• Spain's news in English

Catalan leader jumps on 'Yes we can' bandwagon

Jessica Jones · 9 Apr 2015, 11:19

Published: 09 Apr 2015 11:19 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

It was Bob the Builder's catchphrase, it did wonders for Obama, and then it was repackaged as "Podemos" by Pablo Iglesias as the name for his radical left-wing anti-austerity party.

But now Artur Mas is hoping that it will prove as successful a slogan in his battle with Madrid.

The pro-independence President of Catalonia made the three words his focus at a conference held at Columbia University in New York at the weekend.

Entitled "Catalonia at the Crossroads", Mas deliviered a speech emphasizing that those characteristics so important to President Obama’s 2008 election campaign - the idea of "we" and the "dream" - were also key to the issue of Catalan independence.

"Your president, Barack Obama, in his famous speech in Selma, said the most important word in democracy is 'we'," said Mas during a speech at Columbia University.

"'Yes we can' was how your president asked you to vote, and Catalonia also believes in the 'we' - so 'we' will vote in September and 'we' will decide our own political future as a nation," he said.

According to Catalan daily La Vanguardia, Mas presented Catalonia as a potential "good neighbour" and "trustworthy ally" to the USA.

"President Obama said that freedom and self-determination did not only correspond to countries, but were universal values. For this reason, in the September elections we need a majority in favour of independence to make a new constitution," he said.

Mas was speaking at the Columbia University conference in front of an audience of 200 people, most of whom were from a Catalan or Spanish background.

The Spanish politician used the opportunity to set out reasons for Catalonia’s secession from Spain.

"We are explaining these points because we are seeing that creating a new state, like the USA did when it separated from the United Kingdom, involves explaining the reasons for wanting to separate."

Mas, who gave his speech entirely in English, was introduced by economist and Columbia professor, Xavier Sala i Martin, who likened Catalonia's struggle for independence from Spain to the Biblical battle of David and Goliath, reminding the audience that the giant was "not as strong as people thought".

"And now David will make the speech," joked Mas, as he took to the stage.

Story continues below…

The trip marks the Catalan president’s third official visit to the United States. 

Catalan nationalist parties and associations recently signed a road map to secede from Spain in 2017 if independence movements win the right to hold a referendum.

Nationalist leaders have called for a regional vote on September 27th after Madrid blocked their bid for a referendum on independence. 

During a symbolic independence referendum held in November last year, that the top court in Spain ruled unconstitutional, only 1.9 million out of 6.3 million potential voters cast their ballot in favour of secession.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Eta members made a ceasefire declaration in January, 2011. Photo: Gara / AFP

Five years after armed separatist group Eta declared a permanent ceasefire, Basque journalist Alberto Letona is still wondering when the dialogue will begin.

Hunt for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Call Crimestoppers if you recognize these faces.

These fugitives from British justice are thought to be hiding out in Spain. Do you recognize anyone?

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available