Sunday, November 22, 2015

Phoenicians and Greeks in Catalonia

(7th Century BC - 6th Century BC) The Phoenicians, whose origins were in what is today known as Lebanon, were the first to trade with the indigenous communities of meridian localities of what is now Catalonia and the coastal zones of the north-eastern part of the Peninsula, up to the zone that is today Languedoc.

The Phoenicians, who came from the actual Lebanon and who had cities of Tir and Sidó, which were the base of their principal commercial operations at the beginning of the eighth century B.C., had founded the colonies of Gadir and Castillo de Doña Blanca (Cadiz) with the aim to access the rich metallurgical resources of the zone of Tartessos. Throughout the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. other Phoenician colonies were established on the coast of Málaga (Toscanos, Málaga, Morro de Mezquitilla), Granada (Almuñécar) and Almeria (Adra). Furthermore, in the middle of the seventh century Phoenicians originating in the Cadiz area founded the city of Ebussus (Ibiza), with whose traders we must relate the expansion of Jewish commerce in the area that belongs to the present day Catalonia. Between the second half of the seventh century B.C. and the first quarter of the sixth century B.C. a regular, and continuous presence of Phoenician materials is perceived in the different villages and indigenous necropolis, both in the north and the south of the mouth of the Ebro, importantly penetrating towards the interior zone, following the lower course of the river.

As time goes by, these settlements become more numerous, standing out are those of Moleta del Remei in Alcanar (Montsià), Ferradura in Ulldecona (Montsià), Aldovesta in Benifallet (Baix Ebre), Coll Art and Castellet de Banyoles in Tivissa (Ribera d’Ebre), Puig-roig in Masroig (Priorat) and Coll del Moro in Gandesa (Terra Alta). The documented Phoenician materials are principally amphorae and large containers fused for the transport of wine, oil and salted produce as well as thrown ceramic tableware, coated in a layer of red. There is no shortage, however, of sumptuous objects such as small perfume bottles, bronzes, decorated ostrich eggs and other prestigious materials destined for the local elite. The Phoenician trader’s interest was to accede to the metallurgical resources of the lower Ebro region, and especially to the copper and silver mines of the area of Falset/Bellmunt/Molar (Priorat), thereby control the surplus of bronze and maybe the agricultural spoils of the indigenous communities. This trade, channelled from Ebussus, did not imply the installation of any permanent factory in this area of the Ebro, since they preferred to use their own structure of contracts and indigenous exchange to establish their commercial net. With the same mechanism we can also explain the sporadic presence of Phoenician amphorae in the indigenous villages of the coastal area between Camp de Tarragona and Maresme, as well as in the villages of Penedès and Vallès.

Another major entity of Phoenician commerce, similar to that of the Ebro zone, starts to become outlined in the north-eastern point of Catalonia, actually in the Gironan region, which preceded the foundation of the Greek colony of Emporion (Empúries), and occurred during the second quarter of the sixth century B.C. To the previously documented Phoenician materials in the indigenous village of the island of Reixac d’Ullastret (Baix Empordà) and the necropolis of Anglès (Selva) or the indigenous imitations of Phoenician forms at the necropolis of Can Bech de Baix d’Agullana (Alt Empordà), recent searches carried out the surroundings of Empúries have allowed us to better define the importance of Jewish trading during this period. In the indigenous village of Sant Martí d’Empúries (Escala, Alt Empordà) which belongs to the first Iron Age, which is documented in the second half of the seventh century B.C. in a context of mainly handmade indigenous ceramics, the sporadic presence of Phoenician amphorae, and Etruscan imports. Also in the indigenous necropolis of incineration in Vilanera (Escala, Alt Empordà), which dates from the second half of the seventh century B.C., the only imported material we find documented are objects originating from Phoenician commerce, like big containers (‘pithoi’), mortars with a tripod, containers of perfume (‘aryballoi’) and decorated ostrich eggs. There is no doubt that the Jewish traders were also the first to build economic ties with these indigenous communities of the far north-east of the Peninsula, with the aim to access their metallurgic and agricultural resources. Also from the location of these villages, they could contact the so-called ‘Atlantic route of metals’, which was an old route that, through the Garona and Aude rivers, connected the gulf of Lleó with the beds of tin, copper and lead of the Atlantic coasts. This event also explains the presence of Phoenician materials in the indigenous villages of the western Languedoc region.

Using this net of commercial ties between the indigenous peoples and the Phoenicians, Greek trade, and especially Phocaean, would later follow: the Phocaean traders, who originated from the city of Phocaea (Foça, Turkey), and who were, according to the Greek historian Herodotus, ‘the first Greeks to undergo grand sea journeys and discover the Adriatic, Tirrena, Iberia and Tartessos’. The Phocaean interest in the metals of the Tartessos region is unquestionable and archaeology has proven that, from the last quarter of the seventh century B.C., they established commercial contacts with the Phoenician factories of the south of the Peninsula (Cádiz, Málaga, Toscanos...) and stable and direct commercial ties with the cities of Tartessos, such as in the case of Huelva. Phocaean commerce, however, did not bring with it the creation of colonial settlements of their own in the region of Tartessos, but rather choosing to interact with the economical commercial system that had already been established by the Phoenicians and the inhabitants of Tartessos. 
The fact that this commerce of metals was physically controlled by the Phoenician colonies of the area, encouraged the Phocaean’s to create their own commercial route from the northern Mediterranean, with the funding of Massalia (Marseille), around the year 600 B.C., and later, Emporion (Empúries), after having established some initial commercial ties with the indigenous villages between 580-560 B.C. During the second phase of the village of the First Iron Age period in Sant Martí d’Empúries, which dates from between the end of the seventh century B.C. and the first quarter of the sixth century B.C., as well as the handmade ceramics of local production and the imports of Phoenician amphorae and Etruscan amphorae and tableware, we also find evidence of Joni cups, Corinthian vases, grey and painted Greek ceramics, which prove the presence of this Greek commerce. Over this indigenous village, they created the commercial Phocaean Massalia (Marseille) factory of Emporion, which channelled the Greek commerce from the time of its foundation onwards, with the indigenous villages that occupied the area of the actual Catalonia. 
Thus, the supposed founding of a Greek colony in Rhode (Roses, Alt Empordà) by the Greeks of the island of Rhodes, before the first Olympiad, that is, before the year 776 B.C., is thought to be a legend. The archaeological excavations carried out in Roses have proven that there are no archaeological remains prior to the beginning of the fourth century B.C., which fact indicates that Rhode was a Greek foundation, linked to the orbit of influence of Massalia or to Emporion itself.

The existence of Emporion is key to understanding the expansion of Greek commerce and the influence of Greek culture to the Iberian villages of the Mediterranean side of the Iberian Peninsula, which were already in existence from the beginning of the sixth century B.C. Moreover when we consider that the rest of the commercial factories that were supposedly created by the Phocaeans from Massalia to give them access to the south of the peninsula and which have been documented in the old written sources, like Mainake, Hemerescopeion, Alonís and Akra Leuke, have not yet been located. The commercial and cultural impact of the inhabitants of Emporion is evident in the Iberian villages of what is now Catalonia, from the middle of the sixth century B.C. onwards, by the constant presence of objects imported from all over the Mediterranean (Attic red figure and black varnish ceramics, wine amphorae, bronzes, Etruscan ceramics...). Furthermore, in the vicinity of Emporion influence, the different ‘oppida’ or Iberian villages of the indiketa tribu, like those of Puig de Sant Andreu in Ullastret (Baix Empordà), those of Mas Casteller in Pontós (Alt Empordà) and those of Castell in Palamós (Baix Empordà), demonstrate a strong Greek influence within the Iberian society. However, without a doubt, this Greek influence extends further, as demonstrated by the ties that Emporion established with the Iberian communities established on the south of the Ebro River and in the Ponent region of what is present day Catalonia.

The open nature of the commercial relations in Antiquity encouraged the Phoenician and Greek traders (or Punic traders after the fall of Tir in Persian hands in 573 B.C., and Carthago, becoming a metropolis of the Peninsular Jewish factories), who were the intermediaries of commercialization and the traders of products manufactured by other Mediterranean cultures. So, both the presence of Etruscan materials (wine amphorae, tableware from ‘bucchero nero’, bronzes...), and that of Egyptian materials (beetles lucky charms, alabasters...) in the Iberian Peninsula must be tied to the commercial activity developed by the Punic Phoenicians and the Phoceaens from Massalia.

Read more »

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Spanish Court suspends Catalan secession process pending central government appeal

Spain’s Constitutional Court agreed today to hear the Spanish government's appeal against a secession resolution passed by Catalonia’s regional parliaments. The resolution lays out a process to establish a Catalan republic within 18 months.

In a press conference prior to the ruling, Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy said, “[t]his is blatant disregard for the state’s institutions. They are trying to do away with democracy. I will not allow it.”

In a special meeting Wednesday, the Constitutional Court unanimously ordered a suspension of the secession process pending the central government’s appeal, which could take up to 5 months. They stated in their ruling, “[t]his is a warning to [Catalan leaders] that if they fail to comply with the suspension, they may commit disobedience.”

The Catalan government though has vowed to go ahead with the process in spite of the court-ordered suspension. “The political will of the government of Catalonia is to go ahead with the content of the resolution approved Monday by the Catalan government.”

Read more »

Monday, November 9, 2015

A new Catalan political party is born

Democrats of Catalonia (Demòcrates de Catalunya) was formally established on November 8th during the constituent Congress which was held on the same date commemorated the 84th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic Union 1931. The conference was held Barcelona with the participation of 604 volunteers registered.
Nuria Gispert and Antoni Castellà are the leading faces of this splinter party Democratic Union of Catalonia which was presented in fact on 12 July 2015. The new lineup includes the sovereignty faction of UDC which did not follow the party leadership in his break with Democratic Convergence of Catalonia. UDC is against the new line of CDC independence while DC is partisan of it.
As said Joan Rigol, former President of the Parliament of Catalonia and member of the new party "we bluntly independence of Catalonia to build a state based on the person, whether that mark what we should be as a country."

Read more »

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Two thousand people rally for self-government in Northern Catalonia (French State)

Catalan is not just spoken in Spain. It is also spoken in France. For decades, Catalan speakers in Northern Catalonia (as many call the part of Catalonia under French rule) have fought for their linguistic rights. Catalan is not an official language there because of the French Constitution. The government in Paris has always refused to sign the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the European Council. Just this month the French Sentae voted against the signing.

Northern Catalonia was annexed to France on November 7th, 1659. This date is remembered every year by Northern Catalonians in the main city of the region, Perpinyà (Perpignan). This year more than 2,000 people demonstrated for a Catalan statute, that is for self-government in Northern Catalonia. They were convoked by La Federació (a federation of organisations) and CAL (a language rights group). The march was supported by many other groups, from Catalan teachers to Sem Platform or parties as CUP or ERC.

Read more »

Monday, November 2, 2015

Spanish judge decrees the suspension of Causa Galiza

Eight of the nine Galician separatist militants arrested on October 30th have been released after declaring in Madrid. The ninth, for health reasons, was released the same day and will be declared on December 14 in Madrid if his condition improves. Spanish justice has accused them of "armed group membership" based on documents which, without defending armed struggle not explicitly rejected its use. In addition, the High Court decreed the suspension of activities in the independence movement Causa Galiza for a period of two years. The organization's website has been blocked immediately.

Read more »

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Rally for the Kurdish city of Kobane in Barcelona by KurdisCat

The rally, organized by KurdisCat, will be held in Barcelona al 17 PM. It will be in the Turkish Consolate in support of the World Rally for Kobane. KurdisCat is the Catalan Committee in Solidarity with Kurdistan. This is the urgent call for action in a Global Rally for the freedom and reconstruction of Kobane. 

The determined resistance of the Kurdish men and women in this strategic border region of Rojava (Western Kurdistan in Syria) inspired people and governments all over the world when they successfully repelled the siege of their city Kobane by the Islamic State (ISIS) just over a year ago. Their fight became a symbol of popular resistance to the merciless violence and horrendous atrocities committed by ISIS.
In response, on 1 November 2014 an urgent international call for a global day of action for Kobane and for Humanity was launched appealing to people all over the world to show solidarity with Kobane and for humanitarian and material assistance.
Hundreds of individuals and organisations representing thousands of members from across the world signed this call including prominent individuals like Professor Noam Chomsky and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who have both been long-time supporters of the Kurdish struggle for self-determination, as well as Nobel Peace Prize Laureates like Adolfo Erez Esquivel, and Jose Ramos-Horta, former President of East Timor and Nora Cortinas, cofounder of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in Argentina and Palestinian singer Reem Kelani.
But while there is no official support the logistics of sending aid to Kobane has been fraught with insuperable difficulties and the people of Kobane have continued to suffer with many families fleeing to a place of greater safety. That is why it is even more urgent now to set up a humanitarian corridor from Turkey to Kobane to facilitate aid to flow through to reach the city, which is still facing ISIS assaults.
Pressure therefore needs to be brought on the government of the AKP in Ankara to take immediate action to let essential medical supplies, food and clothing, to pass through to Kobane.
Despite the relentless onslaught of ISIS forces over the past months, Kobane is still standing proud and free. The people are still putting up fierce resistance and are determined to defend their self-governing administration which is one of three cantons in the Democratic Autonomous Administration of Rojava (Western Kurdistan, Syria) who are secular, democratic, non-sectarian and pro-gender equality.
The tragic truth is that the death of the young Kurdish boy, Alan Kurdi, whose body washed up on the shore of Bodrum and shocked the world, need never have happened if the people of Kobane had received proper assistance from the international agencies a year ago.
Now is the time to aid Kobane and by so doing show solidarity with the forces who are struggling for a free, democratic and peaceful Syria.

Now is the time for the world to recognize that democratic autonomy in Rojava and the “Rojava Model” promises a free future for all peoples in Syria.
It is time to talk peace and to act for peace. Supporting Kobane is to support peace.

Read more »

Nine pro-independence Galician militants arrested

The Spanish Civil Guard detained, on October 30th, nine militants in Galicia. They were members of the political organisation Causa Galiza. Among those arrested are militant historical Galician Antom Curto Arias who had been a member of the army Guerrilheiro do Povo Galego Ceive (EGPGC) and was caught in Vigo but not Antonio García Matos "Toninho" accused of leading the group Resistencia Galician. This is a small paramilitary group active since 2007.

But the main reason for the accusation of "glorification of terrorism" seems to be in the organization of the so called "Galiza Combatente Day", on October 11th, by Causa Galiza. This date has been commemorated since the beginning of the present century, instituted by Nós-Unidade Popular in 2002. Nós-UP is already dissolved today. But only 15 years after the first commemoration produced the first arrests for this reason... only two months before the Spanish elections. Spain also points to the alleged involvement of a detainee in EGPGC, armed organization ... Galician disappeared 25 years ago.

Three Catalan movements have expressed their solidarity with the arrested citizens: Alerta Solidària, Endavant OSAN and CUP. 

Read more »

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Resolution to start secession process submitted to Catalan Parliament

On October 27th, Catalan pro-independence parties submitted a resolution to the Catalan Parliament proposing that Catalonia splits from the Kingdom of Spain. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said that he would block any independence initiatives.

The Junts pel Si (“Together for Yes”) and  CUP hope that the nine point resolution will be adopted in early November. The first article reads :
The “democratic mandate based on the result of the elections held on September 27, is aimed at creation of independent and sovereign Catalan state”. The second one declares the beginning of the state creation process while the third one initiates an “open, inclusive and active constituent civil process aimed at building a foundation for the future Catalan constitution.” The third " Beginning of participatory, open, integrated, active citizen constituent process to prepare the foundation of the future Catalan Constitution.".

And the next ones:
4) Asks the future Government to adopt the necessary measures to realize these declarations.
5) Consider it pertinent to begin within 30 days passing three laws on Constituent Process, Social Security as well as Tax Agency.
6) This Parliament, as vessel of sovereignty and expression of constitutent power, notes that this Parliament, constituent process will not be subject to decisions of Spanish state institutions, specially the Spanish Constituional Court which it considers delegitimized and without authority due to the Ruling on Catalonia's Statute of Autonomy in June, 2010 despite it having been passed in referendum by the people, among other things.
7) Will adopt necessary measures to begin disconnecting democratically, massively, sustainedly, and peacefully from the Spanish State in order to empower the citizenry on all levels, and based on open, active, integrating participation.
8) Asks future Government to follow only those regulations/mandates which come from this legitimate, democratic Chamber in order to safeguard the fundamental rights which may be affected by decisions of Spanish State institutions.
9) Declares will to open negotiations in order to carry out democratic mandate to create an independent Catalan state in form of a Republic, and hereby makes such known to Spanish State, European Union and international community.

Read more »

Monday, October 26, 2015

Carme Forcadell, former chairwoman of ANC, rises as Speaker of the new Catalan parliament

Carme Forcadell, former chairwoman of the Catalan National Assembly (Assemblea Nacional Catalana, ANC) was elected as Speaker of the new Catalan Parliament. ANC is a leading civil movement which has organized last massive rallies for independence.

The first session of the new Catalan regional parliament began on October 26th morning and Carme was elected with 77 votes in favour versus 57 "none of the above". As well as the expected the pro independence coalition "Junts Pel Sí"(Together For Yes) and CUP support, Catalunya Sí Que Es Pot  MPs also voted for Ms. Forcadell. She said: "Thank you everyone. Very happy, honored and proud to preside Catalan Parliament. Now we start walking."

Voting is taking place for the other members of the Speaker's table. The pro-secession electoral list Junts Pel Sí  is expected to control a majority of the seats, four out of seven, with the other three likely to go to Ciudadanos, the Spanish Socialist Party and Catalunya Sí Que Es Pot.

*"Junts Pel Sí"(Together For Yes). Transversal coalition for independence (CDC, ERC, MÉS, DxC...)
CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy). Anti capitalists for independence.
Catalunya Sí Que Es Pot (Catalolia Yes We Can). Left for self-determination, both unionists and independentists.

Read more »

Saturday, October 24, 2015

EU funds are keeping the bullfighting industry alive. End EU subsidies to them.

Bullfighting – it’s cruel, and there’s nothing entertaining about watching an animal suffer. Still, each year, thousands of bulls are tormented and killed during bullfights in the Kingdom of Spain, and the Republics of France and Portugal. What's even more shocking is that public funds are currently used to help fuel the bullfighting industry.

Funds available through the EU's Common Agricultural Policy help subsidise this cruelty. While the EU cannot legislate to ban bullfighting, it can stop granting farming subsidies to bull breeders through its budget.

In just 5 days, the European Parliament votes on whether to cut these subsidies. Urge your MEP to support the amendment to stop EU funds being used to finance bullfighting activities!

Now is your chance to tell the European Parliament that you don’t want public funds being used to promote brutality against animals - that it’s time to cut off funding to the bullfighting industry right now.

Please act quickly to demand that no more EU funds be used to support bullfighting!

Thank you so much for all that you do for animals.

Read more »

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Barcelona fined twice by UEFA for pro-independence banners

UEFA announced the decision following a meeting of its Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body, saying Barça had breached article 16 (2) (e) of the regulations. The article prohibits “the use of gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature”. Is a pro-independence flag, fully supported by most of the population, provocative? For whom?

Last July UEFA already fined the club €30,000 for pro-independence flags at Champions League final. Barcelona have vowed to use all legal means to fight a second fine imposed by UEFA after fans displayed pro-Catalan independence flags during September's Champions League Group E match at home to Bayer Leverkusen. This second time the sanction is even higher € 40,000.

Read more »

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Spanish Government Threatens to Suspend Catalonia Autonomous Status

Spanish Justice Ministersaid that alongside the constitution, the central Spanish government has several legislative instruments to prevent Catalonia, the autonomous region, from secession, including the use of the Spanish Constitutional Court. The Spanish government is looking into the possibility of suspending Catalonia's autonomous status if the region continues it's popular movement toward independence, Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala announced Friday.

According to article 155 of the Spanish constitution, an autonomous community can be forced to submit to the central government if the community's actions are judged by the central government as being a threat to national interests. "If the moment comes, we will apply it [article 155]," Catala said in an interview with Onda Cero radio station.

The minister said that, alongside the constitution, the central government has several legislative instruments to prevent the autonomous region from secession, including the use of the Spanish Constitutional Court. Spanish government speaker, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, also threated the Catalan self-government if Catalonia's people continue to ask for democracy to solve the political question between Catalan people and Spain. Uglyn days for freedom, once again.

Read more »

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Internationally renowned Catalan scientists supported independence

A prestigious group of Catalan scientists announced its support for the pro-independence coalition Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes)*, which it considers the "best option" to ensure the growth of the country’s research system. The manifesto is signed by 11 personalities, including Jordi Galí, Joan Massagué, Bonaventura Clotet, Joan Ramon Resina, Josep Maria Gatell, Manel Esteller, Josep Maria Llovet, Xavier Estivill, Ramon Brugada, Jaume Bertranpetit, and Carles Boix. 

The document takes issue with the Spanish government’s policies and warns that Catalonia cannot take "the great leap forward towards the generation of economic progress" without the "structures" of an independent state. "The Catalan Parliamentary elections on September 27 represent a great opportunity for science in Catalonia. In view of the situation described, the undersigned declare our support for the candidacy of Together for Yes, which we believe to be the best option to maintain the consensus developed over so many years", they concluded.

* Coalition formed by Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (liberal) and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (social-democrat). Supported by Demòcrates de Catalunya (split from UDC, Christian-democratic), MÉS (split from PSOE, socialist) and former members both of PSOE and Iniciativa per Catalunya (euro communists). It is suported as well by the Catalan National Assembly and Òmnium Cultural. First persones in the list are: Raül Romeva (former Iniciativa per Catalunya MEP), Carme Forcadell (former CNA president), Muriel Casals  (former Òmnium Cultural president), Artur Mas (Catalan government president and CDC leader) and Oriol Junqueras (former oposition leader and ERC president).

Read more »

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Help Catalonia! Catalan President summoned by Spanish Court for symbolic vote on independence

Acting Catalan President Artur Mas has been called to declare on the 15th of October* for authorising and co-organising the 9N symbolic referendum on independence that took place in 2014. Catalonia’s Supreme Court (TSJC), which pends from Spanish Administration of Justice, also confirmed the accusation of former Vice-President Joana Ortega and Catalan Minister of Education, Irene Rigau for the same charges. The official prosecution of Artur Mas and 2 other members of the Executive by that time arrives two days after 27-S elections, where pro independence parties won a majority, and takes the current political conflict a level higher.

* It is just the day the 123rd Catalan president was executed by the Spanish government.

Read more »

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pro-independence parties WIN elections

Pro-independence parties in  Catalonia region have won an absolute majority in regional elections on September 27th.  The main  alliance, Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) and a a smallest anticapitalist party, Candidatura d'Unitat Popular (People's Unity Candidacy), won 72 seats in the 135-seat regional parliament. Absolute majority. The Junts per Sí alliance won 62 seats. If it combines with the far-left separatist CUP party, which won 10 seats, it will be able to form a parliamentary majority.

The victory gives them a clear mandate to form an independent Catalan state.Spain's central government in Madrid has pledged to challenge any unilateral moves towards independence in court.

Together for Yes (Pro independence) 1,620,697 39,54 % 62 MPs
Citizens (Unionists, Center)                 734,538 17,92 % 25 MPs
Socialist Party (Unionists, Left)           521.916 12,73 % 16 MPs
Catalonia, We Can (Self-determination) 366.274  8,94 % 11 MPs
People's Party (Unionists, Right)          348.350  8,50 % 11 MPs
Popular Unity Candidacy (Pro indep.)   336.292  8,21 % 10 MPs
Democratic Union (Self-determination) 102.835  2,51 % 0 MPs

Turnout: 77,44 %

So pro independence parties won with a clear majority: 1,956,989 versus unionist 1,605,774. The parties for a new state won a 47,75 %, and the others against it only 39,15 %. Anyway the two parties who are for Catalonia's selfdetermination won 469,109 what it means a 11,45. Catalonia, We Can (left) and Catalonia's Democratic Union (right) want a referendum to decide the nation's future but they mix people who wants a Catalan new state with other ones who want to negotiate, once more, with Spain. In any case, none of these voters, wants to keep the statu quo. Only Citizens and Popular Unity defend it and they only sum one quarter of the votes. Exactly 26,42 %.        

Read more »

Friday, September 25, 2015

Catalan Government Calls For Investigation Into Double Juncker Reply With EC Position On Secession

The Catalan government called for the European Commission to investigate a reply by Jean Claude Juncker to Popular Party MEP Santiago Fisas that was published with two significantly different versions in English and Spanish.

The Spanish version contained an extra third paragraph that was not present in the original English version, and that extra third paragraph in Spanish, published in the name of Jean Claude Juncker, contained statements on national identity, territorial integrity and constitutional law, all key to the Catalan election campaign and the question of Catalonia's secession from Spain.

The publication of two different versions in English and Spanish was "very worrying", said the Catalan government statement: "given they come after different recent attempts to instrumentalise the European Union during the election campaign".

Natasha Bertaud, Coordinating Spokesperson for Mr. Juncker, told The Spain Report in an e-mail reply that: "The answer to the question is given in the English version of the answer to the Parliamentary Question. The English version is the one agreed to by President Juncker".

That means someone, who the Commission is not naming, published a politically sensitive unauthorised reply to a parliamentary question in President Juncker's name in the middle of an election campaign in the region in question.

The English reply reads: "It is not for the Commission to express a position on questions of internal organisation related to the constitutional arrangements of a particular Member State. The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its answer to written question P-009058/2014".

The original Spanish version was more than twice as long as the English version and ended with the phrase: "The determination of the territory of a member state is only established by national constitutional law, and not by a decision of a regional parliament contrary to the constitution of that state".

That version was corrected by the European Commission on Wednesday evening.

"In addition", said Ms. Bertaud: "President Juncker’s Chief Spokesperson made clear the position of the Commission – as it stands since Commission President Prodi – in the Commission press room on 17 September."

Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said on September 17 that: "If part of a member state ceases to be part of that state, because of the territory becoming an independent state, the (EU treaties) would no longer apply to that territory".

Asked if the Commission was going to open an investigation into what had happened, given the content and political context of the extra paragraph in the Spanish version, Ms. Bertaud said: "We are enquiring. But human error [is] not unheard of".

Read more »

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pere III, King of Aragon (1240–1285)

Pere III the Great, Pere III of Catalonia and Aragón, Pere II of Catalonia, Pere I of Valencia, and Pere I of Sicily, “was the troubadour-warrior ruler of the realms of Aragón (1276–1285) and liberator-conqueror of Sicily. He was born at Valencia, two years after that Islamic city fell to his father Jaime the Conqueror, of Jaime’s second wife Violante of Hungary. Jaime named him heir to Catalonia in 1253, procurator or vice-regent there at seventeen in 1257, and—at the death of Jaime’s son Alfonso by his first wife in 1260—procurator of the Catalonia, Aragón, and Valencia realms. (Pere's brother Jaime became procurator of the Balearics, Roussillon, and Cerdanya.) In 1262 Pere married Constance, the daughter and heiress of Manfred, the Hohenstaufen ruler of Sicily-Naples. Besides four sons and two daughters by his mistresses María and Agnés Zapata, he had four sons (Including his successors Alfonso II and Jaime II, and Frederico III of Sicily), and two daughters (Queen Violante of Naples and Isabel Queen of Portugal).

Although his formal reign lasted only nine years versus his famous father’s sixty-three, the Infante Pere enjoyed a fifteen-year public career as procuratorial co-ruler and soldier before his coronation. He restored feudal order as a teenager, plunged into Mediterranean Ghibelline politics during negotiations for his marriage, championed Occitan refugees after such troubles as the 1263 Marseilles revolt, captained the first phase of the Murcian Crusade in 1265–1266, replaced his father at home during Jaime’s abortive Holy Land Crusade in 1269 (and intervened in the Urgell wars of 1268), and prepared an invasion army to seize Toulouse in 1271. Relations with his father deteriorated in 1272, with Pere stripped of all offices and revenues; reconciliation came the following year. When the northern Catalan nobles revolted, Pere captured and drowned their leader, his bastard brother Ferran Sanxis. During a diplomatic visit to Paris, he met Philippe the Bold. His greatest test came in 1275–1277, when the Mudéjars of Valencia with Maghribian support revolted and nearly recovered their land. Pere had one thousand horsemen and five thousand foot soldiers at first, but soon had to assume the entire responsibility when his father died on the field (27 July 1276). Burying Jaime provisionally at Valencia and deferring his coronation at Zaragoza to 17 November, Pere grimly set about conquering much of Valencia “a second time,” as the contemporary memoirist Ramón Muntaner puts it. Meanwhile his brother Jaume II of Mallorca received the Balearics, Cerdanya, Montpellier, and Roussillon.

With the Mudéjar headquarters at Montesa castle fallen (September 1277), Pere began a vigorous domestic and international program. He demanded tribute from Tunis, harrying it through his admiral Conrad Llanca, pressured Jaime II of Mallorca into accepting vassalage, and moved strongly against the still-rebellious northern barons, ending their six-year war by his siege of Balaguer (1281) and winning their support by his clemency. By holding as “guest hostages” the Infantes de la Cerda, he dominated the Castilian succession crisis. His negotiations with Philippe the Bold at Toulouse in 1281, and his treaties of Campillo and Ágreda with Alfonso X and the Infante Sancho of Castile that year, stabilized his peninsular situation. He established understandings with Byzantium, England, Genoa, Granada, Portugal, and the papacy, and was finally ready for his life’s coup: to foil the Angevin power that had absorbed Occitania and taken over Sicily-Naples, and to assume the Hohenstaufens’ Sicilian kingdom and Ghibelline leadership in the western Mediterranean.

Massing his naval and military strength, he simulated a crusade against Tunis, actually taking Collo there; the pope refused crusade title or aid. Previously in contact with the Sicilians, Pere now supported the Sicilian Vespers revolt of 30 March 1282. He moved eight hundred knights and fifteen thousand foot soldiers by sea to Trapani, receiving the crown of Sicily-Naples at Palermo and starting a twenty-year war. A succession of naval victories by his admirals, especially Roger de Lluria, established the Catalans as the dominant maritime power of the western Mediterranean after Genoa. Besides Sicily and much of the Italian mainland, Pere also took Malta and Tunisian Djerba Island.

Meanwhile Pope Martin IV, feudal lord of Sicily and proponent of its Angevin king Charles of Anjou, excommunicated Pere in November 1282, deposed him in March 1283, and transferred all his realms to the son of Philippe the Bold of France, Charles of Valois, in February 1284. The Catalans supported their king, but the Catalan Aragonese had been ill-disposed toward the Sicilian adventure from the start. In that long and bloody war, one episode stands out—the Challenge (desafiament) of Bordeaux. Anjou offered to settle the war by personal combat with Pere  but instead arranged a trap for his arrival at English Bordeaux; Pere still appeared, met the challenge, and escaped, to the edification of Europe’s chivalric classes (1283). More formidably, a papal crusade to set Valois during Pere's reign saw an army of 118,000 foot and 7,000 horse under Philippe the Bold sweep into Catalonia. Pere delayed this greatest army since ancient Rome at Girona until Lluia’s fleet from Sicily could arrive to destroy the French naval flank and logistics, ending the invasion (September 1285). Pere suppressed a plebeian revolt in Barcelona under Berenguer Oller that same year, negotiated a major commercial treaty with Tunis, and mounted a punitive amphibious expedition against his traitorous brother on Mallorca, but died on the road to join the fleet.

The contemporary memoirist Bernat Desclot calls Pere “a second Alexander” for his generalship. Dante lauds him as “the heavy-sinewed one [who] bore in his life the seal of every merit”; and he appears both in Boccaccio’s Decameron and Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing. Pere was a troubadour (two of his poems survive) and their patron. He presided over a constitutional revolution (Aragón’s Privilege of Union, Catalonia’s Recognoverunt proceres annualparliament) in 1283–1284. He stabilized coinage with his silver croat, and maritime law with his restructured Llibre del Consolat (1283). He protected Jews and gave them important posts in his administration. As a politician and diplomat he is thought superior to his great father, and he presided over a commercial, literary, and architectural flowering in Catalonia.

Henry John Chaytor

Read more »

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Catalonia's huge pro-independence rally

Catalonia's A huge rally took place yesterday in Catalonia (nowadays Kingdom of Spain) with hundreds of thousands of pro-independence campaigners lining the streets.  About 1,400,000 people joined together in a number givern by the own city's police. The demo vas convoked by the Catalan National Assembly as well as Òmnium Cultural. The big motto was "We want our own state".

The Together for Yes (Junts pel Sí) campaign, a pro-independence coalition of parties, is leading the polls ahead of Catalonia's regional elections this month, and has promised to push through plans for an independent Catalan state if it wins a majority.  The Spanish government has promised to block any move to break away.

Aerial pictures

Read more »

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.

Read more »

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.

Read more »