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?

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.

Another step towards banning bullfighting

Parlament de Catalunya

Bullfighting ban update. A historical day took place at the Catalan Parliament last week on December the 18th, on a secret voting session the deputies voted for or against taking forward the popular legistative initiative (ILP) to ban bullfighting. The yes won meaning that the final voting will be held next spring and hopefully unless things change dramatically bullfighting in Catalonia will soon be a thing of the past. The votings were held secretly, which I don’t really understand since to me it is very important to know who amongst our representatives is for or against this barbaric tradition. It is intriguing that anyone in this day and age can still defend bullfighting no matter what is your background, culture or religion, to me it is morally detestable.

The reaction in the Spanish media again was as expected to insult and to stress again how this tradition is part of Catalan history and that people have more important matters to care about than bullfighting and that this initiative doesn’t represent the feeling of the Catalan society (which is not true).

In my opinion, no matter whether bullfighting was at one point in the past popular in Catalonia it hasn’t been the case for many decades and it has no popular support whatsoever and therefore such a barbaric tradition should not be allowed, whether that makes us more Catalans and less Spanish is almost irrelevant, although I’m glad it does.

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.

13D, the countdown for Catalonia’s independence has started today

Catalonia wants independence

Today democracy is a bit stronger in Europe. Catalonia has spoken and it wants independence. With a turnover of almost 30% and 95% vote in favour of Catalonia to become a state within the European Union a clear message has been sent to the world and to Catalan politicians.

The Catalan society has organized itself in an unseen way with no official support, barely no budget but with the combined effort of an army of 20000 volunteers it has managed to organize in just a few weeks a voting that rivals in rigor, reliability and transparency any government promoted votings.

Those who critizise the referendums say that the turnover is not enough but let’s not forget that the 30% percentage is similar to the last European elections, for example, while these referendums had no budget for publicity and were largely ignored by the mainstream media, mostly controlled by the unionist government that only today have decided to give the event the coverage it deserves. Therefore a 30% turnover can only be interpreted as a huge success.

The voting has taken place peacefully and in a celebration atmosphere as people have gradually attended the voting stations from 9h until 20h when the votings have finished.

Even though the votings haven’t been organised by political parties the Catalan parties Reagrupament and ERC promoted to vote YES and CiU have encouraged people to vote while unionist parties PP, PSOE and Ciutadans have questioned the legitimacy of the referendums instead of promoting the vote for the NO.

With these referendums the Catalan independentist movement has achieved three targets:

  1. to bring independence to the first page of the political agenda and achieve the legitimacy that most Catalan politicians were denying it
  2. to force all parties to position themselves on the issue making it more difficult for the unionist parties to hide under a pretended neutrality
  3. to give an enormous international visibility to the Catalan cause

After the results have been made public Carles Móra, mayor of Arenys de Mar, acting as a spokesman for the National Referedums Coordinator, has declared that tomorrow they’ll officially propose a ILP (Popular Legislative Initiative) to urge the Catalan Parliament to hold a national binding referendum next April 25th.

The ball is in the politicians court.

Today I’ve felt deeply proud to be a Catalan. Visca Catalunya!

Sant Jaume de Frontanyà starts the referendum

Sant Jaume de Frontanyà

Today the referendum starts in Sant Jaume de Frontanyà, the smallest village in Catalonia but a very beautiful one. The little village has decided to advance the referendum one day to give it a little publicity, which I find fantastic.

By the way, I’ve installed a widget that allows to see the results of the referendums in real time, thanks to Reagrupament.

Go Catalonia!

“If two million catalans vote in Barcelona the referendum will be binding”

Barcelona Decideix

Next sunday 700000 Catalan citizens in 170 municipalities across Catalonia will vote if they want their country to become a state within the European Union following the popular initiative started in Arenys de Munt las September. More referendums will be hold in March and April and yesterday the platform Barcelona Decideix announced in front of La Sagrada Familia that Barcelona will hold a referendum next April the 25th.

Several personalities like Alfons Godall, vicepresident of FC Barcelona, or Carles Móra, mayor of Arenys de Munt gave support to the initiative and even though they admit that planning this referendum only in 5 months will be a challenge they also said that noone will be able to question the strength of two million votes and that they achieve a high participation not only the referendums will be binding but they’ll also be final.

The organizers have calculated that they need 10000 volunteers to male it a reality although it shouldn’t be a problem since in December’s round of consultations more than 20000 volunteers have supported them all over Catalonia.

Catalonia’s 21300 million euros fiscal deficit

Emili Valdero

The best video I’ve ever seen that explains in very plain (pardon the pun) terms the financial reasons for Catalonia’s independence is Emili Valdero’s presentation, you don’t need to be Catalan to understand it. Emili Valdero is a catalan economist, university professor and former member of the catalan government. And he repeats this speech in every act of the Catalan independentist political association Reagrupament.cat (link in catalan).

Below is a 5 minutes excerpt of Emili’s presentation with english and catalan subtitles (although Youtube allows you to instantly translate it to any other language).

Amongst some facts it mentions that it costs each catalan citizen 3000 euros every year to be part of Spain, or in another terms the catalan fiscal deficit, the amount the Catalans give Spain that never comes back, is of 21300 million euros every year. This represents 10% of Catalonia’s GDP. In comparison federal states like Germany, the USA or Canada limit by law wealth redistribution from richer to poorer states to a maximum of 4%, 4.5% and 2% respectively since it is acknowledged that a greater amount would severely affect the richer’s states economy and their ability to keep generating wealth. In Spain there’s no limit to these redistributions.

As a result of this deficit Catalan infrastructures and social welfare including airports, motorways, trains, public transportation, education, public healthcare suffer from a chronic lack of funding that most of Spain doesn’t and this becomes even worse in the middle of a strong crisis like we are now. This is threatening Catalonia’s survival and financial viability. Catalonia needs solutions to its own problems from a Catalan point of view, not from a Spanish point of view.

If Catalonia became independent it would automatically increase its government’s budget by 70% and it would instantly become the 4th state in average income in the euro EU. More or less like the Netherlands, not a bad start.

The title to this article: “Catalonia is the most generous territory in the world” is a quote from the video. It’s an irony since generosity tends to be a voluntary act. When you have no say in these affairs, just like the Catalans, I would rather call it theft.