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Freedom for Catalonia!

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Art and Culture

Mr Wert’s power

(Adaptation of the article published in El País 12th December 2012 and written by Antonio Gutiérrez Rubí)

The Spanish minister of Education, Culture and Sports, Mr. Jose Ignacio Wert Ortega has finally approved a law for “hispanizing” Catalan people on its purpose of lapidating our culture and language. But he is not alone, though we do not know whose orders he is following. His political attack against Catalan language, his mission, camouflaged in an reform of the education system, is not casual neither improvised. It is not an isolated action either. There is obviously a background strategy.

Wert

Some months ago, in an interview to a Catalan newspaper, Mr. Wert declared: “first I point, and then I shoot”. And he added provocatively: “I am conscious that one of my virtues is not oral continence”. Yet it is true, he is irresponsible, as he declared with his smiley face. But he is not a fool at all. The Spanish king calls him “poor Wert” and his little things, but he does not require kind comprehension to his actions, but total reproval. And publicly. The Spanish parliament already tried in vain due to the PP majority. But Mr. Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish president, cannot keep looking somewhere else: or he supports his minister or he overrules him. Or could it be Wert is talking for Rajoy? Or against him?

The key points of the strategy that Wert uses to attack Catalan language as a tool of political domination have previously been tested in Valencia region and recently in Balearic Islands. Nobody can deny they have been successful. But neither can anybody deny they have damaged our culture. And I am not talking about of “collateral damages”. The damage has been deep and the wound is still bleeding, causing coexistence confrontations within the population and avoiding true structural reform measures to be put in place within our institutional architecture: diversity must not be seen as a problem but as an opportunity.

Some months ago, the parliament of the Balearic Islands approved the reform of the Law of Public offices (and indirectly, they also approved the law of language normalization), which abolished, for example, the requirement of Catalan knowledge as indispensable to work for any public office in the islands; this political campaign promise from Partido Popular was highly criticized by the opposition parties and for many social and cultural associations.

Furthermore, the Spanish conservative government has stigmatized Catalan language so grotesquely that is has pitifully been defined as “co-official language different to Spanish” in the Balearic Islands or as “language spoken in the eastern area of Aragon”.

Franco ha Werto

This political attack follows a persistent and calculated plan. It is a well-engineered political strategy that is executed systematically and with absolute determination. Some believe it is easier to defeat your adversaries if you destroy their social eco-system. Here I list just a few approaches of this peculiar mental frame against our language:

1.      Deny the unity of Catalan language in the territories where it is spoken: politics against philology.
2.      Label Catalan language as a strange (or foreign) language wherever it is naturally spoken.
3.      Devaluate Catalan language, consigning it to a minority or residual language, and cancelling its status of co-official language.
4.      Suggest that the protection and promotion of Catalan language is supposedly covering the imposition of the Catalan culture and language, and that may limit individual freedoms or avoid the development of the Spanish state, its harmony and sustainable laws.
5.      Define the use of Catalan language (and other official languages within the Spanish state) as a superfluous and needless cost in times of crisis. Unfortunately the aggressive and bitter debates at the Spanish parliament in these regards are a good proof of this horrible approach.
6.      Identify Catalan language with nationalism, miss-using it for political manipulation.
7.      Believe that the promotion and protection of Catalan language are directed to remove any individual freedom or used for sectarian indoctrination. According to this, public schools and media are used with the unique purpose to clean people brains massively. Therefore, they must fight against Catalan language to obtain freedom and democracy.
8.      “Hispanize” all territories within the Spanish state, taking the Spanish language as a totalitarian flag. Other languages are a threaten that must be exterminated or at least limited.

Mr. Wert, who is a sociologist, keeps on tensing the rope and measuring reactions. Or maybe producing reactions,  like a marksmanship: with accuracy and precision. Just when we would expect tension to lose up between the leaders of Catalonia and Spain, Wert –and whoever directs this malefic plan-  is directly attempting to dynamite Catalonia identity and language, by imposing a law of “language normalization” to secure Spanish is the main and only language learned in schools.

Catala independent

All our effort of bringing our language back to life after Franco’s dictatorship will be in vain if we let Mr. Wert apply this law. The parliament of Catalonia must do a strong and decisive action to defy the instructions of the Spanish Education minister. Since supposedly we live in democracy and not dictatorship, they should not be able to impose a law that over 75% of the population rejects completely. This is a clear sign Catalan people must immediately push for a democratic revolution, before we lose our identity and our language forever.

Franco’s cultural genocide against Catalonia

“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).

11th September 2012 Demonstration for Catalonia’s independence

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“The independence of Catalonia is closer than we think”.

 “We will be independent, I don’t know if it will happen in some months or in few years, but it will be soon”.

 “We need a well-prepared team of women and men that know how find allies in Europe while calming people down at home”.

Isabel-Clara Simó at her place in l’Ametlla del Vallès. Foto: O. DURAN.

Isabel-Clara Simó was born in 1943 in Alcoi. She is a writer and journalist  and has degrees in Philosophy and Journalism and a doctorate in Romance Languages Philology. As a journalist she was editor of the weekly review Canigó. In her stories and novels she has created complex characters with conflictive relationships, as may be seen in La Nati (1991), Raquel (1992), Històries perverses (1992) and T’imagines la vida sense ell? (Can You Imagine Life without Him? – 2000).

She has been awarded several times, and on April 23rd 1993 she received Sant Jordi’s literary award for her book La salvatge (The Wild Woman). She worked in the Department of Culture at Generalitat of Catalonia as Literary Representative. In 1999 she received “La creu de Sant Jordi” (Saint George Cross-is the utmost  award that a Catalan citizen can receive for a relevant contribution to the Catalan culture). The collection of stories entitled Dones (Women – 1997) has been made into a film (2000). And in 2010 she published the opposite story Homes (Men-2010).

She likes appearing as a tertullian on TV and the radio, and was teacher in the Pompeu Fabra University, where I actually met her as a teacher. I had the pleasure to receive lessons from her for Catalan discourse class during my second year degree for Translation and Interpretation. She used to have a very sweet accent from Alcoi, which hope she still preserves. In this interview, she declares convinced that Catalonia is just about to start a different chapter in our history as a nation: independence!

(A translation of the article published in El Punt-Avui  on July 14th  based on the interview done at Ametlla del Vallès, Catalonia, by David Marín)

DM

Last week in Lleida, Mr Joan Rocamora, who was arrested during Garzón’s operation on 1992, quoted Isabel Clara Simó as one of the few people who helped him out of prison when nobody gave a damn for those who suffered the consequences of the Spanish repression.

Do you remember?

IC

It’s true that I wrote some articles then. But they were the brave ones. It was a brutal action from the Spanish government, indeed. I was so indignant about it: the judge Baltasar Garzón has a very good public image, however, the purpose of the operation was clear: since peopled booed towards the Spanish anthem in the opening of a stadium in Spain – and that was considered offensive to the Spanish monarchy they decided to clean the streets out of Catalan independent people.

DM

Why?

IC

Look now, after 20 years of Garzon’s operation, Catalan people keep booing to the Royal Spanish family and their anthem in soccer matches, but Mr Garzon does not appear on TV anymore. That means we are winning! Though some Catalans were tortured for it…

DM

Are you optimistic?

IC

Absolutely. We will become independent in the next years. I don’t know if it will happen in some months or in few years, but this is going to happen in short-term. The issue is quite mature by now. More than we think. The last poll results show a 51% of Catalan population are truly convinced our country must be independent. It is a hot topic today and even Mrs Alícia Sáncez-Camacho or Mrs Rosa Díez talk about it on the media every day. The threatens we keep on receiving are another proof independence is closer. They say we won’t be in the European Union, that we depend on the trade commerce with Spain. Bullshit. It never happened in Europe that a new independent state would not join the EU. And the European Union has already welcome some of them lately. And in regards to commerce, we will keep on doing business, with everybody. So don’t come with silly stories now…

DM

Why do you think the independent movement has grown so much?

IC

I would say it all started when some Catalan economists, like Ramon Tremosa, Xavier Roig, and others, decided to write publicly about the fiscal plundering the Spanish government imposes to Catalonia. Because most people were not aware of it, and all of a sudden we all discovered the magnitude of the tragedy.

Ramon Tremosa Balcells is a Catalan macro-economist who is publicly supporting the Catalan independent movement.

DM

How do you think the process into self-determination will happen?

IC

It will be complicated. And unpleasant. They will insult us, they will call us “talibans”, but eventually they will say: if they want to leave, let them go. And if Catalan people are capable of standing all of this, we will be free at the end. We are so fainthearted that whatever they will tell us will cause us sadness and guiltiness, this is what losers do. I get upset saying this but, we do not need a leader, but a team of leaders. I mean, a group of people with a strong personality who are capable of finding allies in Europe, while calming down anxiety and fear of our own people at home.

DM

And what about the regions of Valencia and the Balearic Islands?

IC

If Catalonia becomes independent and they see it is cheaper to be part of Catalonia, they will say, why not joining the Catalans? In Valencia, where there has been the most corrupted government on earth for many years, people will finally wake up of the easy-money castle-in-the-air dream, and then impressive things will come to happen. I know less the Balearic Islands situation, but the anger caused among Balearic population by the last attacks against the Catalan language gives me hope to believe they will join us as well.

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100.000 kW of powerlessness

(A translation of the article written by Víctor Alexandre and published in El Singular 30th May 2012)

If the Catalan media would dedicate to our country right to independence, the same attention they have given lately to Esperanza Aguirre – the president of a Spanish province, also known as Comunidad de Madrid – Catalan national awareness would grow significantly and our country would be unstoppable. Because in a country with high self-esteem, nobody would have given a damn about the pro-Franco fascist statements of a well-known extreme Spanish conservative like Mrs. Aguirre, in regards to the final of “Copa del Rey” between Barça and Athletic de Bilbao in Madrid Vicente Calderón stadium. Unfortunately, all mass media in Catalonia have devoted themselves to debating this topic with inconspicuous wisdom. In fact, our media have displayed, as usual, a dominant Spanish-centrism and some people have used Aguirre’s declarations like they are a gift from heaven; but not because they share her point of view, but because, thanks to her, they have been able to prove publicly that they are true progressive politicians.

These were the words of Mrs. Aguirre: “the outrages to the Spanish flag or to our national anthem are condemned by law; this must not be allowed, and therefore, my opinion is that the match must be cancelled and must be celebrated in another place and without an audience.” Of course, when the progressive politically-correct minds of some Catalans learned this, they rushed to declare they do not usually boo during the Spanish anthem in respect to those who like it, but now they had no other choice but to do it, taking into account such reactionary statements. As a result, the polemic booing during the Spanish national anthem from both Catalan and Basque football fans at the match was presented as a reaction to Mrs. Aguirre’s declaration, although it was indeed an explicit rejection of Spain from all attendees at the stadium that day.

However, the president of Madrid province is convinced she has found a magic argument that now allows her to “demand” respect for the Spanish anthem, and she posed this question: What would happen if in the final of the Catalan championship, when “Els segadors” starts playing, everybody started booing?  I throw this in the air now so people can think about it.”  With all sincerity, Mrs. Aguirre, we do not need to think about it… If the Spanish boo the Catalan anthem, we are not going to care for two reasons: first, because our democratic culture involves freedom of expression; and second, because booing during the national Catalan anthem would be insignificant compared to the 512 Euros per second that Spain systematically steals from us, and to the Spanish campaign for constraining our beloved Catalan language.

Nevertheless, last May 25th the Spanish showed they are craven by seizing whistles, Catalan starred flags, and other objects that do not represent any threat at all to public security. They proved that they feel deep aversion towards freedom of expression, also shown by their ejection of those members of the public wearing the starred Catalan flag symbolizing independence, although it is a completely legal flag, and they showed their lack of respect for any symbol that was not Spanish. They tore up some people´s tickets so that they could not return for the second part of the match. The Spanish were only making visible their irrational need to hide the bitter reality overwhelming them. Policemen even isolated and attacked some fans just because they were wearing our flag, again providing evidence of their anger against Catalonia and of their primitive and violent nature. And of course they reduced the Spanish national anthem to 25 seconds because they were ashamed that the world sees the Spanish nation is a fake. As both Mrs. Aguirre and the Spanish king avoided the match, they only showed that they are just cowards by eluding the public obligations of their offices. It was a completely different picture compared to the one shown by both Catalan and Basque fans, who displayed respect and appreciation towards one another. The Catalan team, even after winning, courageously praised the Bilbao team.

I do not believe in reducing all humanity to one single country. This is a route that would only take us to one sole way of thinking. I am in favor of respecting all nationalities representing humanity. And that means respecting all national anthems and all flags. However, respect is not a right. It is a consideration that a nation earns based on the behavior of its people. Thus, if Spain wants to earn the respect of Catalans, they need first of all to stop coercing us economically and culturally, to stop preventing the national Catalan soccer team from playing internationally, and to finally end their opposition towards our country living in freedom and independence. Booing the symbols of a country that is oppressing you is not only a right, but an obligation as an expression of dignity. That is why the 100,000 kW of power that Spain used to try to hide both Basque and Catalan fans´ rejection of the Spanish state is, at the end of the day, only evidence of their powerlessness.

El Singular Digital , 29/5/2012

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