Practical guide for Spanish governments on how to increase Catalan independentism

I have come to the conclusion that the Spanish Government are infiltrated Catalan independentists plotting to get Catalonia out of Spain as quickly as possible. You may be tempted to think I have completely lost it but it is the only conclusion I can reach after carefully analysing some of their actions in the last year only:

1- ignore all claims to negotiate a fair financial deal with the area which produces most of the exports in your state so that they can produce and export more, generate employment, increase your tax income and get you out of the crisis

2- attempt to minoritize even more their beloved language by sabotaging their educational system by attempting to enforce language segregation instead of fixing the real problems that make you score at the bottom of the PISA report

3- insist on squandering billions of public money to build the longest high speed train network in Europe which has already proven a financial disaster instead of building the mediterranean freight railway line that would boost trade and exports (as the European Union is asking (ca))

4- instead of increasing infrastructure investment in your most dynamic area to boost its economy reduce it by 45% (ca) while only reducing it on average by 24% in the rest of the state

5- plunder 8% of that area’s GDP for the last 30 years and at the same time accuse them of being the culprits of the crisis. Top it by threatening to intervene them even though they are the only ones having acted responsibly and started reducing their budget one year before you did

6- bail out Madrid’s toll roads by extending the toll road concessions of Catalan toll roads (ca). Making Catalans, who already have 67% of the toll roads in the Spanish State, pay also for Madrid’s toll roads (Catalans were already paying for Spain’s non toll roads through their taxes)

7- refuse to pay 1.4 billion euros you owe the Catalan government claiming that because of the crisis there is no money left. Immediately afterwards bail out Madrid-government controlled savings bank with 10 billion euros of taxpayers’ money.

8- sabotage Barcelona’s airport international connections to favour Madrid’s expansion using a government controlled agency, AENA. (Being, together with Portugal and Romania the exceptions to the rule in Europe, where airport competition is encouraged)

9- block international recognition of Catalan language in Europe instead of being proud of having such a cultural asset and promoting it

10- reply the increase of Catalan independentism by threatening with economic and physical violence (for example, here and here)

10- finally, get your head of state and his family members involved in several scandals within a few weeks: corruptions charges in cases involving public money, underage people getting shot while playing with guns, being caught hunting endangered species in exotic countries. And to make things worse do all of this in the midst of an unprecedented crisis when you should be closely following what is going on.

They deserve my applause. Way to go Mr Rajoy!

Will Europe just sit and watch Spain’s financial suicide for nationalistic reasons?

The Spanish government is using the Autonomous Communities as a smoke screen to hide their disastrous handling of the situation, and use the crisis as an excuse to give Catalonia the coup de grace, eliminate its self government and accomplish the old Spanish dream of a culturally uniform state.

Blaming the Autonomous Communities as the main culprit of the crisis is a ridiculous argument since Catalonia only holds 6.5% of the Spanish public debt while sustaining a fiscal deficit of 8% of its GDP every year without which its finances would be very different. The Catalan Government already did its homework and last year cut its budget down by 10% and has announced further 5% cut in civil servants’ salaries this year.

The Generalitat has raised a flag claiming that the State is planning to look for an excuse to intervene Catalonia by starving it from its resources, forcing the Generalitat’s bankruptcy and then coming to the “rescue”, to prove the Catalan government’s “incompetence”.

In the meantime international press and European governments are worryingly buying the Spanish government’s discourse. Instead on focusing on Spain’s real issues.

After last year’s elections it was time for Spain to reform their oversized state structure inherited from Franco’s regime which has the following traits:

  • all power centers are in Madrid with a strong breed of privileged public servants
  • economy based on former state monopolies, like Telefonica, used as employment agencies for retired politicians and their relatives with a captive market subsidizing them
  • an oversized army
  • irrational infrastructures spending
  • oversized welfare services aimed at keeping Spanish voters happy bringing an illusion of progress

All of this subsidized by the (formerly) richer Catalan countries and the funds coming from Europe. But for the last 30 years instead investing in the modernisation of its economy Spain has created the biggest real estate bubble in the world. Catalan politicians are also partly to be blamed for allowing this to happen. Now the fountain has dried up. After the draining of resources Catalan countries are in a precarious financial situation and the European funds are not flowing anymore.

But even now the Spanish fiesta goes on. Boosting Catalonia’s economy, its most dynamic area, which represents 20% of its economy and 27% of the exports, would be the only hope for the Spanish economy to get out of the crisis Spain is instead ignoring its own laws and bringing it down.

An example, this year 925 million euros are budgeted for the high speed train to Galicia, which would not even make sense in a good economy while refusing to pay Catalonia 978 million euros pending from 2008 and 2009 and announcing a cut of 45% infrastructures budget in 2012 for Catalonia compared to last year, infringing Spanish law.

But the markets are unforgiving and don’t believe that the changes Rajoy is making will put things under control. The intervention of Spain’s government is practically a matter of time.

Why this irrational behaviour?

In practice Spain does not acknowledge Catalonia as Spanish, it is instead treated as a colony from which to extract resources until depletion. It will not hesitate to sacrifice Catalonia to protect its privileges and state structures from the cold of the crisis even at the expense dooming Catalonia’s, Spain’s (and Europe’s?) economy.

Join the debate about the EU Internal Enlargement

The EU internal enlargement will be the process that will happen when one of the nations currently within a European Union member state democratically becomes a new state. Countries like Scotland, Flanders, Wales, Euskadi or Catalonia are amongst the candidates to become new states within the European Union.

From April the 1st European citizens are able to create European Citizens’ Initiatives and submit them to the European Commission so that they are assessed. If accepted and the minimum amount of supports is achievedthe EU will be forced to position itself regarding this issue and legislate accordingly.

Since the Internal Enlargement is a process that could potentially alter the borders of several member states the EU has traditionally chosen to avoid positioning itself about it even though it seems hard to imagine that a democratic independence process could ever be rejected.

So this initative is a way of forcing the EU to position itself and make the whole process more clear and democratic. If this initiative is accepted (the European Commission has two months to make a decision) then a period of 1 year will start to collect supports. Then the organisers will need to collect at least 1 million supports from European citizens in at least 7 different EU states.

Even though the European Citizens’ Initiatives have to be made by citizens and not political parties or organisations these can still back them. In this case, Joan Carretero, leader of Reagrupament, a catalan association and party, is the representative of the Citizens Commission that has launched this initiative which is also backed by Reagrupament.

This is a good opportunity to raise awareness internationally of the situation of the several stateless nations within the EU. In this case Reagrupament have been very fast to act since they have submitted the Initiative on the first possible day making use of the democratic tools at our disposal.

Personally I think it is also an opportunity to raise awareness that the Internal Enlargement is a European issue, especially since in some cases, like Spain, the member states do not acknowledge the nations within it and therefore the EU should act as a referee to guarantee the democratic rights that the members of stateless nations have as European Citizens to use their right of self-determination. is the official website created for the European Citizens’ Initiative.

Man on hunger strike in Mallorca to defend Catalan language

Jaume Bonet, a retired 64 year old man from Mallorca has now lost 22 kilograms and his health has seriously deteriorated since he went on a hunger strike on March the 1st as a protest for the campaign against Catalan culture (the local culture in the Balearic Islands since the 13th century) started by PP’s Spanish nationalist government at the Balearic Islands.

The measures taken against Catalan since 2010 include closing down the only public TV which broadcasted Catalan content in the islands, a law which allows civil servants to not need to prove knowledge of Catalan to be eligible for a position and the plan to change the names of Balearic towns to Spanish.

These measures are even causing division within the Balearic PP franchise as they obey not the feeling of the locals but the dictate from Madrid from where the relentless offensive against Catalan culture on its weaker sides (the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Country) is orchestrated.

The Facebook page “Jubilats per Mallorca!” is the official source of information on Mr Bonet’s hunger strike.

And you can join an initiative started by Quim Torra to plea Ms Irina Bokova, the UNESCO general director, for an international mediation on this conflict. You can send a copy of this letter to

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.

“Catalonia, an upcoming European State” talk on friday in Barcelona

On friday at the Casal Independentista de Sants (Carrer Muntadas, 24. Barcelona) the talk “Catalonia, an upcoming European State” will be taking place and we’ll be very happy to have you.

This is a regular talk that takes place since a group of students from the University of Minnesota are interested in the issue and since the more the merrier please come and join us!

Please rsvp on the facebook page. Alternatively, just post a comment below and I’ll make a note. Thanks!

Per què el PP no pot, encara que vulgui, donar el concert econòmic a Catalunya

És impossible que cap govern espanyol accepti concedir a Catalunya res remotament semblant a un concert econòmic. Per què?

  • Per a justificar el concert econòmic per a Catalunya el govern espanyol hauria de reconèixer davant l’opinió pública espanyola que en realitat el que volen els catalans és just i que Catalunya ha estat qui més ha contribuït a l’estat espanyol des de fa una pila d’anys. Que és just que Catalunya deixi de contribuïr a la solidaritat amb altres territoris ara que Espanya és un país equiparable als més rics del món. Això després de 30 anys d’atiar l’odi contra Catalunya és impossible.
  • Donar a Catalunya el mateix tracte fiscal que el País Basc causaria a curt termini un ajust dels serveis públics de què gaudeixen els espanyols mentre que la situació a Catalunya milloraria. Per als partits de govern espanyols és preferible la independència de Catalunya que pagar el cost polític d’aquesta operació. Després de la independència l’ajust a curt plaç arribaria igualment però ja s’inventarien alguna cosa per a no reconèixer que fins aleshores els serveis els pagava Catalunya. això sí, a mig i llarg termini Espanya se’n beneficiaria econòmicament i social tant del concert econòmic com de la independència de Catalunya.
  • El concert econòmic per a Catalunya impulsaria ràpidament demandes similars dels altres territoris espoliats, el País Valencià i les Illes Balears.
  • Per al PP la independència de Catalunya seria beneficiosa ja que significaria escombrar el PSOE durant molt de temps. Per al PSOE és impossible tonar a governar Espanya sense els vots catalans.
  • Una advertència sobre el “pacte fiscal” que proposa CiU. Qualsevol tipus de finançament que no sigui exactament el mateix de què gaudeixen les comunitats forals serà immediatament neutralitzat per alguna altra via per a continuar amb l’espoliació fiscal. Com ja s’ha demostrat amb els successius pactes fiscals dels últims 30 anys. Fa només uns dies l’economista Sala-i-Martín ens ho explicava. No importa quins canvis es facin al finançament de Catalunya, al final l’espoliació segueix constant any rere any.
  • La independència de Catalunya és preferible a mantenir-la dins l’estat espanyol sense poder-ne extreure recursos ja que Catalunya és increïblement molesta com a entitat nacional diferenciada per a un estat que vol ser homogeni culturalment.
  • Suposem que d’alguna manera Espanya concedeix a Catalunya el concert econòmic. A no ser que es fessin les coses molt malament aquesta esdevindria una altra vegada en pocs anys el principal pol econòmic de la península ibèrica en detriment de Madrid i això és un escenari intolerable per als espanyols, els quals s’ha passat 30 anys afavorint Madrid com a pol econòmic en detriment de Catalunya. A més, l’increment en qualitat de vida no faria sinó incrementar el desig d’independència de Catalunya i finalment el resultat seria el mateix.
  • Ara mateix ja tenim una majoria social àmpliament a favor de la independència. L’estratègia que segueix Espanya és contenir les aspiracions catalanes a través de l’estructura de l’estat, els jutges i les elits polítiques catalanes que fins ara estan fent el paper de contenció del moviment sobiranista (conscientment o no, això ho sabran ells) i utilitzar la immigració fins que Catalunya s’hagi empobrit tant i s’hagi assimilat tant que esdevingui una província castellana més i ja no hi hagi reivindicació identitària ni existeixi l’espoliació fiscal. Aquesta estratègia ja ens la va explicar fa uns mesos el President Pujol. Una vegada Catalunya estigui completament assimilada Espanya ja no podrà extreure’n més recursos però tampoc no hi haurà cap tipus de reivindicació identitària. En aquest escenari els espanyols hauran aconseguit un empobriment de l’estat espanyol però mantenen el territori conquerit. És trist però és la seva estratègia i objectiu, encara que comporti un empobriment general d’Espanya per sempre més.

We take your money, then we blame you for being broke (part 1)

We already knew that the PP was going to do exactly what they are doing. Which is more or less the same that the PSOE did, just more “in your face”. Blaming the autonomous communities for the excessive Spanish public debt, even though they only account for 20% of the Spanish debt and manage the most expensive responsibilities, like education, healthcare or police forces. As we already mentioned here.

On December 2011 the Spanish Government failed to pay Catalonia 759 million euros which were committed on the 2011 Spanish budget and put the Catalan finances on a dire situation. For a few days it was unclear whether the Generalitat would be able to pay its workers (police, doctors, teachers, etc.). The Generalitat solved this by borrowing money. This situation hasn’t replicated anywhere in Spain. To this we should add another pending payment of 1450 million euros from the “competitivity fund” which Spain failed to pay Catalonia also on 2011.

This had the twofold effect of transferring the public deficit from Spain to Catalonia making their numbers look better, and simultaneously putting Catalonia on the verge of insolvency. Then in a display of hipocrisy Spain told off the Generalitat for its excessive deficit and threatened an intervention.

Now the Spanish Government has announced that they are preparing a law according to which the Spanish Government will have to supervise and approve the Autonomous Communities’ budgets. This would essentially mean the end of Catalonia’s self-government since the budget would have to be approved by the Spanish PP then Catalonia would effectively cease to be governed by CiU, the elected party. In fact it remains unclear whether that would even allowed by the Spanish Constitution. Even though that would probably not stop them since the Spanish Judiciary system is systematically being used to attack Catalonia’s self-government (like here or here)

While the PP has a point in pointing out that the Spanish Autonomous Communities have spent too much money it is also true that the PP governs in most Spanish Autonomous Communities which puts the blame right back on themselves for the mess.

This all goes back to the late seventies. In the post Franco period Spain never liked the idea of giving Catalonia a differentiated status and so as to dilute Catalonia’s personality gave the same status to any Spanish region that requested it. Thus creating a new set of Autonomous Communities with their Parliaments, flags, anthems, governments in regions where there was never a claim for self-government. This created a new layer of bureocracy and a regional political subsystem which has proved to be a source of money wasting and corruption.

Now, behind all these so called economic measures is the aim to achieve political targets against Catalonia while at the same time Spain fails to tackle the root of the problem problem which is a bloated state structure which wastes its resources on a things like an army which costs 16500 million euros a year or building high speed trains to rural areas (in the midst of a severe crisis Spain is the second country in the world after China in amount of high speed train kilometers under construction), to name just a few.

Using Catalonia as a scapegoat and stir xenophobia is irresponsible and the Catalan Government should take immediate action to stop this situation for once and forever.

Spanish elections analysis

Yesterday’s Spanish elections showed a predictable result in Spain with the absolute majority of right wing Spanish nationalists PP and the also predictable collapse of PSOE due to their mistakes in managing the crisis. This shows a uniform blue painted Spain for the first time.

In the midst of the blue tide in the Spanish State only Catalonia and the Basque Country appear clearly politically differentiated. Catalan CiU have for the first time been the most voted party in Catalonia at the Spanish elections with 16 deputies. The most noticeable change has been PSOEs collapse going from 25 deputies to 14. PP with 11 hasn’t even achieded their best results from 1993.

On the other hand we have ERC-RCat. With 3 deputies (maybe 4) Bosch has done remarkably well in stopping the downwards spiral that had started in the last two elections and was threatening to leave them without any deputies according to polls from only two months ago. Instead, they have increased their representation and could even achieve one deputy for Girona, depending on the expat votes. This shows it was a mistake to not have Reagrupament’s Quim Torra be the candidate for Girona, as Junqueras wanted.

However, these results validate Junqueras’ change of direction and shows that ERC+RCat have the potential to become the core of a broad Catalan independentist coalition for the 2014 Catalan elections. An important date since it will be the 300 anniversary of the Spanish occupation in Catalonia.

Also good news is that Catalan left wing ecologists ICV have trebled their representation and now have 3 deputies. Meaning that Spanish parties, which traditionally dominated the Spanish elections in Catalonia, with 25 deputies are quickly losing ground to Catalan parties with 21 deputies.

In the Valencian Country for the first time Coalició Compromís has managed to break the dominance of the Spanish parties and the Valencian voice will be heard in the Spanish Congreso.

In Euskadi the abertzale coalition Amaiur have achieved historical results and have become the most voted party. This hints the possibility that in the next Basque elections Basque parties could concentrate the great majority of the votes which could potentially trigger serious political changes in that country.

The clear differences in the results in Catalonia and the Basque Country with Spain question the legitimacy of any of Spain’s predictable future attacks to Catalonia’s self government, culture and institutions. A desperate Spanish State with undermined political and economic independence by the severe measures that Europe will impose will turn to Catalonia’s self-government as a scapegoat. Hopefully, with a lot of work and a bit of luck these may be the last Spanish elections for Catalonia.

In the meantime, even though they are two very different situations in Catalonia we have some lessons to learn from the Basques. Until April it was them who looked towards Catalonia because of the popular referendums of independence but after the successes of Bildu in May and now Amaiur they seem to have found a way to translate the popular demand for independence into a political representation in a way that Catalan parties have failed to do.

Update: Syniadau have written an excellent analysis of the Spanish elections results. I recommend it.

Pictures by El Punt Avui

Per què he votat ERC-RCat-CatSí

Per si a algú li pot interessar avui estic content. Estic content perquè ja he enviat el meu vot, ja que sóc resident a l’estranger i ho he pogut fer a una llista que de fet m’agrada, em sembla que abans només m’havia passat una vegada.

Després de tot el que ha passat amb els partits independentistes els últims anys finalment es veuen brots verds. ERC i Reagrupament concorren junts a unes eleccions i per mi la presència de Reagrupament és la garantia que aquesta vegada per a ERC la independència no és un objectiu secundari i es posa la llavor per a una gran coalició independentista en un futur proper.

Vaig ser molt crític amb ERC al passat i puc entendre que per a molta gent encara estan en fase de proves per a veure quina és la dimensió de la renovació. Però després de la davallada d’ERC a les últimes dues eleccions només un nom em venia al cap com a possible renovació: Junqueras. I va passar. Els militants ho han vist i l’anterior direcció s’ha fet a una banda sense crear més faccions i obrir nous conflictes.

En quant a en Junqueras ja fa temps que el seguia llegint amb interés sobre les seves iniciatives al Parlament Europeu i escoltant els seus discursos i no només vaig descobrir algú que coneix profundament la història del seu país sinó es va guanyar la meva confiança per pensar que ho intentarà amb totes les seves forces. I no acaba aquí, no només en Junqueras ara és al capdavant d’ERC sinó que a sobre tenim com a candidat a Madrid a l’Alfred Bosch i per no parlar de pesos pesants com en Carretero donant un cop de mà a la campanya.

Per altra banda, no he pogut trobar motius per a votar CiU, no només no m’agrada que fins ara després que l’any passat fessin una campanya centrada en l’eix nacional i el concert fiscal una vegada al govern només s’han concentrat en les retallades sense fer cap tipus de pedagogia sobre l’espoliació, semblen no tenir més idees que retallar i retallar, vacil·len en la defensa del país davant dels constants atacs d’Espanya, el concert fiscal va passar a dir-se “pacte fiscal” i no semblen tenir cap projecte de reconstrucció nacional.

I centrant-nos més en en Duran. El candidat al Congreso és anacrònic, porta més de 30 anys dedicant-se a la política de forma professional i està totalment amortitzat. Diu que no vol la independència del seu país, i defensa orgullosament que va actuar amb “sentit d’estat” (espanyol, s’entén) salvant-lo repetidament d’una intervenció europea. Encara que aquest sigui el mateix estat que perpetra l’espoliació fiscal, es carrega l’estatut votat en referèndum, tomba la immersió lingüística, bloqueja l’oficialitat del català a Europa, actua contra els nostres interessos estratègics, com el corredor mediterrani o els aeroports, instiga el racisme anticatalà o fa broma sobre bombardejar Barcelona, entre moltes altres coses.

Quan el centre polític del país s’ha mogut massivament cap a posicions independentistes no podem tenim a un aferrissat defensor de l’estat espanyol al capdavant d’un partit català a Madrid. Penso que no votar Duran és facilitar la renovació de CiU i l’acostament d’aquesta cap a posicions sobiranistes. Que en Duran hagi estat repetidament el polític més ben valorat pels espanyols és senyal que no fa la seva feina.

D’altra banda l’Alfred Bosch m’agrada, i m’agrada perquè no és un polític professional, perquè està fent una campanya excel·lent en clau positiva i dirigida als catalans i a aquests es dirigirà des de Madrid amb l’altaveu li donarem. M’agrada que per fi una coalició catalana hagi decidit que no vol canviar Espanya, que només vol començar a preparar el divorci. Recomano aquesta entrevista a l’Alfred Bosch a l’Àgora de TV3.

I mentrestant s’haurà de pressionar a CiU per negociar la independència fiscal (a la qual no hem de tenir por ja que no faria més que augmentar les ganes d’independència, com a Euskadi i Navarra) i quan no s’aconsegueixi estendre-li la mà i ajudar-la en el seu camí cap a la construcció d’un estat català.

Madrid és un altaveu que no hem de desaprofitar ja que tots els corresponsals estrangers llegeixen la premsa espanyola, de la qual tots en coneixem la seva qualitat i que per tant tenen una idea molt esbiaixada de la realitat a Catalunya. Per desgràcia en la majoria de casos aquests corresponsals repeteixen tal qual als mitjans internacionals allò que llegeixen i escolten allà.

Necessitem una veu com la de Bosch a Madrid. S’apropen temps difícils i cal que els catalans tinguem una veu clara, valenta i el més forta possible per a tirar endavant el gran repte de la nostra generació, crear l’estat català. El moment decisiu s’apropa.