Woman who began the Catalan human chain believes the work is just beginning

Meet Carme Forcadell, the academic who is heading up the civil society platform entrusted with the region’s drive toward “the right to decide”

Barcelona -
Carme Forcadell.
Carme Forcadell.

During last week's Catalan national day - which was marked by a 480-kilometer human chain organized to draw world attention the demands by many regional residents who want a status vote on independence — Carme Forcadell marched in the middle of long line of people carrying a banner during a massive demonstration.

The entire day's festivities - seen as successful by pro-independence groups in getting their message across - was organized by the 57-year-old academic Forcadell. She presides the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), a civic association which was charged with putting together the larger demonstrations during the Diada, Catalonia's national day. "It is no longer about organizing great acts and shows. Now we have to go to work with a focused and quieter task, much like how ants work," Forcadell said. "We need to consolidate the social majority for independence and work to broaden that base."

Despite accumulating two years of hard work combined with her profession duties as an advisor on language issues at Catalonia's education department, the ANC president want to continue the task. "I feel charged because there are many people who have the same goal. I could not do this without them," she said.

For Forcadell, the ANC is just another step in a lifetime of association with pro-independence groups and organizations that defend the Catalan cause, including the Catalan Republican Left party (ERC).

Forcadell's words closely resemble those of Artur Mas, Catalan nationalist CiU bloc regional premier, and Oriol Junqueras, the ERC leader who is Mas's parliamentary partner. Sometimes there are doubts whether the ANC make policy for the government or vice versa. Critical sectors within the nationalist movement accuse her of being, almost like a counselor in the shadow of the CiU government . But the president of the ANC warns: "I don't feel like a spokesperson for civil society, but only a representative of the members of the ANC."

We want to explain our project to those people who still have doubts"

Her entity will continue fighting and has an expiration date when it will disband: the day after Catalonia becomes independent. The Assembly, which has 15,000 members, can take credit for triggering the sovereignty process, starting with the surprise turnout during last year's Diada celebrations in the streets of Barcelona.

But from now on, its main role will be a vigilant one aimed at ensuring that Mas keeps his word and calls a referendum next year. The final push in that process will be trying to convince the undecided: "We want to explain our project to many people who see independence is the best for them but have doubts and are not clear in their minds. It is a pedagogical task."

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