Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two Spains and the Independence of Catalonia

Citizens' Voice Series

Eduardo Alessandria
Architect
I am an Argentine architect who has been living in Catalonia for over eight years.
 Until then, I had always lived in my hometown of Mar del Plata, a place with a huge presence of descendants of Italian (my case) and Spanish immigrants.
 Since childhood, I had an intimate and close perception of Spain. In elementary school they told us about the "Motherland", and in High School we studied Spanish literature in the subject of "Castellano." 
Later, at the fall of the dictatorship in Argentina, the new Spanish cinema arrived to us, what gave us a fresh look about Spain, more modern or, at least, different from the folkloric one with artists who went to America to thrill the emigrated grannies.



When I arrived to Catalonia, my adaptation and my family’s was very fast, people are very friendly and are used to deal with people from around the world. From that time, I have a first memory. My wife and I went to a dinner organized by some parents from my kid's school.
 All guests spoke in Catalan, and depending on the speaker, they switched to Spanish. I was fascinated: even though I had studied a bit of Catalan in the Balearic House of Mar del Plata, I could not follow the thread of the talk, though I tried to get it all.


Some years later, I find with bitterness that this bilingual scenario, which caused my desire to learn and integrate, still generates anger, resentment, and often hate on other people. People talking in their own language, that seems to be the sin.



Due to my family and personal background, I consider myself, somehow, a cosmopolitan person.
The longer I live, the more I travel and I interact with different people, the more convinced I am on human values over flags and borders.
 But this feeling that works perfectly for me as an Argentine stumbles when I see it as a Catalan (allow me the boldness of feeling Catalan). 
I’m hurt by the cultural contempt, the economic punishment, the media lies, the hate - from the most refined, deliberate and intended as an electoral tool, to the irrational hate, hate to the different, hate for no reason. 

How different is this Spain, denying and monotone, from the colorful and diverse image projected by the people who immigrated to America!



Obviously, I would like the tension in this relationship between Catalonia and Spain to disappear, solving the conflict by democratic means. 
If a referendum should take place, and as a foreigner I could vote, even though I am very critical with the attitude of not a few Catalan politicians, I would vote for independence.




Eduardo Alessandria

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