When you ask Salvador Illa (La Roca del Vallés, 1966), former Minister of Health, if the pardons to those convicted of 1-O are the evidence that they are going to go wild, he denies the greatest and insists that “spend four , years in jail is proof that criminal acts don’t come for free. ”
He is a man of good humor, calm and collected, who has been almost everything that can be in politics since he began to be a member of the PSOE in 1995: mayor of his town, minister and winner of the last Catalan elections, but he has come to the charges without believing himself a political animal, only out of a sense of responsibility, and supported, of course, by friends like Miquel Iceta or José Luis Ábalos. His figure was key at the negotiating table with ERC for the investiture agreement of Pedro Sánchez and perhaps that is where his national projection began.
A measure such as the pardons for the 1-0 prisoners, which is fracturing society so much, shouldn’t it have been agreed with the opposition and not done unilaterally?
Pardons are a decision that the Council of Ministers has to make. Now we are waiting for the Ministry of Justice to make a formal proposal, and we hope that it will take place next week. The Prime Minister has anticipated that he will make this decision based on the constitutional values of Justice, looking to the future and dialoguing.
It is a decision that Pedro Sánchez will make based on convictions, not on polls or short-term criteria. In Catalonia you have to open a different new time and be magnanimous leaving behind a very negative decade. The criterion is to promote reunion and dialogue.
‘Procés’: “The unilateral attempts in this case have failed and have not brought anything good”
Oriol Junqueras has gone from telling Pedro Sánchez to get the pardon wherever he could, to recognizing that the unilateral route is unfeasible. Is this a turning point in the sovereign process or just a trap?
Junqueras’ claims are a step in the right direction. Anything that makes it clear that the unilateral path is not the right path, and discarding that path is a step in the right direction. In our democracy, any political project can be defended, even the pro-independence one, which we do not share, but always with respect for the framework of coexistence. The unilateral attempts have failed and have not brought anything good to the contrary.
But now they propose the Scottish route, and that doesn’t fit in our Constitution either, right?
What is called the Scottish way means calling a referendum of self-determination, and that is not the way. We Catalans have to talk a lot with each other, because we have very different visions of how we have to relate to Spain.
And then, when we reach an agreement, submit this agreement to consideration, to a vote, and to a referendum that asks about the framework of coexistence of the Catalans. Are we in favor of voting? Yes, but to vote an agreement, not a break. A referendum on self-determination is to once again influence an approach in which a Catalan social majority is not present.
Referendum: “What we are in favor of voting an agreement, not a rupture”
Do you still think that the right of self-determination cannot be applied because Catalonia is not a colony of Spain?
Indeed, I think it cannot be done. The right of self-determination applies in processes where there are authoritarian states, and that is not the case in Spain, or it applies in territories that have been or are colonies, and neither is the case in Spain or Catalonia. Catalonia is not a colony of Spain, nor is Spain an authoritarian state, therefore the right of self-determination is not feasible.
Does this ending show that the ‘procés’ was a deception to the Catalans that has gone nowhere?
The process has been a great failure. A collective failure, because it has impoverished us, it has discredited our institutions, divided as a society, and it has not helped coexistence. These have been ten years lost for Catalonia, so I think it is urgent to open a new time.
In short, that the independence movement has failed and the victory has been the rule of law?
The rule of law has triumphed. I always said that there is no solution outside the constitutional framework and the rule of law, where pardon is certainly contemplated. One of the great lessons we have learned in Catalonia is that outside the framework of the rule of law there is only chaos and discontent.
Was this week’s photo between Pedro Sánchez and Pere Aragonés the most obvious way of staging that there is an agreement?
That is what has to preside over the normalized relationship between the Prime Minister and the President of the Generalitat. In addition, they will meet in this June in a formal way. It is very important that the dialogue table be resumed between the Government of Catalonia and that of Spain, but it is also important that there be a dialogue table in Catalonia where all the Catalan parties with parliamentary representation meet.
At that dialogue table, Carles Puigdemont will not sit down because he is a fugitive and Oriol Junqueras because he is disabled, but will they be very present?
The table belongs to governments, and there must be people who are part of both governments. Neither Puigdemont nor Junqueras are in the Government of the Generalitat, and, therefore, they should not be.
Well, the members of ERC have had a very harsh reaction to this change of position and they do not renounce the unilateral way?
I respect that they have the political project they deem appropriate, but the only solution is the framework of coexistence that we have. Those who do not rule out the unilateral route have not understood anything about what has happened in Catalonia in recent years, which has been a catastrophe in every sense.
Be that as it may, the issue has raised blisters and breached the socialist family. Many barons do not share at all what is being done?
Talking about a gap within the PSOE is an exaggeration and the pardons have not opened it. I understand that there are people who have doubts, but the PSC does not have to tell what has happened in Catalonia in recent years, we have experienced it in the first person in a very painful way, and at all times we have had a decided commitment to dialogue , reunion and coexistence, both when hard decisions had to be made, such as the activation of 155 of the Constitution, and now when other complex decisions have to be made …
Moncloa: “We hope that the decision on pardons will take place next week”
Come on, that this thing about a confrontation between Sanchistas and non-Sanchistas who do not accept the leadership of the Secretary General is false?
This is not at all sanchistas or not.
Well, Felipe González, and several regional presidents such as Emiliano García-Page, Guillermo Fernández Vara, etc. Have they been flatly opposed?
I have respect for all the people who have had and have high responsibilities in the Government and in the PSOE. Some have expressed opinions much more nuanced than others, but what must be encouraged is dialogue in Catalonia. I empathize with socialists who may have doubts, but I appeal to the confidence they must have in the position of the PSC and in that the government Spain is going to make the best possible decision.
Has sedition ceased to be a serious crime for you, in order to shoehorn this issue into the PSOE’s code of ethics?
The decision made by the Council of Ministers will strictly comply with the ethical code of the PSOE. I am not going to go into the interpretation of the ethical code of any sister party, such as the PSOE, but I have no doubt that the party’s code of ethics will be respected as regards socialist militants.
What do you think when you hear that the prisoners are leaving for nothing, that their coup against democracy has come for free?
It is not true that the prisoners of the procés go away from rositas, that cannot be said in any case. They have been deprived of liberty for almost 4 years and it has not been free at all.
If Puigdemont returns, shouldn’t he be arrested as requested by Minister Ione Belarra?
Everyone must face the consequences of their actions.
Constitution: “The right of self-determination is not feasible in the case of Catalonia and Spain”
For many, pardons are the price Pedro Sánchez pays for staying in Moncloa, is that correct?
I completely rule out that pardons are a political price to stay in power. The president is sincere when he talks about making a decision based on convictions. It is an issue that is very mature, and it does not depend on the political situation or polls or a short-term vision, it only depends on your convictions. It is not a partisan or electoral decision.
Be that as it may, the opposition proposes a large demonstration for 13-J. Is there any parallelism with the photo of Colón that gave so much to talk about?
The parallels between 13-J and the photo of Colón are obvious. This demonstration is a mistake, which will fuel confrontation instead of coexistence and aims to end the illusion because a new time of dialogue opens.
Colón: “The demonstration is an error that will fuel the confrontation on coexistence”
Who is going to turn against it, Pablo Casado and Santiago Abascal or Pedro Sánchez, if it is finally a success?
The photo of Colón 2.0 is going to turn against him to the right. It does not contribute anything to the whole of Spain or to the parties that summon it. It is a mistake to foster a feeling of grievance between territories in a diverse and plural Spain that is enhanced by recognizing the identity of its autonomies. What the PP is doing at the hands of the extreme right of Vox goes in the opposite direction to what a state party should do.
Will this legislature in Catalonia be short or can there be a change of dance partner and you enter the government if the case comes?
I like to start and end in the same dance with the same partner. Mr. Pere Aragonés and ERC have chosen to reissue a failed government formula, which has not worked in Catalonia in recent years, and I make unflattering forecasts. We are going to exert a forceful opposition, but with constructive proposals, as it corresponds to us. And we’ll see how everything goes.
Are they giving this government a hundred days of grace from the outset or not?
We do not give this Government of the Generalitat a hundred or fifty or a single day of grace. They have spent three months to build the government, and five years governing together, with zero effectiveness, entangled in their internal discrepancies. There is no grace that is worth it.
You have created a shadow government, as Pascual Maragall did in his day. Is the objective to become a kind of ‘gut fly’ of the Government of Pere Aragonés, to control its steps?
The goal of this team is to take the work of the opposition very seriously. Indeed, there will be a part of inspection of the tasks of the Government of the Generalitat, and also a part of positive action.
You will be happy in the end, can you meet the goal that you set yourself as Minister of Health that in summer at least 70% of the population is vaccinated?
I had no doubts that the roadmap that we set for ourselves was going to be fulfilled, and in August we will reach 70% of people vaccinated. That’s good news.
What such a taste in your mouth has your passage through the Government of Spain left you? Will the trip to Catalonia be roundtrip if Pedro Sánchez offers you another responsibility?
I have had to live in the Government a very intense moment with the pandemic, but national politics has left a good taste in my mouth. However, I am fully committed to Catalan politics, which is exciting and poses very relevant political challenges at this time. My journey is not round trip.
Can Catalonia regain the economic position it has lost in the last 10 years due to the ‘procés’?
I have no doubt that Catalonia can go back to being what it was, but for that we have to get it right on the road and promote the reunion of the Catalans. Catalonia has many capacities, energies and talent. Now we must channel that energy that society has towards positive actions that generate wealth and put us back in the position that Catalonia should never have lost. Legal security is a fundamental requirement to develop economic activities, and this path must be followed.
Hey, can the BOE replace the autonomies? Because Health has had to reverse its latest restrictions on the Autonomous Communities …
That debate took place with all the Autonomous Communities and I believe that we must be at what the Interterritorial Commission decides, which is a body that has done a great job during the pandemic and continues to do so. One of the great lessons of this crisis is that it is possible to work in a coordinated manner and with loyalty, and if a decision has to be reviewed, it is reviewed, as has happened now.
Are European funds going to be the manna that saves us from the harsh economic horizon?
European funds are not going to be a manna but a very important help, a coordinated economic stimulus across Europe, and very relevant to our economy. Obviously, they must be managed with transparency and fairness, and I have no doubt that this will be the case.
What do you think that the Government of the Generalitat violates the order of the TSJC and does not offer the selectivity exams in Spanish?
I believe that the resolutions of all the Courts must be complied with, and this one too. I defend an education in Catalonia that has Catalan as its center of gravity and guarantees that at the end of studies all students master Catalan, Spanish and English.
What do you think of the study by the Bank of Spain according to which the increase in the SMI has reduced 180,000 jobs?
I do not know in depth the study of the Bank of Spain, but it has been amply demonstrated that the rise in minimum wages does not destroy employment. I think that the right decision was made with that climb.