dimecres, 10 de setembre de 2014

Flags of our parents

Agustí Colomines i Companys

University of Barcelona

On September 11th 1976 was Saturday. That day became doubly festive. It was because then almost nobody used to work on Saturdays, and because for the first time since 1939 the National Day of Catalonia (La Diada) was able to be celebrated. Since then, we write the date in capital letters: September Eleventh. It had been only three years of the coup that brought down that day the democratic government of Chile, but still many years before the U.S tragedy on the 9/11.

Those who were young in 1976 – Myself turned 19 three months after – experienced that journey in a very special way.  It was our first “legal” National Day, although the still Francoist authorities made heaven and earth to reduce the impact of the demonstration. Until the night of September 9th, the civil governor of Barcelona and the September 11th Commission failed to agree whether celebrate or not the National Day and where.  The regime authorities decided that the demonstration would be held in Sant Boi del Llobregat, a town of Baix Llobregat, the working-class region par excellence, to avoid Barcelona, the capital city of Catalonia. However, the organizers choose well, symbolically at least, since in Sant Boi is where Rafael Casanova is buried, the great defender of the Catalan national rights in 1714 in front of the Franco-Spanish Bourbon attacks.

Despite the obstacles, Sant Boi was occupied by thousands of people who arrived from around Catalonia with senyeres[1] and flags of any kind. According to the Constrastant group, the number of the protester might reached 27,374 people, many people considering the circumstances. Those who were there know that the most important was the political impact of that act which opened a democratic transition that brought us to the present time. We took up again the flags of our parents singing "Freedom, Amnesty and Statute of Autonomy," which was the motto of the Assembly of Catalonia, the main platform of opposition to the regime.

This is the deeper meaning of the National Day this year. After thirty-six years a new era is opened, leaving behind the autonomy to bequeath to our children the flag of sovereignty so that Catalonia becomes a new state in the United Europe which unites Catalans with Germans, Italians or Spaniards, but also with the Britons, Sardinians and the Bavarians. Catalonia in the future should be nationally free to govern its destiny economically and as a differentiated identity in a world of languages and cultures. This is the only way to ensure the well-being of the people and of the national culture in a globalized world.

The sovereign Catalonia began to react that hot Saturday in 1976. It did as it was needed, demanding autonomy. Nowadays, however, after many failures to ensure the self-government, most of the people are calling for Catalan independence, albeit with the limitations imposed on all EU member states. Just who has a chair in the governing institutions of the EU can survive as a people.

First published on 09/10/2012

[1]     Senyera is the name given to the Catalan flag.

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