Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The silence that defines them

New Year, same old story. Spanish nationalist violence in Valencia is part of the landscape like the orange trees of the countryside or the palm trees in Alicante.

These incidents are widespread, pervasive and common-place. Spanish police (Policia Nacional or Cuerpo Nacional de Policia) treats Catalan-speakers with contempt at best; normally is threats and violence against anybody who does not yield to their proto-Francoist ideology.

Far-right Spanish nationalist groups operate in Valencia (and in Mallorca) not only with total impunity but with the complicit blind eye of the Spanish State and the operational cover granted by the Spanish Policia Nacional and Guardia Civil.

Picture the scene.

A member of the public on his bike is stopped by Police.

Said member of the public co-operates with Police enquiries and replies in Catalan language initially.

Spanish police then take offence and treat the former member of the public as a criminal and a suspect. Apparently speaking one’s language is a political act (if it is not Spanish). The policemen then threaten him to be careful what he write as they will be reading it.

This happens time and time again in Valencia and the Balearic Islands with total impunity. A few weeks ago, a guy was beaten up in the airport for daring to speak Catalan to the Guardia Civil. If this happened against any other social group, there would be international comdemnation for such incidents. It would no be tolerated in any other normal, democratic country. Can we imagine a Canadian policeman treating someone like a criminal for speaking in French in Quebec? Unfortunately, not much has changed since the Franco era for Catalan speakers outside the Principality of Catalonia.

The Spanish State allows this discrimination to be socially acceptable and legally enforceable. The Spanish media complicitly turns a blind eye. Thus, these incidents which occur regularly across the Catalan speaking areas of Spain go unreported by the mass media.

Where are now the advocates of individual rights? Where are those who shout loudest proclaiming the virtues of bilingualism? They make a lot of noise about language policy in Catalonia but their silence about the treatment of Catalan speakers in Valencia is conspicuous.

They remain silent because their concern is not about individual rights of any citizens or any concern about any Catalan children not being bilingual (the only ones that are not bilingual are Spanish-speaking pupils that do not speak Catalan for every Catalan-speaking child also speaks Spanish). Their only concern, their only true objective is to obliterate Catalan language from the territories where it has been historically spoken until recently. They have almost succeeded in Valencia (the language is all but gone in Alicante) and as I wrote about before, they will succeed in the Catalan-speaking counties of Aragon and the Balearic Islands before focusing on Catalonia.

In the meantime, anyone who is a Valencian-speaker is a second-class citizen in their own country –unless they accept they must switch to Spanish at any opportunity.

Pseudo-bilingualism only enshrines the supremacy of Spanish in law, and ensures the social decline of the indigenous language of the Catalan Countries. Linguistic genocide by any other name is taking place in Valencia but this never gets reported by the mass media or the "intelectual" lobby. Their silence reveals their twisted agenda of allowing the Spanish state to do the job that Franco, and others before him, could not finish. The Spanish state may be a democracy of sorts, but the same old agenda is still in place.


Racó Catalá [cat] – chronicle of the incident

L'informatiu [cat] - the victim himself

Fascist impunity, and more of the same.

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