Thursday, 23 July 2009

The price of elasticity

Has everybody got a price? Most likely so. And countries, have they got a price? Probably, especially one, called Catalonia, North-East Spain, it is being sold on the cheap, a real bargain. After some years without "Budget", the agreement that has to happen every year with the capital, Madrid, the Department of Finances of Catalonia, endorsed the terms and conditions of "a paper" that has been labelled "the Budget", with the intention of being the financial framework of the region for the next few years, until 2011 or 2012.

In front of the Catalan claim for a fairer management of the finances among the Spanish autonomous communities, it has been shown to Catalans, once again, who is in control of the country and who is to receive more or less of these monies, depending on their loyalty to certain principles, only understandable to whom has studied History of Spain in depth, as they are not principles of equality, sustainability or fair distribution of wealth but similar to vassalage. Otherwise, unconceivable to human mind, how is possible that a region that has been plundered an astonishing 10% of their GDP, as recognized by the Spanish Government in 2008, is still keeping head above water? Similar fate and equivalent plunder are being suffered by the Valencian Country and the Balearic Islands.

It is logical that the Catalan Financial Councillor presented the agreement as "the best they could get" from the Spanish Ministry of Finances, but is very surprising that all political parties in the Catalan Government quickly approved the "agreed Budget", and all as one, with unity, in the heat of the summer, are campaigning to stress its unbeatable conditions, in spite of the opinion of eminent personalities like Xavier Sala i Martin, professor of Economics at the University of Columbia; Francesc Sanuy, lawyer and Catalan politician, and commentator to Catalan media; Muriel Casals, professor of Economical Analysis at the Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona; Alfons Lopez Tena, judge and politician, as well as so many others who have already claimed that this agreement looks between a farce and a sarcasm.

With so much division between the Government and the society, why do still exist political parties that are consenting such monumental robbery to the Catalan Nation? Is it more important their position in the Government than the defence of the people who voted for them in the last Election? It appears so. Or perhaps we have an idealistic approach to what politics and advocacy for the people -also called voters, must be. Perhaps I am antiqued to expect that if I vote for a candidate, I want my rights fought by them on my behalf, and not only their rights as representatives of the community.

As it seems it has happened, once again, in Catalonia, with similar result. One more genuflexion and one more bow from the Catalan government to Spain, to preserve stability within the Government and to remain in the same chairs -empty of power, which the Spaniards reinvented in 1979 to please ingenuous Catalans. I cannot compare the actual Financial Councillor of Catalonia, Antoni Castells, with Joan Fiveller, who, in 1416, made the King Ferdinand accountable of paying taxes to the meat, like every citizen of Barcelona under his rule. Since then, Fiveller signifies the paradigm of the power of the people in front of the power of the King.

Both men achieved something, but I can guarantee that Antoni Castells will be not remembered in the same way. Perhaps because Fiveller showed no elasticity in front of the bigger power he was challenging. Should Fiveller, like Castells, had failed in this task and who knows if the King, affronted, would have executed the Councillor at dawn. Nowadays, at least in Western countries, people are not executed for dissent, but it does not stop them from being humiliated and exhibited as losers.

And this is the main difference among the old and the new Catalans. History has shown, time after time, that people who win show no elasticity and has no price for it. Keeping their temper and never capitulating to bigger powers. Josep Maria Batista i Roca said in 1976 that "Spaniards robbed our wallet. Now they have returned it to us -but empty". The situation could not be more graphically described, more than 30 years ago.

Jordi Margalef i Turull
United Kingdom

Sunday, 12 July 2009

We'll stand our ground, Fundación DENAES!

Spain is wounded and the only thing that comes to her rescue is an organization called "Fundación en Defensa de la Nación Española (DENAES)", foundation for the defence of the Spanish Nation, which is no more than a British Legion retirement home but for civilians. If Spain can only count with these "troops", I was very pessimistic when I asserted, after the Spanish Cup final FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club Bilbao that Spain would fall after two more jeering to the King and Anthem. I am now convinced that we will do it with the referee's whistle on its own.

Basques' and Catalans' victory at Mestalla (Valencia) against the Spanish Anthem and King, encouraged by ESAIT and Catalunya Acció, who have both been called before the Spanish High Court -where offences of terrorism are trialled, for "affront to Spain", "stirring of racial hatred" and some more bullshit. This, which would resemble a script for a comical movie, is what DENAES, so defending democratic tradition, they say, are presenting before the High Court.

However, to show exactly what DENAES is, you need to look at who their Patrons of Honour are. Amongst them, ex-military Sabino Fernandez Campo, ex-head of the Spanish Royal estates and who entered in Barcelona, blood and fire, with the Francoist troops on January 26th 1939. This democratic "prodigy", who mentored the Spanish King for years, declared to "El Pais", Spanish newspaper, on July 16th 2001, "… to those who I remember, are who received the General Franco forces which fascist qualification I cannot subscribe to". I must add that, shamefully for Catalonia, Jordi Pujol, Autonomous President of Catalonia, conceded him the St George's Cross in 1988.

This element, forty or fifty years ago, probably would have been involved in the execution of the representatives of ESAIT and Catalunya Acció, but now has only the Spanish High Court, and in the near future, not even that, as, at least in Catalonia, the independence process is speeding day after day. Then, it will be when they will be able to rely only on the craftsmanship of their swords.

But, if they believe that can draw us back with claims like DENAES chairmen, Santiago Abascal, they are very wrong. Catalunya Acció is composed by men and women that are not like the actual Catalan politicians, to whom they are used to deal with. We do not withdraw our patriotism at the minimal cockiness this people vent nor are made from the same material as Pujol, former Autonomous President, or Carod, actual vice-president. Furthermore, in the 21st Century, the Spaniards cannot count with the "Moor Guard" or comrades like Hitler or Mussolini like in 1939.

Despite all this, they continue with the ill obsession of wanting to convert us into Spaniards, by force, without noting that the future Catalan or Basque State depends exclusively on our own will, democratically expressed, and because of this, they are so threatened. Because they know that the past May 13th, at Mestalla (Valencia), meant the visualization of the Catalans' and Basques' urge of freedom. It was the introduction of our independence with worldwide witnesses. Will it continue?

I am absolutely convinced that the next matches between "cules" (FC Barcelona) and "lions" (Athletic Club Bilbao) to be played in the next few weeks will be another claim for the freedom of the Basque Country and Catalonia. Not forgetting that it will be another chance to show our most energetic rejection, the try to present the thousands of patriots that exercised the right of something as basic as a protest, as some common offenders. Let San Mames and the Camp Nou be another impressive jeer against Spain and a loud shout for the dignity of both countries.

Santiago Espot
CEO Catalunya Acció

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Argentinean land, the southern border

                     Flag of Argentina                                        Flag of Catalonia

image Catalan signs are well present in this South American country, like elsewhere in the continent. The actual denomination of Argentina might have its origin in the Catalan word "argent", well used word with meaning of "silver", despite the official explanation still remains as "argentum", from the Latin. But if the first Europeans that arrived in that large area were Catalans, and not Spanish, like we have been told, it would not be strange that the Catalan name for the Riu d'Argent, "River Plate", had been the name of reference for the whole country.

Furthermore, it happens that the name of its capital,Buenos Aires, it has Catalan origins too. It may be proved, for example, by the existence of other places with the toponym Bonaire, that clearly show the roots of the word, which would have been carried by the Catalans from an original of great devotion in the island of Sardinia, the Sanctuary of Bonaria, and that could not stay in the literal translation to Spanish like "Buen Aire", as it denounces its Catalan origin, although it had been worshipped, with the Spanish name, in Seville too. Therefore, it became Buenos Aires, unique in the World.


Besides these two cases, there are a lot of other toponyms that are clearly Catalan, like in the rest of the American continent. Names that reproduce Catalan lineages and names of places and cities around the territories of our Nation, Catalonia, that are widespread from all four corners of the continent and have survived the step of time. One of the cases it has surprised me the most lately, is to find that the Isla Grande de la "Tierra de Fuego", in the southern corner of the country, was named as "Illa de Xàtiva ", until Philip V erased this denomination after the Succession War (1702-1714). The King abolished all own Catalan institutions, set fire to the city of Xativa and deported its inhabitants with the intention of completely exterminate it from the memory, and in its place, to build the Colonia Nueva San Felipe. In line with this, the King exchanged the name of the American island for the one that holds today. As punishment to Catalans and one more example among others, with the aim of making disappear as a Nation and from History, and like this case, the Valencian city that named a little portion of America.

Idiomatic influences in words and phonetics of Catalan language that are present in South American Spanish, are equally reproduced in Argentina, with a special particularity: the expression "Txe!", so characteristic of the Argentines and that evokes to the presence of a destroyed and forgotten past and an important presence of Valencian population, reconverted into a Spanish speaking community. Curious it is also that the greeting "buen día”, generally said by South Americans, is a calque of the Catalan "bon dia" and not the Spanish "buenos dias", exactly the same difference as in Bon Aire- Buenos Aires.

Luckily, these traces of Catalan subtract help to recompose the puzzle of contradictions that the Spanish official report has left us and to remake the true History. Images also help, like these from the exact replica of the ship Victoria, which made the first around the world trip, built following the original plans and inaugurated at the Argentinean port of San Julian as a touristic attraction, where the flags shown are Catalan and not the lions and castles, another proof that the first circumvallation to the world was Catalan and not Spanish.The Argentinean Republic is another country that has a federal structure in America.

Formed by 23 States, called provinces and a Federal District, that is the autonomous city of Buenos Aires. Each State is holder of all competencies that have not expressly delegated to the Federal Government by the Constitution. Exactly opposite to the Spanish State, now and always, that is a central unitary power which delegates and decentralize. The old Catalan politic model is reproduced in Argentina, too.

As it could not be otherwise, Catalans had their own role in the independence of the country. When the British Army invaded Buenos Aires in 1806, the only resistance was from the "Voluntaris Urbans -Urban Voluntaries- or "Companyia dels Minyons Catalans" -Catalan Lads Coy-, militia founded by Catalans in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, following the tradition of the "Sometent" and the "Companyia de Voluntaris de Catalunya" -Catalonian Voluntaries Coy-. The initiative of Jaume Nadal i Guarda, Jaume Lavallol, Oleguer Reinals and Joan Larreu was the origin to the creation of other militia.

As the Spanish Government was not able to defend the colonies, many urban militias were created from then, and the victories over the British Army made increase the confidence and patriotism. One of the defenders that stood out was Domenech Matheu i Xicola, later, president of the Revolutionary "Junta" in 1811. In 1809, the Catalan voluntaries participated in the rebellion against the Spanish viceroy, the beginning of the movement in May 1810 and that ended with the proclamation of freedom of the United Provinces on July 9th 1816. Precisely a Minorcan resident in Buenos Aires remembered us this date and reproduced the Declaration of Independence with respect to the "despotic power of the Kings of Spain".

Also, like in the majority of American Countries, a typical Catalan traditional hat or Phrygian hat is present, highlighted, in the coat of arms, as a symbol of freedom. The national motto, "In union and freedom", is a lesson to Catalans of today that want to recuperate freedom for our country too. Freedom that has called the Argentineans that live in Catalonia, like Catalans contributed in its defence and independence, and that later, received exiled and migrants from all territories of our Nation in the past. Together with the ones that were the political first line, others like Doctor Cosme Argerich or the engineer Felip Senillosa were decisive figures in the construction of the new country.

It is the Argentineans, now, who emigrate and arrive in Catalonia to work, the majority of them, not knowing that they arrive in a country with a personality that resist the cultural integration in Spain that was not possible to stop there, and can be instruments of the same Spanish will that would have preferred that Argentina had continued subdued. But others, like Patricia Gabancho or Sr Lucia, become authentic Catalans and active stars of the defence of freedom. Such example will embarrass a lot of local Catalans who work for our dissolution in Spain.

Published at “Es Poblat de’n Talaiotic”
Member of Catalunya Accio