Saturday, September 10, 2011

Catalonia's September 11

About the author of this article for Help Catalonia

Antoni Strubell i Trueta

Catalan Linguist and Professor.
Member of the Catalan Parliament.
Coordinator of Dignity Commission.
In 2002 he received the prestigious Saint George's Cross any 2002.

Catalonia’s National Day is held on the same day Al Qaeda struck against NY and the Pentagon. Catalans commemorate a defeat produced in 1714 against the joint armies of Spain and France. Spanish politicians and apologists of various tendencies insist that the Catalan “interpretation” of the events involved suffers from nationalist warp. But isn’t that the sort of thing the constructors of the colonial powers have said over the centuries the world over? The truth is that, as of 1714, Catalonia lost her statehood, her constitutional framework and cultural sovereignty. She even lost 1/3 of the city of Barcelona, whose inhabitants were made to pull down their own houses in the Ribera district to make way for the new Citadel’s cannon fire. Barcelona became the first city in the world to have the highest proportion of cannons facing in (rather than out) on its own defence system!

The fact that modern-day Catalans should still remember this date with a vivid sense of grievance surely means something. But there are still those who say that to revel in its significance is to behave like hillbillies. Indeed? I often ask myself what the various less sympathetic English, Dutch and French friends I have would say if they themselves were ever confronted with any of the situations Catalans have to lump daily. Here’s just a spattering of instances.
For example,
a) if the cities’s streets of their State capital (London, The Hague, Paris) sported the names of the henchmen of a recent dictatorship that ravaged their culture and democratic institutions;
b) if their language (English, Dutch, French) were to be considered “inadvisable” (by their own lawyers!) for use in local law courts;
c) if the only TV channels broadcasting 100% in their language were to be physically dismantled from 40% of the territory their language was spoken in, while fines of €700.000 (seven hundred thousand) were being applied to those NGOs involved in introducing them; or
d) if a hostile state’s Constitutional Court were to deem illegal the key articles of the constitutional frame (the Statute of Autonomy even the Spanish king had sanctioned) which the people had voted in democratically four years before, what would they think then?
But as Einstein said, everything is relative, and yes, some civilized people do have a penchant for the I’m all right Jack, pull up the ladder attitude, don’t they?

Well no, in Catalonia we are not all right I’m afraid. Sorry to bother anyone out there. We are about to suffer, once again, the full brunt of a Partido Popular government (in Madrid, next elections), a party which is presided over by an ex-Franco minister (not that the PSOE socialists are much better). Our economy will be further crippled by 10% GNP creaming off to Madrid, capital to one of the few states in the world where the concept of fiscal ordinality is constitutionally out. But if you find all this hard to swallow or want to get a fuller picture of the Catalan conflict, and just how gruesome it can get to belong to Spain, perhaps you could try reading “What Catalans Want” (2011, Catalonia Press/ Amazon / www.whatcatalanswant.cat ).

Antoni Strubell
@toni_strubell

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