The Spanish Ombudsman appeals the Catalan Welcoming and Integration Law

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

17 thoughts on “The Spanish Ombudsman appeals the Catalan Welcoming and Integration Law

  1. Language acquisition does not work that way. If you need the language, you learn it. If you create an artificial need, you’re most likely to see that backfire.

    The Ombudsman, who is actually an Ombudswoman, is right to protect also the rights of the immigrants. I, as an immigrant, want to be offered the choice between either official languages. I want to have that freedom. I want to decide. I do not want to be indoctrinated nor do I want to be played with in any political game.

  2. Candide, the thing is that this law was approved by the great majority of the Catalan Parliament and now the Spanish as usual are interfering with Catalonia’s sovereignty.

    The only one who is playing political games is the Spanish Ombudsman by denying the immigrants the right tools to integrate themselves the country they live in.

  3. But… you do know that in this universe Catalonia’s sovereignty is subjected to the common Spanish state, right?

    I, as an immigrant, do not see the Ombudsman, who is actually an Ombudswoman in this case, denying me any rights. It is the Catalan parliament that has denied me the right to chose, and it is the Ombudswoman who has appealed that.

    Nobody may define any “tools” for me as being “right” or not. I am an adult, I can define my priorities myself. Thank you very much.

    1. You, as an immigrant cannot define your language priorities, you will adapt to the country were you live or do you think they’d give you a choice as to what language you want to learn in England, Germany or Denmark, for instance? The fact that the Spanish are attacking our sovereignty in this matter is yet another reason for independence.

  4. It is always puzzling how this right to choose a language does not apply to attempts being made to have Catalan officially recognised in the Spanish or European parliaments. Both have been blocked by the Spanish state and these so-called defenders of individual freedoms do not get as annoyed by it…

    The law was passed by the vast majority of the Catalan parliament in a matter upon which the Catalan government has devolved powers. This appeal by the Spanish Ombduswoman is nothing more than another interference into Catalan affairs.
    The motivation behind it is not the rights of immigrants, but the obsession of Spanish nationalism with keeping Catalan language as a mere folkloric anecdote and preventing equality between Spanish and Catalan in any official sphere.

    This law basically grants immigrants the right not to be discriminated against and facilitates integration into Catalan society on an equal basis. I guess the anti-Catalan lobby is keen for immigrants not to learn Catalan.

    In any case, the law does not oblige any immigrants to learn Catalan. It just says that Catalan language will be the official language for immigration procedures and paperwork, without prejudice to alternative arrangements being made whenever possible. This is basic common sense and is equal with the use of Spanish in immigration procedures in the mono-lingual regions of Spain.

  5. Again, Albert, in THIS universe Catalonia does not have full sovereignty. And, yes, I can expect to be able to define my language priorities when there are two official languages. This is called rule of law.

    If you change the law, then a different situation will be created which will create different expectations. If at the time I pondered whether or not to live in Catalonia this had been a monolingual place, I would not have settled here.

  6. Rab, you had a bad day. Think again: you accuse “Spanish nationalism” to prevent “equality between Spanish and Catalan in any official sphere”. The Ombudswoman is well trying to achieve just that and she has my full approval. Those who do not want this equality are, wait for it, Catalan nationalists. We can see that much right in this post.

    And I suppose that I must not understand, from your first paragraph, that you give more value to collective rights than to individual ones. Or must I?

  7. You mean if Catalonia was a country with only one official language like most countries in the world? don’t be hypocritical Catalonia is “bilingual” because Spain invaded us.

    When we are independent I assume only Catalan will be official but you’ll still be able to use whatever language you want, of course. Like in any normal country in the world. If when that happens you don’t like it you can always go to Spain where they will always be Spanish monolingual with only one official language.

  8. You make the math for all of us: how many coutries are monolingual again?

    If Catalonia ever gets independent she’ll have to be trilingual. Or else not be accepted. Except you manipulate demographics, which is what you’re at already.

    Oh, having said trilingual, the Catalan parliament should have passed the law provinding for immigrants to learn Occitan first in Val d’Aran; only that whould have been coherent with the given reason of furthering integration. Not with the real one, of course.

  9. Just learn some sociology, people can be bilingual, countries cannot. For a country to be bilingual is just an intermediate stage between two monolingual stages.

    You eventually want a Spanish monolingual Catalonia because you are a cultural colonizer. It’s quite sad that Spanish have such a thirst for destroying other cultures, I guess intolerance is part of your culture.

  10. Have the first sentence in Wikipedia on the issue: “Multilingualism is the use of two or more languages, either by an individual speaker or by a community of speakers. Multilingual speakers outnumber monolingual speakers in the world’s population.”.

    In any case, I will not get into an argument about the puristic use of multilingualism vs diglossia because that would be besides what the populace (i.e. our readership) comprehends.

    In brief: you’re wrong on all acounts.

    As usual.

  11. Again, read my previous comments before posting, people can be multilingual, countries cannot be multilingual for long.

  12. It is not a question of countries, but of societies. Please don’t lecture me using categorial statements: I speak more languages than you, I have more international experience than you and I have studied linguistics. Stop underestimating people.

    Anyways, the issue was that my rights are being trampled on by Catalan institutions because even conceding that the present situation is only temporary, it nevertheless IS.

  13. So bottom line, the only way you have of supporting your arguments is not by reasoning but by claiming that you know more than the others. Great.

  14. Albert: not only does he claim he knows more than us mere mortals, he also claims that he is right and we are wrong, “as usual” no less!

    Candide: we will not be lectured by someone like you pretending to be the saviour of superior knowledge. The false neutrality an objectivity you claim for yourself is absent from your argumentative logic and narrative discourse, which is identical to the one used by Spanish nationalism in political debate.

    Now it seems that the right to use Catalan is a collective right but the right to use Spanish is an individual right. The duplicity of your position is getting more evident by each passing day.

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