#11s2012 , a demonstration to place Catalonia’s independence on the horizon

If you have landed on this page today it may very well be because you want to know more about the huge demonstration that is taking place in Barcelona under the motto “Catalonia, a new European State”.

September 11th is for Catalans the anniversary of the loss of our Constitution after the Spanish invasion in 1714. We will commemorate this defeat until we recover our sovereignty.

Today’s demonstration has been organised by the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and will probably be one of the biggest in European history and will definitely be a turning point for Catalonia and hopefully the start of the last stage before independence.

With that in mind I’ll try to summarize the situation.

  • History

    Catalonia is an old European country in the north eastern corner of the Iberian peninsula. With its own culture, language, traditions and history.

    It used to be independent until almost 300 hundred years ago when it was invaded by Castillian and French armies and forced to become part of the Spanish state losing its centuries long Constitution and institutions.

    Throughout all these centuries Spain has not exactly excelled as a democratic state and because of that until now Catalans have not had a chance to democratically express whether they want want to have their state back or not.

  • The Autonomous Communities

    Franco led a 40 years long fascist dictatorship regime in Spain which brutally repressed the Catalan nation and its culture. After its death, in order to dilute the self government devolution to Catalans and Basques, the only ones who wanted it, Spain granted the same status to several Spanish provinces and thus 17 Autonomous Communities were created.

    However, because the Spanish state was still deeply rooted in Franco’s regime Catalonia was not able to negotiate a fair deal. The proof was the military coup from 1983 which had the immediate consequence of rolling back a great deal of Catalonia’s self government.

    The Spanish Autonomous Communities have been for the last 3 decades a source of political corruption and overspending. Ruled by the same parties that have led Spain to this deep crisis.

    Now with the excuse that these Autonomous Communities have overspent Spain attempts also to roll Catalan self government back.

  • The Catalan Statute of Autonomy

    In 2006 Catalan citizens voted in a referendum for a new Statute of Autonomy that would grant a slightly fairer relationship with Spain, including an equal status for Catalan and Spanish languages. The core aspects of this statute were declared inconstitutional and rejected by a highly politicized Spanish Constitutional Court.

    As a consequence of this the Catalan education system is also threatened. An internationally praised system which guarantees that children are fluent in both Catalan and Spanish, therefore avoiding discrimination to everyone regardless of their origins, was also declared inconstitutional.

    Catalan speaking TV channels have been closed down in the Valencian Country and Balearic Islands in order to erode the share of the already weakened Catalan language, which suffers under the pressure of the Spanish language without the protection of a friendly state.

  • Hatred against Catalonia

    Catalanophobia, or antiCatalan hatred and xenophobia is regularly used by Spanish politicians and media and is ingrained in the Spanish collective consciousness. It is also instigated regularly in the social networks with no action taken by the Spanish authorities to tackle it.

    Regularly we have samples of abuse, violence, military threats and aggression towards Catalonia and Catalan people just for being what they are. (more examples, here and here)

  • Financial situation

    Spain is not a federal country. 95% of taxes are collected by the Spanish Government and there is no control mechanism which regulates how they are redistributed. There is no transparency either.

    As a result of this Catalonia suffers an unparalleled fiscal plundering by Spain, around 40% of taxes Catalans pay Madrid never come back. This amounts to approximately 8% of Catalonia’s GDP or 16 billion euros every year.

    The Generalitat, the Catalan Government, only has decision power to spend, not to collect taxes. Even though it manages the most expensive services States provide (education, healthcare, police and firemen, amongst others).

    The population of Catalonia has increased by about a million people in the last 10 years. Being now roughly 7.5 million. Because of this the spenditure needs have increased.

    No economy is sustainable if it is drained 8% of its resources every year. This is the main cause of the current indebtment of 40 billion euros of the Catalan Government.

    By starving it of its resources the Spanish government have forced Catalonia to request a bailout and are trying to use it as an excuse to roll its self government back.

    This bailout would not have been necessary had Catalonia had the tools to manage its own resources, since it is a net contributor to the Spanish finances.

  • Current situation

    However, all the violence and repression exerted to dilute its personality and culture these last 3 centuries have not succeeded.

    Catalan is today a vibrant culture and the language number 13 in Europe. However, it is not one of its 23 official european languages by decision of Spain, which blocks it.

    Catalan is not official in Spain either, in the Catalan countries under Spanish rule (Valencian Country, Balearic Islands and Catalonia) it is only co-oficial and even though it is the only language native to Catalonia it enjoys a lower legal status than Spanish.

  • Referendum

    Catalans want to democratically express the right to self determination, which Spain doesn’t allow.

    For the last two years all serious polls made by newspapers, universities and official institutions reveal that an overwhelming majority of Catalans would vote for Catalonia to become a new European state. The latest official poll shows the following distribution of votes: 51% yes, 21% no, 21% undecided (CA).

    Catalonia has the same right as any other nation to democratically decide its future. We are not better than any other European country, but no less either.

  • The Catalan Republic

    Spain is a bad business for Catalonia. It denies our culture, identity and drains us from our resources. We have tried everything. It has been proven that staying in Spain is a completely non viable option to fulfill our national aspiration to be a normal country.

    The only thing we haven’t been able to try in 300 years is to have our own state. And right now it seems the only reasonable choice.

    The future Catalan State will be a serious and solvent country in the Southern European area with a strong, exports oriented and diversified economy. It will be a net contributor to the European Union and will contribute to Europe’s stability thus making it stronger.

    We want the right to make our own mistakes, and to enjoy our successes.

    To have a place next to all the other nations of the world. For our voice to be heard.

European Commission hints at the way to handle Catalonia’s independence

Catalan independentist association Reagrupament submitted back in April an ICE requesting the European Commission to create a procedure for the internal enlargement of the EU of which we already spoke about here. In reponse to this the European Commission replied that the way to handle this situation would have to be found within the rules of international law.

Again last week European Commission President José Manuel Durao Barroso replied, in response to eurodeputy Mara Bizzotto query on whether Catalan citizens would lose their European citizenship status should Catalonia declare independence (CA), that “the solution would have to be found within the frame of international law”.

This means that the EU will not create a special process for the internal enlargement and, according to international law, states resulting from a secession process will automatically inherit the treaties that the from the state they are seceding from. Amongst them the membership to the European Union.

It also is good news because for the first time a European Institution has openly discussed about Catalonia’s independence.

Spanish Military threatens: “Catalonia’s independence? Over my dead body”

Spanish Army Colonel Francisco Alamán Castro has declared on an interview to a Spanish website that “Catalonia’s independence will be over my dead body and many others’ too. The military made a sacred vow to carry out the constitutional command which consecrates the unity of Spain as a inalienable right. We also vowed to defend its territorial integrity with our lifes if necessary. But we have something those people will never have: sense of honor and duty”

Catalan deputy Joan Tardà has already requested the Spanish Miniter of Defence appearance to give explanations about the military threats to Catalonia and to publicly disavow Francisco Alamán Castro.

Mas fails to defend Catalonia’s interests

The perversity of the Spanish tax system is that Catalonia, while is being plundered every year 40% of taxes collected in Catalonia which never come back, has just been forced by Spain to a humiliating bailout.

The yearly fiscal deficit of Catalonia with Spain amounts to 18 billion euros for a population of 7.5 million.

How can the system be such that the net contributor to the finances of a state, Catalonia, needs to be bailed out with their own money? How can Spain blame Catalonia for the state of their dire finances when most services are provided by Catalonia but most debt is caused by the Spanish government spending?

Catalan President Mas and its government have failed today to defend Catalonia’s interests and has opened the possibility for Spain to suppress Catalonia’s institutions. In the terms that Mas’ party voted for in Madrid.

Mas promised he would achieve fiscal independence for Catalonia during this term but instead his government has surrendered what was left of Catalonia’s self government to Spain in a silver platter for a mere 5 billion euros. Mas has failed to stand for its country.

Because essentially after the bailout, any deviation from the deficit targets by Catalonia, which it will not meet because of the general state of the economy, will mean that the Spanish Government will be able to decide exactly how every euro cent will be spent in Catalonia (CA). So it will be almost impossible to stop things like this or this from happening.

Not to speak of the public and international humiliation at having Catalonia be seen as an irresponsible country and the damage to its image and credibility because the Catalan Government has failed to explain the situation.

Mas should resign immediately and call for elections.

September 11th, “Catalonia new European state” demonstration

September the 11th is the anniversary of the fall of Barcelona under the Spanish and French armies in 1714. That day meant the loss of Catalonia’s constitution, institutions and independence. Almost 300 years later Catalonia is still struggling to recover it. September 11th is currently the Catalan national day. A day to remember the loss of our independence until it is recovered.

The National Catalan Assembly, ANC, of which I already wrote about here and here have organised a demonstration that is expected to be massive and may even beat the demonstration on 10th July 2010.

On 2010 Òmnium Cultural, a Catalan cultural association born during Franco’s repression of Catalan language, organised a demonstration to protest against the ruling of the Spanish Constitutional Court which mutilated the Catalan Statute of Autonomy which Catalans had voted in a referendum. Amongst other things this ruling stated that, according to the Spanish Constitution, Catalonia is not a nation and that Catalan language would have an inferior status to Spanish in Catalonia.

The theme of that demonstration was “We are a nation, we decide”. Even though it was not officially an independentist demonstration people in the streets were shouting for independence.

The two main differences of this demonstration with the previous one is that this time Catalans are not protesting against Spain. This one is intended more as a push to Catalan politicians to jump over the fence. The second difference is that that the theme is clearly independentist “Catalonia new European state”.

The demonstration on 2010 was the turning point for many political changes. The pro independence option is now clearly dominant and Spain’s intransigent attitude and attacks towards the Catalan nation and culture are pushing Catalans quickly into independentist options.

Spanish parties PP and PSOE are quickly losing support in Catalonia because of their contradictions. Catalan voters cannot understand why they don’t support for Catalonia to at least collect all its taxes and how can they tolerate and participate on the attacks to Catalan language.

And Catalan parties, which support different degrees of Catalan self government are progressively being forced by public opinion and the deep crisis to raise the bar for devolution claims. It is not understood why Catalonia is suffering a fiscal deficit of 18 billion euros every year with Spain and have to make more public services cuts than anywhere in Spain and why Spain is attacking Catalan language on all fronts.

What is frustrating is that the increase in Catalan independentism is not triggering any real political changes since Spain is ignoring them and repressing Catalan independentism, even recurring to violence and threats. Catalan government is in a position of extreme weakness to negotiate with Spain since they depend on fund transfers from Spain every month. And Spain cannot afford and doesn’t intend to give Catalonia a fair financial treatment.

So by the looks of it if Catalans want to achieve any real political changes it will have to be through unilateral declaration of independence and a transition to independence.

The ANC wants this demonstration to trigger the political changes to start the last phase before Catalonia becomes a new European state and to send a clear message to the world of what is about to happen and why.

Spanish Government instructs Spanish police to seize Catalan independentist flags

The Catalan Estelada is the symbol of Catalonia's independence

The Spanish Government has replied to Catalan deputy Alfred Bosch’s query on the issue that instructions have indeed been given to the Spanish police to seize Catalan independentist flags in sports events, just like it happened in Madrid last May during the Spanish Cup’s Football final in Madrid where it was reported the Spanish police seized Catalan starred flags from Barça supporters.

The Spanish Government says this is done because “displaying them could trigger an adverse reaction and violence from certain supporters” (CA). Even though they confirm that the Catalan Estelada (Starred flag) is not illegal per se.

Also during that match it was reported that at least one young man was beaten up by the Spanish Police for displaying a Catalan independentist flag and later another supporter was fined with 3001 euros for wearing a Catalan independentist scarf (CA).

However, the Spanish police didn’t seem to have a problem with the fascist symbols displayed during the fascist demonstration which took place in Madrid on the same day.

Doncs jo espero que el Govern no vagi a la manifestació de l’11S

Llegeixo estupefacte que els membres del govern es plantejen anar a la manifestació. Jo espero que no hi vagin. Perquè si no hi van pot ser per dos motius:

  1. Que no comparteixen el lema de la manifestació “Catalunya nou estat d’europa”, molt legítim, ells van anar a les eleccions defensant això del pacte fiscal i el poble els va elegir. Res a dir. (Podríem parlar sobre com en les actuals circumstàncies ningú discutiria que llencessin el guió per la finestra però això seria esperar massa)
  2. Que comparteixen l’objectiu i estan planificant la transició cap a l’estat propi des dels seus depatxos. (Ho dubto, encara que m’encantaria equivocar-me)

Però si hi van aleshores només vol dir una cosa. Que no saben ni qui són ni a qui representen.

Com que jo no podré ser-hi (ara mateix visc a Anglaterra) si algú es troba cap membre del govern a la manifestació del dia 11 li podeu si us plau preguntar de part meva: “Si vosté és aquí vol dir que comparteix el lema de la manifestació. Aleshores, em pot si us plau explicar què fa aquí i no al seu lloc de treball planificant la transició? I si no pot amb la responsibilitat aleshores dimiteixin o convoquin eleccions demà mateix”

És preocupant que l’únic estudi amb cara i ulls de les accions a prendre per a assolir la independència de Catalunya fins ara l’hagi hagut de fer el Cercle Català de Negocis i no el Govern.

En tot cas. La meva enhorabona al CCN. Esteu fent una feina molt important.

Ja n’hi ha prou d’inconcreció. O es vol la independència o no es vol. I si es vol el que no es pot fer és anar a una manifestació a demanar-la com si no fossis membre del Govern i la cosa no anés amb tu. Una mica de serietat, si us plau, que la situació és greu.

From a european crisis to a more united Europe

Europe in a moment of major crisis. Crisis means opportunity. At the end of this crisis Europe should become (if it wants to still be relevant internationally) a real federation of nations.

One of the biggest obstacles for this are the state nations (France, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, ) which were created around the 18th century. Those were times of expansion, colonization and protectionism but nowadays we should move towards a federal Europe of the nations. The european nations must become a part of something bigger. I do believe that feeling European citizenship before being, in my case, Catalan is what we should aim for.

This process has already started, on one hand the current crisis has been caused by creating a currency union without a fiscal and political union, because the fear of nationalistic states to give up control. The imbalances between the different economical cycles without the tools to correct them through a unified fiscal policy is one of the crisis of the southern european countries.

Secondly, there is also, the north and south crisis. The northern countries, understandably, don’t want to keep subsidizing the south and have setup firewalls. The south must change its ways, tackle corruption and a different approach to working ethics.

Finally, the internal expansion. Catalonia, Scotland, Flanders, Wales, Euskadi, are some of the european nations still trapped within the borders of the old medieval state-nations. These nations need their voice to be heard in equal rights with all the other European nations. Without them Europe is not complete. And by allowing their voice to be heard Europe will show democratic respect to all cultures and nations within it. Internal expansion must become just as normal as divorce is now in civil law.

This will be the challenge of our time, to implement all these changes. To become Europeans before Catalan, French or German but still maintaining our culture and identity. If we can achieve this Europe will be in a position to be decisive power in the world and to influence. Otherwise a fragmented Europe will become irrelevant and impoverished.

I like the European lifestyle. Europeans have fought for centuries to achieve social advances and people’s rights and in my experience it is the continent in which people have the best chance of achieving a good standard of living. The model is not perfect, it is also very uneven depending on the country and is certainly threatened by the current crisis but is one to be taken into account.

To save it we must move forward. Towards a more fair society. We have to prove that this model is sustainable. I believe in Europe. Will Europeans be able to drop their nationalistic prejudices and become a united Europe?

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:

http://www.president.cat/pres_gov/president/ca/president-mas/contactar.html

“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.