dimecres, 26 de setembre del 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 del 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.