’t have political expectations. The first political approach took place in 1880, when Valentí Almirall, a former federal republican, called the 1st Catalanist Congress and tried to unify the two Catalanist currents: the republican and progressive current and the literary current, more conservative and apolitical. In 1885 he founded the Centre Català. Some Catalan people opposed his progressivism and founded Unió Catalanista in 1891.
The first party created to defend the Catalan interests was the Lliga Regionalista Catalana, formed in 1901. As we said, it was a conservative alternative to the dynastic parties in Catalonia. It was formed by many members of Unió, like Enric Prat de la Riba. It was created because Unió rejected to participate in politics. In the 1901 elections to Cortes the Lliga got 6 deputies and broke the alternation of the dynastic parties for the first time.
The Catalanists wanted a similar treatment to the one the Basque Provinces had. After the end of the Third Carlist War, the fueros of the Basque Provinces and Navarre were abolished, but the Basque Provinces received a special economic treatment with the Basque Economic Agreement (concierto económico), which allowed the Provincial Councils (Diputaciones Provinciales) to collect the taxes directly. This especial economic treatment didn’t stop the appearance of a nationalist movement in the Basque Provinces (PNV), clearly pro-independence and with an important racist content initially.
Catalonia got more autonomy progressively. In 1899, there was a project of administrative decentralization. The Mancomunitat de Catalunya was created in 1913 and it was suspended during Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship. In 1932, during the Second Republic, the Generalitat de Catalunya was restored and the Estatut d’Autonomia was approved. The Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship meant the prohibition of Catalan in the official and educational fields. Political freedom wasn’t recovered until the Transition and the approval of the 1978 Constitution. A new Estatut d’Autonomia was approved in 1979, which recovered the official use of Catalan and the political institutions, and it was substituted later by the 2006 Estatut. This one was modified by the Constitutional Court in 2010 and it is in force nowadays. Prat de la Riba’s claims continue to be of current interest, with the present pro-independence process: the same claims (better financing, a federal structure of the State, the feeling of mistreatment…).
Salvador Fuentes Lucas-Torres