dissabte, 22 de desembre de 2007

Reason 8: Spain doesn't allow us to exist III

Again, The Spanish government is not allowing Catalonia to exist. Not only in the material world but also in the virtual world. The Spanish Congress voted with a big majority against Catalonia having an own country code for the internet. Country codes with two letters are reserved only to independent nations, they say. Therefore PSOE as well as PP are against Catalonia having the country code ".ct"
Today Catalonia has got the code ".cat" (codes with more than two characters are not reserved to independent countries).
Again a reason to vote for and support the independence of Catalonia.
If Spaniards in Madrid are deciding that we are not allowed to have an own country code (.ct) because we are not an independent country, let's become independent and we won't have to ask for permission for such futile things. Things that one by one are perhals futile, but as a whole they all enforce and form our national identity and the projection of Catalonia as a nation.
I don't want foreign people in Madrid to decide for us if we are or not allowed to have an own country code.
I want my own people, my own politicians to decide that.
If we want it, what is wrong with it?

dijous, 15 de novembre de 2007

Reason 7: Spain does not allow us to exist II

If one compares the Catalan and the Scottish autonomy one can see that many of the reasons I mention here are already solved for the Scottish autonomy:
Scotland has got own international sports federations and can compete independently from the UK. Scotland hasn’t got the problems Catalonia has got of a blurred and unclear distinction of political competences; the British government doesn’t have any financial secrets to hide. Scotland is allowed to organize a referendum for independence (forbidden for Catalonia by an antidemocratic Spanish law). They also have own number plates with own Scottish identity.
As you can see Catalonia has got many more reasons to wish independence than Scotland.

Xavier solano is a Catalan living in Scotland. He is political adviser to the Scottish National Party and he he’s got an own blog in Catalan language: http://xaviersolano.blogspot.com/

He is also the author of the book ‘El mirall escocès’ (The Scottish mirror).

As he states in his blog, the Spanish government, once again, has decided to hide the multicultural reality of Spain. They know many Catalan and Basque people would like to have an own number plate for their car with their own Catalan or Basque identity. In fact, the past few years many people already placed illegally a sticker covering the ‘E’ of Spain.

You can read at e-noticies the bad excuse the Spanish government gave:

The fact is that once again you can see a concrete example of what the PSOE government Spain is willing to give us: nothing. Not even an insignificant sign of our existence, a Catalan number plate.
And here you see that Catalonia has many more reasons than Scotland to choose for independence.

diumenge, 11 de novembre de 2007

Reason 6: Competence WAR. A waste of time

(Image source*)

The development of the new Catalan mini constitution called ‘Estatut’ has proven that Spanish and Catalan politicians are not doing their work properly. It is unclear what concerns the Catalan government and what is the competence of the Spanish government. Last year the Spanish government imposed to Catalonia an extra hour of Spanish lessons to Catalan schools. A discussion about whether this should be decided by the Catalan government or the Spanish one followed. The last news I heard from the Catalan government was that it is both governments’ competence.

The fact is that the Spanish government can decide anything they want for Catalonia and their decisions are always above the ones made by the Catalan government. This situation has become clear to me the last months with the developments around the ‘estatut’.

Conclusion: Catalonia hasn’t got an own government. What we thought was our ‘own’ government is totally subordinate to the Spanish government.

There are other examples of this phenomenon. But I won’t enter in more details.

Half of the time our politicians are arguing about what is their competence and what isn’t. I haven’t read the entire Estatut and I am not an expert in the making of laws. Is the Estatut unclear about who does what? Can it be interpreted in different ways?
It seems that Madrid’s interpretation of the Estatut is a different one than the Catalan one.
Even worse than these discussions is the power game Madrid is playing with Catalonia. Some politicians (mostly from the PP party) are trying to put obstacles to its development by bringing it to court. Others are simply neglecting it, avoiding its implantation. The Spanish government committed itself to apply the Catalan Estatut in a certain amount of time. And they are not doing that. First they agreed to do so and now they always have an excuse not to do so. For example, not so long ago I heard a Spanish politician saying that he doesn’t want to do anything as long as the Estatut hasn’t been fully approved by the Spanish Constitution tribunal (which is formed by a majority of anti-Catalan PP, right wing members).
The Spanish Constitution tribunal is impartial and the chances are pretty small that they will approve the Estatut as it is right now.
This makes me think: Is Spain a serious constitutional monarchy or is it a banana republic? To me it does not look like a serious country at all.

In any case the vague distinction of competences between the Catalan toy-government and the Spanish banana republic is for me a very good reason to choose for independence. If Catalonia were an independent country our politicians would have all power of decision and would not spend any more half of their time arguing with the Spaniards about what is there competence and what isn’t.
And the Catalan government would be fully responsible. It would be much more efficient and the citizens would know who is really in charge and who has the responsibility in all cases. We would decide what we want for our country and there wouldn’t be any more power games such as the ones mentioned above. It would all be much simpler and clearer for us all.

* Image source: http://fransiworld.blogcindario.com/2005/10/00100-hasta-los-webos.html

dissabte, 6 d’octubre de 2007

Reason 5: No power of decision = economic decline

The development of the new Catalan constitution (Estatut) has clarified many things about the subordinate situation of the Catalan government.

In order to fully represent and defend the interests of Catalonia we need a government with full power of decision, not what we have now, which looks more like a secondary agent of the Spanish government, a regional government.

At this moment the Catalan government is not allowed to organize a referendum for anything. What kind of a democracy is this?
The Catalan government is not allowed to decide anything of importance without permission of the Spanish government, and this brings us to a core problem:
Many Catalans see Catalonia as our country. We want to decide by ourselves how we want to organize our country. We don’t think it is fare that other people 500 kilometres away decide for us. We don’t think this because the past 400 years we have suffered from this very badly. Since the sixteenth century, several unfair measures have been taken. I won’t enter in details. But still today we suffer of a lack of power of decision, and Spain is deciding for us. They see Catalonia as any other Spanish region, not as a country. And they don’t think we should have a government with more power of decision than any other region.
But the results of this are a real disaster:

1. The local railroad system (rodalies) is still in Spanish hands. And Spain has punished Catalonia for years by not investing in maintenance in Catalonia. As a result of this several delays and accidents have occurred. In the meanwhile, our railroad system has remained as it was in the 1980’s while in the rest of Spain there have been generous investments.

2. The airport of Barcelona is also in Spanish hands. This week they have decided who will get to work in the new terminal. Two groups that have Iberia and Spanair as partners will run it. With this decision the airport in Barcelona won’t be able to fully compete with Madrid in intercontinental business. Madrid keeps the monopoly of intercontinental flights in Spain. Barcelona is not able to compete on the same level. The Spanish minister Magdalena Álvarez promised that there will be intercontinental flights. But the reality is that we over and over again have to fight to get what belongs to us. And they don’t just give it away, they rather keep it for themselves.

3. At this moment Catalonia is the autonomy that pays more taxes in Spain. Nearly 20.000 million euros (that is €!!!) are taken away from Catalonia and never come back. The Catalan government is not able to change this situation.

4. As a result of the same punishment by not investing in Catalonia you can see that the underground in Madrid has grown from 100 to more than 300 kilometres the past years while Barcelona didn’t grow much. The investments in Madrid were 3 times higher than in Barcelona.

5. Also the roads didn’t change much. We have a majority of toll highways in Catalonia, while in Madrid they have all free ways. The last years the Spanish government has invested millions on free ways in Madrid. In Catalonia nothing. You can see the difference on the picture above.

As a result of all these developments the economy in Catalonia is not growing properly. Multinationals prefer to choose a location near an airport with intercontinental flights. The public investments on roads, public transport, schools and all necessary infrastructures are efficient ways of promoting a place over another. Catalonia has been left aside for many years now, and over and over again we have to see today that the Spanish government is suffocating Catalonia. The economic growth of Catalonia is decreasing. Obviously a deteriorated infrastructure, lack of public investments and protectionist measures in Madrid are today quelling and will keep quelling the development of Catalonia unless we choose for independence. Besides, the effort Catalonia has to do to get justice is so much, if Catalonia was independent we could use our time for more constructive things.

For this very important reason I am positive that Catalonia should become an independent country as soon as possible.

dimecres, 26 de setembre de 2007

Reason 4: unfair situation of Catalan language.

Nobody can deny that Spanish (=Castilian) culture thinks to have the right to impose itself over Catalan culture.
They always did it using the military forces and absolutist regimes. The first time they prohibited our language and they forced us to study their language was in 1714 with the help of the French absolutist kingdom. With what right? NONE!

Dictator Franco, with the help of Mussolini and Hitler, till only 30 years ago, won the Spanish civil war and imposed again upon us a language that is not ours.

They forced us to be part of a concept of nation-state, of which we had chosen by democratic means not to be part of as the Catalan democracy had chosen to be an independent federal state.
Spaniards (=non Catalans) got used to this for them convenient situation. They didn’t have to learn Catalan while living in Catalonia.
Even most Catalans got used to this painful situation. Because of this, many people in Spain see this situation as normal.

Spaniards find it normal that we are obliged to speak their language. Spaniards would not find it normal if we Catalans would force them to speak Catalan while not living in Catalonia. If we forced people in Madrid to study, write and speak in Catalan.

They think it should be normal to come to Catalonia and be able to speak Spanish. But they would see it as an insult if Catalans would go to Madrid and would speak in Catalan language. But why?
Why do we have to learn their language while not living in a Spanish speaking territory, and they do not have to learn our language?
There is no reason.
In fact, if I want or not learn Spanish it should be my problem.

In the same way that a Flemish citizen is free to speak or not the French language, a Catalan citizen should be free to speak or not Spanish.
It is not possible to force a Wallonian citizen to learn Flemish, it is not possible to force a German speaking Swiss citizen to learn Italian, but still today Spain is forcing Catalans by law to learn and speak their language.

The problem is even worse. They don’t only find it insulting if Catalans would force Spaniards outside of Catalonia to learn Catalan, they find it insulting and even fascist that Catalonia wants to force everybody who lives in Catalonia to learn Catalan.

They believe we impose Catalan language in Catalonia, while the only language that has been imposed in Catalonia is Spanish.
Of course people who come to live to Catalonia should be forced to learn Catalan!
Of course Catalan should be compulsory in Catalonia, and not Spanish.

It is for me clear that Spain will never accept a relation with Catalonia with equal rights. I don’t think this unequal situation that was born out of military dominance will ever change.

As long as Catalans are forced to learn Spanish, companies will not see the need to use Catalan language at all, Spaniards, South Americans and the big majority of foreigners who come to live in Catalonia will not see the need to learn a language that is not necessary. And as long Catalan language is not necessary it will become less and less spoken. No doubt about it.

I was in a ski resort in Catalonia last winter. The Spanish waitress had lived for some months in Italy. She was proud to speak Italian and did her best to help Italian costumers in Italian language. When it was my turn she told me not to speak Catalan because she did not understand me.
She just not even did an effort to understand me. And anyway, if you understand Spanish and Italian, is it so difficult to understand Catalan? We are speaking here of coffee with milk and sandwiches!
She knew I am obliged to understand her mother language. So why understand Catalan?
No need. Why make an effort for Catalan if it is not necessary?

This all tells me again one thing: independence from Spain is essential in order to get out of this unfair situation.

dimarts, 4 de setembre de 2007

Reason 3: A forced marriage without love.

Once I thought of Catalonia as a badly treated wife that had to get married without wanting it.
No one could say that the union of the Catalan and Spanish cultures has been a peaceful and voluntary one.
The Spanish forces crashed into Catalonia (more than once), prohibited our culture and language and we were forced to speak and write only in Spanish language. Whoever who would oppose to this would be punished. Even children who were caught speaking Catalan at school would be punished.

For the rest of my life I will have the bitter taste in my mouth of these horrible measures against us the results of which, still today, are tangible in many ways.

How can Spanish people (=not Catalan), after so many years of oppression, expect us to feel happy to belong to Spain?
A man cannot hit his wife and at the same time expect her to feel happy with him.

And at the same time that Spain oppressed Catalonia, the Spanish authorities expected us to join the Spanish army, to kiss and swear for the Spanish flag, to sing their anthem. They don’t seem understand why we cannot feel comfortable with it. In fact (with all my respect) I find it revolting!

Even though Spain managed to impose their language and to smash ours into pieces I sense more aversion from Spaniards towards Catalans than the other way around.

But, why is there so much hatred towards us? What have we done? Perhaps Some Spaniards cannot stand that they never turned us into proud Spaniards. I don’t know. Why do they care so much that we speak their language correctly or not?
I will never have the same level in Spanish language as them. It is not my mother tongue and I don’t enjoy speaking it. As kid I was forced to learn it and forced by the fascist authorities to speak it. Still today I am forced to speak Spanish in the Spanish consulate. They don’t have any options to speak the other official languages of Spain. And their argument is that Catalonia is Spain and therefore I am forced to be able to speak their language. This is a colonial situation. They can force us to speak their language, but cannot force us to like it. They can force us to kiss their flag and sing their anthem, but not to feel it as ours and be proud. We cannot force people in Castile to learn Catalan! Not that I would like to, it’s just to show the injustice.

If I compare European relationships between countries I think our situation is most similar to Wallonia and Flanders. Wallonia tried to turn Belgium into a French speaking country. They didn’t succeed. The aversion and intolerance of some Wallonian people to the Dutch language and the Flemish culture is very similar to our situation.

These days the political situation in Belgium is impossible. 300 days after the elections there is no government. The Wallonian and Flemish politicians are not able to agree in anything. Here there is an essential difference between Belgium and Spain. In Belgium there are 3 separate states with equal democratic rights.
In Spain we have an autonomic system that was thought to give back some autonomy to the historic areas that used to have autonomy. But the autonomy we have today is the same for us as for regions that never felt any need to have autonomy at all. And in reality the Catalan government cannot take any relevant decisions.

Next to the hatred we have to see from a part of the Spanish population, Catalonia finds itself in a defenceless political and economical situation. Catalonia is not able to decide how much money is going to be invested in Catalonia (the money of our taxes is taken away and we never see it again). Catalonia has been neglected and abandoned by the Spanish government on purpose (stated on the Spanish news in July). And there is nothing we can do. We are not even able to decide if we want our airport to fly intercontinental. “Our” airport is in Spanish hands and they don’t want Barcelona to compete with Madrid. So they pull our economy artificially down to enrich themselves. Two months ago I heard of a company that prefers to open a new office in Madrid because they can fly directly to South America.

I don’t see why Catalonia has to be part of a state that still today does not show any kind of affection. To me it’s all very clear. The only way out of this is independence.

dijous, 23 d’agost de 2007

Reason 2: Still today Spain doesn't allow us to exist

Sport is a great phenomenon that strengthens the common spirit of cultures. When sports are played internationally people defend the motherland they belong to.

But what is my motherland? I don’t see Spain as my motherland. Is Russia the motherland of the Chechen people? Is Sweden the motherland of the Sami people? Is Turkey or Iran the motherland of the Kurds?

Several imperialistic countries have taken the land of smaller countries and have tried to destroy these cultures in order to enlarge their own. One would think this was the rule in the ancient times. Unfortunately still today many countries suffer the injustice of such nationalistic arrogance. And one of them is Catalonia.
Spain has tried to destroy Catalan culture for 300 years several times and still today it is trying to do so. During the Franco dictatorship Catalan language was forbidden, it was also forbidden to have a Catalan name, so my parents had to give me a Spanish name instead. Now it is finally changed into Catalan, but many Catalan people died and their official names where in Spanish language. Today there are Spanish politicians that are avoiding the normal development of the Catalan language. They are against Catalan being an official language in the European parliament (a language spoken by 10 million inhabitants!), they want to impede Catalan TV to reach the Catalan speaking citizens of Valencia, etc. Catalan is spoken by 18,5% of the Spanish citizens and yet Catalan language is not allowed in the Spanish parliament.
A huge list of incidents against our culture and language are tangible prove of Spanish nationalism.

I guess it is clear enough why Catalan people cannot be happy and proud to belong to Spain. How can Catalans feel close to a country that is showing so much hatred and aversion towards us?

Obviously the feeling of a motherland for Catalan people is Catalonia. Catalonia is my motherland. Catalonia loves me. And I love Catalonia.
Spain does not love me and therefore I don’t love Spain.

So, Catalans want to be represented by Catalan teams at international competitions. At this moment we don’t feel represented, we cannot participate, we cannot shout for our sportsmen and women. We cannot hear our anthem when a Catalan sportsman wins. And we feel neglected.
If Catalonia were an independent country our people would represent us. And when a Catalan sportswoman would win we would hear our anthem and not an anthem that represents all these people who does not tolerate us and wants us to disappear. Only in some unknown sports we have international teams. But even when we win the international organizations mention Spain, not Catalonia.

dijous, 9 d’agost de 2007

Reason 1: only independent cultures are taken into account

In Catalonia not one car brand sells its products in Catalan language. And that, while Catalan is the 9th most spoken language in Europe. I found out that neither the only car brand in Spain (SEAT) writes to its Catalan costumers in their own language. I sent an e-mail asking them Catalan information. They told me that SEAT means Spanish Society for Automobiles. And therefore they only sold their cars in Spanish language. Not in Catalan.

SEAT says no to Catalan costumers in Spain. If we go to their web site we will only find information in a language that is not ours. But then I thought: what do they do in Andorra?

I went to the SEAT web site and discovered that for an independent country with only 70.000 inhabitants they do have a Catalan web site. In Spain, where there 18% of the population speak Catalan at home (± 10 million inhabitants) they don’t!

The conclusion is simple: If we want to be taken into account by companies Catalonia will have to be an sovereign country.