Monday, August 24, 2015

Rajoy : 'Sovereignty and Unity of Spain Are Not for Trade'

Mariano Rajoy said Madrid would not make concessions to Catalonia's independence. Spain will not offer concessions to Catalonian independence supporters, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Monday in twitter:

“ #Catalonia We act firmly and proportionally. National sovereignty and unity of Spain are not for trade” Rajoy posted on his Twitter page.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Catalonia Ready to Turn Talarn Military Academy into World-Class Institution, Learning Hub

Growing tensions in Europe and multiple American commitments elsewhere are resulting in increasing pressure on NATO European partners to upgrade their military capabilities. The Pentagon has been vocal in pressuring the UK to formally commit herself to meeting Atlantic Alliance guidelines on defence investment, but the issue goes beyond resources, involving also the political will to enact the necessary military reforms to ensure that modern, agile, deployable forces are in place. Gone are the days following the Cold War, when the Old Continent looked forward to enjoying substantial “peace dividends”, and so are the days when US taxpayers could be counted upon to underwrite European defence, while their counterparts across the Atlantic kept their money in their pockets or enjoyed a comparatively higher level of social spending. Welcome to the real world.

Catalonia is not alien to these trends. With freedom comes responsibility, and anybody seeking the former must not only undertake the latter, but be seen by partners and allies to be doing so. On 30 June, the director of research at RUSI (one of London's two foremost defence and security think-
tanks), said that “Independence (and UN membership) necessarily involves having capability of own armed forces”. Speaking at a conference organized by Diplocat, Catalonia's public diplomacy agency, at Cambridge University on 30 June, Dr Malcolm Chalmers added “we'd prob see Spain and Catalonia as members of every club possible”, in a thinly-veiled reference to NATO and ad-hoc coalitions.

Dr. Chalmers' words did not go unnoticed, and a couple of weeks later the Catalan National Assembly held a roundtable on the future of Talarn NCO Academy. Located in Pallars Sobirà County (Western Catalonia), this facility has been operating at half steam in recent years, to put it mildly. Limited to training NCOs and not even open for the full year, Talarn is served by a single train per day and most of its many buildings remain empty or infrautilized. Home to no reserve units, lacking any agreement with civilian universities, and devoid of any significant presence of students and instructors from Allied nations, Talarn is but a shadow of what it could be. The local community, which has often mobilized in order to press for its continued existance, sees with concern how the facility's contribution to the local economy and labour market is much less than it could be. Pallars Sobirà County is a rural area with falling population, devoid of major industries, and where young people are often forced to emigrate in search for jobs.

The roundtable took place in Tremp, the biggest town near the Academy, the event being recorded in full. The public included the mayors of Tremp and Talarn, as well as the chairman of the county council. First to speak was Marta Alegret, ANC Pallars Jussà County coordinator, who welcomed participants and explained the goals of the event. Next spoke Àngel Font, in charge of the event, who stressed that this was not a one-off roundtable, but rather intended to mark the beginning of a serious look at Talarn's future in an independent Catalan state. The Academy can and should make a major contribution to the local economy, while becoming a pillar of the country's national security, leaving behind its current shortcomings and lack of ambition. It was then the turn of the two speakers.

Alex Calvo, an expert in security and defence in the Indian-Pacific Ocean Region and guest professor at Nagoya University (Japan), said that the time had come to have a serious military academy. Explaining that defence was the hardcore of any state, he added that among other roles the military also contributed to the economy and to the balance among a country's different regions. The latter has traditionally been a goal of Catalan parties, bent on building the necessary infrastructure in rural areas far from the Barcelona connurbation, yet one that has turned out to be impossible in the absence of an independent state. Calvo next provided an outline of Spanish defence policy and its main shortcomings, among them the role that the military granted itself in the 1978 Constitution to preserve Spanish borders regardless of the will of the Catalan people, a distraction that hinders its contribution to NATO, the poor maintenance of a significant portion of its equipment, insufficient training, a small role for reserves, the harassment of Gibraltar, and a lack of logistic capabilities. He underlined that many of these shortcomings, for example poor maintenance and a lack of training, could also be found in other European NATO members. Concerning Talarn, Calvo explained that its facilities may well hold not only a much more serious, ambitious, and international-minded academy, but also other initiatives such as a national defence university. References to a lack of proper transportation infrastructure stirred the public, which bitterly denounced that only one train per day served the Academy and nearby towns. This is one of many anomalies that a serious military academy may help put an end to.

Josep Sort, lecturer at Ramon Llull University, emphasized that the military played a vital role in rebalancing economic activity across a country's territory. A traditional role for armies is to serve as economic engine in less populated regions. He said that Pallars Jussà was the county that would benefit the most from Catalan independence. Elaborating on this, Sort explained that it could be home to a university specialized in security and defence, offering also part time and distance-learning courses, and open to both civilians a military personnel. A world-class institution. Sort explained that Catalans were already paying Spanish military spending, but that the percentage reverting to the Catalan economy was very small. Concerning this, he criticized those voices discussing defence spending as something not already being shouldered by Catalonia. Spanish authorities tend to systematically locate all defence industry facilities outside Catalonia, in Madrid and Andalusia. We are financing Spain's defence industry, while securing no return from it in terms of employment and research. All this will change with independence. A Spanish Talarn's future is very negative, while that of a military academy in an independent Catalonia is brilliant.

Question time was witness to the public's interest in the future of Talarn, and the local population's anger at the lack of quality public transportation. A question concerned Switzerland's defence model, while another one dealt with the evolution in recent years of Catalan leaders' public statements on defence policy. Concerning this, we have moved from a certain confusion and even uneasiness when the independence recovery process began, to the current public commitment to NATO membership, explicitly stated by President Artur Mas in Parliament on 3 June this year.

The event concluded with a reminder that it was not intended as a one-off, but rather the launching pad of a processes aimed at seeing Talarn become a world-class military academy, serving Catalonia and her partners and Allies, and making a meaningful contribution to the local economy. Àngel Font stressed this, underlining that only independence could secure the academy's future.

Alex Calvo, an expert in defence policy in the Indian-Pacific Ocean Region, was one of the speakers at the roundtable.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Basques and Catalan fined for booing Spanish national anthem

Spain’s anti-violence commission has fined Barcelona €66,000 (£47,000) after the Catalan club’s fans booed the national anthem before the Copa del Rey final in May.

According to Marca, Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona’s opponents in the final, were also fined €18,000 for their fans’ part in the booing while the Spanish Football Federation was fined €123,00.

The game, which took place at the Camp Nou, was won 3-1 by Luis Enrique’s side, a win that sealed their domestic double in Enrique’s first season in charge of the club.

The news of Barcelona’s fine comes days after Uefa fined Barcelona €30,000 after the club’s supporters displayed pro-Catalan independence flags at the Champions League final in Berlin.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ireland And Catalonia, Some Historic Parallels

In the general election of December 1918 the revolutionary Irish republican and nationalist party, Sinn Féin, took 73 of the available 105 seats allocated to Ireland in the House of Commons, the parliament of the so-called “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”. The Irish Parliamentary Party, a nationalist-regionalist grouping favouring some form of quasi-autonomy or federalism for Ireland within the UK, took just 6 seats, a huge loss for a conservative organisation that once dominated the domestic politics of the country. In contrast the pro-UK British unionist parties on the island gained 26 seats, divided between the majority Irish Unionist Alliance (from which the Ulster Unionist Party would soon emerge), the minority Ulster Unionist Labour Association and a sole independent unionist.
With nearly 70% of the elected MPs for Ireland coming from SF the party, as promised in its campaign, came together on January 21st 1919 to form Dáil Éireann, a new national parliament for an independent nation-state of Ireland. Ratifying the revolutionary republic proclaimed in the Easter Rising of 1916 this assembly quickly set about establishing a cabinet-government (Aireacht), a constitution (Bunreacht Dála Éireann), a judiciary (Cúirteanna na Dála), and control over a police and military force (drawn from the existing Irish Republican Army of 1916, principally the Irish Volunteers). All these acts of sovereignty were accompanied by the issuing of a declaration of independence and a multilingual address to the free nations of the world. Unsurprisingly the British colonial authorities in Ireland and their unionist allies responded to this burgeoning Irish democracy with repression, engaging in mass arrests, imprisonments, the banning of key political, social and cultural organisations or of their work, censorship, political exiling, intimidation and violence.

An Chéad Dáil - the First Dáil, the revolutionary assembly of the Irish Republic, Dublin, Ireland, January 21st 1919

An Chéad Dáil – the First Dáil, the revolutionary assembly of the Irish Republic, Dublin, Ireland, January 21st 1919

And we all know how well those policies fared in the months and years to follow.
Given the above some might see some parallels in the situation pertaining in early 20th Ireland and that currently taking place in early 21st century Catalonia. In recent weeks the main Catalan political parties and groupings, both progressive republicans and more conservative nationalist-regionalists, have negotiated and launched a diverse pan-nationalist front – similar to the revolutionary-era Sinn Féin – to contest local devolved elections expected this September, on a platform of independence from Spain. Early reports indicate that the move has been a great success, boosting a campaign for sovereignty that seemed to have been faltering since the start of the summer.
Guy Hedgecoe writing in the Irish Times:
“It was an awkward photo opportunity: King Felipe VI posing next to the regional premier of Catalonia, Artur Mas, ahead of their hour-long meeting at the royal palace in Madrid in mid-July. In the company of most politicians, the king tends to appear relaxed and jovial, but as the press cameras clicked away and Mas attempted some small talk, the monarch looked decidedly tense.
The king’s concern is understandable. On Monday, Mas announced formally a Catalan regional election for September 27th, which pro-independence parties and civic groups, all running on a shared ticket, are treating as a plebiscite on independence. If the nationalist Mas and his allies win, they plan to push ahead with a process that would see an independent Catalan state in existence in 2016 or 2017.
Support for independence had dipped in the polls since Mas staged an unofficial referendum on the issue in November. In addition, the rise of the anti-austerity Podemos party appeared to offer Catalans who were unhappy with traditional Spanish politics an alternative to independence. Meanwhile, Mas’s centre-right Convergence party was having trouble agreeing with the powerful Catalan Republican Left (ERC) on how to proceed towards a breakaway from Spain.
But the announcement of the united electoral platform has given the independence camp momentum and made its goal suddenly look more feasible than it did a few weeks ago.
Unveiled on July 21st, the Junts pel Sí­ (“Together for Yes”) electoral list’s candidates include Mas and ERC leader Oriol Junqueras, the most visible political figures of the movement. But in an unusual move, the list also includes members of two major nationalist civic groups: the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural. In a further attempt to broaden the list’s appeal, soccer coach Pep Guardiola also figures on it.
At the presentation of the list, the candidates said that if they got a majority of seats in the Catalan parliament they would immediately declare intent to push ahead with independence. That would be followed by the drafting of a Catalan constitution, to be approved via referendum, in a process they expect to take between six and 18 months and which they envisage culminating in the creation of a new state.”
All of which sounds very familiar indeed for an Irish readership. Let’s hope that the Spanish have a lot more sense – and a far greater respect for democracy – in Catalonia 2015 than the British did in Ireland 1918.


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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ludicrous: Barcelona fined by UEFA for Catalonia independence fan banners on Champions League Final

Some Barcelona fans were singing and putting up banners for the independence of Catalonia during the UEFA Champions League Final last June. Now, the club has been punished for it.

On Thursday, UEFA fined the Catalan club €30,000 in response to the actions of those fans. The Blaugrana are the symbol of the pride and desire of separation from the rest of Spain for most of the people from that territory, and singing against Spain and for the independence is a religion at Camp Nou games.
According to UEFA, it's prohibited to use gestures and/or banners that support political and religious causes in competitions organized by the institution.
But the Catalan giants are planning to question the ruling, according to an official press release on the same day:
FC Barcelona respects UEFA’s decision that was relayed to the Club on Thursday in relation to the Champions League final in Berlin, however, it does not agree with that decision, especially in the light of the UEFA delegate’s description of the Barça members and fans’ behaviour as excellent, both before, during and after the game, as stated in their report.
With the aim of defending the rights of the Club and its members and while respecting current legislation, the Club’s legal services will consider the possibility of questioning the fine announced today, Thursday. Our conviction is that the rights of the Club and members are not incompatible with current legislation.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Barcelona council removes bust of former king of Spain from city hall

Barcelona's new  mayor removed a bust of former King Juan Carlos from the town hall. The highly political gesture reflects increasing differences between Spain's national government in Madrid and Catalonia, whose capital is the city of Barcelona.
Mayor Ada Colau removed the bust Thursday, saying the law stipulates there should be an image of the head of state in the chamber and Juan Carlos no longer holds that position.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria countered Friday that if Barcelona needed an image of new King Felipe VI — Juan Carlos' son— the government will gladly provide one. A unionist councillor, son of a Francoist militant, tried to substitute the bust for a frame without success. 

The likeness came down on the same day that Felipe, Juan Carlos son, warned that the push for secession could not take precedence over the law. An alliance of pro independence politicians, led by the Catalan president, Artur Mas, have said they are ready to declare unilateral independence from Spain if they win a majority in the regional elections at the end of September, 27th.

In his most pointed remarks on the issue to date, Spain’s king said: “Public authorities are subject to the rule of law, and it is by respecting it that they guarantee orderly functioning of the state.”He stopped short of referring to Catalonia or the push for independence, but the remarks were made at an address in Barcelona at which Mas was present.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Catalan parties and civil groups make election alliance for independence

Parties seeking independence for Catalonia have forged an alliance for September 27th regional elections that they hope will boost their drive to break away from Spain. The meeting on July 14th was successful to find such an agreement.

Leaders of the centre-right CDC (Democratic Convergence of Catalonia) party and left-wing ERC (Catalonia's Republican Left) sealed a pact at a meeting on Tuesday, agreeing to run on a joint ticket on September 27. Moreover, the two biggest civical entities for indepence will be inside the ticket too. The Catalan National Assembly and Òmnium Cultural were present in the meeting too.

Spain's conservative national government fiercely opposes independence for the rich northeastern region, which wants to follow Scotland's example by voting on its political future.

The parties want the regional election to serve as a de facto referendum by running on a joint ticket, campaigning on the single issue of independence. They agreed that if they jointly win a majority, they will form a coalition government led by current regional president Artur Mas that will aim to achieve independence within 18 months.

Both parties agreed to let a Leftist Green politician (Raül Romeva) and two leaders of pro-independence civil groups head the electoral list to push the independence agenda forward.

The CDC currently governs Catalonia, a region with numerous pro- and anti-independence parties, but it split in June from its longtime coalition partner UDC in disagreement over the path to sovereignty. The pro independence faction of UDC broke with the party as well and founded a new one called Democrats of Catalonia. It is expected that this new group will support the "unity list" as well as the Spanish socialist party split called "Més" (in Catalan for "More").

The far left CUP, also pro independence, announced that they will run alone.

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Spanish PM Rajoy : Catalans and Spaniards "share the same blood"

Spain's Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, stated in Brussels that "Spain is the oldest nation in Europe" and that "the Catalan people and the rest of Spaniards have mixed themselves and share the same blood and all sorts of relations". He sent this message on Thursday when he was asked whether he will participate in the Spanish Parliament's debate on transferring referendum powers to the Catalan Government using Article 150.2 of the Constitution. The debate is scheduled for the 8th of April following a formal petition of the Catalan Parliament. Rajoy refused to disclose whether he will participate in the debate or not. However, he insisted that the Partido Popular (PP, People's Party) – which runs the Spanish Government  – will defend "common sense". What it means common sense for a racist who speaks about "same blood"?. "It is not important who will talk", "but the message and our stance is very clear: [Catalonia's self-determination] aims to deny all Spaniards such a fundamental right as deciding how they want their country to be like", he said.

"We can be proud of the last 50 years", stated Rajoy. "Spain is a country that, in the last 50 years, is among the planet's 5 countries that have the most increased income per capita", he added. "Spain is the oldest nation in Europe, we have done many things together along our history, even though some of them maybe were not good", carried on Rajoy."The Catalan people and the rest of Spaniards have mixed themselves and share the same blood and all sorts of relations", he said. "Therefore we believe we have a future in a world that shares greater integration and union", highlighted the Spanish PM.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thousands of bikers ride for Catalan independence

Around 4,500 bikers rallied in the Montmelo Circuit in Barcelona, Saturday, before taking to the streets of the city to show their support for the Catalan independence movement. Organisers said a total of 7,000 people attended the event, known as the 'Motorada per la Independencia' (English: Motorada for Independence).

Motorada representative Olga Pelegri stressed the pacific nature of the action, saying "we are here to gain independence, to gain our freedom and we show it in a democratic way." Many of the participants were holding the official Catalan flag and the Estelada flag, a symbol of Catalan separatism.

Catalonia will hold a regional parliamentary election on September 27, just months before the Spanish general election. The two main parties in favour of independence - Convergencia Democratica de Catalunya and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya - will not include a joint list of candidates in this year's vote. Some people expressed solidarity with the Kurdish resistance in Syria too holding flags of the Kurdish militias YPG and YPJ.

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Catalonia's ruling 2-party alliance splits

A 37-year long joint venture that has been dominating the Catalan political scenario came today to an end after CiU senior partner CDC announced the alliance is over.

CDC (pro-independence liberals led by Catalan president Artur Mas) say they will be running for the next Catalan parliamentary election -to be held on September 27th- with an explicit commitment to start the process towards Catalonia's full independence from Spain.

CDC national coordinator Josep Rull argued today that CDC cannot longer support Catalonia to remain as one of Spain's autonomous communities: "For 35 years", he said, "CDC has insisted on the [so-called] third way," i.e. enlarged self-government for Catalonia within the framework of a federal or confederal Spain. "But that is no longer viable", Rull said, because the Spanish government and Spain's institutions do not accept such an evolution.

Rull said CiU junior partner UDC (christian democrats) does not want to join CDC in a pro-independence political project. Then the right thing for CiU to do, Rull argued, is to split and run separately for the Sep 27 election. "CiU's political project is over," Rull concluded.

In turn, UDC is internally split on the issue of independence. Most party senior members reject explicit support for Catalan independence, and want instead Catalonia to become a sort of associated state with Spain. But some UDC senior members hold pro-independence stances. They are likely to break up from the party and join CDC in a common list for the Sep 27 election.

The end of CiU is landmark news for Catalan politics. The alliance, which was established in 1978, led the Catalan government from 1980 to 2003, and again from 2010 till now. It has been the strongest list in all Catalan parliamentary elections since the end of the Franco dictatorship.

Proxy referendum, independence in 18-month time

Pro-independence parties and associations and Catalan president Mas say the September election will serve as a proxy referendum on independence given the fact that Spain has not allowed a real one to be held in spite of demands emerging from Catalonia.

CDC signed in March an 18-month roadmap to independence along with pro-independence social democrat Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), two pro-independence civil society organizations (ANC and Òmnium) and the Association of Pro-Independence Municipalities (AMI).

The roadmap says that Catalonia will start a "process towards the proclamation of a new State, or Catalan Republic" after the Sep 27 election if pro-independence parties get an absolute majority.

Besides CDC and ERC, another party (democratic socialist CUP) is also supportive of full independence for Catalonia from Spain. CDC and UDC will run separately for crucial Sep 27 election.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Spanish Consulate in Brussels refused to process legal document written in Catalan

 Spanish government justifies this and defends the use of a security guard to "escort away" the citizen who had requested it

CNA Madrid | 

José Manuel García-Margallo / EFE 
Consulates, diplomatic missions, or Spanish consular offices in general are not expected to process documents submitted by citizens and directed to the justice administration that have been written in a co-official language, not even if the court to which it is addressed is located where that language is spoken. This is how the Spanish government justified the incident that took place on March 6 this year at the Spanish General Consulate in Brussels, when civil servants refused to process a document submitted by a Catalan citizen and addressed to a court in Sabadell (Catalonia), because it was written in Catalan rather than Spanish.

The case has surfaced because of the reply to a written inquiry sent to the Spanish government by Jordi Xuclà, a CiU MP in Madrid’s parliament. In the letters, to which the Catalan News Agency has had access, Xuclà asked why on March 6 the Consulate in Brussels refused to process a document submitted by a Catalan citizen living in Brussels, addressed to a court of law in Sabadell "simply because it was written in Catalan". The procedure requested of the consular employee consisted solely of verifying the identity of the citizen, registering the receipt of the document, and forwarding it to the Sabadell courthouse.

According to the testimony of the citizen, the behavior of the civil servant who dealt with him was absolutely fine until he noticed that the document was written in Catalan --even though he had no reason to read it. At that moment, according to what Xuclà reported in his inquiry, he was told that they could not accept it and ordered to leave. Even though the citizen explained that it was an urgent matter and asked the employee to check with his supervisor, the civil servant "refused" to comply with the request "and told a security guard to escort him out of the office".

In its response, the Spanish government justified the behavior of this civil servant, claiming that the fact that the document was addressed to a court, and not to a public administration, "excluded it from the jurisdiction of administrative law", which includes the right to submit texts written in co-official languages, and meant that it fell under the laws of civil court proceedings. 

According to the Rajoy administration, the contents of the laws of judicial procedure state that "the use of an official language other than Spanish is only admissible in those proceedings that take place, and in the documents that are presented, before the organs of the Justice Administration located in the territory of the Autonomous Community where that language is official". 

The Spanish government argues that, in this case, the procedure requested "was not a mere registration, but of a different nature" and "it required consulate to know the contents of the document submitted", because "a legal report regarding the document had to be issued and addressed to a judicial organ". For this reason, they claimed, "the interested party was asked to produce a text written in Spanish, the official working language of Consular offices in Spain and abroad".

The Spanish government also justified the use of the security guard. According to their response, the civil servant who attended to the citizen "asked the guard to accompany the party in question to a waiting room so that a supervisor could talk to him later, as he had requested", but "at no point was he expelled from the consulate".

Finally, according to the Spanish government, this same citizen "returned after a few hours to process the transaction before the same consular employee, and following the instructions that he had received".

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fourth in line to the Spanish throne accused of racial abuse

It is not the first time Froilán – or Felipe Juan Froilán de Todos los Santos de Marichalar y Borbón, to give him his full name – has found himself in trouble. This time he has been accused of racially abusing a staff member at a theme park in Madrid, after being told that he was not allowed to jump the queue for a ride.

A nephew of King Felipe, 16-year-old Don Froilán, apparently lost his temper at the Parque de Atracciones last week, when he attempted to jump a long queue. After being challenged by a schoolteacher, Froilán is alleged to have said: “I’m fourth in line to the Spanish throne.”
According to El Economista newspaper, an attendant at the park then told the teenager that he would have wait his turn for the ride, at which point, Froilán shouted: “You shut up, you fucking chino.” “Chino” is used in Spain to describe a person of Chinese origin.

Last year, he was kicked out of school after twice failing his exams, and in 2012 he managed to shoot himself in the foot during a hunting trip. At the time he was not yet 14, the minimum legal age to use firearms in Spain.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Catalan (and Basque) Booing Banned in Spain

Well, we are just like Nostradamus. In fact it is easy to guess what the Kingdom of Spain is ready to do. It is always the same: to ban, to taunt, to abuse, to forbid. This is the Spanish Kingdom DNA. Last February 2013 we published the article 'Booing Soon to Be Banned in Spain'. Many people thought it was a joke. Now it's the real life. Booing of the Spanish nationalist anthem and against the King of Spain will be prohibited by law and the perpetrators might incur fines.

Last football King's Cup (on Saturday May 30th) was played by F.C. Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao. Both Catalans and Basques protested booing against the Spanish imposed anthem (the Franco's one). It is called freedom of expression everywhere. Not in Spain.

Following the loud boos and jeers heard from the stands of Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium when the Spanish national anthem played over the loudspeakers, the Popular Party have announced that they will “suggest a series of legal changes” to ensure that such actions do not go unpunished in the future.

Saturday’s jeering was “an event that offends us,” an “insult” and a “horror” said PP spokesman Carlos Floriano. PP spokesman Carlos Floriano said his party was analyzing legislation in countries where attacking national symbols is a crime, with an eye to introducing similar laws in Spain. Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez phoned King Felipe VI to express his solidarity after the jeering. Left or Right Spain is Spanish.

The government is going to fine the clubs for a decision made by their fans, to express criticism over the political situation or because much of society has taken up a habit that is incompatible with respect for the institutions at public social demonstrations.

On 2012 Spanish whistled massively the French national anthem in a football match in Madrid. This is "good" booing. Basque and Catalan are not.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Catalan Independence Flags as a Metaphor for a Colonial Situation

On 23 May at dawn, the Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan Police) took down Ripoll's independence flag. The town, in the Pyrenees, is symbolically important, being known as “the cradle of Catalonia”. They did so after the ERC (main Catalan opposition party) and the CiU (Catalan ruling coalition) had announced that they did not intend to withdraw it. Many local councils have done so themselves. It is yet another episode in the series of Catalan acts of submission towards Spain. Spanish power, in the shape of a Central Election Board which is everything except neutral, has imposed the withdrawal of this symbol. It has done so against the explicit will of the people, democratically expressed through its local elected officials.

A court made up of twelve individuals imposed the withdrawal of Catalonia's Statute of Autonomy. It did so against the will of a majority of the Catalan people. It was accepted.

Other courts, usually headed by unjust “judges” have put an end to teaching in Catalan (language immersion). They have done so against the massive will of a parliament where more than 90 percent of lawmakers support it. These judges who have decided to put an end to schooling in Catalan, most of them, practice in Catalonia without knowing the Catalan language. The Generalitat's Education Ministry is kowtowing to their decision.

On 9 November an absolute majority of Catalan parties called a referendum on independence. Once again Spain imposed that it not take place. It was exchanged for a symbolic, harmless, consultative vote.

Estatute of Autonomy, Catalan language schooling, independence flags, referendum. It all follows the same pattern. First step: democratic, majority affirmation. Second: denial, by means of a colonial-like imposition. Third: submission.

Only once has Catalonia not submitted. The ban on the 2009 Arenys de Munt unofficial referendum was not obeyed. And that act of disobedience prompted a turn in the recent history of our nation. How much Catalonia has changed over the last five years as a result of that dignity-driven action!.

The fallacy that “one can only disobey once” or that “one must do it right” feeds this kowtowing attitude towards Spanish courts, which are devoid of any ethical and political legitimacy. It is not true. One must disobey as many times as it takes. Failure to do so reinforces one's adversary and gives him legitimacy. Withdrawing Catalan independence flags while leaving in place the Spanish flag, the same Franco-era flag, legitimates post-Francoism. Only by disobeying shall we achieve anything. Furthermore, it will not be necessary to do it much, since Spanish authorities in Catalonia are a giant with feet of clay. It only has the strength of our fear.

Ireland disobeyed 18 times. Today she is independent.

Jordi Vàzquez

As you can see, history repeats itself in Catalonia...

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Stoichkov: " I've always been pro-independence. Why should you have to depend onsomeone else?"

Hristo Stoichkov  is a retired footballer, he is regarded as the greatest Bulgarian footballer of all time. In fact he was runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year (1992, 1994) and the Ballon d'Or (1994). He is a former player at F.C. Barcelona as well. On 1992 he won the European Champions League with the Catalan team.

Hristo Stoichkov has  highlighted his long-standing support for Catalan independence at Radio4G: "When I used to play for the Bulgarian national team, I'd always wear an armband that was the colours of the Catalan flag. I've always been pro-independence, eversince I said as much at Wembley in 1992. Why should you have to depend onsomeone else? Why have to pay what someone else says?"

Nevertheless, Stoichkov disagreed with Éric Cantona's recent assertions about the 2010 World Cup being a purely Catalan victory: "Catalonia didn't win it, Spain did. I have a great deal of respect for Vicente del Bosque. I'm proud of my teammates who wore both the Barcelona and Spain shirts".
Stoichkov highlighted his long-standing support for Catalan independence: "When I used to play for the Bulgarian national team, I'd always wear an armband that was the colours of the Catalan flag. I've always been pro-independence, ever since I said as much at Wembley in 1992. Why should you have to depend on someone else? Why have to pay what someone else says?"
Nevertheless, Stoichkov disagreed with Éric Cantona's recent assertions about the 2010 World Cup being a purely Catalan victory: "Catalonia didn't win it, Spain did. I have a great deal of respect for Vicente del Bosque. I'm proud of my teammates who wore both the Barcelona and Spain shirts".
Stoichkov highlighted his long-standing support for Catalan independence: "When I used to play for the Bulgarian national team, I'd always wear an armband that was the colours of the Catalan flag. I've always been pro-independence, ever since I said as much at Wembley in 1992. Why should you have to depend on someone else? Why have to pay what someone else says?"
Nevertheless, Stoichkov disagreed with Éric Cantona's recent assertions about the 2010 World Cup being a purely Catalan victory: "Catalonia didn't win it, Spain did. I have a great deal of respect for Vicente del Bosque. I'm proud of my teammates who wore both the Barcelona and Spain shirts".

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Human Towers

"Castells" are human towers built by members of amateur groups, usually as part of annual festivities in Catalonian towns and cities. 
The traditional setting is the square in front of the town hall balcony. The human towers are formed by castellers standing on the shoulders of one another in a succession of stages (between six and ten). 
Each level of the tronc, the name given to the second level upwards, generally comprises two to five heavier built men supporting younger, lighter-weight boys or girls. The pom de dalt – the three uppermost levels of the tower – comprises young children. 

Anyone is welcome to form the pinya, the throng that supports the base of the tower. Each group can be identified by its costume, particularly the colour of the shirts, while the cummerbund serves to protect the back and is gripped by castellers as they climb up the tower. 

Before, during and after the performance, musicians play a variety of traditional melodies on a wind instrument known as a gralla, setting the rhythm to which the tower is built. The knowledge required for raising castells is traditionally passed down from generation to generation within a group, and can only be learned by practice.

Inscribed in 2010 (5.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pro Spain organised rally for 3rd consecutive year, but much smaller than pro-independence one

On Spain's National Day, on the 12th of October, the unionist association called Catalan Civil Society (SCC) organized a massive demonstration against Catalonia's self-determination and independence in downtown Barcelona, which was backed by the People's Party (PP) – running the Spanish Government, the anti-Catalan nationalist party Ciutadans (C's) and the Spanish nationalist party UPyD. However, the unionist demonstration was smaller than expected very far from congregating hundreds of thousands of people, and even further from the colossal successes of the pro-independence rallies of 2012, 2013 and 2014. Last Sunday, between 16,000 and 38,000 people demonstrated in Barcelona for Spain's unity, according to different sources. 

Between 900,000 and 1.8 million demonstrated for independence a month ago. "We are Catalonia, we are Spain" and "Building bridges, not walls" were some of the banners showed. SCC accused self-determination supporters of "supremacism" and acting in a "naïve" way, issuing "a grotesque message" about independence, "which will make us poorer". PP, C's and UPyD asked the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, "to listen to the not-so-silent majority". They accused Mas of "lying" to Catalans and asked him for "common sense". Besides, two other demonstrations were also taking place against Catalonia's independence in Barcelona on the same day, organised by extreme-right parties. A first one was organised by the marginal racist Catalan party PxC and by the Spanish Nationalist and far-right trade union Manos Limpias (nothing to do with the Italian homonym organisation), under the banner "Spain: a nation for all", written both in Catalan and Spanish. This demonstration finally merged with that of SCC in Catalunya Square. A second small demonstration had been organised by supporters of Franco dictatorship and neo-Nazi groups, which was attended by some 300 people. This small rally took place in Espanya Square and several Catalan independence flags were burnt. 

On Sunday 12th of October, coinciding with Spain's National Day, unionist supporters and parties participated in a large-scale demonstration, which tried to counter-act the massive pro-independence rallies. It was the 3rd consecutive year that a demonstration was organised to support Spain's unity in the Catalan capital on the 12th of October. As happened in 2012 and 2013, organisers again failed to totally fill up Catalunya Square with people, since several sides of this public area were empty of demonstrators. However they still gathered thousands of people carrying Spanish and Catalan flags.

38,000 pro-unity demonstrators vs 1.8 million pro-independence demonstrators

According to Barcelona's Local Police, 38,000 people participated in it; a month ago, 1.8 million participated in the rally for the non-binding referendum vote and independence, according to the Catalan Police. According to alternative calculations made by independent university professors, between 16,000 and 18,000 people demonstrated on the 12th of October for Spain's unity while 900,000 did so on the 11th September for Catalonia's independence. Despite the different figures, in all the calculations, the pro-Spain's unity demonstration was about 50 times smaller than the pro-independence one.

In both cases, the demonstrations were fully advertised in public and private media and political parties also worked to increase participation despite the rallies having been called and organised by civil society associations. Furthermore, SCC fleeted many free buses from other parts of Catalonia and Spain to attend Sunday's demonstration in Barcelona, on which participants could travel at no cost. Many buses were also fleeted on the 11th of September by the organisers of the pro-independence rally, although back then people had to pay for their transport ticket.

In fact, in the last few days, many doubts have arisen about how the SCC funds its activities, since the platform was only created in April and visibly has a great amount of resources. In response to the controversy, SCC has announced it will publish its accounts soon, although it had not given a detailed explanation about its funding scheme yet.

Furthermore, SCC has met with the Spanish Prime Minister and leader of the People's Party (PP), the leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Catalan President. The main pro-independence organisations have never met with the Spanish PM and the PSOE leader.

SCC accuses those in favour of independence of being "supremacist and naïve"

The SCC President, Josep Ramon Bosch, asked the Catalan Government "to come back to the [area of] common sense". "Some people say they are in a hurry to materialise their grotesque message [of an independent Catalonia] that will make us poorer, irrelevant and less free" stated Bosch. "I am telling you that we are also in a hurry, but in a hurry for having common sense back", he added.

The Vice President of SCC, Joaquim Coll, accused those supporting self-determination of "intimidating and coercing" those against it. He also added that "thinking that Catalans, for the mere fact of being Catalans, we will do things better if we separate from the rest of Spain reflects a thought half way between supremacist and naïve".

Spanish nationalist parties also participate in the demonstration

The Catalan leader of the PP, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, asked Artur Mas "to listen to the plural Catalonia", which demonstrated in Barcelona on Spain's National Day. According to her, the Catalan President "has lost common sense and the sense of responsibility to govern". She also pledged "the law" as the way to solve the current self-determination conflict and repeated that there will not be "an illegal referendum".

The President of C's, Albert Rivera, asked Mas to recognise that he has "lied" to Catalans regarding the non-binding referendum vote on independence scheduled for the 9th of November. Rivera asked Mas to call early elections. Furthermore, the leader of the anti-Catalan nationalism party said he will work for "reconciliation" between Catalans.

The Member of the Spanish Parliament for UPyD, Toni Cantó, who was elected in Valencia, asked the Catalan President "to take note of a majority" that each time "is less of a silent and invisible majority". The MP of UPyD, which has no representation in Catalonia, said to be "proud" of participating in Barcelona's demonstration because "together we are more and better".

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