Why Catalans want Independence, explained by an English writer

Matthew Tree

One of the easiest ways to understand something is to have someone explain it to you from your point of view. That’s why I think the text “Life on the receiving end” by Matthew Tree is so good. It is based on a speech he gave on November 2008 at the London School of Economics.

Matthew Tree is an english writer who has lived in Catalonia for 25 years and speaks and writes in English and Catalan and he explains the Catalan situation in such a way that it is very easy for anyone to understand why Catalans desire indepedence.

I include two excerpts of his speech:

“Put bluntly, the Catalans are tiring of a tiring situation that has gone on for far, far too long. Of the six million odd citizens who have the vote, over two million now want outright independence, with a further two million remaining undecided. Even us foreigners, voteless though we are, have been canvassed. A majority of Latin Americans, it turns out, would prefer to stay in Spain, whereas the Eastern Europeans, for example, are largely in favour of secession. As is at least one long-term English
resident. Especially since less than 40% of the Spanish population would favour an armed intervention should Catalonia and the Basque Country raise their hands to wave goodbye. ”

“I never realised just how much this was the case, until something similar happened to me. Here we have the Catalan original of a novel published in 2001, ‘Privilegiat’. The biographical blurb is standard: Taught himself Catalan in 1979, published this, that and the other (Catalan titles given), contributed stories to these anthologies, bla bla bla, contributes to this and that newspaper and this and that radio station (their names given, identifying them as Catalan language media). OK.
This is the Castilian version: born in London, writer, contributor to newspapers and radios. He has lived in Barcelona since 1984. Not a single mention of the fact that I had at the time published three books in Catalan, contributed stories to five others, and worked for the Catalan media. Nothing. No mention of the dreaded C-word.

And that is precisely where the problem lies at heart. Just to live in and form no matter how modest a part of the Catalan cultural universe, is in itself seen as indifferent or undesirable or politically incorrect or downright distasteful or even bloody horrible in monolingual Spain. Yet at the same time, in Catalonia we are bombarded with reminders, some of them laced with slights, that we form part of Spain and should therefore behave in a more Spanish way than we do.

I put it to you that this is an untenable situation, which sooner or later will have the kind of consequences that will make headlines around the world – at least for a day – given that they will involve a new place being laid at the table of the United Nations. What I’m sure everybody wants – and I include the vast majority of the inhabitants of monolingual Spain – is that in the photographs accompanying the banner print, there will be no violent scenes, no rumbling tanks, no cadavers on the streets of Barcelona.
Your turn. ”

Read the full article here

6 thoughts on “Why Catalans want Independence, explained by an English writer

  1. Retroenllaç: uberVU - social comments
  2. Last popular referendums showed a voter turnout lower thant 15%. I soem big cities was below the 10%.
    SO, yeap catalans want the independence, but we are too shy to vote for it.

    Ironic tone: off

  3. Thanks Jacbob. Considering that Mr Hereu, Barcelona Mayor, only managed to get 12% of citizens of Barcelona vote in his referendum a couple of months ago after spending 3 million euros I think nobody has the right to question the turnout.

    More than half a million people have voted. The yes got 90% of the votes. The turnout is very good considering the media void, absolute lack of budget, that it was all volunteer work (more than 70000 volunteers, not bad) and basically that this was not official meaning no direct political consequences the next day.

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