Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Independencia...an outsiders view

In my last blog (which some might have considered slightly negative, but was brought about by my frustration so apologies) I touched briefly on the issue of Catalan Independence. Since then, with an Independence referendum looming in Scotland in 2014, the calls for the Spanish Government to allow Catalunya to hold it's own have increased tenfold. David Camerons attitude towards Scottish  calls for a referendum should go a long way to showing Madrid how they should react ( and should have reacted) to the same calls from the Generalitat.

Allow me to elaborate.Recently, on the 12th of October, the rest of Spain, and some people in the vicinity, celebrated the Dia de Hispanidad, or Spanish National Day. This celebrates the day that Columbus showed up on the shores of Cuba and asked the nearest Cigar-smoking native paddling an outrigger canoe the best way to Calcutta. Generally a quiet event around this area, this year the day seems to have taken on more sinister undertones.

One of the main things I've noticed is that mainstream TV here, and by mainstream I mean Television Espanola and other Spanish channels, has suddenly become very Pro-Spain/Anti-Catalan, and a lot more Politicians seem to be crawling out of the woodwork to denounce Catalan calls for Independence as "High Treason", "Illegal", & "Unconstitutional", with Catalan Nationalists being labelled "Nazis" by many in the Partido Popular (Spains ruling Party). This is, in itself, pretty rich, considering the way Catalans have been treated over the last three centuries, and more recently during the Franco years, when every effort was made to eradicate, not only suppress, the Catalan Identity, with their language made illegal, and pro-Catalan sympathizers - or anyone suspected of being one - often rounded up by the Guardia Civil and shot in the street or thrown in to prison on trumped up charges. The fact that many Catalans born during WWII grew up in exile in France, were bombed by the German army and many more were put into Nazi Germany;s infamous "Camps" just adds insult to injury.

This latest insult has come about as Catalans are being accused of indoctrinization in schools in the region as José Ignacio Wert, Spain’s education minister, said that a lack of emphasis on Spanish language and history in the schools in the region has helped foster support for independence. To claim that teaching Catalan in schools, and other subjects through Catalan is on par with Mr. A. hitler and Co's brainwashing of a generation of the stereotypical Blond-Haired Blue-Eyed Hitler Youth is Laughable - with a capital L. Even more so when, on Spanish TV, the PP's second in command claimed to have heard a 6 year old child claim she favoured Independence because otherwise her classmates would call her a "Fascista". Six years old!!, just goes to show how far playground bullying has come since I was that age, because I sure as hell had no idea what that meant, politically or otherwise.

Of course, the irony in this latest insult is entirely lost on Madrid, especially when you take into account recent declarations by one of the Spanish Army's General(issimo)'s, and I quote: "Catalan Independence...will happen over my dead body, and those of lots of other Spanish soldiers (sic)". Madrid's Pro-Spain propaganda machine has been at full tilt recently too, a la Goebbels, with a "Keep Catalunya in Spain" rally in Placa Catalunya on the 12th said to have attracted over 100,000 people. I work in an office overlooking the Placa. I was there. That many weren't. They just about filled the Placa, with their double sided flags, Spanish on one side, Catalan "Senyera"(minus the star on Blue triangle which shows support for Independence) on the other. Many of my colleagues also overheard people say that they had only come up from Madrid for the day and weren't even Catalan.

On top of that, on the 11th of September, the Catalan National Day (Celebrating their stubborness in holding out for 14-months during the Spanish War of Succession against the Spanish King Philip V. The city finally fell on September 11th 1714) a march of almost 1.5 to 2 million people - 25% of the population in Catalunya - calling for Independence filled Placa Catalunya, Passeig de Gracia and surrounding areas, but was said, again by the media in Madrid to have attracted just over 600,000.

Many Spaniards will try to make out that anything pro-catalan is just propaganda, that there is no ill-feeling , that they respect the Catalans, and many probably do, however even I, as far from Catalan as you could probably get, have been insulted when I've spoken Catalan to the wrong person, and whether they like it or not, as an outsider looking in, I can see plenty of antagonism towards the Catalans. Am I pro-Catalan?.....More than I'm not. Can I see any referendum/Independence happening in the near future?...not really. Would I vote if required to?...yes.

 I do feel that Madrid should take a leaf out of David Cameron's book in his dealings with the Scottish. If they feel so confident that the majority of Catalans don't want to secede (Although threatening comments like the one from the General above bely that sentiment) let them have their referendum, and hopefully both sides will respect either outcome.

*Disclaimer. These are my own opinions and observations, you don't have to agree with them or like them, just respect them.