The Spanish veto to fly to Barcelona from 23 countries

Barcelona Airport

It is currently not possible to fly directly to 23 countries thanks to bilateral agreements that establish Madrid as the priority airport in Spain and explicitly block the possibility of flying to Barcelona. Even though Barcelona complies with all the requirements to become an intercontinental hub thanks to its privileged location in Europe and the Mediterranean.

I was always amazed at how airports of cities such as Manchester fly directly to every corner in the world and wondered why we couldn’t do that from Barcelona, how was that possible? how could Catalans be so short-sighted? Then I found the answer a few months, Spain deliberately bans it.

The successive Spanish governments have done everything at their hands to prevent Barcelona Airport from becoming the intercontinental hub it should be in fear that competition with Madrid would leave Madrid very quickly as the second airport in the Iberian peninsula. They still deny the Catalan government the management of the airport even though it’s been a claim for decades and there’s no reason why the Catalans would not be able to manage it in a better way since they know the needs of our country better than someone sitting in an office in Madrid. Not to speak of the harm that having Iberia being the monopolistic airline for so many decades has caused.

Catalonia needs the best infrastructures right now and for that the Spanish have proven not only incapable of handling the task but also deliberately harmful for Catalonia’s interests. Another reason why it is urgent for Catalonia to become independent.

Note: thanks to George from Barcelona, this article is inspired in one of his blog posts. Also, the original news here in Catalan.

An independent Catalonia will instantly become an EU member

Catalan must be official in Europe

A recent study by Stanford university professor Antoni Abad was made public last February the 18th in a meeting organized by the Cercle d’Estudis Sobiranistes. The study, which can be downloaded here in pdf format in its catalan version, has demolished one of the arguments unionists recurrently used to scare catalans with: “If Catalonia becomes independent it will be kicked out of the EU and will have to ask for readmission and Spain will veto it”.

Now we know this isn’t true, when Catalonia, Scotland, the Basque Country, etc. become independent they’ll be EU members in full right. Not even the resulting Spain would have to ask for readmission. European citizenship of 7 million catalans cannot be suspended overnight and this would just be considered as and internal expansion within the EU, the new members will only have to ask for their new status to be acknowledged. Many thanks to Professor Antoni Abad for shedding light on this issue.

Note: Image sources at
senyera
European Flag

Booing? what booing? Everyone loves the King of Spain!

The Kings of Spain

On February the 21st a familiar scene happened again, during the final of the Basketball Spanish King’s Cup that took place in the Basque Country and faced Barça against Real Madrid (final result: Barça 80 – Real Madrid 61) while the Spanish anthem started playing on the PA the booing by the Catalan and Basque audience was so loud the anthem could not be heard. Below, the video.

This was a repetition of what happened last spring at the Football Spanish King’s Cup that faced Barça with Athletic de Bilbao. All this would just be in any normal country a fair protest that people could like or dislike but would definitely not be censored.

Last spring’s protest took the Spanish a bit by surprise and improvisation led to literally cutting the anthem (and the protests) from the live TV version. Someone in the Spanish TV was forced to resign, I believe more because they cut the Spanish anthem that because of the censorship to the protests.

But on February the Spanish had learned the lesson. Firstly, the King himself brought a special 30 second version of the anthem to make the situation as short as possible and secondly, the Spanish TV edited the sound mix on the live broadcast and didn’t show any images of the Catalan and Basque audience so that you wouldn’t notice anything. The commentator didn’t mention the booing, either. You can see the Spanish TV version below.

Let’s not forget that we’re talking about Spain, a EU member, one of the biggest economies in the world and what everyone thinks of as a “developed” country. On the other hand, not so publicized facts are that the so called “transición” to democracy didn’t involve any prosecution of the crimes committed during Franco’s regime or that the King of Spain was appointed by the dictator.

More on the King of Spain:

The above is a video of a speech from 2001 and is a clear offense to so many people in Latin America, Catalonia, the Basque Country, Galicia, etc. that you’d think he should still be apologizing for it, nope. While other countries have apologized for their colonial past the King of Spain just reminds us that “Nobody was ever forced to learn Castillian (Spanish)” (sic).

Again, another fine example of the status of democracy in Spain, if reality is not to our liking let’s hide it. Everyone loves the King of Spain!

(Video) Catalonia’s independence on Euronews

Euronews: Catalonia independence or autonomy

About a month ago the channel Euronews made an excellent documentary about Catalonia’s independence which is available online.

Even though I didn’t post it at the time I think it is interesting since it shows how the independence option not only has achieved a normality status inside Catalonia but also internationally. This is a major achievement for Catalan society which, through popular initiatives such as the referendums held on 13S, 13D and 28F, have put Catalonia’s independence in Europe’s political agenda and have shown that if Catalans want independence this time Spain won’t be able to stop it. The process has already started and it is now only a matter of time.

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.

The cinema venues I’ll never go back to

Renoir, one of the anti-catalan venues

Soon to be approved the new Catalan cinema law that makes it compulsory that at least 50% of the movies in Catalan cinema venues to be translated into Catalan is causing strong reactions. First the Hollywood majors complained, as they always do, arguing that movies in Catalan are not in demand but the law went on to be passed. Personally, I think so far this is the only law that the current government has passed this term that I believe to make a bit of sense. It is unacceptable that in Catalonia we don’t have the right to watch movies in our own language be them dubbed or subtitled.

Even a Swiss newspaper went on to compare this law to a law Franco passed in 1941 forcing all movies in Catalonia to be dubbed into Spanish (link in German). This is a sample of the general ignorance with regards to the reality of Catalan culture, especially since the “official” tale of the story tends to come from the Spanish. Reactions from Catalonia were strong and they actually rectified by publishing 5 of the ones they received, and I thank them for that. One of the responses was written by the always brilliant Col·lectiu Emma, the newspaper titled it: “A nation with its own language and culture” (link in German).

Since Spanish is a language that was forced into our country I believe all normal communications and media like newspapers, TVs and of course cinema should be in Catalan, and laws should be passed so that this anomaly we live on now is redirected and not enough has been done so far. The current situation is only a result of Franco’s regime and a false “transition” to this thing the Spanish call “democracy” we live in that never restored the rights Catalans lost 300 years ago.

Here’s the list of cinemas that in protest for this law are planning to close next monday, and here’s the facebook group that is organizing a boycott against this initiative until they publicly apologize for this attitude of disrespect towards Catalan culture.

Another reason why we need independence as soon as possible, a matter of dignity and respect. In the meantime, those cinemas have at least lost one customer.

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
senyera
European Flag

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

Catalunya-Argentina

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.

More polls that show independentism is growing in Catalonia

El Periodico Poll

El Periodico, one of the two biggest newspapers in Catalonia and an openly sympathizer with the unionist PSOE government at the Generalitat published three days ago another poll where they asked people what would they vote if a binding referendum for the independence of Catalonia was held the next day. Turns out the percentages for the yes and no were almost identical 39% would vote “yes” and 40.6% “no”.

El Periódico is not suspicious at all of being pro independence. Therefore, it is undeniable that the pro independence option is gaining adepts very quickly and this 39% percent of independentist to me represents the lower ground for this political option with the upper threshold being the percentages published by UOC a few weeks ago.

Historically these numbers have been lower, depending on the source you checked they were somewhere betweeen 20% to 35%. Now they range between 40-50% and again the most important fact to me is that the “no” defenders are running out of reasons to defend their option while the independence has a very solid pack of reasons why it would objectively improve the life of everyone living in Catalonia.

Ironically, the greatest instigators of the independence are not so much the Catalan independentists but the invaluable contribution of the Spanish system (politicians, media, society, etc.) that with their discrimination, insults and disrespect towards Catalans are achieving day by day much more and much faster than any Catalan political party has ever done since the restoration of the “democracy”.

Now we only to set need a date for the binding referendum. The Spanish won’t dare to do anything about it, they didn’t do anything about the 13D referendums even after threatening to do so, because they can’t. Europe is watching therefore their traditional ways of stopping Catalan independence, sending the army or put politicians in prison are exhausted. They don’t have any arguments to give the Catalans to stay in Spain because they have never existed. Obviously we will have to be prepared for all the dirty tricks the Spanish will pull and the most difficult step will be to get the current Catalan politicians, who are very happy with their current situation, to lead society but I’m sure that the new options that are already growing quickly will swipe the floor of the Catalan Parliament in the elections next year.