Tuesday, 29 January 2008

another borrowed article - change

This is another of Josep Vergés articles in el Racó Catala.

I am happy to correct any mistakes. Original article (Catalan and English).
As ever, I don’t entirely agree with Senyor Vergés, but his views are a refreshing change from the pro-Spanish establishment media opposed to Catalan independence.

Notary of Change
"I consider myself Spanish" affirms for starters notary Lopez Burniol of Ciutadans pel Canvi, Pasqual Maragall's almost-party who can spoil, if he stands, the elections of the presumed minister Duran Lleida and the presumed president Zapatero. Born at the mouth of the Ebro, in Alcanar, he grew up in Ripoll and in Calella, following his Spanish father who was a village notary. He discovered Catalonia in a Calella hairdresser which offered Destino, my father's liberal magazine, where he read Josep Pla. "A country with barbers who provide Destino is a civilized country."

Today the notary gives witness to a change which has him greatly worried: "Either Spain federalizes or Catalonia will become independent."

Those of us who feel Catalan in Catalonia think the same. In the last three years -there are no reliable figures before that- those who feel exclusively Spanish have fallen by half a million to 4% of the population while the sentiment of being Catalan has grown by five points. Today half a million more Catalans want a State, federated or independent. In total four million want it, one more than have enough with the autonomy of PSC-PSOE or the 390,000 who want the fascist region of the PP. A referendum on a Catalan State, associated or independent, would win by 55% of the vote, the same percentage Europe demanded of Montenegro to be independent of the equally intolerant Serbia.

Why is Catalan nationhood growing so fast? Because of the lying incompetence of Zapatero and the rabid anti-Catalanism of Rajoy, the leaders of the two centralist parties. Pro-independence Joan Puigcercos of Esquerra explains: "Zapatero cannot be bothered at all about Catalan commuter trains. He doesn't care that at the moment there are obsolete trains all over Catalonia and the railways are so disastrous that many trains are stranded daily. In 1992 independence was a proscribed idea, absolutely marginal as something impossible or illegal, while today it has been taken over by 20% of the population."

20% may seem little, but it translates to one and a half million Catalans, more than the total Basque population which has spilt so much ink, and gunpowder. Madrid ignores Catalans at a great peril for centralism. There is still time to offer federalism but in a decade Catalan public opinion will have gone much beyond. Why doesn't Spain federalize, the manifesto with which PSOE won the elections? It doesn't federalize because of a macro-capital just as South American as Caracas. Madrid has feet of clay. It has large companies but except El Corte Ingles, all are disgusting monopolies like Renfe or former monopolies privatized Russian style like Telefonica or Mafiosi public contractors. Madrid does not know what an entrepreneur is. It has great motorways, a galactic airport, meters of metros, all paid from the public purse.

Catalonia leads decentralization, but behind follow all the other autonomies. Madrid battles Catalonia because every time it gives way, and not a year passes that it does not give up something, all the others want the same. The State of the Autonomies is the mortal enemy of Madrid, because in the long run Madrid will be nothing. This is what centralists who identify Madrid with Spain do not want but in fact Madrid lives against Spain. It can build as many high speed lines to the centre as it wants, that these can just as easily attract capital as decentralize. Iberia centralized like today Renfe is doing and has been expelled by competition from Barcelona airport and is for sale like Alitalia, whom nobody wants either.

Catalan parties will not pact with centralists without real measures. The PP may threaten and PSOE may lie, but neither threats nor lies permit the formation of a majority in Congress.
Lopez Burniol ends by asking: "Why don't we do like Canada?"
I answer: "So that civil servants in all of Spain know Catalan?"
The notary of change concludes giving witness, like a good notary: "Impossible! Independence is all that's left."

Josep C. Vergés

Sunday, 13 January 2008

The more the merrier

First, a Happy New Year to all readers.

I have to apologise because I have not been posting much recently. In fact, I have been rather busy the last few months. My parents came over for Hogmanay, and today my gorgeous girlfriend and I put down a reserve payment towards the purchase of our new home.

Over the last few weeks I have not posted much, but I have discovered a handful of blogs in English about Catalan/Spanish politics.

http://soscatalonia.blogspot.com/ - does not post very regularly but it explains the issues clearly and in a combative language.

http://independentcatalonia.blogspot.com/ - an excellent list of reasons why Catalonia will be better off as an independent state rather than being part of Spain.

http://georgebcn.blogspot.com/ - a new blogger, George blogs from Barcelona in English and also in Catalan.

http://aclearcutcase.blogspot.com/ - also a new blogger, Josep has many other blogs in Catalan, available from his profile page.

http://waytoownstate.blogspot.com/ - also a new blogger in English, Xavier Mir has been an active participant in the Catalan blogosphere (Catosphere) for many years.

Then, we have Ian Llorens’ revamped blog: http://catalonianpolitician.blogspot.com/ -probably the best blog in English about Catalonia.

We still have the reliable The Badrash, Although Tom probably is very much on my left, metaphorically speaking, I do enjoy his posts and lateral thinking.

Mathew Tree is another Englishman who has made Catalonia his home. He even publishes books in Catalan.

Finally, Ramon Tremosa is a Professor of Economics at the Universitat de Barcelona. He has some publications in English in his personal page. I very much like his paper on the fiscal deficit in Catalonia and how it affects growth and economic development.

All in all, everyone of the above blogs helps to internationalise the issue of Catalan independence and explain why remaining part of Spain will result in economic, cultural and political decline for Catalonia.

There are many voices in Catalonia, native and adopted Catalans, who are determined not to be silenced by the rhetoric of the Spanish State. Against those failed expats who have not adapted to Catalonia, refusing to accept Catalan culture and language as a mainstream component of life in Catalonia, and adopting the language of anti-Catalan Spanish Nationalists, people like Tom, George or Matthew provide us with positive examples of integration.

If I have missed any other blogs, please let me know and I will add them to the post.

For those who borrow from Libertad Digital: enjoy the list above!

Friday, 11 January 2008

How to kill off a language

It has happened. As I predicted in this post, the process is inevitable and probably irreversible as both PSOE and PP agree on the ultimate goal: making sure that Valencian (the name Catalan language receives in the Valencia region) language dies quietly.

The Valencian government, ruled by the Spanish Conservatives (Partido Popular) has been busy closing down the transmitters that broadcast the signal of TV3 and Canal 33 in the Valencia region. Old habits die hard in the Spanish Right: censorship is still the preferred method of implementing policy.

These transmitters are being closed down only for political reasons: TV3 is a Catalan TV station, and the Spanish Right dislikes anything that threatens their concept of the Spanish nation-state (in Spanish language only), specially something like a TV station broadcasting in Catalan.

These transmitters were set up and maintained by ACPV, a Valencian cultural association. There is no cost to the taxpayer whatsoever. The Spanish Government (PSOE) could resolve this situation overnight if it wished to do so, as it has reserved powers in broadcasting issues, but has declined to intervene.

The (temporary) good news is that yesterday a Judge in Castelló halted the closure of the local transmitter pending an appeal logged in the Valencian High Court. Yet, I am not an optimist.

Of all the posts in this blog, I am particularly proud of the one linked above and Fading Nation. Sadly, time is proving me right in both.

I remember fondly my childhood spending summers in La Pobla de Vallbona, (Wiki) where my father was working in the construction of what would become an IBM factory. The local kids would mock my accent and there was good banter, but there was not ill-feeling, and most importantly, we knew we were speaking the same language with different accents. TV3 had been broadcasting for a few years and soon after the reinstatement of democracy and the PSOE electoral win in 1982, the language was being revived and saved from extinction.

It is a different picture now. For years, the Spanish Right has funded an array of media outlets, particularly in Valencia, whose only purpose is the dissemination of hatred against anything Catalan. When the PSOE-PSPV lost the regional government to the PP, the fate of Valencia was sealed. With control of the regional broadcaster, Canal 9, probably the most manipulative and biased TV station in Spain, dissenting views were silenced and dozens of Valencian intellectuals and journalists seeked refuge in the Universities or moved north to Barcelona for work. The Catalan media based in Barcelona is full of exiled Valencians who day-in day-out witness how their old country is fading out, how the language we share is being driven to extinction by the regional government, and how violent far-right groups operate with impunity, using violence against anyone who still has the energy and courage to fight for a seemingly lost cause: the survival of Valencian language.

The below links provide examples of how the Spanish Nationalists use violence to threated the good Valencians who still care about their cultural heritage.

A local councillor attacked by Spanish Nationalists: http://www.racocatala.cat/articles/15069

Two months later, a local female activist of the same party, Bloc, was attacked by far-right thugs: Levante-EMV
This is on top of the attacks that the premises of cultural organisations like ACPV suffer on a regular basis across some towns in Valencia. Or the impunity in which the Spanish Far Right organises violent demonstrations in some suburbs in Valencia, as denounced by ACPV.

As ever, you can translate from Catalan/Valencia into Spanish/English or French using this translator.