There are absences that are presences and some presence that highlights some void. Here is the paradox of what some call the return or resurrection of Jordi Pujol, after his resounding civil death following the confession of July 2014, when he made public that his family had undeclared money in banks abroad . Paradoxically, the nationalist leader appears more in public after suffering a stroke last September, from which he is recovering quite well.
At 92 years old, the man who presided over Catalonia for almost a quarter of a century appears in several events, coinciding with a delicate moment in the political space which – more or less effectively – has been structured on the plot of land occupied by the party that he founded in 1974, Democratic Convergence. Is Pujol really coming back?
My answer is that it does not come back, that is impossible. The president of "we will do" is part of history rather than the present. What we are seeing these days is something else, and it is the sum of two overlapping operations. On the one hand, and from the environment closest to Pujol, there is the will to vindicate his figure and legacy as a ruler who builds the foundations of contemporary self-government.
On the other hand, and from areas linked to Junts, there is a desire to send a signal to the sector of the electorate that could be more sensitive to the lexicon and forms of Pujolism, as a wink to those who today they feel orphaned and disoriented before the polls.
Pujol is today an icon that everyone tries to adopt for their goals, even to give atmosphere to a calçotada. After a while, this icon becomes a hologram with calming properties: some see it as a presence with which to cover the gaps of post-convergent independence, based on the imprint left by a pragmatism tinged with mysticism and institutional sense.
The twilight Pujol that appears in front of the processional audiences makes the famous sentence of the communicologist Marshall McLuhan come true: "the medium is the message". The speech of the veteran leader is now the least important, the fact that he is there, that he returns to the stage, even if it is only for an afternoon, matters. The simple presence of President Pujol has a double function, apparently contradictory: it evokes a time when the Catalan conflict was absorbed by the "fish in the cave" trade, and it projects the consistency of the basics of Catalanism that the process has not always taken into account (case of language, for example). It is Pujol, but without Pujolism: this was overcome from 2010, when the Constitutional Court overturned everything, by voiding the 2006 Statute.
Pujol does not want to disappear quietly, and that is understandable. Worried about whether tomorrow's historians will know how to separate the wheat from the chaff, the leader who is modernizing Catalan nationalism wants his government's work to be analyzed fairly, even by his most furious adversaries. That is why it is strange that his prison writings are republished and not his speeches as president.
Maybe someone wants to connect the first Pujol of mystical contours with certain views of the post-process? Will the angry prose of the young anti-Francoist serve to alleviate the disappointment of not having completed secession in October 2017? El Pujol who wrote a letter to benefit from the general amnesty that the regime granted on the occasion of the "25 years of Peace" today might be criticized by those who see "traitors" in every corner.
In the book L'ultima conversa, which includes the dialogue between Jordi Pujol and the Japanese intellectual Ko Tazawa, published a few months ago, the Catalan leader states that "I, in part, have failed the young man that I was", and that this is his form of honor. But, before that, he warns that he is not referring to "an alleged fault related to so many things published against me and my family". This Pujolian message is enigmatic and points to the brooding depths of the retired politician's personal journey, from the moment he lost his Most Honorable status and crumbled the magnificent pedestal of his own statue. Talk about honor, not reputation.
Jordi Pujol is not coming back, he is simply saying goodbye, in the way that he can and that his circumstances allow. He is the most important Catalan politician of the 20th century and is also a tragic figure in search of a little light among the shadows.