“We are like we are because Franco’s dictatorship has made us so”.
(An article written by Quim Torra and published at El Singular Digital on October 8th 2012).
If in the past centuries, the Spanish used to bomb Barcelona every 50 years, now they sign Manifiestos(1) every five days: Catalan people have already started the process for obtaining self-determination and this process has awakened the decaying Spanish beast. Like in those decrepit village funfairs, the Spanish have installed in Catalonia a horror tunnel, when from time to time, Mr. Francesc de Carreras (2) or Mr. De Azúa (3) come out dressed like evil witches just to kick us with their broomsticks. We Catalans are tired of this and we hope we can come out of the horror tunnel soon and that those evil witches go to scare somebody else…
Nevertheless, once I finished reading the manifest written by “300 scholars of the left-wing and supporters of federalism”, the latest present to Catalans from the Spanish scholars, I was suddenly possessed by the irresistible desire of taking a look at the book of Josep Benet(4), and I dare to borrow the title for this article. On the Manifiesto I read a paragraph that caught my attention: “The statement that Spain perpetrated aggressions against Catalonia is an unfortunate manipulation of the past facts”.
Actually, the first thing that surprises me from the book of Benet is that he does not talk about repression and persecution, but qualifies the actions perpetrated by Franco’s dictatorship with a more definitive concept: cultural genocide. So to say, the will of extermination of the Catalan culture, carried out with all possible means. Further on, Benet provides testimonies, hundreds of data and documents all grouped together, which are an clear proof of the repression and dictatorship: it was not “aggression” but “horror”.
The truth is that I could only contrast a small part of this study with one that I did myself about the Spanish censorship of all Catalan books. On 1939 they started the process of destroying the Catalan audience in the country, as confirmed by Mr. Maria Josepa Gallofré(5). We had to wait until 1977 to equal the 865 books that had been published in 1936. This cultural genocide lasted 40 years and it meant an absolute catastrophe for the Catalan literature. Our writers could not write in Catalan and they were silenced. Only a few of them could write in Catalan from the exile, but their books did not reach the audience in Catalonia as they were forbidden. Editors, collapsed and lost in the labyrinth of censorship and they could only grab the left-overs; while readers fluctuated between fear and resistance, as they could see how the pleasure of reading had become a heroic act of confrontation against dictatorship.
“An unfortunate manipulation of the past facts”, so declared by those who signed in this manifest and who dare to rewrite history so easily at their convenience: “left-wing federalists” they call themselves; all of them have joined Mr. Navarro from PSC (6) and have made the horror tunnel an unforgettable experience for the Catalan people. That is so pitiful.
It seems now that we are this way just because nature has made us so. I mean, they are suggesting that the cultural destruction of our country and the intention of annihilation of our language are now facts that were produced without any cause, it just had to be this way: so yesterday it rained and today only 50% of the population speaks Catalan? We may be then the only country in the world without history?
Let’s speak clear: Franco’s dictatorship was a crime to Catalan people and to our culture, and we are still recovering from it. It took our country almost 150 years to recover from the defeat of 1714. But we have only lived 30 years of democracy since Franco’s dictatorship finished. We are like we are today because Franco’s dictatorship made us so, that is the cause. This is precisely why we speak about recovering and normalizing our language for the past 35 years, because a huge intent of genocide happened and damaged the culture of our country.
But we are still here. And we have the strength of the sacrifice of our parents and grandparents: they kept our language and culture alive during the horror of 40 years of dictatorship. And we are still alive, we have survived! We are Catalans and we want to keep being Catalans. For that reason, there is only one way: INDEPENDENCE!
(1) Manifiesto: Manifest or memorandum written by a specific organization, political party or group of experts declaring their opinion and perspective in regards a specific matter.
(2) Francesc de Carreres, Constitutional Law Professor of Barcelona university supporting the radical pro-Spanish conservative party Agrupació Ciudadana Progresista, who declares Catalonia’s independence would be catastrophic for both Spain and Catalonia.
(3) Félix de Azúa, from the party Ciutadans de Catalunya who openly opposes the Catalan nationalism.
(4) Josep Benet, writer and politician born in Cervera, Catalonia in 1920 who was a republican during the civil war but has been through different parties. He wrote “ L’intent franquista de genocidi cultural de Catalunya” ( Franco’s intention to do cultural genocide of Catalonia) in 1995.
(5) Maria Josepa Gallofré, Professor of Catalan culture and Franco’s dictatorship of the University of Barcelona.
(6) Pere Navarro, leader of the socialist political party defending federalism in Catalonia (PSC, Partit Socialista de Catalunya).