dimarts, 8 de novembre de 2011

Reason 31: The only way to get all products labelled in Catalan

How many years have passed since the restoration of democracy. I remember in those times people spoke another type of Catalan. I remember that the first Catalan TV channel TV3 had to 'create' an artificial language, as so many years of linguistic oppression had brought a tremendous lack of vocabulary, since by law everthing had to be in foreign language (French in North Catalonia in Spanish in South Catalonia). Watching Catalan TV series was like watching to a utopian, non-existent and surprising Catalonia, in which you could see a robber speaking Catalan, where you could hear people talk about products in Catalan for the first time. Gradually the situation has changed, but not much. In Southern Catalonia (the Spanish side), one of the most serious causes of this deficiency of vocabulary are the 500 laws that require the labelling of products in Spanish language or the use of Spanish language in business and on the other hand, the almost total lack of resources or desire to get products tagged in Catalan.

What a relieve it was for me, in 1992, to move to a country where there are no such linguistic deficiencies, and what makes me sad seeing how Catalonia, after 20 years in Amsterdam, has hardly improved, it gets one step forward and two backwards.

I was very happy to discover businesses like supermarket chain Bon Preu, where the fancy brands of the chain are in Catalan, but if you want to buy any ‘A’ brand you practically won’t find any in Catalan at all.

If my conclusion, long ago, was already that only a Catalan state can get this situation to normality, now it is being enforced by a new EU law. The EU is looking to take a new measure that will make even more difficult to label in Catalan, and will even turn tagging only in Catalan into an illegal activity. The EU wants to force EU member states to label their products in one of the languages that are official in Europe. In the case of Spain it is definitely not the Catalan language, as Madrid blocks the access of Catalan language to have an official status in Europe. (Http://www.elsingulardigital.cat/cat/notices/2011/07/l_etiquetatge_en_catala_en_perill_70738.php)

As with the Catalan language at schools, the situation is precarious and uncertain as long as Catalonia is part of Spain (and France). The Catalan language, after 30 years of 'democracy' is still in a similar situation. Buy a car, medicine, shampoo, quince, cheese, condoms, or whatever you want. To find any product in Catalan is still a rare and surprising experience. This phenomenon is not only emotionally painful, is a constant weakening and impoverishment of our language; it is a constant free Spanish lesson for native and foreign citizens. Imagine a foreigner who wants to learn Catalan (and does not know Spanish). Going to the supermarket and all interested in how the products are called in Catalan. Well, what will she learn? pañuelos, lavavajillas, membrillo? Not a single Catalan word. No mocadors, rentavaixelles, codony.

Besides these inconveniences, Catalans still today have to snap to Spanish language when talking about certain products that in the public arena only exist in Spanish language as the Spanish law commands.

It is clear that without the protection of an own state Catalonia will never reach a normal labelling of products.
More information (in Catalan):


dijous, 29 de setembre de 2011


In a normal (sovereign) country nobody puts in doubt that every citizen must have the right and the obligation to learn and to be able to speak in the ‘national’ language. In the artificial creation of the 18th century nation states, such as France, the absolutist regimes (dictatorial monarchies, dictatorships so to speak) engaged a crusade to abolish any other culture and any other language in ‘their’ territory than theirs. They imposed the idea that their territory was ‘a nation’ and that it had to have only one language, theirs. But the territory they had in charge was not at all ‘a nation’ and was not at all monolingual.

Even though this phenomenon had happened already several times by several other authoritarian regimes before (such as the Romans, to remain in the same area of the globe), the beginning of the 18th century can be seen as a decisive turning point, in which languages and cultures that did not enjoy the protection of a monarch, started to suffer an unprecedented cultural genocide ever since the fall of the Roman empire. Not only the Catalan language, but also the Frisian, the Flemish, the Occitan, the Gaelic languages, the Basque language, and so on, they were all persecuted and sentenced to death. Their use was prohibited at schools, governments and churches, it was prohibited to right books in those languages and even to have a name in those languages.

Today, in democratic Europe, the scars are still open, and even though some moribund; many of these languages are still spoken. It is sad to say that the phenomenon and the mentality that thinks it is legitimate to destruct these languages is still there, alive and kicking; in France, in the Netherlands and of course in Spain.

The Spaniards prosecuted Catalan speakers in horrendous ways, with discrimination, punishments, and even imprisonment because they used Catalan language. The famous architect Gaudí was also imprisoned just because he spoke Catalan to a police officer. Just to be a Catalan has been for the last 300 years a constant disadvantage and a reason to be discriminated by the authorities imposed by the Spaniards. Official positions in Catalonia ever since the abolition of the Catalan state in 1714 were given only to Spaniards (in some cases to Catalans who turned themselves into ‘neat’ Spanish speakers, called botiflers). Officers never spoke a word of Catalan and showed such an aversion to you as Catalan that you tried to sound ‘as less Catalan as possible’ when needed to deal with authorities in order not to be discriminated. Something I have experienced myself and shall never forget. This is something nowadays still happens too often to Catalans who speak Catalan to police officers or even children who at hospital talk Catalan to a nurse that does not want to understand it. It is a very serious offense and very painful experience to be discriminated in your own country in this way.

Spain is very far away from the really democratic Zwitserland, where there are clear language borders in which every one respects the fact that it is a state with 4 languages and no language has the right to be imposed upon the others. Belgium is not Zwitserland, there we see a language collision, in which the French act in the Spanish role and the Flemish in the Catalan. The big difference is that Flanders already has got the autonomy of an independent state, as Belgium is a federation in which Flanders acts with full independence in all domestic politics and the French speakers would not even dear to demand French education for their children in Flemish schools.

But Spain is different. The persecution of Catalan language is still going on and the mentality that every Spanish citizen (read Castillian speaking citizen) should have the right and obligation to be educated in Spanish, even though Spain is not a monolingual state, is also still there. They cannot conceive that the Spanish state hasn’t become monolingual like France.
Catalonia has tried to bring the Catalan language to a normal situation, in which every citizen who grows in Catalonia has the right and obligation to learn and to be able to speak the language of the country, which is Catalan. This, next to the obligation and right to learn and to be able to speak Castillian (which is the language our neighbour country, imposed upon us). The Catalan policy wants to offer equal education to all, without discriminating anyone linguistically. It is easier to find a job is you speak both languages than if you only speak Castillian. The Catalan education system makes clear that in Catalonia the predominant language is the language of the country, Catalan, and some Spaniards cannot accept this. That’s why some Spaniards have brought the Catalan education system to the Spanish Constitutional Court. And this court has said that the Catalan educational system must offer the option to be educated in Castillian language, and that Catalan language cannot be the predominant language.

Spain will never be like Belgium or Zwitserland. Spaniards keep trying in many different and subtle ways to turn Catalan into a minority language and reinforce the supremacy of their language in the whole of ‘their’ territory. Spain is an unfinished and failed copy of the French model, which achieved a higher degree of homogenization, where all is left over are zombie languages scattered around the southern half of their territory (Breton, Occitan, Catalan, Basque) the existence of which is practically unknown by any other European citizen.

To me again one thing is clear, only with a Catalan state we can guarantee normal education in Catalan. A Catalan state would mean a more natural administration of Catalonia, a protection of Catalan rights, language, culture and economy, in own territory and abroad, the abolition of impositions from our neighbours, who clearly have another mentality and other interests than we. We don’t go to impose Catalan in Madrid, why don’t they leave us in peace?

diumenge, 17 de juliol de 2011


One of the advantages of being in the EU is that we keep much more in contact with each other than we ever did before. And thanks to this we can compare the rights all state members apply to their citizens. One can easily see how the different mentalities result in different approaches in the possibilities citizens have in different European states. For example, the reaction of the UK to Scotland willing to organize a referendum for independence (acceptance, open to the will of the peoples from Scotland, respect of human rights) very different than the Spanish reaction to a possible Basque or Catalan referendum, reaction that one wouldn’t expect from a European state, but rather from states with questionable democratic regimes such as Russia, China or Turkey (repression of fundamental democratic rights, denial of our cultural singularity and prohibition of the referendum).

Another example: one can see how Scotland is allowed by the UK to have own representation in the Olympic games and other international sports competitions, and Spain tries to block as much as possible Catalan participation to all international sports competitions.

For several years, Catalan politicians have been lobbying in the European parliament to make Catalan official language in the European parliament. The Spanish politicians block, over and over again, the acceptance of Catalan as official language.

Catalan is seen as a minority language, while if one sees the amount of speakers one shall understand that Catalan is not at all a minority language. Catalan is being kept as minority language, but in reality it is the 13th language in amount of speakers of the European community. One can count the amount of speakers per language world wide, or the amount of speakers on European soil. No matter how you count. Catalan is the 12th/ 13th language.

Catalans should be treated as the speakers of the 13th language in the European Union and not as a minority. But as one can see, it is not the amount of native speakers what counts. What counts is being the language that enjoys the protection of an independent state, no matter the inhabitants.

Two weeks ago PP and PSOE, after several times in the past years, voted against Catalan being an official language in the European Parliament, blocking the normalization of the Catalan language.

Conclusion: Only by being an independent state Catalan shall be official in the European Parliament. Besides this, I remind you that with an own state Catalonia shall have 17 parliamentarians, today we only have 7. (http://independentcatalonia.blogspot.com/2009/06/reason-18-european-sardana-or-only-way.html).

Here you can see the amount of speakers per language (official languages + Catalan) on European soil:

1. German: 95 million (Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland)

2. French: 68,5 million (France 64,5 million, Wallonia 3,4 million, Luxembourg 0,5 million)

3. English: 66 million (UK: 60 million, Ireland 6 million, Malta 0,0065 million)

4. Italian: 62 million

5. Polish: 38 million

6. Spanish 31,9 million (Population in Spain is 46 million inhabitants, 10,5 million are Catalan speakers, 0,6 million are Basque native speakers, 3 million are Galician native speakers, so 31,9 million Spaniards can be considered to have Castilian Spanish as mother tongue).

7. Dutch: 22,1 million (Netherlands 16,6 million of which 0,5 million have Frisian as mother tongue, so 16,1 have Dutch as mother tongue, Flanders 6 million)

8. Hungarian: 16 million

9. Greek: 13 million

10. Bulgarian: 12 million

11. Czech: 12 million

12. Portuguese: 10,5 million

13. Catalan: 10,5 million

14. Swedish: 9,7 million

15. Slovakian: 7 million

16. Danish: 6 million

17. Finish: 6 million

18. Lithuanian: 3,5 million

19. Slovene: 2,5 million

20. Irish: 1,6 million

21. Latvian: 1,4 million

22. Estonian: 1 million

23. Maltese: 0,37 million







dissabte, 2 de juliol de 2011


During the past two decades, Spain has made evident, with most of its big investments, to make a policy based in the consolidation of a ‘Spanish nation’, without considering at all if these investments were profitable. The result is a state with an unsustainable infrastructure, that without the fiscal deficit of the Catalan countries shall go bank rupt even faster than Greece. The Spanish government invests over and over again in infrastructures in places where there isn’t enough commercial activity, not enough tourism, not enough industry, not enough passengers.
The new airport of León, recently opened, is already known as the desert airport. It was thought to accommodate 3 times more passengers and it has cost 80 million Euros. But where are the passengers? Well, the airport has capacity for 580 passengers per hour, but there are no more than 250 passengers in a DAY!
The company that holds the monopoly on airports in Spain, Aena, held a competition for entrepreneurs for the operation of all restoration services of the airport. After a month nobody had appeared. Entrepreneurs do make a research before making an investment. The result: no investors interested.
But it’s not only the initial investment, the maintenance of an empty airport shall be an unsustainable and lasting expense.
Another example is the unsustainable thousands of miles of high-speed railways. Spain is the European state with the most miles. Madrid seems obsessed with trying to extinguish its geographical isolation by the way it invests in transportation. Everybody says the same: they did not even consider the profitability of these high-speed railways. Well, the European directives confirm that none of the Spanish high-speed routes are profitable. A high-speed train needs 9 million passengers a year in order to be profitable. Madrid-Barcelona, the busiest of the routes, has 5,3 million passengers a year.
Yesterday, they closed the line from Toledo to Albacete, which is losing € 18.000,- every day! It is used by the huge amount of 9 passengers a day.
At this moment only 30% of the costs are covered with the sale of tickets. To be honest, the chance that any of the other lines than Madrid-Barcelona ever achieves 9 million passengers is zero. The Spanish high-speed railways is an unsustainable financial disaster.
The last example: Spain is building a new harbour in Algeciras (south of Spain) that shall be 3 times bigger than the harbour of Barcelona. This harbour shall have a cargo railroad from Algeciras to Europe. The cargo shall have to travel 1200 kilometres (745 miles) and be lifted up the mountains until 1000 meters of height before it arrives to Europe. Can this be profitable? impossible.

Images from the web site of the Spanish ministry on infrastructures:
The harbours of Spain today:

The harbours of Spain in 2020:

The Cargo Railroad in construction:

The cargo railroad Catalonia wants since the 80’s, never has come and as long as Catalonia remains part of Spain, never shall come. But this one could be profitable. From Barcelona to France there is a distance of only 155 kilometres (96 miles).
The Dutch made a similar cargo railroad from the harbour of Rotterdam to Germany. From the biggest harbour of Europe to Germany, most important client of Holland. With only 158 kms (98 miles) the Dutch made several studies before investing in such a cargo Railroad. During the first years it was far from profitable, but it seems lately it is starting to improve. The trains that carry goods to Germany are 500 meters long and substitute up to 15000 trailers a month. With this cargo railroad the Dutch save up to 200 kms (124 miles) of traffic jams every day. Analysts say the line shall only be profitable when the Germans finish the line in German soil. We are talking of only 158 kms (98 miles) on flat terrain versus 1200 kms (745 miles) being lifted up to 1000 meters of height.
The Spaniards are systematically diverting economical activity from Catalonia towards their territory (they do so also by prohibiting most intercontinental flights from and to Barcelona). The Catalan economy shall keep decreasing more and more as investors shall move to the better-communicated Algeciras, Madrid, and other parts of Spain.
Without an own state Catalonia shall never have the cargo Railroad to Europe.
Information in Catalan language:

Information in Spanish language:

Information in English:

Information on the Dutch cargo Railroad in Dutch:

dimecres, 25 de maig de 2011


Picture of Don Santiago Bernabeu and Don Francisco Franco. 7 december 1960.

In this web site (http://www.footballderbies.com/stadium/index.php?id=13) you can find this text:
“ Barça's Nou Camp stadium ('New Ground' in Catalan) is the biggest stadium in Europe. It's a Catalan monument, you could say it's the national stadium of Catalonia. In Franco's days this was the only place where people could speak Catalan (which was forbidden) and where they could show their flag. The Bernabeu is also among the biggest stadia in Europe.”
If during Franco’s dictatorship Catalan was only allowed in the stadium of FC Barcelona, today, in our ‘democratic’ Spain, Franco’s dream to prohibit Catalan has a rebirth as Catalan has been forbidden in the stadium of FC Madrid.
The fact is, that Santiago Bernabeu is the only Stadium of the Champions that prohibits Catalan language. Catalan citizens can hear Catalan announcements in their mother tongue in any other match in Italy, UK, Ucraine, or any other country.
The reasons given for this prohibition are quite interesting:
First they said that there was nobody in the Stadium who understood Catalan, which is simply incorrect, as in a match with FC Barcelona thousands of Catalans travel to Madrid to see the match.
Then they said as both clubs are Spanish, it is not necessary to use another language than Spanish. Well, technically speaking this is also incorrect. Spain has 5 official languages and none of them can technically be seen as THE Spanish language. It is as incorrect as to speak of THE European language. But well, if we have to accept that they mean their language (the Castillian language) it still is no reason to prohibit Catalan as they allow any other language, even foreign languages.
The last reason they gave proves the hatred in Spain against Catalonia, its language and its culture: Madrid pressed UEFA and warned them of the riots that could arise if the public would hear the Catalan language.
Not a single foreign language is prohibited in Bernabeu. Not a single other language could lead to riots. Spain shall only accept us if we are an independent country. As long as we are part of Spain they shall try to assimilate us, to destroy our language and our culture and to turn us into Spaniards. And I am not saying that there is anything wrong with being Spanish, but you cannot ask a French citizen in his own country to abandon his language, culture and identity and become a German or British citizen. Exactly in the same way you cannot expect a Catalan citizen to abandon his language, culture, identity and adopt one that is not his.
Therefore, and unfortunately, one can take the conclusion that only if Catalonia becomes an independent state Bernabeu will not prohibit the Catalan language.
It is difficult to understand how on earth something like this can occur in a European country in the year 2011.
If you understand Catalan you can read it here:
If you understand Spanish you can read it here:
I did not find any English information on this matter.

dimecres, 9 de febrer de 2011

Reason 26: Only way to ensure the promotion of Catalan culture and language

(In this image you can see the headquarters of Instituto Cervantes in Beijing, New York, Moscow, Belgrado, Vienna, and many other cities in the World).

An own state offers an excellent and stable base on which a country can promote its culture and its language (or languages). This stability gives support to thousands of artists, writers, singers, orchestras, theather groups, movie directors, etcetera.

One example is Spain. Spain, such as many other European countries, has a great institute to promote "Spanish culture and culture in Spanish language (see link 1). I must add to this sentence, that there isn't in fact such a thing as A Spanish language, as there isn't such a thing as A European language, or a Belgian language. It is not only wrong to speak of A Spanish language, it also shows the desire to assimilate all other cultures that are in this terrirory and make them disappear.
But the entire world believes them and they are satisfied with this misunderstanding they have created and keep alive.

With an own state, the Castillians and Castillian speaking communities of Spain, enjoy an amount of 103.000.000 euros a year to promote their language abroad.

This gives them great oportunities and supports thousands of their professionals all around the globe, only in their language and their culture, only to promote their language and their culture.

It would be reasonable, seen that 18% of the population of Spain speak Catalan, that 18% of this money would be spent to promote Catalan culture and language.

The Castillians enjoy with this institution huge buildings with headquarters in 78 cities around the globe.
Year after year they can support 3500 artists, writers, scientists, architects, etc.
They can finance every year:
2500 projections
500 cinema circles
450 concerts,
475 conferences,
375 exhibitions,
250 workshops on their culture,
and last but not least, a party called 'Dia del español', and with this they do not mean the day for the Spanish citizen, they mean it as a party for everyone who speaks their language. So, we catalans and our language are not invited. Nor are basque nor Galician.

The Spanish government increased last year Instituto Cervantes' budget. And this year, despite the serious financial crisis, they have ensured the same budget as last year.

Budget Instituto Cervantes the last 3 years in million euros:

2009 – 102,4
2010 – 103
2011 – 103

(links 2,3,and 4)

As you might know, Catalonia doesn't have a secure money source in order to support Catalan language and culture. Without an own state, every year we miss the oportunity to support and promote thousands of Catalan artists, writers, scientists, philosophers, actors, etc, who are interested to promote their culture and their language.

It is logical very few people know anything about Catalonia at all and come to Catalonia thinking they go to the country of Spanish language, Sangria and Flamenco.

The Catalan government has been able to spend 2,5 million euros a year in 2009 and also in 2010 for this purpose. (see link 5)

But this year this might be half of that if we are lucky. (link 6). The Catalan government must cut costs and they shall cut drastically on expenses on this matter. It is the world upside down that we are paying more than anyone in Spain, they get away with our money, we have to cut costs so that they can go on spending as if there was no crisis at all.

With an own state, we will be able to have our own cultural centres and promote our culture and language abroad. We shall be able to multiply at least 10 times our expenses on this matter.

This is a good reason, financial and cultural at the same time, to wish independence for Catalonia.


2 “Instituto Cervantes no sufrirá recortes presupuestarios en 2011”

2009 - 102,4 milions d'euros
(source: http://www.finanzas.com/noticias/formacion/2008-10-06/48704_directora-instituto-cervantes-califica-presupuesto.html)

2010 – 103 milions d'euros
2011 – 103 milions d'euros
(source: http://noticierodiario.com.ar/el-instituto-cervantes-cumple-20-anos/).

Pressupost per a les comunitats a l'exterior (dedicades a promocionar la cultura i la llengua catalana)
2009 – 2,5
2010 – 2,5
2011 – ??


dissabte, 1 de gener de 2011

Reason 25: Only way to have Tripadvisor in Catalan language

Long time ago I wrote an article about the worst hotels in Amsterdam. I gave an advice to my readers to check a hotel at Tripadvisor before booking. When I did I didn't even think of the possibility (actually the impossibility) of having Tripadvisor in Catalan language or being allowed to write comments in Catalan.

Well, Tripadvisor does have a policy for Catalan. It is forbidden, and any comment written with care and dedication in Catalan language is deleted!

A writer of my blog (http://blogs.ccrtvi.com/catalanspelmon.php?itemid=34034&catid=1259, only in Catalan) told me that this happened to her.

So I went to check their website and checked the languages they have. Well, Tripadvisor does not make a distinction per language but per independent country, and has chosen for the language of dominance. Perhaps this is the reason why there isn't a Tripadvisor of Belgium of Switzerland, there is no such a thing as the dominant language and they don't know how to cope with this.

It is strange. If I speak English and live in the UK, why should I go to the website of the UK? Most probable is that I will travel outside of the UK, to any country BUT the UK. So what is the use of having a web site for the UK? Is it for the traveller who goes to the UK? No.
A Spanish traveller who goes to the UK shall use the Spanish Tripadvisor, not the one of the UK.
What shall a Canadian user from Quebec do? He/she speaks French. The Canadian Tripadvisor is only in English. He/she shall have to go to the Tripadvisor from France (!?)
It is strange. In a global world in which languages do not coincide with independent countries , in which people travel from any point in the world to any point in the world, a division in languages would be much more efficient and logical than the division per independent country they have made, which is much more complicated and does not offer a clear benefit for the traveller from a specific country to another specific country.

But the fact is that only independent countries and even with much less inhabitants than the Catalan speakers (9,5 million) do have the right to have an own version of Tripadvisor. Norway, for example, with only 4,5 million inhabitants and very few hotels does have an own Tripadvisor. Catalan citizens, who more than double the population of Norway, are not only excluded from Tripadvisors, our comments in Catalan language are DELETED!.

The conclusion is again: An own state would solve this injustice at once. Independent states even with much less inhabitants do get the privilege of having a version of Tripadvisor in own language.