One of the first consequences of the Catalan Statute sentence passed last month by the Spanish Constitutional Court. The Catalan Welcoming and Integration Law says that immigrants who arrive in Catalonia will be welcomed in Catalan to acomplish this the Generalitat (the Catalan Government) offers free Catalan courses. Now the Spanish Ombudsman is appealing this law to the Spanish Constitutional Court and wants this to change so that they are welcomed in Castilian-Spanish instead (link in Catalan). This makes no sense since the language in Catalonia is obviously Catalan, not Castilian.
Catalonia has seen its immigration rate increase from almost 0 to 10% of its population in the last decade. In any country this would be a problem that could potentially cause social unrest and lack of integration if not dealt with properly but in countries with a state this problem can more easily be dealt with since the government can enforce effectively that newcomers learn the local language. It is since Catalonia lacks a state that this becomes a problem.
Historically, the language in Catalonia has been the best integration tool and Catalonia has been able to survive because Catalans are an integrating culture where as long as you learn the language you will be adopted as a Catalan.
As an example of this there’s the success of the Catalan school language immersion policy of the last 30 years where the teaching language is Catalan. This has decisively contributed to creating a more integrated society with equal opportunities and to expand the use of Catalan to certain layers of society like the descendants of the waves of Spanish immigrants that had arrived in Catalonia during Franco’s dictatorship who due to the ban on Catalan were not able to learn it.
The reason behind this is that lately Spain is increasing their pressure against the stateless nations within the Spanish state such as Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galice.
By appealing this law it is intended that the immigrants who arrive in Catalonia learn Castilian-Spanish first. You can imagine the consequences of having an high amount of the population of your country that can’t speak the language and which are the intentions behind this move.
Now, the Ombudsman is supposed to defend the rights of the Spanish citizens. If they did believe that Catalan citizens are Spanish it would be their priority to preserve Catalan culture. However, it seems that the Spanish ombudsman only has the Castilian-Spanish interests in mind.
Therefore we must infer that to the Spanish Ombudsman Catalans are not Spanish.
Photo Oriol Lladó