Laporta and Reagrupament


Following the last round of referendums that took place on february the 28th and waiting for the new round of referendums that will take place on april the 25th a disruptive factor has just entered the catalan political arena. Joan Laporta, the president of Barça, has created a new website where he’ll explain his ideas about politics, it displays a logo with the catalan independentist flag blended with his name and advocates that “now’s the time for brave decisions”.

With a very clear independentist political discourse Laporta emerges as the leader that independentism needs right now, with center-right background this professional lawyer who has led Barça into its most glorious times is a media personality and his clear support to independentism is creating very strong reactions against him with threats and “friendly advice” coming from all sides asking him not to be a candidate to the Generalitat.

His political space would greatly overlap that of CiU’s leader Artur Mas and will likely put in jeopardy the latter’s possibilities of becoming the president of the Generalitat. I personally believe that, should he finally be a candidate, he is in a position of being anything from the 3rd force to actually winning the elections with polls confirming this. Many people might reject him because of his strong character and his frequent temper outbursts, some people object seeing a potential political leader in him, but what I think is that he’s the type of person with a character that is completely opposite from that of all of current Catalan politicians. He’ll say things very clearly, he’ll not change his independentist discourse overnight and he’s not afraid of confrontation with the Spanish and of defending Catalan interests until the last consequences, he’s the type of leader we need to make a declaration of independence.

What Laporta hasn’t made yet clear is whether he’s going to make his own political party or he’ll form a coalition with Carretero’s Reagrupament, likely since Carretero and Laporta have made several public displays of sympathy for each other and since he’s made it clear that he’ll only go as a leader his choices are limited since, ERC and CiU won’t accept him as a leader.

On the other hand, Carretero has explicitly said that he’d be happy for Laporta to lead a possible coalition with Reagrupament and go together to the next elections or a similar arrangement.

What is clear is that Reagrupament has grown to be a serious force in the next elections and probably a decisive one being backed by respected personalities such as Heribert Barrera, Moisès Broggi, Victor Alexandre, Toni Strubell and many others, gathering a very strong representation within the Catalan middle classes and adding to its cause people from very varied political backgrounds and more importantly, people who never before have been actively involved into politics. This is where the force of Reagrupament comes from since a substantial amount of the Catalan middle classes has finally realised that the real fight is not to try and make left or right wing policies, there will be no left or right wing policies until there’s no real independence and Catalonia organises itself into a state within the European Union. The strength of Reagrupament and the people behind it is becoming clearer day by day judging by the constant attacks it is suffering almost on a daily basis by the unionist media.

As a result of the growth of Reagrupament and the success of the Referendums of 13D and 28F the other political parties are forced to take positions more in favour of the independence of Catalonia and forcing the PSOE to make it clear that they are a Spanish party and that Catalonia is not its main concern.

A future candidacy led by Laporta, Carretero and Carles Móra, mayor of Arenys de Munt has the potential to destabilize the current balance of forces in the Catalan Parliament in a positive way with the potential to be the catalyst Catalonia needs to make a declaration of independence or to force whichever force was voted by the majority to organise a binding referendum of independence organised by the Generalitat, a referendum that, judging by the results in the past 13D and 28F, no doubt about it, Catalonia will overwhelmingly win. In any case, we have very interesting times ahead.

What the hell are CiU and ERC waiting for?

28F Gelida decideix

We need the Catalan political parties (CiU and ERC) to organize a binding referendum as soon as possible and since elections are soon we need them to include this in their political program, these two parties combined have an absolute majority in the Catalan Parliament and we need them to commit to organise a referendum of independence the day after the elections.

Do CiU and ERC need a divine sign, or maybe a miracle, a lightning coming from the sky to carve in a stone in Montserrat a command telling them what they must do? Because Catalan society has spoken again and they don’t seem to listen.

Last weekend Catalan society organised itself again, fighting the news void organised by the unionist media which completely ignored the event and voted again that they want the independence of Catalonia.

Not only the results again showed that Catalans overwhelmingly want independence (94% yes vote) but even in the areas where votes do not traditionally go to the Catalan parties (CiU and ERC) where the spanish immigrants that arrived in the 60s and 70s and many of their descendants live, in areas where you’ll barey hear Catalan in the streets, even there, the results are an exact replica of the ones seen in Vic or other Catalan strongholds. They want independence because they know it’ll be the best for them. Some will say that the participation of a 21% is low but to me is a clear success considering the circumstances.

I’m wondering if the current parties are aware of what they have in their hands, I believe they do but they consciously ignore it. I don’t believe anymore that CiU’s (and ERC’s) leaders are what they say they are. I just can’t understand how neither of them are as we speak are in a meeting speaking about organizing a coalition after the elections to make a binding referendum for independence.

There’s loads of people from those two parties that have put an enormous amount of effort into organising the referendums and even some of their relevant members, like Alfons López Tena or Oriol Junqueras are 100% commited to work to help Catalonia achieve their independence but something is rotten inside those organizations, the current leaders of CiU and ERC are one of the main obstacles for Catalonia’s independence right now.

I cannot think of any more ways that Catalan society can express their desire for a binding independence referendum. In the meantime, CiU seem too busy thinking of ways to help Zapatero get Spain out the the crisis and ERC have been in a coalition government for 6 years with the PSOE and have made it possible for Montilla to be the worst president of the Generalitat to record, someone who has made every effort to turn Catalonia into a Spanish province.

Then politicians complain that there’s a low interest in politics in Catalonia, I’d say what really happens is that politicians are too busy keeping their shares of power rather than listening to what people want.

In this scenario we have two possibilities, that CiU and ERC elect new leaders that are going to move the country forward or someone needs to break the status quo in the Catalan Parliament, and the only organisation willing to do that is Reagrupament, the political association led by Joan Carretero, which has as a main target to gather a majority of deputies (no matter what party they belong to) in the Catalan Parliament and declare independence and judging by the attacks it is recently receiving is getting closer to its target every day. Also, Joan Laporta, seems to be starting his political career and he’s openly defending independence for our country.

Since the current parties seem too busy trying to save Spain instead of helping Catalonia my guess is that us Catalans have chosen the wrong representatives so far. We need change.

So now 52% of the Spanish are OK with our independence, seriously, who cares now?

Bye bye!

A new poll (link in catalan) that will be presented next friday in Madrid carried out by the UOC (just like this one) has found that 52% of the Spanish would accept Catalonia to become independent when we decide to. As I was reading it the first thought that crossed my mind was, so what?

According to that poll, 40% of Spanish people are OK with Catalonia using the right to self determination. Also, when Catalonia decides to become independent 72% of the Spanish think Spain should negotiate. But really, negotiate what? who wants to be part of a country that has proven to be a failure and might soon find itself out of the European currency? A country with a King who inherited his throne from Franco. A country that has never looked back to punish the crimes that happened after the Civil War and during the dictatorship. A country that protects fascist parties.

The poll went on to detail that a “generous” 56% would agree to give Catalonia the same treatment that the Basques and Navarra have always enjoyed (to collect their own taxes). That a ridiculous 27%, would be cool with Catalan being official in Spain. That a minuscule 32% would accept for Catalonia to have its own national sports teams.

Why negotiate with the Spanish something we will already have, and give up more, much more we will have gained the minute we decide to be free?

I wonder what would they exactly negotiate with. Will they give us back the thousands of trillions of euros they’ve stolen from the Catalans since 1714? Spain is broke. How can they compensate for 300 hundred years of oppression?

The last chance for Spain was the Statute, their short sightedness stopped them from seeing it but it will be better for us in the long run.

No, the minute after the Declaration of Independence we won’t have time to look back, we’ll be too busy working in reconstructing Catalonia, in making a country we’ll all feel proud of and where everyone who respects it will be welcome. Including the rest of the Catalan countries. The scars run deep, the wounds are serious but we are still alive. This is our last chance and freedom is not negotiable.

PIGS or Catalans?

A sample of the finest Spanish PIGS

The question is simple, if anyone had any doubts about how much Catalonia needs independence it has recently become clearer since the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain), the countries that lived days of splendour and high growth before the financial crisis are now in deep financial trouble and have become Europe’s main concern.

Seems like Greece will soon need to be bailed out to avoid bankruptcy and the countries part of the eurozone will force a strict set of financial measures. Qualified voices (see video below) have raised to alert that Spain is on its way to put the stability of the Eurozone in serious trouble very soon. There’s even speculation that should the situation become critical Spain could be kicked out of the Eurozone.

The story goes far back in time, Spain’s economy is based in construction and other low added value activities such as tourism and has been dramatically hit by the crisis. Now it needs urgent structural changes to regain its competitiveness. Those measures should have been taken in the 90s but now without the flexibility of having its own currency the recurrent tool of devaluation is no longer available. Spain’s trade deficit amounts to a staggering 11% of its GDP and public debt has quickly reached worrying levels.

The recipe is painful, Spain must increase its productivity or lower salaries. Either solution would need very impopular measures that no government wants to take. Now that the situation has got serious the EU is urging Zapatero to start taking those measures but he’s proven to lack the leadership the situation requires. All Zapatero’s government has come up with so far is ineffective measures like planning to delay retirement age by two years until the age of 67. I have no plans of having to work two extra years of my life for the dubious privilege of holding a Spanish passport.

In the meantime not only is Catalonia being dramatically hit by the crisis but without the tools that only states have recovery is proving to be much more difficult than it should. The Generalitat, a de facto regional government with very limited power, can’t do much and Catalonia is definitely not Spain’s main concern so no help can be expected.

Independence has become a matter of survival for Catalonia unless it wants to risk being dragged to the abyss of bankruptcy where Spain is heading to and the possibility of being out of the Euro and the EU.

Independence would mean an instant boost of 21000 million euros (10% of our GDP) every year that are currently being plundered by Spain. It would mean being able to create policies for infrastructures, taxes, territorial distribution, education, health, immigration, cultural that make sense to us.

Financially an independent Catalonia would not be questioned to remain in the eurozone since its finances would pass the EU requirements from day 1. (Link to a PDF in Catalan)

We would be more flexible and better prepared to deal with this crisis in particular and the challenges of globalisation in general. In Europe, smaller countries, like Denmark, are in a much better position than the big ones since their size allows them to react quicker with the right policies.

The Spanish government’s policies are based on improvisation and irresponsibility. They have repeatedly proven unable to make the severe structural changes Spain needs in order to get out of this crisis. Every day Catalonia stays in it only makes it more difficult to get out.

I believe Catalonia will do much better as an independent state. I anything else at least we will be masters of our own destiny with nobody else to blame for our own failures and successes.

Are we gonna let Spain drag us down with them or will we decide to be a free nation? Do we want to be PIGS or Catalans? I will always choose freedom.

Carretero’s Master Move

Joan Carretero

Everyone was holding their breath after Carretero’s announcement last saturday of his resignation as president of Reagrupament, the independentist catalan association.

Many people tought it was not fair, after so many hopes, so much work that all ended in such a silly way, everyone was surprised at the apparent lack of sense it all made. All I thought is that it didn’t make sense, therefore I waited to see the events and refrained from posting on the subject.

Apparently, 4 members of the elected management were having discrepancies with the leader and founder Carretero. Carretero informed them on a management meeting that that unless these 4 members resigned he’d resign, and with him the rest of the management.

It seems the disobedient members were making the same mistakes traditional catalan parties make and wanted regional representatives to be elected in a primary round, therefore pushing to create power lobbys inside the organization that later on could potentially destabilize it when the time of entering the Parliament came. On the other hand, Carretero thought it was more appropriate that in order to avoid inner fights to let associates vote directly any regional candidate in just one round of elections.

Reagrupament’s original intentions are of creating a radically independentist party inside the catalan Parliament to unstabilize it and center the debate on the independence issue rather than now, when it is (falsely) centered on the left or right debate. This makes no sense since Catalonia has very limited power to deal effectively with any political issues and has no real independence of action.

The news of Carretero leaving made it to the headlines in all Catalan newspapers and the forums, blogs, tweets and comments were reflecting different reactions about the situation. Supporters were showing disappointment and disencouragement while the other parties were relieved declaring that Reagrupament was immature and that it’s disappearance was normal.

On sunday, Joan Laporta announced on an interview with Avui that he’s considering making the jump into politics once his term as president of FC Barcelona is over and negotiations are ongoing with Joan Carretero to create a joint independentist project.

Laporta’s intentions to jump into politics are causing a headache to the the members of the other Catalan parties since they know the potential the Laporta-Carretero combo have of stealing independentist votes from their options.

Yesterday, Carretero gave an radio interview and declared that he had not left Reagrupament but he had left the presidency since he had no time to waste with power struggles inside the association. Shortly after this the 4 disobedient members anonounced their resignation, mostly by the pressure of the rest of the associates who made it clear that they didn’t have enough support to continue leading the association without Carretero. A few hours later Carretero declared he’d take back his responsibility as president of Reagrupament.

In a few words, Carretero has made a master move, he’s swiped the danger of making the same mistakes traditional parties have committed, has emerged as the unquestioned leader of Reagrupament and at the same time has cleared the way for Joan Laporta to come and join Reagrupament without oposition from other sectors. At the same time grabbing the media attention after having been largely (and intentionally) ignored by it, since Catalan traditional media is largely linked to either unionist or autonomist power.

I refrained from posting anything on the subject until things had cleared up since it wasn’t clear what was going on and we were able to see past the trees. I had faith that Carretero knows what he is doing and even though his unorthodox ways may surprise some they have proven to be very effective so far.

The road is clear for Reagrupament to revolutionize the Catalan Parliament next fall.

Catalan must be official in Europe

Catalan must be official in Europe

Last week it was made very clear by the president of the Europarliament, Jerzey Buzek. Catalan is not going to be an official language in Europe. The explanations he’s given are concise. Since Spanish is already understood by everyone in the Spanish State and that since Catalan is not even allowed at the Spanish Parliament to start with why should it be allowed in the European Parliament? Good point. In fact, and just to make it clear on the same day, January the 20th, PSOE made also a statement at the Spanish Parliament that Catalan will not be allowed there either. The attitude of the Spanish government has been hypocritical since they have supported Catalan to become official in the EU but not in Spain.

Catalan is currently only co-official in 3 of the 17 Spanish autonomous communities but spoken by about 20% percent of it’s population. Europe argues that it will not accept Catalan to become official until Spain deals with it locally. Let’s not fool ourselves, that is never going to happen, as Zapatero has just reminded us. The Spanish have no interest in making Catalan official in Spain, even though it is the language of 10 million people who feel alienated and let down by the institutions that should protect and preserve their cultural heritage.

The problem is that the Spanish do not consider Catalan to be part of their cultural heritage, as they repeatedly remind us but we don’t seem to get the message. However, they are still interested in collecting our taxes.

Let’s not forget that the Catalan speaking countries, Catalonia, Valencian Country and the Balearic Islands are practically the only net contributors to the Spanish state, meaning that they always receive a lot less investment than the amount they pay in taxes, this deficit amounts to between 10-12% of these territories’ GDP every year. This is unsustainable and no other regions in the western world suffer such a dreadful fiscal plundering. Our culture is not represented but our taxes fund first class freeways all over Spain while in Catalonia millions of commuters must pay extortionate tolls every day, we have the obligation to pay but not the right for our culture to be respected. They make it very clear that in Spain there’s only space for the Castillians, the rest of us are to shut up and pay.

Therefore not only Catalan speakers sustain Spain but by doing this we also fund the politics against our culture, which in my opinion is a stupid thing to do and anyone who calls themselves a Catalan should take this thought into consideration next autumn at the time of casting their vote.

Why should we be part of a state where we never decided to join and that repeatedly has showed us that will make any effort to make our culture disappear? Why should we support institutions that refuse to speak our language?

I was delighted to see that in Canada both English and French are equally official and little details like labeling in both languages, requirement to speak both languages to access certain public positions, etc are respected. In that sense they are in a different level of democracy and civilization that we can’t even dream of in the Iberian peninsula, at least not while we are in Spain.

What is the reason why I can’t watch a movie with Catalan subtitles or why can’t I have all products I pay for labeled in my language? What is the difference between Catalonia and Denmark, The Netherlands or Finland? To name but a few similarly sized countries. The only difference is that they have a state.

Currently there are only three ways for Catalan to become official in Europe. The first one would be for Andorra to join the EU, this way there would be no discussion, since Catalan is the only official language in Andorra it will automatically become official in Europe. I personally don’t rely on this since the Andorrans have powerful reasons not to take this step and because this, in my opinion, would only fix the situation of the surface. Secondly, that Spain makes it official. Not a chance. Finally, the only one that depends only on the will of the Catalan people. To become an independent state, this way Catalan would automatically become an official language in the EU.

This situation has been going on for far too long. Catalan must be official in Europe, it is a matter or dignity and respect.

Note: Image sources at
European Flag

Looking back to 2009 and ahead into 2010

10000 Catalans in Brussels

Today is the perfect day for this analysis, looking back into what 2009 has brought to Catalonia and what 2010 might mean. 2009 has been the year that marked a turning point since the broad realisation amongst Catalans that being a Spanish Autonomous Community can’t fulfil Catalonia’s needs.

Zapatero’s broken promises have showed the Catalans that they can’t look for friends amongst the Spanish governments and that Spain is only interested in Catalonia when it comes to tax collection. The year started with the March the 7th demonstration of 10000 Catalans in Brussels to defend the right to self determination. On April the 25th the Catalan Parliament rejected an ILP (popular legislative initiative) to organize a referendum about the independence of Catalonia, they did it again in December which showed that traditional Catalan parties are unable to lead society beyond the current situation.

As a result of this on April the 27th Joan Carretero left ERC and announced that Reagrupament will create a candidacy for the next elections to the Catalan Parliament with two main points in their programme: independence and political regeneration.

September the 13th, Arenys de Munt organized the first referendum of independence showing 96% support to independence, this started a process that had as a second round the 13D votings in 166 Catalan villages and cities that showed again 95% of votes support independence. In the meantime, several polls have shown a step change in support to independence making it the dominant option amongst Catalan society.

A little but important note, Barça became during 2009 the best team in the history of football and they’ve achieved that at the time when they have been more Catalan and openly independentist than ever. Its president, Joan Laporta, will leave its presidency next year and it’s been speculated that he could jump into politics and since he’s openly independentist and polls show that he’d have broad support amongst voters it’s likely that he’ll be a crucial factor in the next election.

A few notes on what 2010 might bring

  • The referendums process will continue on February the 28th and April the 25th and a referendum in Barcelona that will likely take place next fall
  • Another demonstration is scheduled in Geneva on May the 8th
  • The Spanish Constitutional Court will pass a sentence about the Catalan Statute that, as rumours say, will deactivate the definition of Catalonia as a nation claiming that the only nation is Spain, amongst other things, something that will surely have an impact on the Catalan public opinion since the Catalan Statute was already approved by the Spanish Parliament and the Catalans in a referendum.
  • Finally, in autumn there will be elections to the Catalan Parliament. This year the debate will be centered on the sovereignty topic and will force all parties to define themselves on their attitude towards the right of self determination. Surely, after the elections a very different balance of powers will be defined, probably paving the way for a coalition to organize a binding referendum of independence within the next term or a declaration of independence from the Parliament.

Barça’s best year

Barça's best year

Last week Barça won the football clubs championship in Abu Dhabi therefore winning all six competitions it has taken part this year and being the first team to ever achieve this plus a very nice 2-6 result against Real Madrid last spring. I do feel proud and happy when the team of my city wins competitions and even more when it wins them all.

The most important for me is the way they have achieved it, thanks to Catalans like Pep Guardiola, Joan Laporta, Puyol, Xavi, Piqué, Valdés, Busquets and Bojan Barça has achieved their biggest success ever and become universal at the time when they have been more proudly and openly Catalan and independentist. They also win playing their way with no compromises: with hard work, no arrogance, beautiful game and putting the team before any individualism. This is how they have gained everyone’s respect and compliments and at the same time projecting Catalonia’s identity in the world. Pep Guardiola is to the architect of this success, the coach that has revolutionised Barça with his hard work and spectacular playing style has written a page in sports history.

Something you notice when travelling is that no matter where you are, in the smallest remote village in the mountains as you walk down the street you’ll eventually see someone wearing a Barça t-shirt, with the little catalan flag at the back, which makes me feel good when I am far from home.

Thanks Barça. Visca el Barça i Visca Catalunya!

Why can’t Catalonia’s national teams enter official competitions?


I went with some friends last tuesday to the Catalonia – Argentina football match. The result was excellent 4-2, both teams displayed excellent football directed by football legends Johan Cruyff and Diego Armando Maradona. The game registered a really good turnover, around 53000 people. This made me wonder, if Catalonia can show that we have a national team that can beat one the best football national teams in the world why can’t it play official competitions? Why do we Catalans have to resign to one friendly match a year when we have the potential to be a reference in sports worldwide? When will our players represent their national colours? The answer is simple, the Spanish will never allow Catalonia to have its own national teams play in official competitions since they know the impact that would have in their own results. The only solution is to have our own state. That way the next day Catalan national teams will play official competitions and I will have a reason to celebrate when Catalan players win competitions representing our country.

A very interesting week, the aftermath of the 13D

Girl voting on 13D

Many interesting things have happened in the last 10 Days in Catalonia and I wish I had been able to write about them but an intercontinental move, an awful cold I caught thanks to the Siberian cold wave that is sweeping Europe, some socialising and an unreliable internet connection have stopped me from doing so until today. But more to the point, I’ll write a few entries about the events enumerate the topics that I believe are important to be up to date on what’s going on in Catalonia right now.

Firstly, the aftermath of the 13D referendums, there has been some tensions between the organisers of the referendums. The story starts with the organisators splitting in two separate entities back in October, one comprising the consultations that took place in the Osona shire and led by Alfons López Tena and the other one taking care of the rest of the country.

When the results were made public it was clear that even though both organisations did an excellent job Tena’s team had achieved better results by means of a much higher participation and Alfons López Tena publicly criticised the other organisers. This caused some disappointment at first but seems like now both organisations have agreed to work together to learn from the past experiences and make it better in the February and April rounds of referendums.

It also seems that the Barcelona referendum might be held at a later time than the initially planned Apirl the 25th, to which I agree. The day it is done in Barcelona it has to be very carefully planned and the maximum amount of effort will have to be made to make sure it is a non arguable success. Therefore it might be beneficial to have a reasonable amount of time for preparation and as much experience from the previous referendums as possible.

The reaction to the referendums in the Spanish media was the obvious and expected one attempting to minimise it by stressing the “low” participation. They can keep fooling themselves (and their arrogance plays in Catalonia’s favour) but in my opinion if we keep making progress at this pace soon the process of organising a final binding referendum will reach the point of no return.