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

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