Tuesday, 15 December 2009

DIY democracy

There has been quite decent international coverage of the popular referendums on independence in Catalonia. This will be enough to anger the Spanish nationalists who believe that Spanish unity and sovereign integrity is somehow God’s will and indestructible. Nothing angers the Spanish political classes more than the “internationalisation” of the national conflicts of the Basque Country and Catalonia with Spain.

Just to recap, given that the Spanish state does not allow the Catalan parliament to vote on the issue of organising a referendum to allow Catalans to decide their own constitutional future, community associations throughout Catalonia have endeavoured to set up their own vote.

Of course, these votes have not legally binding since they are organised separately, and with the opposition of the Spanish state. Spain is home to an interesting form of democracy which revels in preventing the use of the ballot box. As we all know, “Spain is different”.

Anyway, after the referendum in Arenys de Munt, near Barcelona, took place despite the presence of Spanish fascists Falange, many other villages and towns set out to organise their own. This happenned last weekend, and the results are quite remarkable.

With an average of 30% turnout, marginally below European elections, about 95% voted in favour of independence.

Now, nobody says that all those who abstain at European elections are anti-Europe... But, surprise, surprise, in this referendum, organised entirely by volunteers and against the threat of legal action by the Spanish state against local authorities, a referendum without the resources of the State and without the support of the official media, the Spanish press equates failing to vote with opposition to independence.

But if they are so sure about it, if they are so convinced that an official referendum would endorse Catalonia remaining part of Spain..... why do they try so hard to prevent an official, legally binding referendum taking place? What are they afraid of?

Thursday, 10 December 2009

The State against

The last few weeks have seen a major controversy in Catalonia.

The heirs of Agustí Centelles have sold his legacy to the Spanish Estate for a reported €700,000. The Generalitat de Catalunya could only bid €500,000.

The original negatives and the photo archive will now be transferred to the city of Salamanca.


That this will be the fate of Centelles’ lifework is a travesty of history but more than anything is a clear example of the precarious situation of Catalonia at all levels, politically, economically and culturally.

In the past, Franco and his fascists troops stole this kind of stuff so that it would be archived in the Archivo Nacional in Salamanca. Now, the Spanish state buys it off with the money they have pillaged from Catalonia thanks to a fiscal framework that starves Catalonia of resources to look after its infrastructure and public services, including museums.

It was ever thus. [BBC News]