If there is one thing that has infuriated Spain even more than the pro-independence protest march on the Catalan national holiday, La Diada (11 September), it was the international attention it received. Spain just can't stand that. Understandably so, since Spain simply does not accept even the existence of the nation of Catalonia. As far as Spain is concerned, there is no such thing as a Catalan; there are only Spaniards. Clearly, there is no reaching any sort of understanding with those who follow this absolutist (or, rather, fascist) line of thought, which goes so far as to despise a nation with a thousand-year-old history that has made very important contributions to humanity. This is exactly why Spain is angered so to see the name of Catalonia making headlines in major media markets all over the world. It is the same anger felt by the kidnapper who learns that his hostage has been able to communicate with someone on the outside.
Spain, therefore, will pressure European Union member states not to pay Catalonia any heed. But luckily for us, Spain is just a bantam-weight. The rest of Europe is very concerned that Spain will not pay off its debt, and these concerns are exacerbated by Spain's traditional arrogance-- the fruit of its own inferiority complex. And so, if forced to choose between Catalonia and Spain, Europe will always choose Catalonia, because Europe knows that Catalonia has a solvent economy, and it knows that Spain is bankrupt. Catalonia is currently up to its neck because it is being robbed of the resources it generates, but as an independent country, it would be the fourth richest state in the European Union. Catalonia's word is good, because Catalonia does what it says it will do. Spain, on the other hand, squanders fortunes on colossal construction projects that serve absolutely no purpose. Spain's word is no good, because it doesn't keep its promises. There simply is no comparison.
This year, September 11, our national day of remembrance, is a good date for us to reflect upon some of the things that have brought Catalonia down today's dead-end street. It's an ideal date to recall that Catalonia is not a unique case in history; there have been many other cases just like it. Precisely during the 20th century, and in the first few years of the 21st, several nations have achieved their independence, and right this very minute, being their own sovereign state, they are now respected, and have a voice and a vote in the United Nations: Norway, Iceland, Malta, Montenegro and Kosova, for example. In 1905 it was Norway, in 1918 Iceland. Malta in 1964, Montenegro in 2003, and Kosova in 2008. And not a single one of these became a sovereign nation out of the goodness of the heart of the states that granted them the right to decide what they could and couldn't do. They became sovereign nations because of their own convictions, and because of their desire to hold the reigns of their destinies in their own hands.
Additionally, more than 50% of the member states of the Council of Europe have become independent since the start of the 20th century. This fact alone should be enough to make us think that a nation's independence, free from protectorates or guardianships, is an unalienable right of all adult peoples--and it is these nations in whose reflection we should be seeing ourselves. Understanding this makes all the more exquisite the message with which Scotland, with a view to the referendum it will hold in 2014, advances toward its own independence:
"I'll vote YES, not because I see Scotland as superior to other nations, but because I refuse to accept that we are inferior."
Only two years from now, Catalonia will see the three-hundredth anniversary of her subordination to Spain. We should never be forgiven if the date comes and goes without us becoming aware that a nation not only has the right to be independent: a truly adult and mature nation has the moral obligation to be independent.
Noam Chomsky, prestigious U.S. educator, political activist, and author of the theory of generative grammar (considered the most significant contribution to linguistics in the 20th Century) says about the case of Èric and the Army of the Phoenix: "That's quite incredible. I hope that there is something in print, and that there is serious protest organized. That should be widely known."
This was Chomsky's reaction to the case as documented by director Xevi Mató in Èric and the Army of the Phoenix, subtitled in English for international distribution by Heather Hayes. The documentary narrates the case of a 14-year-old youth accused of terrorism after demanding that supermarket chain DIA label its products in the Catalan language. Èric, a fervent fan of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, created a website he called Exèrcit del Fènix (Army of the Phoenix), inspired by the famous character's adventures. When Èric signed his e-mail messages using the name from his website, the Spanish Justice system insisted on prosecuting him for terrorism, even associating him with an army of terrorists. All this despite knowing full well that Èric was only fourteen.
Èric's family has since taken legal action against the Spanish government for the moral and psychological harassment of a minor, and has taken their case to the Strasbourg's European Court of Human Rights, as well as the United Nations' International Court of Justice, where it is pending.
Based on this case, author Víctor Alexandre has written a satirical play called Èric i l'Exèrcit del Fènix, directed by Pere Planella. The play opened officially at Barcelona's Teatre Borràs this past April, and is set to run in both Valls and Calella, Catalonia, September, when it will begin a tour of the Catalan Countries.
We invite you to join the movement to encourage the viewing of Xevi Mató's documentary, from September 3rd to the 9th, in an attempt to help the film reach the top of the ranking circuit on YouTube's "Most Watched" videos, so that this case and others like it will get some international exposure. It's important that the rest of the world know how the rights of Catalan people are continually violated under the Spanish State.
You can watch the documentary, divided into 5 parts, on YouTube. To participate in the mass viewing, just visit the link to Part I:
Coinciding with the opening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the world-wide Internet debut of Èric and the Army of the Phoenix (Èric i l'Exèrcit del Fènix). Subtitled in English, "Èric and the Army of the Phoenix" documents the odyssey of 14-year-old Èric Bertran, unfairly accused of terrorism. Èric has since been popularly dubbed the "Catalan Harry Potter".
Èric and the Army of the Phoenix documents the truth and the personal consequences -and the politics at play- in the case of Èric Bertran, a boy from Lloret de Mar, a town some 75 km north of Barcelona (Catalonia). When he e-mailed a grocery chain to demand they label their products in Catalan, the language of Catalonia, 14-year-old Èric and his family were subjected to the midnight invasion of their home by thirty police officers bearing a search warrant from the Spanish government. The accusation: terrorism. A big fan of the "Harry Potter" series, Èric created a website that he called Army of the Phoenix, inspired by the famous J.K. Rowling stories, signing his e-mails with the name from his website. Even though they knew full well that the website belonged to a 14-year-old, from that point on, the Spanish authorities insisted on accusing Èric of being a member of an army of terrorists. His family has since taken legal action against the government of Spain for moral and psychological harassment of a minor, taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg and to the United Nations' International Court of Justice.
Èric Bertran and his brother Àdam tell their story in this documentary by Xevi Mató, with English subtitles by Heather Hayes. The film features statements by author Víctor Alexandre, who supervised the book about the case. Alexandre himself has also written an entertaining and controversial play about the incident, which débuted in Barcelona in 2007. Also featured in the film are contributions by Member of Parliament Joan Puig, who defended Èric before the Spanish assembly, and by Èric's attorney Emili Colmenero, who explains how the Spanish justice system connected a child to an Al Qaeda cell.
U.S. press enquiries:
Emily Moore, tel. (865) 254-5244
The verbal attacks the Ona book shop in Barcelona has received recently are not very different from the ones that the 3i4 book shop, in Valencia, has suffered. The ones which took place in Valencia have been more brutal. While in Barcelona the attacks haven't gone further than verbal actions, Valencia has suffered violent assaults: people masked hit the clients and the staff, drop books on the floor and shout pro-Spanish slogans. Nevertheless, the ideology beyond both groups of assaulters is exactly the same, and because of that reason, the Ona library may probably suffer a more violent assault.
Not long ago, Quim Monzó, a Catalan writer, referred to these facts when he accepted the Trajectòria prize awarded by the literary and editorial world. The whole thing is more serious than it seems to be, because there is a racist background beyond. It has nothing to do with the colour of the skin, of course, but with historical reasons. It is a racism that comes from the rage and the impotence that the Spanishness feel seeing that after 300 years of subjection, the subjugated still remain active and dare to have a library opened in the city centre where only books in Catalan are sold. Wouldn't that be a taunt to a catalan-phobic? Isn't this the type of book shop we should mock in order to stop its spreading?
The Ona book shop was founded forty five years ago and from its origin, it has had the catalanist incorruptible support of its promoters, leaded by Jordi and Montserrat Úbeda (father and daughter). They both received the distinction of "Deeply rooted to the city", in recognition of a establishment that takes part of the scenery of Barcelona, just as the Les Voltes library does in Girona. For its part, Les Voltes, boosted as well by Espar i Ticó, suffers the constant pressure of the real state agency and only Feliu Matamala's strength (manager of Les Voltes book shop), instead of the political class', has saved it from disappearing up till nowadays.
It seems ironic that book shops that have survived franquism and that, as Ona explains in its website, "they are witnesses of the will of surveillance that our people had to keep to fight back the continued aggressions which they were subjected to", see themselves threatened. Let's think about it and draw conclusions.
"It is not true that detainees are tortured in Spain", said a Madrilenian socialist friend of mine, "we are in a democratic State and prisoners have uninfringeable constitutional rights, guaranteed by international institutions". "And what about the political prisoners who have reported having been victims of tortures and mistreatments?", I asked him. "They just lie", he answered.
My friend is one of those millions of people who were against the Spanish participation in the Iraqi war and got infuriated when they knew about the tortures by North American soldiers in the Abu Graib prison. He was shocked due to the North American tortures in Guantanamo, which he finds repugnant. I share his opinion. Nevertheless, why do the tortures in Abu Graib and Guantanamo have more credibility than those in Intxaurrondo, for example? Why, if he has not been in any of these three prisons, does he believe only the two first ones? This was his answer: "Because there are photographs of the North American tortures but not of the Spanish ones."
It is true, we have seen the photos of tortures to Iraqi prisoners so many times on television that we could describe them in great detail. But we have seen no photos of the tortures in Intxaurrondo or other Spanish prisons. So why should we believe what the Basque and Catalan pro-independence detainees explain about what happened there? There is a good reason: because the Spanish tortures have never been investigated. This is, because there are no photos to prove it, the main evidence that they tell the truth. Exactly due to Spain's refusal to investigate, on November 18, 2003, the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg forced Spain to compensate the pro-independence Catalans that had reported having been tortured by the Spanish security forces back in 1992. Because any report of tortures must be investigated, and any judge or government against it becomes an accessory of torturers.
The article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that "No person will be tortured or treated in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way", and the article 2 of the Spanish Constitution concludes that the rules concerning fundamental rights "will be interpreted in accordance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Therefore, Spain IS violating these rights since, even in the case that they were not tortured, the refusal to investigate it is highly suspicious, because it violates the fundamental rights of the reporting party and gives impunity to torturers. The recommendations of the United Nations to record all interrogations with video cameras, cancel the solitary confinement and give prisoners access to a reliable lawyer are not put into practice either. Moreover, the victims of tortures who dare to report it are pressed charges against. All this proves that the police is just the armed wing of a State which continues being ruled by the principles of the Franco system and showing an absolute scorn for Human Rights. In fact, the so-called anti-terrorist law is the tool which turns tortures into a legal practice, because under the protection of this law detainees are literally undressed of the most fundamental rights, with the connivance of those who should protect their integrity, and turned into objects by cowards who see in it the possibility to give free rein to their moral depravation and ethnic hate towards Catalans and Basques.
Unfortunately, tortures are not the only problem in Spanish police stations and prisons. Worse things take place, like for example the mysterious death of 13 Basque political prisoners in the last 20 years (about a death every year and a half). Moreover, all those responsible for the GAL, who were charged with 30 murders, bloody tortures and bribery, have been released, while the punishments of ETA prisoners are extended when they have fulfilled them. Corruption could not be more scandalous. There is complicity between the Spanish society and torturers, which begins with those magistrates who refuse investigating tortures (which is the same as protecting and promoting them) and ends with the silence of most of the Spanish media. The Spanish society does not worry about this lack of information, because people know that thanks to it they will be able to continue thinking that they live in a State with rule of law which respects Human Rights and that, like my Madrilenian socialist friend, all those who report tortures are jus liars. Ignorance is the best vaccine against bad conscience and the great alibi of hypocrisy.
This explains the enormous difference between the indignation caused by the North American tortures in Abu Graib and Guantanamo in the Spanish society and the apathy of the same society towards the tortures which take place just a few kilometres away. The first ones are so distant that getting angry does not cost anything and makes people feel they are doing the right thing. However, the second ones demand commitment, transparency and the moral disqualification of all those who are there to serve that fanatic ideology called unity of Spain. An ideology that justifies everything, from torture to the most abject crime. It is sad, is not it?
Fragment of a documentary by the Australian TV channel SBS about torture in Spain. The full documentary can be seen here.
The presence of the Catalan Literature as honour guest in the Frankfurt Book Fair 2007 will be a great opportunity for the Catalan Countries. It is the most important literary fair in the world, much more than the Mexican one in Guadalajara, and, therefore, its international projection is extraordinary. Moreover, the Catalan Literature is part of a minorized culture and that this minorization is the result of the hostility of its two powerful neighbours, Spain and France, so the invitation cannot be timelier.
Nevertheless, this invitation (and this is what we should expect, being Catalonia a nation without State) has become a source of conflicts and has pointed out the miseries that every involuntary and excessively prolonged subordination causes. I do not know how this situation will be solved when the honour guest is the Basque literature, but its authors and its Government should start thinking to avoid absurd debates and pathetic situations like the ones that are currently taking place in Catalonia. Moreover, it is not new that one of the traps into which all those peoples without legal recognition fall is justification. These peoples waste an enormous amount of energy looking for data, evidence, reasons, etc. to convince the world that its existence is real.
I say this because the debate about if only the authors who write in Catalan or also those who do it in Spanish should go to Frankfurt is the result of a semantic trap, prepared by the Socialist Party, with two objectives: to promote its authors -who, in general, are the immense majority of those who write in Spanish- and to frustrate every international projection of Catalonia differentiated from Spain. Therefore, the trap consists of exchanging “literature” and “culture”. This way, what is irrefutable in the first case -that the Catalan literature is only the one written in Catalan- becomes a debate in the second case. Does the reader perceive the nuance?
In order to make it more understandable, I will mention three people whose the birthplace does not agree with the language of their work: the Basque Miguel de Unamuno, the Occitan Georges Brassens and the Greek Georges Moustaki. What was the contribution of these authors to the languages of their origin countries? None, certainly, because the language in which they wrote their works was another one. Unamuno wrote in Spanish and Brassens and Moustaki in French. Therefore, they are authors whose works enriched the Spanish and French literature but did not mean absolutely anything for the Basque, the Occitan and the Greek literature. Another example is the case of Catalan authors like Tísner or Pere Calders, who lived twenty years exiled in Mexico. In order to earn their living, they wrote several things in the language of that country, but they never stopped witting in Catalan. Therefore, their works in Spanish are not part of the Catalan literature just like their works in Catalan are not part of the Spanish one. Not to admit this obviousness would take us to the absurdity of saying that books like for example Paraules d'Opoton el vell and Prohibida l'evasió of Tísner, or Cròniques de la veritat oculta and Gent de l'alta vall, of Calders, are Mexican literature and culture.
Moreover, it is funny how those Catalan authors who have freely decided to write in the powerful language, Spanish, in order to “open themselves”, as they say –as if there were open languages and closed languages–, but hiding the economic reason, try to be honour guests the same year that the language that they rejected -with the praiseworthy exceptions of Javier Cercas and Juan Marsé-. If this is not so, what is the reason for this accomplice silence regarding the plan of the Socialist Party to show the Catalan literature as a bizarre subsystem of the Spanish literature?
José Montilla says that “the Catalan writers who express themselves in Spanish should not be marginalised”. Well, now the thing is that the marginalised ones are the powerful ones. It is evident that the pretext is that in Catalonia there are many people whose mother tongue is Spanish. OK, so what? This has nothing to do with the invitation of a literature. In Catalonia 300 languages are spoken. Does that mean that 300 languages will have to be the honour guest? Or does the Minister Montilla think that his language is superior and that the other ones are inferior (a worrying though for someone who claims being a left-wing politician)? He will probably answer that the other ones are not official languages and that, therefore, they cannot be taken into account in the same way. But, why not? Montilla’s Socialist Party is not a nationalist party, is it? So why does it defend the Spanish nation so viscerally and all of a sudden and? If the Spanish language is part of Catalonia, since many Spanish speakers live in it, and Catalonia, according to the Socialist Party, is Spain, why are not the other 298 mother tongues of the thousands of citizens who also live in this part of Spain also Spanish and official?
This incongruence is an evidence of the scope of the political manipulation in this affair, by means of ridiculous and unsustainable arguments that could never prevail if they were not backed up by the force of a powerful State. The national concealment of Catalonia, like the one of the Basque Country, is for Spain a State affair. For that reason, it is willing to do anything to prevent that the world knows that, within what it considers its territory, there are people who live happily 24 hours a day without thinking, without speaking and without writing in Spanish. For a country which annihilated overseas all the languages that it found in order to impose its, the challenging survival of Catalan and Basque in the peninsular territory is an unbearable humiliation.
The subtitle of Víctor Alexandre's latest book, La paraula contra el mur (The Word Against the Wall) is very clear: "Independence is not a privilege". According to Alexandre, a journalist and a writer born in Barcelona in 1950, Catalonia's independence is, rather that a privilege, a right. The book, which has been translated into Basque and has won the Francesc Ferrer i Gironès award, consists of a written dialogue on the Internet on the hot issues of Catalan identity, history and politics, among others, between a Catalan independentista and his Spanish friend, who, as expected, doesn't share the same political beliefs. Víctor Alexandre has written a set of books on the topic of Catalan independence, including the very recent TV3 a traïció, in which he analyses the presence of Spanish language on the Catalan public TV channel. Other books by the same writer include Jo no sóc espanyol (I Am Not Spanish, 1999), that has sold over 25.000 copies, as well as Despullant Espanya (Undressing Spain, 2001), and Senyor President (2003).
[Speech the day before the National Day of Catalonia 2006 at Fossar de les Moreres, a place dedicated to those who died defending the rights and constitutions of Catalonia in the siege of Barcelona in 1714.]
There is no growth without pain. All individual or collective learning, maturing and emancipating processes are slow, difficult and full of deception moments. The history proves that nearly all big political, scientific or social steps forwards are preceded by one or several delays. It is improbable that a fully achieved milestone did not require the intelligence of taking a step backwards in the appropriate moment. And this is like that because there are no straight lines in the ways of life. Every human milestone is unreachable without the capacity of recognising the own limitations. And it is well known that we Catalans have our limitations. Some of them are idiosyncratic, are part of our nature, some others are the result of adversity, of specific events. Moreover, these limitations are not another enemy for our national subordination, although it may seem so, because those who want to subordinate us also have limitations; those who think that they are better than us and that we cannot decide for ourselves are inevitably subordinated to our nature. This is the wise irony of life, which reminds us not only of our vulnerability but also of the one of our enemies.
But today I do not want to talk about the external enemies but about the enemy that we Catalans have inside us. It is the most dangerous enemy because it cannot be seen and, even if we saw it, we would be unable to recognise it, because it has our own face. This enemy has a name: deception. A deception which we, sometimes in an unaware way, spread all over as the idea according to which we will never achieve anything because “Spain and France will never want to…”, because “Spain and France will never admit…”, because “Spain and France will never let us…”.
We have to remove this negativity from our brains for several reasons. I will mention three of them. First: because giving up before the end of the match is a sign of infantilism, low self esteem and distrust toward our own possibilities. This does not mean that infantilism is bad, infantilism is not bad in a child, but it is unhealthy and pathetic if it is the image of a people which boasts about having three thousand years of history. Second: because the more we insist on the impossibility of national independence the more the false certainty of this impotence grows inside us. Independence is not a prize that an omnipotent father has to give us for good behaviour, independence is a right that every human being exercises when he or she reaches adulthood or that every national group exercises when it gains consciousness that equality between peoples is not possible without the respect for their singularity. And third: because the energy that we spend with victimism or justifying ourselves moves us further and further away from maturity. And the maturity of a people is shown by the rejection of this people to subordinate the will of its Parliament to the one of another Parliament.
Without any doubt, we have recently been victims of a historic fraud, a fraud called Statute, which will soon be judged by history, but we should not get discouraged. We should not do it because there is nothing in this world which is intrinsically good or bad. And not only because the nature does not make moral judgement or because the rain is never welcome by everybody, but because many acts that we consider negative end up being fairly positive. It is evident that, in order for it to happen, it is necessary to know how to positivate adversity. And the positive part of the Statute is that Spain is definitely naked.
In fact, no matter what they say, there is no new Statute, because a Statute which does not recognise the Catalan nation, which does not end with the fiscal plundering, which does not consider the economic agreement, which does not admit the management of our ports and airports, which does not force to label in Catalan all the products manufactured or distributed in Catalonia and which denies the right to hold referendums, to have national teams and to exercise democratically the right of self-determination is a Statute in favour of the Spanish interests and, therefore, a Statute against the interests of Catalonia.
Do not we realise that the fact that Catalonia is ruled by a Statute is a contradiction? Do not we realise that “nation” and “Stature” are contradictory terms? Adult nations do not have Statute, they have Constitution. And where is the Catalan Constitution? Where is the document which guarantees its legal status? Where is document which makes it equal in rights and duties to the other sovereign nations of the world? We do not have it, because the attempt of our neighbours to turn southern Catalans into Spanish and northern Catalans into French has not changed along the time. In every political cycle, different governments are born and die, in Spain and in France, some of them are right-wing ones, and some other call themselves left-wing governments, but all of them, absolutely all of them, have a common aim: the disappearance of the Catalan people as a differentiated national identity.
This is why I, today, here and in this day full of symbolism, propose again and formally the unity of the Catalan pro-independence movement, overcoming our differences until the day after the independence and concentrating our energies in the internationalisation of our conflict. Our loudspeakers should not be the streets of Barcelona, Valencia, Fraga or Perpignan, and even less the ones of Madrid or Paris, our loudspeakers should be the streets of Brussels, because only there, in the capital of the European Union, is where our claims will have an international echo. The demonstrations which took place on February 18 in Barcelona and on April 1 in Bilbao were indeed a great success, but they already are history. Now it is Brussels’ turn, it is Strasbourg’s turn. The next massive demonstration to claim for a nation has to be a demonstration in which Catalans and Basque are united, and it has to take place in front of the European institutions, because as Europeans it is there where we have to remind the Democrats of any part of the world that the General Assembly of the United Nations endorsed a resolution according to which “the right of every people and nation to decide for itself is a previous condition to the implementation of all the fundamental rights of the human being”.
Therefore, my proposal is to work to regain the spirit of unity of the demonstration held on February 18, because that unity is the secret of our freedom. If we do not dare to overcome the differences that divide us, if we are not able to consider Catalonia more important than our personal or differences or the interests of the parties, Catalonia will never regain its independence. No more fights between us, no more waste of energy in internal discussions or measuring the amount of legitimacy of each of us. Catalonia goes first, and if we really love it there is no doubt that we want it to be free. But this freedom will not be possible if we are not willing to admit that the important thing is not to have a left-wing, centre-wing, communist, anarchist or conservative Catalonia, but to have a free Catalonia which can decide what it wants to be. According to this principle, I propose you to concentrate our energy in the aim of reaching the cohesion of the nations without State in the European Union, a cohesion of nations which only has a voice in the Parliament of Strasbourg. This means, therefore, cohesion in Catalonia and cohesion in the Catalan Countries, cohesion with the Basque Country and Galicia, with Scotland, Wales, Flanders, Corsica, Britanny, Northern Ireland… This means, in the end, unity in our aims and our criteria to reach them. This is the key of our force, and the day we use it, it will be so powerful that we will not be able to believe that we had not thought about such a simple thing before.
France and Spain are at the end of their imperial history. It does not matter that they do not realise it, or that they do not want to, the fact is that their vital cycle is ending, and with its end, another cycle will be born, which will be the antithesis of this one, because it will be defined by the decrease of imperial States and the increase of the little peoples. And do not doubt that the Catalan Countries will have their place among these peoples. Berria , 9/15/2006 (Basque) Nabarralde , 9/15/2006 (Spanish) Racó Català , 9/19/2006 (Catalan) Eurotribune.net , 9/26/2006 (Catalan, English, Spanish, French)
Catalonia is the land of repeated questions. Our inability to solve our problems over the course of centuries has caused us to continuously debate questions that normalized communities have long overcome. We ask ourselves, day after day, about our identity, our language, our rights, our symbols... This alone, the simple need to break free from this vicious circle, could already justify the reclaiming of our political independence. Barça, of course, is not beyond this issue; rather, as the years go by, the debate about its extra (more than just athletic) dimension has not changed. And it doesn’t matter that Barça has been shown to be more than a simple club, with evidence expounded by different thinkers in articles, books, or doctoral theses. It doesn’t matter because our collective immaturity leads us to endlessly ruminate on the same themes, so that we seem to be reflecting when in reality we are only buying time so that we can avoid making any decisions.
And so, let’s say it again: Barça is more than just a football club because it represents a nation without a state, a people who lack legal recognition and an international presence. This is how it was during Franco’s reign and this is how it continues in the supposed Spanish State of autonomies. It is logical, then, that Barça continues to be vessel into which we channel all of our frustrations. Their victories are our victories, and their defeats our defeats. This explains why a million people took to the streets to thank the team for attaining the League of Champions, but it also demonstrates our extreme degree of infantilization; we don’t realize that this joyous outburst is caused by the very same element that we experienced under Franco: Catalonian subordination to Spain.
It’s true that there has been a “re-Catalanization” of Barça since the arrival of president Joan Laporta. Without him, Joel Joan would never have been able to cry out “Long live free Catalonia!” from the center of the stadium, nor would there have been a Correllengua such as the one held last year. But Catalonians have failed to move on to adult subjects, and this same lack of maturity and social recognition, as paradoxical as it seems, has helped construct the base of Barça’s extra-dimensional relevance. That is to say, the greatness of the club, and the importance that we attribute to it, are inseparable from our political abnormality. Barça is more than a club because we are less than a nation. If we could realize that independence is not a privilege but a right, and that we don’t need to ask, but to exercise, we would also realize that the team’s victories are a poisoned apple that distances us from our national responsibilities. And it is these—not a sports club—that we must rally to internationally display the Catalan nation.
Until this happens, Barça will be submissive to all kinds of pressure. Remember, for example, the presence of the King of Spain and of Spanish prime minister Rodriguez Zapatero sitting in the box of the stadium in Saint-Denis in Paris, as the president of Catalonia—who had not even been invited—was left behind; or the suppression of the players’ speeches on the day of the celebration in Camp Nou. It goes without saying that it wasn’t the game that really interested the King of Spain or Zapatero, but the message that their presence sent to the world: that Barça is a Spanish club and that their triumphs and trophies are Spanish as well. As for the celebratory speeches, the company in charge of sound has explained that there were five microphones available and their equipment was in perfect condition. This claim, naturally, shed clear light on the political pressures—internal and external—that the club received to avoid the danger that someone might say “no” to the fraud of the Statute or make some reference, direct or indirect, to the Catalan Contries. All of this leads us to note that the “re-Catalanization” of FC Barcelona, as vibrant as it seems, can hardly turn the club something that it isn’t: an authentic national selection.
It is common knowledge that the Andorran authorities don’t feel even a minimal of cultural or political sympathy for Catalonia. In fact, perhaps because they feel superior, they tend to save their sympathy for Spain. Being able to speak as peers with a real “State” makes them feel important, even to the point, in public and in private, they laugh at so-called “state-less nations.” It’s logically, of course; the Andorran authorities are on a whole other level. To have a chair and a flag in the United Nations isn’t peanuts, after all. For this same reason, they feel more important when they travel to Madrid to speak with ministers, than when they travel to Barcelona to speak with councilors. After all, what is a councilor anyway? And what is a nation without a state? The Andorran authorities practice high politics and find hilarity in Catalonians’ legitimate aspirations to have their national rights recognized. These are childish aspirations, as we know. The heads of Adult governments, on the other hand, travel to Madrid, center of the universe, delight in each pat on the back, and are allowed to rest their feet upon the table. In exchange, during the World Cup, the Andorran government invaded the air-space of Catalonian television’s Channel 33, granting it to the Spanish channel “La Sexta,” so that all of Andorra could quake with emotion during the Spanish team’s matches. This is how an obedient and submissive government showed that nothing would make them happier than to cease to be a state and become, instead, an autonomous community of Spain.
“If a Basque Member of the Spanish Parliament speaks in Basque, what kind of debate will there be?” asked himself Eduardo Zaplana, spokesman of the Partido Popular in the Parliament. “Common sense makes it clear”, he went on, “If we all speak one language, which is the one that unites us, this is the language we have to speak”. Zaplana referred obviously to the decision of the members of ERC (the Catalan Republican Party) to speak in Catalan in the Parliament and the Senate. Zaplana’s argument is so ridiculous that it would make me laugh if this were not such a serious matter. In which language do Members of the European Parliament speak, like Jaime Mayor Oreja and José/Josep Borrell? Why do MEPs speak in other languages in the debates, if English is the common language? The reason is very simple: the language used for the personal communication between them is one thing, and the fair representation of all EU languages in its official meetings is another thing. What I mean is that no matter the language used by a German and an Italian when they meet in the corridors of the Parliament, they will speak in German and Italian respectively from their Parliamentary seats.
The cinematographic version of Joanot Martorell’s hero could not be more insignificant and insubstantial. Battles are poor and the main character, Tirant, is played by Caspar Zafer, who is unable to communicate any emotion. Only Leonor Watling, Ingrid Rubio and Victoria Abril give the film a little bit of entity, because Giancarlo Giannini and Jane Asher, who play the roles of emperor and empress of the Byzantine Empire, appear on screen like lost souls in search of a director who loves the history that he explains and does not use it to channel his phobias.