Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The world has its eyes on Scotland

To most people it will not be news that on September 18th 2014, Scotland will have the chance to vote whether it would like to remain in the United Kingdom or break with union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland of 307 years and retain her independence.

With two days to go until this historic vote, what has been happening in the campaign is probably a myth to those living outside of the country. Upon signing the Edinburgh Agreement in October 2012, Alex Salmond (First Minister of Scotland) and David Cameron (Prime Minister of the UK) agreed the terms of the referendum. After 23 months of campaigning “Yes” or “No” to independence, the Scots will be faced with one question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”. Six words which could shape the future of Scotland, as well as the remainder of the UK (rUK).

There have been two protests outside of the BBC headquarters in Glasgow, the latest being on Saturday 13th September where more than 4,000 Scots gathered outside Pacific Quay to protest at the bias in BBC coverage of the referendum. It can be argued that the BBC has been incredibly biased towards the unionist campaign, but what cannot be refuted is the sheer determination of the Scottish people to have their say in this historic vote. It has been announced that 4.2 million Scots have registered to have their vote – that is 97% of Scots eligible to vote will put an “X” next to Yes or No in two days’ time.

The No campaign (Better Together) has focused purely on what Scotland will lose; threatening that state taxes would have to rise, saying that Scotland categorically cannot use the pound sterling, suggesting that the economy would suffer a tremendous void… There has yet to be a positive incentive for Scots to remain as a part of the United Kingdom. There is no vision of a better future in the UK, only negativity and scare stories to try and bully Scotland into believing she is not able to rule herself.

However, I am more interested in the Yes campaign (Yes Scotland). This grassroots movement has seen Scots, from all kinds of social background and political persuasions, coming together to fight for the same cause – independence. Rich Scots, poor Scots, traditional Labour Party voters, traditional Green Party voters, first time voters, working class people, retirees... The list is endless. Their message to the rest of the country: vote Yes to taking control of our own affairs, vote Yes to retaining the money generated in Scotland and spend it in Scotland, vote Yes to nuclear disarmament, vote Yes to kill child poverty, vote Yes to protecting our National Health Service, schools and universities from the austerity and privatisation agenda set out by the Westminster UK government, vote Yes for independence.

The world has its eyes on Scotland this week, but there is one place that is keeping an even closer watch on Scotland – Catalonia. The Catalans will be fiercely determined to imitate the Scottish movement if there is a Yes vote on September 18th. After all, the Catalonian case for independence is not dissimilar from the Scottish one. Albeit Scotland is looking to become a nation again, Catalonia will be sending her support and good energy to Scotland so that she can also become a nation.

Scott McCutcheon

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Madrid says 'no' and makes threats with "penal" actions after 1.8 million Catalans asked to vote

The Spanish Government "cannot change its stance", stated Soroya Sáenz de Santamaría, Spanish Deputy PM, on the day after Catalonia's independence supporters peacefully and democratically formed a colossal rally for the 3rd consecutive year. Furthermore, the Director of Spain's Public Prosecution Office, appointed by the Spanish Government, threatened the Catalan President with "penal" actions if he organises a self-determination consultation vote once it has been banned by the Spanish authorities. 

On Catalonia's National Day, 1.8 million people, according to Barcelona local police, formed an 11km-long Catalan flag mosaic, demanding to vote on the 9th of November, as agreed by a two-third majority of the Catalan Parliament. "Citizens have the right to demonstrate but governments have an obligation to honour the law", stated the Deputy PM. Using a restrictive interpretation of the Constitution, the Spanish Government has been insisting that Catalonia does not have the right to self-determination and therefore a vote on such an issue is "illegal". 
In addition, Sáenz de Santamaría said "to respect" the "several demonstrations" that took place in Catalonia, implicitly comparing the 1.8 million-strong rally with the demonstration against independence that gathered 7,000 people in Tarragona and the demonstration against self-determination organised by an
extreme-right party that congregated some 40 neo-Nazis in Barcelona. On top of this, the 'number 2' of the governing People's Party, Maria Dolores de Cospedal, said that "governing with demonstrations is not something of democracies", adding that "when the rule of law is abandoned, totalitarian regimes and dictatorships arrive". Besides, the European Commission refused to provide specific comments on the massive pro-independence demonstration carried out by hundreds of thousands of European citizens the day before, repeating it is "an internal issue".

After Catalonia's largest demonstration ever, the Spanish Government has not moved a single inch and persists in its unilateral do-nothing attitude, repeating that a self-determination consultation vote is illegal, according to a restrictive interpretation of the Constitution. In fact, many Constitutional experts have argued that such a vote could be allowed with an open attitude or with minimum legal changes, but both ways require a minimum level of political will. However, such political will is totally absent in the Spanish Government and the governing People's Party (PP), which holds an absolute majority at the Spanish Parliament and has appointed the majority of members of the Constitutional Court, therefore fully controlling Spain's Executive and Legislative powers, as well as having a definitive influence in the Constitutional Court. In fact, this Friday, the Spanish Government once again closed the door to the reform of the Constitution proposed by the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), which is far from recognising Catalonia's nationhood and its right to self-determination.

Madrid and Brussels have stood still for 2 years in front of peaceful demonstrations
A peaceful, festive and colossal pro-independence demonstration was organised in Catalonia for the third consecutive year, showing that the demand shared by a wide part of the Catalan population remains there. On top of this, such demands are being expressed in a totally democratic and civic-minded attitude, without any small violent incident in the last 3 years. No other political or social movements in Spain or anywhere else in Europe can do something like this nowadays, and do it in such good spirit and with such a positive attitude, with a proposing attitude, without insults and without violence. In front of this, the reactions of the Madrid and Brussels establishments are not to change a single word of what they have been repeating in the last 2 years, looking at what is happening right in front of their nose and "taking note" – they say – but nothing else.

The People's Party is not making any concessions and hopes that Catalan citizens and institutions will totally give up on their hope to vote on their self-determination just by repeating that according to the Spanish institutions – which they totally control – such a vote is illegal and cannot take place. The Spanish Government strategy seems to be full-frontal opposition and waiting for those supporting self-determination to get tired or start quarrelling with each other. Furthermore, they keep insisting in linking Catalonia's situation with dictatorships. The 'number 2' of the PP, Maria Dolores de Cospedal, said the day after the massive pro-independence rally that "governing with demonstrations is not something of democracies", adding that "when the rule of law is abandoned, totalitarian regimes and dictatorships arrive".

The Spanish Government shields behind its interpretation of the Constitution
On Friday, after the weekly Cabinet meeting, the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister repeated that their stance has not changed after the demonstration. "The government has to honour the Constitution and the laws in this moment and in the future, in Spain and in Catalonia", she stated. In this vein, she was "hoping" that the Catalan President, Artur Mas, "will keep his word" and do not disobey the Spanish authorities' ban on the self-determination vote. She highlighted that Mas is also "obliged to honour the Constitution and the laws". Finally, she said that the Spanish Government is "willing to talk" about "whatever is needed to improve Catalonia", but not about the right to self-determination and the independence vote because "the law is our limit". The Spanish Government has been arguing that they cannot even talk about self-determination because it is also illegal.

"Penal" actions against the Catalan President…
In addition, the Director of the Public Prosecution Office, Eduardo Torres-Dulce, who is directly appointed by the Spanish Justice Minister, stated that he has already "studied the possibilities to act" against the Catalan President. Torres-Dulce reminded Artur Mas that he can use "the Penal Code" against him if he puts out the ballot boxes once the Spanish authorities have banned the self-determination consultation vote.

Brussels takes note but does not comment
Finally, on Friday, the Spokesperson of the European Commission, Pia Ahrenkilde, refused to provide any comment on Barcelona's demonstration, which had taken place the day before. She only said that these sort of events "have our attention", but insisted that they did not have anything new to say about 1.8 million European citizens massively demonstrating for the 3rd consecutive way in a totally peaceful attitude.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Local Catalan PP Tweets Photo Of Artur Mas With Death Threat Referendum Punishment

The Popular Party in Masnou (Catalonia) last night tweeted a photo suggesting violent punishment methods for Artur Mas if he calls a vote on November 9.

David Martínez, the social media manager for the local Popular Party in the village of Masnou (Catalonia) last night tweeted a question via Hootsuite to the party account’s 800 followers about what to do with the First Minister of Catalonia, Artur Mas if he calls a referendum on Catalan independence, which is likely to be declared illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court later this month.

“If Artur Mas gets the ballot boxes out on November 9″, said the Tweet: “Which method appears more effective to make him see sense?”.

The Tweet was accompanied by a photo of Mr. Mas surrounded by a series of methods of violent punishment, including boxing gloves, a hand grenade, a broken bottle, a pistol, a chainsaw, two AK-47 assault rifles, a bloody knife and a nail-studded club.

Federico de las Heras, the Popular Party chairman in Masnou, apologised for the message this morning, which was deleted from the party’s Twitter stream, and told The Spain Report by telephone that he took full responsibility for what had happened “involuntarily”.

“He was taking part in a hashtag session for Popular Party members all over Spain, which is useful for improving relations between members. One doesn’t think someone else might be able to publish a photo on your timeline. There are lots of cartoons on the Internet and they just slip in there, like porn photos.”

Hootsuite Spain replied on its own Twitter account this morning, after receiving numerous questions and complaints about the tweet from the Masnou PP account, saying that their system was specifically set up so as to avoid the accidental sending of messages.

“Hootsuite does not create or send content automatically, and has systems to prevent accidental sending. Hootsuite bears no responsibility for the content sent out by its users”, said the company.

Asked about such technical assurances, Mr. de las Heras said that he wasn’t a technician but that “someone hit the key. But I don’t know if he was aware of what he was sending at that moment. He copied and pasted it, or dragged it, and the image appeared without him wanting it to. It’s absurd to imply that he did it on purpose”.

David Martínez, the community manager who sent out the tweet, had also published the same “involuntary” tweet on his personal account shortly before publishing it on the local Popular Party account, made his personal Twitter account private this morning and declined to comment on the furore.

“He is in a terrible way after what happened”, said Mr. de las Heras: “He’s received 30,000 complaint messages. It took him quite by surprise. He’s not used to all the attention”.

A young female PP member was hospitalised on Thursday evening after being attacked by pro-independence supporters as she walked throught the streets of Tarragona.

In August, several pro-independence activists in another Catalan village, Cardedeu, went to the home of a local Popular Party councillor during the annual village festival and spent 15 minutes simulating his execution by firing squad, as he watched from this balcony. The local party made a formal complaint to the police.

In May, following the murder of provincial PP chairman Isabel Carrasco in the north-western city of León and a flood of celebratory messages published by Spanish social media users, many including death threats, Spain’s conservative Home Secretary, Jorge Fernández Diaz, raged against the behaviour and said: “The Internet must be cleansed of undesirables”.

At the time of publication, Spain’s National Police and the Catalan First Minister’s office had not responded to questions on any formal complaints about the message and image published by the Popular Party in Masnou.

By Matthew Bennett | 
Published on The Spain Report

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Catalonia: the conflict is democratic, not nationalistic

In the last five years we have seen that the pro-independence movement in Catalonia, one of the most productive regions of Spain, has grown in a significant way. Some claim to see this as a sign of a lack of solidarity or of nationalistic selfishness, not understanding the real reasons which have brought us to this situation.

Catalonia has always led democratic reforms in Spain, and has contributed in a big way to solidarity with the rest of Spain's regions with its efforts. However, in 2010, after the verdict of the Constitutional Court against our self-government, it became evident that it was impossible to continue progressing towards a quasi-federal model within the current Spain; in addition, we are going through an economic crisis, which has especially affected the Mediterranean countries and has put in danger the welfare of its citizens. Since then we have suffered a continuous regression in our social and democratic rights, with reactionary and re-centralising reforms from the Spanish Government; attacks on self-government and the Catalan language and culture; a territorial funding scheme which is profoundly unfair to Catalonia which, far from being based on "solidarity", feeds on a model of public money waste; and the impossibility of undertaking any reform that untangles the situation.

Thus, pro-independence support becomes the answer to a failed model that the two big majority parties in Spain do not want to change. By the way, these two parties are increasingly irrelevant in Catalonia; two distinct and more distant political systems are being consolidated, adding a crisis of legitimacy and representativeness between the citizens and those who decide their issues.

Pro-independence demands have an undeniably nationalistic or identity-related component in their origin, but this is by no means the most important aspect today. You just need to dig a little deeper to observe that, if pro-independence movement is currently spread out among Catalan society, it is precisely because it has ceased to be 'nationalistic'. The Spanish language, which is not threatened in Catalonia, is the usual language for 55% of Catalans; more than 60% feel Spanish in some way; the majority of surnames in Catalonia are Spanish, and 70% of Catalans were born or at least one of their parents was born in the rest of Spain, as Catalonia has always been a blending and welcoming land. And, despite all these elements, the majority of Catalans are now pro-independence. So, what's happening?

Paradoxically, those who support Spanish unionism only use identity-based arguments to trying to stop the situation. They appeal to blood-ties, identity and surnames, not understanding that in Catalonia there are not two confronted communities, nor is the issue about nationalistic or identity-based claims. It goes much beyond that. Furthermore, unionists also try to spread a fear-inducing discourse, with threats and apocalyptic prophecies, without offering any alternative or reasons to continue being together. They simply say that an independence vote would be illegal, although the law actually allows it; the point is that there is a lack of political will.

However, you cannot keep a people subjected against its will. We the Catalans, from different origins, have started the process to change the situation. Our organisation, Súmate, is formed by people who are proud of their Spanish origin and their language, Spanish, but who want a leading role in their own future. We want to decide, we want to be listened to and to have the opportunity to progress and build a new country, without going against anyone. We are working on being able to vote on the 9th of November because we believe that democracy is not the problem, it is the solution. Who could be scared of listening people's opinion?

by Eduardo Reyes
President of Súmate, a pro-independence Spanish-speakers' organisation

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

7,000 pro-Spanish unity supporters gather in Tarragona, former capital of the Roman province

On Catalonia's National Day, the Spanish unity association Societat Civil Catalana (Catalan Civil Society, in English), organised a demonstration to protest against the self-determination process in Tarragona. It was a demonstration organised weeks ago as an answer to the massive pro-independence rally organised on the same day in Barcelona. The Tarragona demonstration gathered 7,000 people according to the local police and 3,500 according to the Catalan Police. The Barcelona rally gathered 1.8 million people according to the local police and 520,000 according to the Spanish Government. The anti-independence rally was backed by the People's Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government, the populist and Spanish nationalist parties C's and UPyD, and by leading members of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), such as Carme Chacón. They chose this city because it used to be the capital of the Roman Empire's province of Hispania Citerior. The PP leader in Catalonia said that "the silent Catalonia is raising its voice". The leader of C's accused the parties supporting self-determination of "dividing Catalans".

The day before Catalonia's National Day, Societat Civil Catalana (SCC) organised its first event with a few descendants of people who fought in Barcelona's military siege of 1713 and 1714, after which Catalonia loss its sovereignty, self-government institutions and its Constitution. After Barcelona's defeat in 1714 a harsh political, economic, social and cultural repression started throughout Catalonia, and Spanish authorities banned the Catalan language. On the 10th of September 2014, the Italian aristocrat Luis Maria Gonzaga de Casanova-Cárdenas attended the event together with his wife, Monika von Habsburg-Lothringen, Archduchess of Austria and sister of the heir to the Imperial throne. Gonzaga de Casanova-Cárdenas, which has also family ties with the Bourbon family, is a direct descendant of Rafel de Casanova, who led Barcelona's resistance in the last hours of the 1714 siege against the Bourbon troops. He and his wife offered flowers to Rafel de Casanova tomb, together with direct descendants of Bourbon combatants, such as Carles de Veciana.

"We do not want to feel like foreigners in our own country"

On the evening of the 11th of September, SCC gathered people in Tarragona's city centre and they met in the former Roman arena. The anti-independence association's President, Josep Ramon Folch, emphasised that "people whose all 8 surnames are Catalan" attended their event, strongly highlighting the origin of the participants. Furthermore, SCC representatives accused self-determination supporters of "dividing Catalan society". They also accused them of "reinterpreting and manipulating history". SCC complained that pro-independence supporters have "kidnapped the Catalan flag" and they reaffirmed their "right to remain in Spain". "We do not want to feel like foreigners in our own country", Folch stated.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Catalonia has "everything ready" for November's self-determination vote

On Catalonia's National Day, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, stated that "everything is ready" to hold the self-determination consultation vote, scheduled for the 9th of November by a two third majority of the Catalan Parliament. In a speech at an institutional ceremony held in the morning, a few hours before the massive pro-independence rally, Mas stated that "all the efforts are focused on the 9th of November", which should be backed by the Catalan Law on Consultation Votes. However, he rejected to talk about "any other framework". Mas criticised the Spanish Government's "do –nothing attitude" and asked them not see Catalonia's demonstration "as a provocation or a challenge", but as a demand to vote.

"We are ready, and we cannot give any other message that can make somebody think that we will move away from the objective, which is voting on the 9th of November", stated Mas. However, the Catalan President wandered what the Spanish Government is doing in front of "one of the State's main issues". "In front of such an important issue, what is the initiative of the Spanish Government? Where is its political initiative and its reaction capacity?" he emphasised. "Political problems are solved through politics, not by threatening with laws", Mas emphasised.

"This is not a provocation", said the Catalan President referring to the pro-independence massive demonstration. "We want to vote, we are a nation, we want to decide on our political future, in harmony and understanding with the peoples of Spain", Mas said.

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1.8 million Catalans form an 11km-long flag mosaic supporting November's independence vote

On Catalonia's National Day, on the 11th of September, as in 2012 and 2013, pro-independence supporters have once again created a colossal demonstration, unique at a European level, to demand the right to hold a self-determination vote. According to Barcelona local police, 1.8 million participants of all ages and social origins, coming from the whole of Catalonia, formed a V-shaped mosaic displaying the Catalan flag along Barcelona's two main avenues to symbolise 'Vote', 'Victory' and 'Will', all three which start with a 'V' in Catalan. The rally became a strong support for the 9th of November consultation vote that has been agreed by a two-third majority of the Catalan Parliament. In the vertex of the V-shaped rally, fully organised by civil society organisations, where the avenues cross each other, a stage decorated with columns of ballot boxes had been set up; one ballot box for each of the 947 Catalan municipalities. "On the 9th of November we will vote. On the 9th of November we will win" read the
demonstration's main banner. Carme Forcadell, President of the grassroots ANC, which co-organised the rally, demanded the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, "to put out the ballot boxes" in November. On the morning, a few hours before the demonstration's kick off, Mas emphasised that "everything is ready" for such a vote. Mas asked the Spanish authorities not to see the demonstration as "a provocation or a challenge", but as "a demand to vote". However, the Spanish Government has announced it will "do whatever is necessary" to stop the vote from happening.

At 17.14pm, commemorating the year Catalonia lost its sovereignty and freedoms, a girl who will turn 16 on the voting day and will therefore be allowed to cast her vote, symbolically put a ballot into a box. Once again, supporters of Catalonia's independence have shown their will to hold a free and democratic vote on independence from Spain and have peacefully demonstrated in a festive mood. According to Barcelona local police, 1.8 million participants filled Barcelona's Gran Via and Diagonal avenues until the Glòries Square. The Spanish Government stated that between 470,000 and 520,000 attended the demonstration.

A year ago, 455,000 people registered to form a human chain, which ended up gathering 1.6 million people, according to the Catalan Police. This year, more than 550,000 citizens signed up to form the flag mosaic, but the demonstration gathered many more individuals, forming the largest demonstration ever in Catalonia and probably in Europe.

In order to guarantee the completion of all the 73 stretches into which the route was divided, participants were encouraged to register online, as they did for the 2013 demonstration. Following the instructions from the organisers, they were wearing red or yellow t-shirts and formed the red and yellow stripes of the Catalan flag along 11 kilometres. Catalan Police confirmed that no violent episodes have taken place and that the massive demonstration has taken place quietly.

The demonstration was organised by Òmnium Cultural, a civil society organisation promoting Catalan culture and language, and Catalonia's National Assembly (ANC), the grassroots association demanding Catalonia's independence from Spain. 7,000 volunteers guaranteed the proper formation of the mosaic. More than 1,500 busses have brought participants to Barcelona from all the corners of Catalonia. Furthermore, Barcelona's public transportation and short-distance train services have been strengthened, with wagons packed of people. On top of this, parking spaces have been set up throughout Barcelona and its metropolitan area.

Throughout the demonstration, 54 groups of castellers, which came from across the whole of Catalonia, formed the traditional Catalan human towers. Furthermore, three stages were set up: one at the vertex and two others in the two other extremes of the demonstration. At one extreme, the stage was named "Will" and at the other, "Vote". The stage at the vertex was named "Victory", expressing the demonstrators' hope to become independent from Spain. Music interpretations and political speeches demanding to vote on the 9th of November were addressed to the attendees.

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Catalan President asks Madrid "to sit down and talk" after the 3rd massive pro-independence rally

"Madrid, but also Brussels" should take note that "these people wants to vote", stated the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, after the massive pro-independence demonstration, which gathered 1.8 million people according to the local police. Mas met with the civil society associations organising the rally after the event and "congratulated" them. "There is barely any other country or society throughout the world that has this mobilisation level" and can send such a "powerful message" in such a peaceful and festive way. According to Mas, the demonstration was "a great sample of civic-mindedness, tolerance, good manners and smiles". "I am the 129th President of the Catalan Government, but a country is not only its institutions and history; a country is mostly its people" and "I feel very proud today of being the president of such a country". In addition, Mas agreed with the organisers that the "unity" among those supporting self-determination "is fundamental". "I commit myself to do whatever is possible, whatever is needed" to guarantee such a unity. "I am fully
engaged in making sure people can vote", he concluded.

The demonstration organisers: "President, put out the ballot boxes"

During the demonstration, the organisers asked the Catalan "Parliament, Government, President, put out the ballot boxes", as was said by Carme Forcadell, President of the grassroots association Catalan National Assembly (ANC). Forcadell also asked the politicians "to be worthy of the people who have voted for them". She also asked the parties supporting self-determination "to abandon partisan" fights and form "a solid and unbreakable unity", in order to make sure that Catalans will be able to vote on the 9th of November. Referring to the Catalan authorities, Forcadell stated: "If they do not let us down, we will not let them down". The ANC President committed to launch a broad campaign to increase the "yes" support, "which will reach all the homes in the country". "Independence is not proclaimed from a balcony but through ballot boxes" and "we will vote on the 9th of November and we will win", she stressed. "We have not reached this point to step back and give up. We will go until the end and we will win", she concluded.

Muriel Casals, President of Òmnium Cultural, which also organised the rally, also addressed the demonstration attendees from the stage. She said that Catalonia has "the strength of its people united", a unity that should be kept "among the institutions and political parties". Casals said that Catalonia "has stopped being a people that remembers military defeats but has become a society that builds a victory in a peaceful way". She also stressed that "everything is being done massively, in a civic-minded and festive way". "The voice of a people that expresses itself though the ballot boxes is on top of a partisan court based in Madrid [referring to the Constitutional Court]" concluded Casals. Josep Maria Vila d'Abadal, president of the Association of Municipalities for Independence, promised that the town halls will vote on declarations supporting the process once the Catalan Parliament has approved the Law on Consultation Votes and the Catalan President calls for the referendum.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

V for Victoria: Catalans Want Independence Too

Catalonia wants to join Scotland in holding an independence referendum. But the Spanish constitution doesn't allow for secession. Nationalists in Barcelona are prepared to push the vote through anyway.

There are two questions that could secure a prominent place in the history books for Oriol Junqueras. The first is: "Do you want Catalonia to be its own state?" The second: "Do you want that state to be independent?" Junqueras, a 45-year-old historian from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, is the man behind the referendum that could result in independence for Catalonia.

The president of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), Junqueras is convinced that a majority of his compatriots in the region in Spain's northeast would like to live in an independent state. Since the European Parliament elections in May, the ERC is Catalonia's strongest political party, partly the result of Junqueras' unflagging support for independence.

Junqueras' popularity is such that he was also elected mayor of his hometown, Sant Vicenç dels Horts, three years ago. "Even though 80 percent of village residents speak Spanish instead of Catalan, they elected a separatist," he says. Now, he is hoping to win over all of Catalonia to his cause.

Such a referendum, Junqueras says in his office in Catalan Parliament in Barcelona, "is the best democratic instrument" to learn if a majority really does want to secede from the Spanish Kingdom. The vote is to take place on Nov. 9, a date chosen in concert with the regional government's prime minister, Artur Mas.

He is fully aware that it won't be easy to push the referendum through. But Junqueras, who likes to wear jeans and leave his collar open, intends to use all the means at his disposal to do so. In the 21st century, he says, it is unacceptable that "the legal framework functions as a hindrance to democracy." It is not enough, he argues, that voters give politicians a mandate every four years. They have to play a direct role in all decisions made, even if they must resort to civil disobedience.

This Thursday, an annual holiday to mark the National Day of Catalonia, will provide some indication as to just how widespread the desire for Catalan independence really is. A demonstration has been planned and several grassroots movements, including the 30,000-member Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC), are set to take part. Last year, ANC President Carme Forcadell, a member of Junqueras' party, organized a 1.5-million-person chain stretching the 480 kilometers from the southernmost point in Catalonia all the way to its northern tip.

Secession Impossible

This year, pro-independence activists hope the demonstration will be even more impressive. Some 2 million marchers, all clad in the red and yellow of Catalonia, are to form a gigantic "V" on Barcelona's two largest boulevards. "V" in this case stands for Vote, for Voluntat (Will) or for Victoria (Victory). Smaller Vs have already made an appearance in demonstrations held in places such as Frankfurt, Brussels and Paris.

One week after the Catalan holiday, Scottish residents are set to vote intheir own independence referendum. That poll has been accompanied by significant handwringing in London and Britain's three largest parties have done their best to convince Scots to remain a part of the United Kingdom, even announcing on Monday that they would release a new plan for greater Scottish autonomy this week. But Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has thus far failed to come up with an attractive offer for the Catalans.

The government in Madrid likely believes that such an offer is unnecessary. The Spanish constitution makes it virtually impossible for a region to split off from the country. A binding referendum could only be made possible were the Spanish parliament to push through a constitutional amendment. But 86 percent of the lawmakers in Madrid have already rejected the idea. A similar plan by the Basque government was rejected nine years ago. "I will not allow you to hold the referendum," Prime Minister Rajoy recently told Catalan leader Mas.

But Junqueras, who holds a Ph.D. in economic history, draws hope from the many new nations that have been founded in recent decades and centuries. And his enthusiasm for independence is one shared across Spain's northeast.

Although 5.5 million of the 7.5 million people living in Catalonia were not born there, fully 60 percent of them identify themselves first and foremost as Catalans, surveys indicate. Four years ago, a study conducted by the Autonomous University of Barcelona found, only a quarter of the population identified themselves as such. Whereas only a fifth were in favor of secession as recently as 2010, fully 50 percent now want independence.

Surveys predict that the pro-independence movement could end up with 57 percent of the vote in November. That number, though, is far from solid. Just a few weeks ago, 38 percent indicated that they would be amenable to remaining a part of Spain were the central government in Madrid to grant Catalonia more autonomy.

Triggering the Independence Movement

The history of Catalonia's independence movement reaches back to the days of the Franco dictatorship. During the almost 40 years of his iron-fisted rule, the Catalan language was banned. But in 1978, just three years after Franco's death, the Kingdom of Spain passed a democratic constitution granting the country's 17 regions autonomy. Catalonia and the other regions then got their own constitutions which guaranteed self-government. Since 1980, Catalans have been electing their own parliament, have had their own police force and have taught their children in the Catalan language.

Ten years ago, when the Socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was prime minister, he unwittingly triggered the independence movement by suggesting that Catalan autonomy could be expanded. At the time, Spanish parliament in Madrid was called upon to approve a new regional constitution for Catalonia and only did so after making significant changes to it. Voters in Catalonia adopted it with a large majority nonetheless. But then, conservatives from the People's Party challenged certain, vital passages of the document and when the country's high court demanded in 2010 that all mention of the Catalan Nation be struck from the preamble, a million people took to the streets of Barcelona in protest. The demonstrations were further fueled by insulting comments made by Spanish politicians.

Those in favor of an independent state point to the tradition of civilian self-rule that stretches back to the Middle Ages, a time when councils were able to limit the reach of the king. Even after the two kingdoms of Catalonia and Aragón were united with that of Castile, the king and his successors had to confirm special rights for the Catalans.

The region only lost its special rights with the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714. On Sept. 11 of that year, the people of Barcelona, who had remained loyal to the Hapsburgs, finally surrendered to French-Castilian troops following a 14-month siege. The Catalan national day, which will be celebrated this Thursday, is a memorial to that defeat exactly 300 years ago.

A resolute opponent of Catalan independence lives at the edge of the Barcelona old town: the 47-year-old Joachim Coll. Like his adversary Oriol Junqueras, Coll is also a historian. Many of his neighbors have decorated their balconies with the red-and-yellow striped regional flag bearing the star of independence.

But Coll believes that a secession of his homeland could be defended neither politically nor morally. "In a constitutional democracy, there is no right to self-rule or to secession from the state as a whole," he says. Furthermore, he believes that Catalonia, as Spain's richest region, is showing a lack of solidarity with the rest of the country. "You can't be both leftist and nationalist," he says, referring to Junqueras.

'Virus of Populism'

The governing party in Barcelona has long complained that Catalonia accounts for a fifth of Spain's economic output but only makes up 16 percent of the country's population. In 2011 alone, they allege, the region received €15 billion ($19.4 billion) less from Madrid than it paid to the central government, adding that the Spanish government has neglected Catalonia for years when it comes to investments.

The Spanish Finance Ministry has rejected the deficit claim, saying that the 2011 shortfall was only €8.5 billion. Coll and others have said that, if such imbalances persist, then regional governments should simply renegotiate the payments they owe to the central government.

In order to give a voice to those who reject independence, Coll recently founded the Societat Civil Catalana in Barcelona. He hopes that it will be able to successfully combat what he calls the "virus of populism."

"We want to be Catalans, but we don't want to dispense with Spain," says fellow independence opponent Jacinto Soler Padró, a 73-year-old business lawyer. Under Franco, Soler applied with Barcelona municipal authorities for money to nurture the Catalan language -- and he even spoke Catalan in making his request. His application was rejected and he was locked up for a month in prison for his troubles, he says. "Nevertheless, I am not in favor of independence."

Like many others, Soler believes that secession is both unrealistic and potentially damaging. Even consultants hired by the regional government noted that an independent Catalonia would initially have to borrow €5 billion a month to pay civil servant salaries, pensions, unemployment benefits and other costs. The infant country could only expect surpluses once it had a functioning tax authority.

Soler and several of his friends in the business world would prefer to see an "intensification of the already strong decentralization of the Spanish state." Having lived in both Germany and Austria, he is familiar with the federalist systems in place there. He then points to the painting of a ship in rough seas hanging on the wall above the table. "We Catalans have become caught in high surf," he says in German.

A Measure of Last Resort

Those in favor of independence are seeking to take advantage of the agitation. ERC head Junqueras believes that the moment is ripe to push through his dream of a Catalan state and is counting on his region's relations with other EU countries. "I expect that the recognition from Spain and the EU comes not within months, but within weeks," says Junqueras, who was once a European parliamentarian in Brussels. After all, he says, Catalonia would be a net payer into the EU. "Everyone wants to pursue free trade in the European currency." Plus, he adds, 70 percent of Spanish exports to Europe travel across Catalan roads.

With the independence movement gaining steam, there is little Artur Mas can do. "I will 100 percent call the referendum," he says. In the coming days, he plans to present a special law in Catalan parliament to provide a framework for the holding of referenda to give it a veneer of legality. Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy has pledged to challenge the law, just as he has promised to dispute the referendum as such.

Mas would then have no other choice but to call for snap regional elections and frame them as a plebiscite over independence. That, though, would be a measure of last resort, says Oriol Junqueras. He wants to hold the referendum on Nov. 9 even if it is prohibited by Madrid.

And in the end, he is likely to win either way. Surveys indicate that his party would win the next regional elections. Should that come to pass, the Republican Leftist would become Catalonia's next prime minister.

By Helene Zuber

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Catalonia independence vote can’t be stopped: leader

BARCELONA: Catalonia's president warned Wednesday it was "practically impossible" to stop the region voting on secession from Spain and looked to Scotland to smooth the way with its own independence referendum.

Artur Mas, who has defied Madrid by calling a vote on independence for the rich northeastern region on November 9, predicted Scotland would stay in the European Union even if it chooses independence and drew hope from that for his own cause.

"If the Catalan population wants to vote on its future, it's practically impossible to stop that forever," Mas told AFP in an interview on the eve of Catalonia's annual national day, the Diada.

The commemoration this year is more politically charged than ever, coming just a week before Scotland holds a referendum on independence from the rest of Britain, and less than two months before the date set for the Catalan vote.

Spain's national government fiercely opposes any move towards independence for Catalonia. It has branded the planned vote illegal and vowed to block it.

"I think it's absurd to pretend that could be so and I think the Spanish government will have to realise that," Mas said.

In contrast to Madrid's stance on Catalonia, the British government has agreed to let Scots vote in a referendum even though it is against Scotland breaking away from the United Kingdom.

Mas said Scotland's vote could smooth the way for Catalonia on its own drive for independence.

"If a nation such as Scotland can vote, why not Catalonia?" Mas said. EU officials have warned that breaking away from the United Kingdom would leave Scotland automatically out of the European Union.

"If the 'Yes' wins, I am sure there will be negotiations very quickly, even immediately, to try to keep Scotland in the European Union," Mas said.

"I am certain that pragmatism will prevail as it always has in the EU." Proud of their distinct Catalan language and culture, many of Catalonia's 7.5 million inhabitants feel short-changed by the national government in Madrid, which redistributes their taxes.

Catalonia accounts for a fifth of Spain's economy but it was hit hard by the financial crisis that broke out in 2008, fuelling a surge in pro-separatist feeling.

Mas has vowed to pass a new regional law that he says will allow him to push ahead with the "consultation" despite Madrid's resistance, but his efforts risk being thwarted by Spain's Constitutional Court.

"It is not pragmatic to deal with these political issues purely from a strictly legal point of view," he said on Wednesday.

"A solution must be found so nations that have a true calling in Europe can stay in the European Union. I cannot imagine Catalonia outside of a Europe that we have helped to build."

Thursday's Diada marks the date many in the region see as the day Catalans lost their autonomy, when the city fell to Spanish and French forces in the War of the Spanish Succession that redrew the map of Spain.

Mas kicked off commemorations on Wednesday evening to mark the 300th Diada by laying a wreath at a mass grave for Catalans killed in the 1714 siege of Barcelona.

On Thursday afternoon supporters of independence will mass along two central Barcelona avenues in the shape of a giant letter V for "vote", which they hope will stretch for 11 kilometres (nearly seven miles).

Organisers say more than half a million people have signed up for Thursday's demonstration.

South of Barcelona in the coastal town of Tarragona on Thursday, the Catalan Civil Society movement which favours staying with Spain has called for a rival gathering to denounce independence as a "dead end".

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Heirs of a Defeat

About the author of this article for Help Catalonia

Josep Bargalló Valls
First Minister and Minister of the Presidency of Catalonia 2004-2006
Minister of Education of Catalonia 2003-2004
Councillor in Torredembarra Town Council (1995-2003)
President of the Ramon Llull Institute (2006-2010)
From 2010 he is Professor of the University Rovira i Virgili

1. Catalonia

It must have been in 2004 when I was the Conseller-en-Cap of the Generalitat –that is, the First Minister of the Government of Catalonia, appointed by the President–, when I visited an old manor house on the outskirts of Barcelona. I was received at the door by its current owner, a hotel businessman who holds appointments at several management and industry associations both in Catalonia and Spain. The first thing he said was: "It is my honour to receive the second Conseller-en-Cap to visit this house". "Who had come before me, Conseller Mas or Conseller Carod?" I asked him. They were my immediate predecessors and the only Consellers-en-Cap appointed to the post since the Bourbon King's victory in the War of Succession in 1714.
"No", he replied smiling, "the first was Rafael Casanova".

Casanova was the last Conseller-en-Cap of the Council of One Hundred of Barcelona, –who would now days be the Mayor– and commander of the troops defending the city in 1714, when he was shot and wounded on September 11, date of the capitulation of the city, the abolition of its institutions and the consequent loss of Catalonia's national sovereignty –to put it in understandable terms, though perhaps a little simplistically.

The anecdote, however, is quite symptomatic of the modern history of Catalonia and of who we are as a country: a businessman and industry leader recognising before a member of a left-wing government that, despite all the defeats and losses, Catalonia follows a historical thread of institutional and national affirmation. This is the lesson of September 11. We were, but we also are and will be. We lost our sovereignty, but we do not forgo recovering it. And increasingly so, we do want to recover it.

By the way, my host gave me a publication which narrates, with documentary proof, that Rafael Casanova had spent a night at that house on the way to Sant Boi de Llobregat, having recovered from his injuries and stripped of his rank and appointment by the Spanish occupier.

2. Europe

The military conflict which ended in 1714 with the surrender of Barcelona was not in any way an internal, Catalan, conflict, and not even an Iberian conflict. It was above all a European conflict that was settled in the lands of the former Crown of Aragon, in Catalonia and Valencia fundamentally. In June 1705, in Genoa, the Catalan delegates and the plenipotentiary agent of the Queen Anne of England, Mitford Crowe, signed a pact by which the English crown promised "perpetual guarantee to secure the privileges and laws of the Principality of Catalonia" when our country was already at war with the Spanish and French armies. The English crown, especially after 1710, when the Tories came to power, did not fulfil its commitment to Catalonia and left us to a clearly unequal struggle. In 1714, English MPs made patent their protest to what was called, throughout Europe, "the Case of the Catalans".

In fact, the "Case of the Catalans" is how the collections of discussions and agreements on Catalonia became known. These took place between 1712 and 1714 within the framework of negotiations on the problems generated by the war and which led to the Treaty of Utrecht. The treaty signified the final isolation of the Catalans and cleared the way to victory for the Bourbon troops. The "Case of the Catalans" sprang up again, shortly after, in 1719, with the Anglo-French invasion of northern Catalonia: the French Minister Guillaume Dubois, pressed by the English Lord James Stanhope, proclaimed the restoration of the Catalan constitutional structure. The invasion, however, did not prosper and a new international agreement left things as they were in 1714. A last echo of the "Case of the Catalans" appeared in 1736 with the publication of the booklet "A Reminder of the Alliance made to His Serene Highness George Augustus, King of Great Britain", a message addressed to King George I of England, whereby he was reminded of the alliance pact "for the freedom of Catalonia".

It was therefore an international conflict, which ended benefiting an expansive Kingdom of Spain. And that hurt Catalonia, with almost three hundred years of lost sovereignty and constitutional freedoms. As some historians argue, the Geneva agreement of 1705 was never repealed. No matter, however, as the impossible fit of Catalonia within Spain –more evident than ever today– means the solution must be found precisely a new Europe, that of the citizens, the peoples and of freedom. A new Europe for Catalonia with renewed freedom: this is also for us, the Catalans, the commemoration of 11th September. The end of the "Case of the Catalans".

3. World

At the Venice Biennial of Art 2009, Catalonia premièred its presence with its own pavilion – as did Wales and Scotland. The pavilion contained a conceptual art project that gathered the work of several artists under the name "The Unconfessable Community". One of the artists, Daniel G. Andujar, working with images from the internet, placed three small screens in an enclosed, very austere space, each dedicated to September 11: the fall of Barcelona in 1714, Pinochet's bloody coup in Chile in 1973, and the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001.

Historic matches for three dates on which the freedom and the lives of people suffered a frontal, merciless attack. Three commemorations in one: September 11 is the remembrance of barbarism and a universal cry for freedom.

This article was written and first published in Help Catalonia on september 11th, 2011.

Josep Bargalló

Read older posts of this author here

Read other Special collaborators articles

First published 09/09/2013

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Flags of our parents

Agustí Colomines i Companys

University of Barcelona

On September 11th 1976 was Saturday. That day became doubly festive. It was because then almost nobody used to work on Saturdays, and because for the first time since 1939 the National Day of Catalonia (La Diada) was able to be celebrated. Since then, we write the date in capital letters: September Eleventh. It had been only three years of the coup that brought down that day the democratic government of Chile, but still many years before the U.S tragedy on the 9/11.

Those who were young in 1976 – Myself turned 19 three months after – experienced that journey in a very special way.  It was our first “legal” National Day, although the still Francoist authorities made heaven and earth to reduce the impact of the demonstration. Until the night of September 9th, the civil governor of Barcelona and the September 11th Commission failed to agree whether celebrate or not the National Day and where.  The regime authorities decided that the demonstration would be held in Sant Boi del Llobregat, a town of Baix Llobregat, the working-class region par excellence, to avoid Barcelona, the capital city of Catalonia. However, the organizers choose well, symbolically at least, since in Sant Boi is where Rafael Casanova is buried, the great defender of the Catalan national rights in 1714 in front of the Franco-Spanish Bourbon attacks.

Despite the obstacles, Sant Boi was occupied by thousands of people who arrived from around Catalonia with senyeres[1] and flags of any kind. According to the Constrastant group, the number of the protester might reached 27,374 people, many people considering the circumstances. Those who were there know that the most important was the political impact of that act which opened a democratic transition that brought us to the present time. We took up again the flags of our parents singing "Freedom, Amnesty and Statute of Autonomy," which was the motto of the Assembly of Catalonia, the main platform of opposition to the regime.

This is the deeper meaning of the National Day this year. After thirty-six years a new era is opened, leaving behind the autonomy to bequeath to our children the flag of sovereignty so that Catalonia becomes a new state in the United Europe which unites Catalans with Germans, Italians or Spaniards, but also with the Britons, Sardinians and the Bavarians. Catalonia in the future should be nationally free to govern its destiny economically and as a differentiated identity in a world of languages and cultures. This is the only way to ensure the well-being of the people and of the national culture in a globalized world.

The sovereign Catalonia began to react that hot Saturday in 1976. It did as it was needed, demanding autonomy. Nowadays, however, after many failures to ensure the self-government, most of the people are calling for Catalan independence, albeit with the limitations imposed on all EU member states. Just who has a chair in the governing institutions of the EU can survive as a people.

First published on 09/10/2012

[1]     Senyera is the name given to the Catalan flag.

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September 11th

Catalans' September 11

"L'Onze de Setembre", painting
by Antoni Estruch
On September 11, Catalonia commemorates the 1714 Siege of Barcelona defeat that meant the loss of independence, the abolition of all Catalan institutions, constitutions, rights and freedoms, and the begining of a centuries-long persecution for the culture, traditions and language of its people.

Jump to contents: Articles | Short Points | Videos


Jump to contents: Articles | Short Points | Videos

Short Points

Many have published articles in Help Catalonia in our few months of existence, and we asked them to briefly answer what 11 of September is for them. These are their short points.

For those who don't know us or who've never experienced something similar first-hand, it is hard to imagine that a country might celebrate a defeat on its national day. Why do we do this? We do it in order not to forget than not so long ago we used to have our own laws and institutions, and we used to be economically, socially, politically, and financially independent. On that day we lost it all.
We celebrate it in order to remind ourselves that we need to regain that which should have never been taken away from us.
Albert Sagues, financial consultant (@albertsagues)
Dearest, I am Catalan and I know that's not enough. In times of tribulations of all kinds, we must begin to be able to want to decide for ourselves, and do it. Enough of filling drawers with projects: As long as we are healthy and happy, strife shall not daunt us!
Albert Simó, IT freelance (@losimo)
September 11 is our way to show the world that we Catalans matter, that we want our freedom back, that we will not give up being who we are. Through suffering we will persevere.
Andreu Cabré, 3D Artist, Poet, Farmer, Linguistics Buff, Go player(@andreucabre)Read my previous articles
Catalonia's National Day is our chance as individuals, but for our government as well, to defend our heritage, that which we are, and what we want to be. To demand the freedom which was taken away from us, the freedom we want to regain with the right of self-determination.
Anna Simó, Minister of Wellfare (2003-2006)n@AnnaSimoaSimo)
For me, 9/11 is the day I go out into the street with my starred Catalan flag, myEstelada, I walk together with thousands of people with whom I share the same wish. I go back home knowing that we are not a few and that one day, the independence of Catalonia will be possible.
Carmen Pérez, sociologist (@maihaviaditque)
The eleventh of September is the National Day of Catalonia. It marks the siege of Barcelona -the capital city- in 1714 by the Castilian troops of the bourbon king Philip V, and the subsequent loss of the catalan government, public institutions and civil rights as well as the begining of the persecution of our culture, until today.
David Lladó, architect (@el_calderilla)
During the Spanish War of Succession, when the Catalan soldiers swore their oath to the flag, they shouted in unison “Donec Perficiam!” in Latin, which means “Until we achieve it!” That is the message for our Remembrance day. Rebirth without lament.
David Montserrat, journalist (@dmontserratnonoRead my previous articles
The 11th of September reminds me of the end of the Franco dictatorship, the last year, because it was only then that I learned of the events of the 11th of September of 1714. It was quite a shock to learn how far they had manipulated our history.
Enric Sànchez, IT (@duxans)
September 11 is the day when we realize many things: that we are a small nation with a great history; that we have our own language, the main pillar of our culture; that we not are present yet in many international organisms. The fight must go on!
Faèrica Rock Band @FaericaRock)Read my previous articles
For me, September the 11th is a day to confirm our commitment to Catalonia: to its people, their language and their culture. The day after the 11th of September, 1714, the Catalan people started over. We are the heirs to those courageous people who, with self-denial, rebuilt our country.
Joan Badia i Pujol, Deputy Director of Permanent Education and Pedagogical Resources  (2004-2006), Director of Innovation (2006-2009), Deputy Director of Academic University Planning  (2009-2010), Deputy Director of European Higher Education (2009-2010) (@jbadiap)Read my previous articles
The 11th of September marks the final resistance of the city of Barcelona after the invasion of Catalonia by French and Spanish troops. But it was also the last of a series of strategic errors, the most important of which was believing in the change of the political model for Spain. If the Catalans had wanted freedom for the Catalan Nation, we may well have achieved it. But in the end, the change of dynasty for an absolutist monarchy was forced upon us. Now, the Catalans seem not to have learned from the past and we continue hoping for a change of model of the Spanish state rather than working towards our own state and our political freedom.
Jordi Bilbeny, investigator
Let's remember the bravery and loyalty of an entire generation of Catalans who, on 1714 lost their lives and possessions defending a five hundred year old heritage of political independence. They are the symbol of all those who have fought and fight for a free Catalonia.
Dr. Miquel Perez Latre   Doctor of History, Archiver and BloggerRead my previous articles
This is a day to fight for the Catalan citizens' rights and liberties, which were taken away by force of arms, and keep being curtailed by partisan imposition from within a democracy that is such only in name. On this very day, in the late sixties, is when I began to take part in underground actions against the only fascist dictatorship that's never been denounced by Europe.
Josep Huguet Minister of Innovation, Universities and Enterprise (2006-2010), Minister of Trade, Tourism and Consumer Affairs (2004-2006) (@josep_huguet)Read my previous articles
When you're young, and they tell you that you are Catalan, you don't quite understand what this means. But in time, you come to enjoy it. You learn to recognize the symbols, like the Barça, and the fact that you speak a different language. After a while, you end up identifying with all this, and finally understand that being Catalan is no better or worse than belonging to any other country. However, you still are grateful to be Catalan.
One day someone tells you, like in a tale, about our nation's forefathers, and how they were persecuted and almost annihilated by the Bourbons, ancestors of the current king of Spain. Someone tells you how people defended our country in the streets, how they gave up the last drop of their blood in defense of our way of being. They tell you that this happened on the 11th of September, 1714. Finally, you stop wanting to belong to any other country, you want to belong to this country where people do not back down out of a fight, where speaking our own language is equivalent to building a trench in a war. You'll never forget you belong to this country. We Catalans know clearly what we want to be. So you feel very proud of your love for Catalonia, and for all the peoples of the world who fight to win their freedom.
Lluís Bartra, audiovisuals producer (@lughdailh
September 11 is a wake-up call to our collective memories to recall the unwavering dignity of the combatants who defended till martyrdom our national and collective rights and freedoms. It is also a way to voice out our will to exist and to make decisions for ourselves.
Marc Colomer, journalist (@marccolomer)
On the holiday of September 11, we Catalans remember the fall of Barcelona during the Spanish War of Succession (1701-1715). On September 11th, 1714 Catalonia lost its freedom and its institutions were abolished. For me, every September 11 is a chance to remember the lost liberties and our duty as a people to regain them. Just out of dignity.
Marc Guarro, linguistic corrector (@MarcGuarro)Read my previous articles
A feeling, our pride, a tradition, a special day when I hang the Catalan flag on my balcony, when I get together with my family, enjoy a good table, good conversation, and just the fact that I am a Catalan, while I teach my daughters about their roots and about caring for Catalonia.
Manel Rodríguez Plana, economist (@manelrplana)
Although we are celebrating a defeat, on this day we must be proud. Catalonia is a country with an old democratic tradition. we must move away from a position of resistance towards rebuilding our nation with a welcoming, open attitude, both globally and locally. Catalonia needs to overcome being part of Spain by taking advantage of Europe's sister nations. Integration of the recent waves of immigrants is our most pressing challenge.
Marina Geli i Fàbrega, Health Minister (2003-2010) (@marinageli)Read my previous articless
September 11th: The foreign enemy demolishing our towers, annihilating men, women and children
But today the Nation has recovered and is able to remember the tragic events with a wish for freedom.
Our Nation is “Catalonia” and that September 11th was in 1714.
@CalDirHoRead my previous articles
September the 11th is the remembrance of a defeat for a country that has become accustomed to losing and, notwithstanding, wanting to turn the course of history on its head, taking a run up, and ending up winning. And winning means, quite simply, being free, being a normal country.
Roc Casagran, writer (@roccasagran)
For me, it is the symbol of a defeat, but it must also be like the Phoenix Firebirdthat is reborn from its ashes. Although it may seem senseless, many think September 11th 2014 will be the date of our freedom. I look forward to it!
Tomàs Mallafré, baking services (@tmallafre)Read my previous articles

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