#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.

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.

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.

Sergi López’s speech at the Catalan National Assembly (with subtitles)

Since I currently live in Germany I am also member of Catalans Abroad. A group of Catalan expats who live all around the world and who also work for Catalonia’s independence.

The other day I finished making the english subtitles of Sergi López‘s speech at the Catalan National Assembly, of which I spoke a few days ago. The subtitles are also available in French, you just have to switch on the captions option on the video for your preferred language. Highly inspirational.

The Catalan National Assembly

Last April after the last round of popular referendums for independence there was a question floating in the air: “and now what?” What should we do with the network of thousands of volunteers who had worked to achieve those amazing results? A few days after the last round in Barcelona took place a first meeting of the ANC (Catalan National Assembly) and after a lot of work almost one year later has resulted in its constitution on March the 10th in Barcelona at Palau Sant Jordi filled with almost 7000 independentists from all over the country.

The meeting was closed by the popular actor Sergi López and the main result was the voting of the ANC’s structure and the approval of an ambitious route plan towards Catalonia’s independence.

The actions start this year and aim to raise the awareness towards the need for independence with a March for Independence all over the country. During 2013 together with the Associació de Municipis per la Independència (which as of yesterday hit 324 member municipalities) will organize referendums of independence in every municipality in Catalonia. After that it’ll be the turn of the Catalan government to take the lead towards organizing a referendum of independence on 2014 and, if this was refused by the Spanish State, to declare independence.

During the meeting a manifesto was approved to denounce the “continuous Spanish attempts to assimilate Catalonia” and “the Spanish refusal to recognize Catalonia as a nation”.

What in my opinion makes the ANC different from other independentist initiatives are the following reasons:

  • Not tied to any political party and has voted never to become one
  • It’s a mature movement which puts independence before itself
  • It comes from serious people who work anonymously for Catalonia’s independence
  • It aims to concentrate and add visibility to Catalan society’s demand for a Catalan State from outside the political establishment

which is why it can become a very effective tool to achieve this target.

Some people expect the leaders which will finally lead the process towards a Catalan state within the European Union will emerge from the ANC. However, the ANC has until now remained an association with no visible leaders.

Representatives from the Catalan parties, from the main cultural associations, like Òmnium Cultural, the Association of Municipalities for Independence and a representation of Catalan intellectual activists also attended the meeting.

The video of the full event is available here.