No em crec això d’Eurovegas

Acabo d’enviar el següent text al President Mas per a explicar-li que no em puc creure el que llegeixo sobre com el Govern està a favor d’aquest complex d’oci.

Si voleu enviar un missatge al President ho podeu fer a la seva web:

“Molt Honorable President Mas,

Últimament plouen les notícies sobre com el seu govern s’està implicant força a donar suport a un projecte per a portar un complexe d’oci de l’estil de Las Vegas a Barcelona. Però jo no m’ho crec. No m’ho crec perquè el seu partit defensa un model de turisme de qualitat per al nostre país. Perquè vosté mateix ha afirmat que Catalunya ha de ser la Massachusetts del Mediterrani o la Holanda del Sud, i que nosaltres som un país seriós. I això no encaixa amb Las Vegas.

No em crec que vulguin portar Eurovegas a Catalunya perquè sembla ser que el projecte espera trobar dos terços del finançament del projecte per bancs locals. Vol dir això que els diners del futur rescat europeu anirien a parar a finançar Eurovegas? Vol dir que és la millor manera d’emprar aquests diners?

No m’ho crec perquè amb els diners que costa aquest complex es poden crear moltes empreses d’alt valor afegit o impulsar les ja existents mitjançant excempcions o rebaixes fiscals que les permetin crèixer i ser competitives a escala global. Estic segur que el seu govern n’és conscient.

No em crec que es plantegin autoritzar Eurovegas perquè s’haurien d’adaptar lleis antitabac, lleis urbanístiques, lleis fiscals i de treball especialment per a aquest projecte. Des de quan un país s’adapta a una empresa? no hauria de ser al revés?

I perquè no em crec que es vulgui tirar endavant un projecte que associarà Barcelona i Catalunya per sempre més amb oci i joc tipus Las Vegas i tot el que això comportarà.

Perquè no crec que crear una quantitat encara indefinida de llocs de treball de baixa qualificació i baixa remuneració és una raó prou poderosa com per a decantar el gir estratègic de país que la creació d’aquest complexe suposaria. Economia de turisme low cost en comptes de economia basada en el coneixement i amb un turisme respectuós amb l’entorn.

Catalunya és un pais petit, no com els Estats Units, que es poden permetre tenir una Nevada i un Massachusetts. Nosaltres hem d’escollir.

Perquè no em crec que a aquestes alçades vuilguin tirar endavant un projecte que potencialment afavorirà el sector de la construcció després de la bombolla immobiliària que encara s’està desinflant. En comptes de definitivament girar fulla i posar rumb cap a un país d’empreses d’alt valor afegit i sostenibilitat.

Per tot això no em puc creure que el seu govern estigui a favor d’aquest projecte.”

Madrid’s “No” is Catalonia’s ladder of escape

The Catalan Parliament shifted visibly on wednesday from left-right blocks to Catalonia-Spain blocks. CiU, ERC and ICV, the Catalan parties, voted in majority on one side to demand Spain for Catalonia to collect all its taxes. PSC and PP were on the other side.

Catalonia is being deliberately starved of its own resources by the Spanish Government to force a bankruptcy and intervene. While this struggle may seem from the outside as purely an internal Spanish problem it is not. The starvation of resources is deliberate to force Catalonia to ask for a bailout to continue with Spain’s nationalistic agenda.

Even though from Catalonia things could certainly have been done better it would not be in this dire situation if it wasn’t for the 16 billion euros, or around 8-10% of its GDP (that’s about 40% of all taxes collected in Catalonia) which is plundered every year by Spain. Catalonia is only asking to dispose of its own resources in this time of crisis.

On wednesday a clear shift has taken place and the Catalan Parliament shows now a Catalonia-Spain dicotomy. While many independentists don’t believe this intermediate station is required (to ask Spain for Catalonia to collect all its taxes) Spain’s predictable reaction may be and eye opener for many to join the pro independence ranks. Currently 51% of Catalans would vote yes to independence and only 21% would vote no. With a 8% growth of the yes option only in the last year.

Immediately after the Catalan Parliament resolved to demand Spain to collect all taxes (currently Spain collects >95% of the taxes in Catalonia) Spanish Miniter Montoro completely discarded the possibility. The Basque Country already enjoys the tax collection system that Catalonia is demanding and it has proven effective since unemployment figures are half of those in Catalonia and it’s economy much more sheltered from the Spanish crisis.

After the summer Catalonia will need financing from Spain to pay its debts, but in exchange Spain will demand political changes that will be targeted against Catalan culture and interests. Spain has been using the legal system to this end in the last 3 decades.

And then at that point Catalonia will be at the crossroads. To let Spain take control and disappear or to become a State. President Mas will have to take control of the situation justified on Spain’s disloyalty against Catalonia and eventually let Catalan people speak. Events are accelerating.

We are not them (letter to our European friends)

An excellent editorial by Vicent Partal, Director of digital newspaper Undoutedly he must have written it alarmed by the recent events regarding the Spanish crisis.

“I don’t doubt you must be amazed by the way the Spanish politicians, especially the Spanish Government, behave. In spite of the serious crisis that overburdens us all, they all act in an utmost lack of responsibility. A lack which is causing important problems all of us must try to fix. Yet, I can’t say I’m amazed in the least, as I’ve been enduring this for decades.

Such behaviour, so strange to you, isn’t at all strange to me. ”

Please follow this link for the complete editorial.

Practical guide for Spanish governments on how to increase Catalan independentism

I have come to the conclusion that the Spanish Government are infiltrated Catalan independentists plotting to get Catalonia out of Spain as quickly as possible. You may be tempted to think I have completely lost it but it is the only conclusion I can reach after carefully analysing some of their actions in the last year only:

1- ignore all claims to negotiate a fair financial deal with the area which produces most of the exports in your state so that they can produce and export more, generate employment, increase your tax income and get you out of the crisis

2- attempt to minoritize even more their beloved language by sabotaging their educational system by attempting to enforce language segregation instead of fixing the real problems that make you score at the bottom of the PISA report

3- insist on squandering billions of public money to build the longest high speed train network in Europe which has already proven a financial disaster instead of building the mediterranean freight railway line that would boost trade and exports (as the European Union is asking (ca))

4- instead of increasing infrastructure investment in your most dynamic area to boost its economy reduce it by 45% (ca) while only reducing it on average by 24% in the rest of the state

5- plunder 8% of that area’s GDP for the last 30 years and at the same time accuse them of being the culprits of the crisis. Top it by threatening to intervene them even though they are the only ones having acted responsibly and started reducing their budget one year before you did

6- bail out Madrid’s toll roads by extending the toll road concessions of Catalan toll roads (ca). Making Catalans, who already have 67% of the toll roads in the Spanish State, pay also for Madrid’s toll roads (Catalans were already paying for Spain’s non toll roads through their taxes)

7- refuse to pay 1.4 billion euros you owe the Catalan government claiming that because of the crisis there is no money left. Immediately afterwards bail out Madrid-government controlled savings bank with 10 billion euros of taxpayers’ money.

8- sabotage Barcelona’s airport international connections to favour Madrid’s expansion using a government controlled agency, AENA. (Being, together with Portugal and Romania the exceptions to the rule in Europe, where airport competition is encouraged)

9- block international recognition of Catalan language in Europe instead of being proud of having such a cultural asset and promoting it

10- reply the increase of Catalan independentism by threatening with economic and physical violence (for example, here and here)

10- finally, get your head of state and his family members involved in several scandals within a few weeks: corruptions charges in cases involving public money, underage people getting shot while playing with guns, being caught hunting endangered species in exotic countries. And to make things worse do all of this in the midst of an unprecedented crisis when you should be closely following what is going on.

They deserve my applause. Way to go Mr Rajoy!

European Commission prioritizes happier cows to citizens’ rights?

Through Reagrupament I find that the European Commission has already accepted 4 European Citizens’ Intitiatives but hasn’t yet decided on the EU Internal Enlargement one. Amongst the accepted ones there is one to support cows’ rights, even though these were submitted at after the EU Internal Enlargement one.

Let’s hope the European Commission quickly comes back with an answer on the EU Internal Enlargement issue since European Citizens must have a chance to make themselves heard when it comes to high level European Politics. Or will they make true the perception that the European Union is a bureaucratic institution far from its citizens?

The EU Internal Enlargement is a very important matter since it will rule about whether the states arising from a secession of an existing member state would become automatically European Union members.

It would be against the EU’s interests if Catalonia, Scotland, Flanders or Wales would be outside of the European Union once they become independent states but this is an excellent opportunity to arise awareness about this issue that in the next few years is going to occupy the European agenda.

Spain threatens to stop paying Catalan pensioners

Mas has been talking about the possibility to unilaterally create a Catalan Tax Agency to stop the plundering in case Spain refuses to negotiate before the end of the year.

In response to this PP’s representative in Catalonia, Sánchez-Camacho, threatened yesterday in the Catalan Parliament with the possibility to stop paying Catalan pensioners.

Not only this strategy, if possible, would be despicable, because pensioners are the weakest part of a society. It is also an interesting way of showing how unattached they seem from these workers who they swear they consider Spanish and who have contributed for decades to the Spanish social security system.

However, truth is, there is no Spanish pensions fund from where pensions are payed. Current pensions are payed with a short delay with money coming from current workers’ contributions to the social security system. And Catalonia, as usual in these matters, loses from being part of Spain since it also contributes much more than it gets back.

In the likely future scenario of unfriendly confrontation between Catalonia and Spain the former would easily pay its pensions but that would not be the case for Spain. In that case, Catalonia would be able to immediately take over the pensions and even increase them. But with this they have confirmed that Spain will resort to any sort of morally dubious tactics to attempt to stop Catalonia’s independence.

Will Europe just sit and watch Spain’s financial suicide for nationalistic reasons?

The Spanish government is using the Autonomous Communities as a smoke screen to hide their disastrous handling of the situation, and use the crisis as an excuse to give Catalonia the coup de grace, eliminate its self government and accomplish the old Spanish dream of a culturally uniform state.

Blaming the Autonomous Communities as the main culprit of the crisis is a ridiculous argument since Catalonia only holds 6.5% of the Spanish public debt while sustaining a fiscal deficit of 8% of its GDP every year without which its finances would be very different. The Catalan Government already did its homework and last year cut its budget down by 10% and has announced further 5% cut in civil servants’ salaries this year.

The Generalitat has raised a flag claiming that the State is planning to look for an excuse to intervene Catalonia by starving it from its resources, forcing the Generalitat’s bankruptcy and then coming to the “rescue”, to prove the Catalan government’s “incompetence”.

In the meantime international press and European governments are worryingly buying the Spanish government’s discourse. Instead on focusing on Spain’s real issues.

After last year’s elections it was time for Spain to reform their oversized state structure inherited from Franco’s regime which has the following traits:

  • all power centers are in Madrid with a strong breed of privileged public servants
  • economy based on former state monopolies, like Telefonica, used as employment agencies for retired politicians and their relatives with a captive market subsidizing them
  • an oversized army
  • irrational infrastructures spending
  • oversized welfare services aimed at keeping Spanish voters happy bringing an illusion of progress

All of this subsidized by the (formerly) richer Catalan countries and the funds coming from Europe. But for the last 30 years instead investing in the modernisation of its economy Spain has created the biggest real estate bubble in the world. Catalan politicians are also partly to be blamed for allowing this to happen. Now the fountain has dried up. After the draining of resources Catalan countries are in a precarious financial situation and the European funds are not flowing anymore.

But even now the Spanish fiesta goes on. Boosting Catalonia’s economy, its most dynamic area, which represents 20% of its economy and 27% of the exports, would be the only hope for the Spanish economy to get out of the crisis Spain is instead ignoring its own laws and bringing it down.

An example, this year 925 million euros are budgeted for the high speed train to Galicia, which would not even make sense in a good economy while refusing to pay Catalonia 978 million euros pending from 2008 and 2009 and announcing a cut of 45% infrastructures budget in 2012 for Catalonia compared to last year, infringing Spanish law.

But the markets are unforgiving and don’t believe that the changes Rajoy is making will put things under control. The intervention of Spain’s government is practically a matter of time.

Why this irrational behaviour?

In practice Spain does not acknowledge Catalonia as Spanish, it is instead treated as a colony from which to extract resources until depletion. It will not hesitate to sacrifice Catalonia to protect its privileges and state structures from the cold of the crisis even at the expense dooming Catalonia’s, Spain’s (and Europe’s?) economy.

Prenent nota de l’Argentina. Nacionalitzem Catalunya.

Sense entrar a valorar massa en profunditat la situació, l’Argentina fa alló que té tot el dret de fer amb YPF, a nacionalitzar els seus recursos. Per què? per la incompetència, mala gestió i espoliació d’aquests per part d’una empresa espanyola.

Espera, a on més a la vora nostra està passant exactament el mateix?

Ho dic perquè per si algú encara els hi té por, als espanyols, ja veieu en què ha quedat la seva “reacción contundente”. El que ha passat amb l’Argentina és exactament el mateix que faran quan el Parlament de Catalunya proclami unilateralment la independència. Res.

De veritat, només depèn de nosaltres. Ja va sent hora que nacionalitzem Catalunya. Ho dic perquè al pas que van aviat no ens quedaran ni els mobles.

Public reply to the Wall Street Journal

This is in reply to an article published on the WSJ on April the 16th 2012: Pressure on Spain builds as bonds face key auction

First of all, Spain is not a decentralised country. Only spending is decentralised but taxes are collected by the Spanish government and then redistributed. This redistribution means that every year for the last 30 years Spain extracts 8% of Catalonia’s GDP which never comes back. This means 40% of all Catalan taxpayer’s money goes to Madrid and never comes back. Or another way of looking at it, it cost every Catalan person 2200 euros to be part of Spain in 2009. Clearly unsustainable. I explained this in more detail here.

Spain applies the same treatment to the other Catalan speaking countries: the Valencian Country and Balearic Islands. Instead of reinvesting in their most dynamic areas they impoverish them by depleting their resources. This year Spain has reduced Catalonia’s budget for infrastructures by 45% compared to last year. Even though Catalonia is responsible for 20% of Spain’s GDP and 26% of its exports only receives 10% of the infrastructures investment. At the same time Spain keep boosting their delirious nationalistic infrastructures policy by building a high speed train to Galicia.

If we look at Catalonia, its debt problem would be easily solved by stopping the resources plundering, which amounts to 16.4bn euro only in 2009. Then its 48bn euro debt would be inexistent and it would instead show a superavit.

Overall, Spanish Autonomous Communities only account for around 20% of the overall Spanish debt. In most of them they’ve had PP governments (or PSOE in the others, which also means Spanish nationalist governments). Therefore claiming that the “regions” are the culprits for the debt issue is just wanting to look for a scapegoat (Catalonia) and not acknowledging that Spanish nationalism is the only one to blame for this.

Last year Catalonia was the only Automous Community to make a budget cut, 10% of its spending, and took some very unpopular measures, like reducing Catalan Civil Servant’s salaries and cutting on healthcare and education budgets.

In the meantime Spanish Autonomous Communities are doing the opposite. Andalucía for instance, are expanding their budget for 2012. Spain hasn’t reduced Civil Servants’ salaries and amongst some of the first measures to take should be reducing the amount of Ministries that have no real job because healthcare, education or housing are responsibilities of the Autonomous Communities. Reducing spending in the military, for instance, and boosting investment in its most dynamic areas to get out of the crisis. Instead they are doing quite the opposite driven by a nationalist agenda.

Catalonia has been the only responsible entity in Spain. Therefore, painting a picture in which all the regions are culprits, is a means to achieve the end to attack Catalonia’s self government. But this has nothing to do with the crisis and will not improve Spain’s finances. It only serves to reinforce their Spanish nationalist discourse and to divert public attention from the Spanish government incompetence and the real causes of the crisis.

Catalans Valents

Des que em vaig interessar per les independències del món el que més m’interessa és què és exactament el detonant de cadascuna d’elles, generalment acostuma a ser una iniciativa que de forma aïllada normalment no tindria cap tipus d’impacte però que en una situació propicia pot generar un efecte contagi.

M’enrecordo visitant un museu a Dublín a l’any 2005 que explicava la història de la independència d’Irlanda a principis del segle XX. Em va sobtar molt que tot va començar per l’assalt al 1916 d’un grapat de patriotes irlandesos al castell de Dublín, a on era l’exèrcit britànic. L’atac va acabar malament però va generar un efecte bola de neu que va fer que el 1921 Irlanda (al menys la part del sud) esdevingués un estat independent. Vaig adonar-me que un acte de rebelió sense pràcticament cap esperança de guanyar, només el fet de plantar cara, va esdevenir el detonant per a una revolució. També podem trobar això a les lluites pels drets civils dels anys 60 als Estats Units d’Amèrica. Per a aconseguir avenços en els drets dels ciutadans sovint s’han de trencar els límits de la legalitat vigent.

Avui en dia, no cal dir-ho, el mètodes per a aconseguir la independència no cal que facin servir la violència física però fóra bo recordar que l’estat espanyol utilitza moltes altres formes de violència contra Catalunya. Violència cultural mitjançant el setge continu a la llengua i la cultura. Violència econòmica mitjançant l’espoliació fiscal.

Tot això als ulls de la comunitat internacional de forma completament democràtica i legítima gràcies als mecanismes d’un estat espanyol totalment integrat a Europa, recobert amb una pàtina democràtica i amb el beneplàcit dels polítics catalans que any rere any han donat suport als pressupostos de l’estat.

A la declaració d’independència dels Estats Units d’Amèrica, que és d’obligada lectura, hi figura el concepte de “dret a la revolució”. Aquest dret fa referència a que les persones tenen uns drets i si l’estat no treballa per a garantir-los tenim el dret d’abolir aquest govern.

En el cas de Catalunya, de raons per a exercir la revolució contra aquest estat que desemboqui en la constitució d’un estat per a Catalunya n’hi ha, com diu en Sergi López, “de tot tipus, fins i tot econòmiques”. El perillós és seguir així. Per tant aquesta revolució és un exercici de responsabilitat i de seny, que tant ens agrada als catalans. Però també és cert, es pot constatar a diari, que els catalans pels motius que siguin ens costa despertar. De vegades he arribat a sentir desesperació i vergonya en veure com massa catalans abdiquem en actes qüotidians com canviar d’idioma per demanar un café. Però poc a poc veig mostres de dignitat que espero serveixin d’exemple per a la resta i es contagiïn ràpidament.

Primer, la vaga de fam per la llengua d’en Jaume Bonet i Tomeu Amengual, una mostra de dignitat excepcional que no ha estat prou reconeguda per la societat. La insubmissió fiscal dels membres de Diem Prou, pagant els impostos a l’Agència Tributària de Catalunya. La insubmissió contra els peatges de les autopistes de Catalunya promoguda per en Josep Casadellà. O per exemple els patriotes anònims que desafien la imposició espanyola (amb el consentiment dels polítics catalans) enretirant l’estanquera que penja de l’ajuntament de Sant Pol. Em deixo molts altres però per mi aquests són exemples de catalans valents. Tant de bo cada vegada en veiem més. A tots ells: gràcies. Així es fa. Esperem que una d’aquestes iniciatives esdevingui el detonant de la nostra petita revolució.