Monday, March 24, 2014

Brave Shakira takes a valiant stand in defence of Catalan language: Once again, a wind of liberty is blowing from across the Atlantic

Shakira, an accomplished and recognized artist with a successful career behind her, whose financial success has allowed her to engage in extensive philanthropy, may not look like the likeliest candidate to attract Spanish hate by daring to take a public stand in favour of Catalan language and culture. Given the increasingly contentious battle between renewed independence-seeking Catalonia (conquered in 1714) and undemocratic Spain, bent on destroying the former's language and culture, why bother? There is nothing to gain. Much easier to keep a low profile, and avoid delving into treacherous waters. This is just what many artists have long been doing, looking the other way while Spain tried to destroy Catalan language. Just this week, a Spanish judge deprived a mother of custody over her child because she was a Catalan-speaker. Also this week, Spain's deputy minister for education said that Spanish would be reimposed as the language of instruction in schools “whether they like it or not”.

Fortunately, not everybody is seeking peace in our time with Spanish nationalists. Not everybody is ready to surrender, or even better avoid a fight in the first place. Not everybody is following the simple expedient of pretending no conflict is taking place between a 1,000-year-old nation struggling to survive and recover freedom and a fanatical regime ready to grab a child from her mother's arms to prevent her from being raised in Catalan. There is a growing number of brave souls ready to take up arms in the defence of democracy and liberty, and when a language is being targeted, what better weapon is there than employing that same language to sing, and even better to sing to a world-wide audience?

This is indeed what Shakira has done, by including a Catalan-language song, “Boig per tu” (meaning “Crazy for you”, one of the best-known Catalan pop songs, by a band called Sau) in her latest album. With her valiant gesture, Shakira has put Catalan on the world map. With her brave action, Shakira has made it impossible for the Spanish regime to hide its genocidal intention to stamp out this language for ever.

Like a wounded beast, Spanish nationalists have reacted furiously at the news, bombarding Shakira with a wide range of insults in the social media. Spanish regime figures may have avoided displaying so openly their true feelings, but there is little doubt that they are fuming. Just when they were trying to eradicate Catalan from schools, and while their politically-appointed judges sitting in kangaroo courts were threatening parents daring to speak Catalan at home, one of the world's top artists seizes the initiative and takes Catalan to to the world stage. Their strategy in tatters, their attempted cultural genocide exposed, the victim of their hate propelled to the world's music charts, insults is all they have left, as they lay impotent, seeing their dark dreams wither away.

Once again, when democracy and liberty are in danger in the Old Continent, the New World is coming to our aid. Once again, in Percy Shelley's words, a West Wind is blowing across the Atlantic. Once again this wind will prevail, defeating the forces of evil. This time the West Wind is carrying the sweet voice of Shakira, singing in a language under attack, and once again, in Sheley's words, it is “The trumpet of a prophecy! O, Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

Alex Calvo

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