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26 de febr. 2016

Visita a Catalunya del nét de Terence MacSwiney, alcalde de Cork mort en vaga de fam el 1920


Coincidint amb els actes del Centenari de l’Easter Uprising (Aixecament de Pasqua) de 1916 que se celebren enguany a Irlanda, la Comissió de la Dignitat ha convidat el professor Cathal Brugha, nét de l’alcalde Cork Terence MacSwiney, a visitar Catalunya. La mort de Terence MacSwiney en vaga de fam, el mes d’octubre de 1920, va provocar una profunda onada de solidaritat i condol a Catalunya. Una d’aquestes mostres de condol va ser la gran manifestació celebrada a la Plaça de Catalunya de Barcelona en els dies posteriors a la seva mort. Es van produir protestes a diferents llocs del país, com a molts llocs del món. John Borgonovo, investigador post-doctoral de l’Escola d’Història del University College Cork, considera les produïdes a Catalunya les de més importància. La solidaritat catalana la van liderar entitats com el CADCI i la Unió Catalanista. Van fer arribar una nina de porcellana a la seva filla Máire, peça històrica que avui es conserva al Museu de Cork (vegeu fotos adjuntes). L’exemple d’Irlanda, introduïda inicialment per Josep Narcís Roca i Ferreras, va ser un referent per al nacionalisme català. I en especial per a Francesc Macià.

La visita del Sr. Cathal Brugha

* Dijous 3 de març, 21h – Assistirà a la Nit de la Memòria, un sopar organitzat per la Comissió de la Dignitat al Restaurant Núria de Canaletes. (Més info al telèfon 625370661 i mail  comunicació@comissiodeladignitat.cat )

* Divendres 4 de març (hora per concretar) – Recepció a càrrec de la M.H. Presidenta del Parlament de Catalunya.

* Divendres 4 de març, 12.30h – Ofrena floral al monument de Francesc Macià a la Plaça de Catalunya – i trobada amb la premsa. Telèfon de contacte 627412083 i mail

* Divendres 4 de març – Acte públic a la Universitat de Barcelona (acte a concretar).

També us podrien resultar interessants aquests escrits de Cathal Brugha sobre Ramon Llull:

Extract on Terence MacSwiney’s case: 

At the end of his court-martial on August 16th, 1920, Terence MacSwiney, the Lord Mayor of Cork, greeted his sentence of two years in jail by declaring: ‘I have decided the term of my imprisonment…I shall be free, alive or dead, within a month.’ Four days earlier, British troops had stormed the City Hall in Cork and arrested MacSwiney on charges of possessing an RIC cipher and documents likely to cause disaffection to his Majesty. He immediately began a hunger strike that sparked riots on the streets of Barcelona, caused workers to down tools on the New York waterfront, and prompted mass demonstrations from Buenos Aires to Boston. Enthralled by MacSwiney breaking all previous records for a prisoner going without food, the international press afforded the case so much coverage that Ireland’s War of Independence was suddenly parachuted onto the world stage, and King George V was considering over-ruling Prime Minister Lloyd George and enduring a constitutional crisis. As his wife, brothers and sisters kept daily vigil around his bed in Brixton Prison, watching his strength ebb away hour by hour, MacSwiney’s fast had Michael Collins preparing reprisal assassinations, Ho Chi Minh waxing lyrical about the Corkman’s bravery, and rumours abounding that he was being secretly fed via the communion wafer being given to him each day by his chaplain. It was one man’s courageous stand against the might of an empire.

Glossa en la mort de MacSwiney, per Ventura Gassol.

This Week in Catalan Politics

Simon Harris, Jordi Vilanova and their guests.

"Never miss an upload by This Week In Catalan Politics again!"

3. This Week in Catalan Politics, show three, recorded on 24 Feb 2016. https://www.mixcloud.com/This_Week_in_Catalan_Politics/this-week-in-catalan-politics-0003/
This upload features tracks from Isaac Hayes, Terence Trent D'Arby, Steely Dan, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, Paul Simon and more.

2. Talk show on politics in Catalonia, with Simon Harris and Jordi Vilanova, with guest Mark McNaught, an expert on constitutional law, recorded on 17 Feb 2016. https://www.mixcloud.com/This_Week_in_Catalan_Politics/this-week-in-catalan-politics-0002/
This upload features tracks from James & Bobby Purify, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Tears for Fears, Earth, Wind & Fire and more.

1. This Week in Catalan Politics, recorded on 10 Feb 2016 and streamed on BarcelonaCityFM.com the following day. https://www.mixcloud.com/This_Week_in_Catalan_Politics/this-week-in-catalan-politics-0001/
This upload features tracks from The Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode, The Pretenders, Amy Winehouse, U2 and more.


25 de febr. 2016

A response to an article on Catalonia in "Foreign Affairs"

A response to “Farewell to Catalonia? Spain Confronts a Rebellious Region” by Omar G. Encarnación

Miquel Strubell
Imma Cabotí
Eva Riera Carol
From time to time political analysts write about events in Catalonia and Spain, which is welcome, and specially so given that before the vast pro-independence marches and rallies that started in September 2012 (with their massive precursor in 2010 following the Constitutional court's ruling which cut back the already maimed 2006 regional constitution - or Statute of Autonomy) and captured the imagination of those who hold freedom to be a supreme ideal, Catalonia was almost completely unknown to the general public worldwide.
Yet time and again the same old clichés keep cropping up. Describing Catalans as «fiercely» separatist or «rebellious» might lead an outsider to believe that they spend all day marching around with earnest frowns on their faces. The truth is (most) Catalans simply want to be able to solve their own political, social, economic and cultural problems without (constant) interference from a hostile, self-perpetuating central power apparatus in Madrid. A State like Slovenia, Lithuania or Denmark is their aim, peoples whose «desire for nationhood» has been attained in recent decades.
Another cliché is that Catalonia, following a period of independence in the early middle ages, was «engulfed» first into Aragon and then, thanks to the Catholic Kings, into a “united” Spain. The truth is that up until the end of the war of Spanish succession in 1714, Catalonia retained control of its civil laws, taxation, currency, military rights and import tariffs and each incumbent King reaffirmed the Catalan «Constitutions». Similarly, in the 17th century, despite sharing a monarch, Scotland and England were separate kingdoms until the 1707 Act of Union. In Spain, during that same century, officials in Madrid, the seat of the royal court, in the heart of Castile, began to develop a plan for a Spain which was to become unified but achieving the assimilation of the “peripheral” nations in the Kingdom: chiefly, the Basques, the Catalans and the Galicians. For nearly four centuries there have been wars and coups, from Catalonia's Reapers’ War (or War of Secession, 1640-1652) to the failed coup d'état in 1981, basically on the territorial issue and the closely related difference between those backing the development of a productive economy and those happy to live off the pickings of an extractive economy. In between, General Franco's regime (1936/9 – 1975) not only «abrogated agreements» but also abolished political institutions, and shot political leaders such as President Lluís Companys (deported from occupied France), the Christian democrat Manuel Carrasco i Formiguera and numerous mayors and local councillors. Each time, Catalonia has been on the losing side.
Spain has been loath to deal with the «Catalan problem» for at least 150 years, and Spanish parliamentary debates in the early 20th century were mirrored in the 1930s, again in the 1970s, and equally since 2003. But this goes beyond «political administrations»: it is a matter of deeply-rooted unitary or Jacobin, nationalist feelings on left and right. At least since about 1870, at the time of the First Republic, a federalist political movement tried to build a federal Spain. However, its leaders and followers were Catalans (Francesc Pi i Margall and Valentí Almirall, among others), and it failed then (and has done so ever since) in the rest of Spain. And with who can one federate, when one is alone? It was the political confrontation with Madrid at the turn of the last century that led all parties except for the People's Party (whose election results in Catalonia have always been poor, never exceeding 13%, thus reflecting its image as an anti-Catalan, centralist party) to decide to replace the 1979 Statute of Autonomy. The closest that Catalonia came to a federal model was in the resulting 2005 draft Statute of Autonomy, which received 89% support in the Catalan parliament (in the belief that it fitted within the terms of the “ambiguous” Constitution), but was then severely maimed in the Spanish parliament... before being further crippled by the June 2010 Constitutional court ruling (thus revealing how “exquisite” ambiguity is for those in power. There is nothing exquisite in ambiguity, unless the parties share equal power, and over the years the Constitution court has increasingly interpreted the law to suit Spanish governments in their conflicts with, especially, Catalonia and the Basque country). Catalan federal dreams basically ended in 2010, though both before and since, from positions of power, Catalans and others have been jeeringly accused of «acting as victims of an oppressive central government».
A third cliché attributes the recent rise in the independence feeling in Catalonia to financial issues. To be true, Catalonia accounts for 16% of Spain's population, 19% of gross domestic product and 21% of all taxation, so it is considerably more productive than the average for Spain. However the cost of living there is above the average for Spain, and in terms of per capita purchasing power Catalonia falls from 4th to 7th place (in terms of disposable income, to 9th place); and it has a disturbingly high proportion of people below the poverty line.
Our view is that for most citizens of Catalans extraction, until recently independence was desired deep at heart, but was seen as unattainable. Now, and not just as a matter of dignity and right, it is seen as the only way out, the only way ahead. There are many, many examples of Barcelona, Catalonia and the Catalans losing out because of decisions made in Madrid (or not made at all), and the growing conviction that a federal Spain that could accommodate (or appease) the Catalans, is quite impossible. The rise of pro-independence sentiment is partly a reaction to the humiliation that the Catalans have been subjected to, and partly to the collective self-esteem recovered by witnessing and taking part in the largest demonstrations in the country's history, including the “participative process” that brought several million people to the ballot boxes to express their opinion, in the face of the dire threats of the Spanish government. It was undoubtedly the largest display of civil disobedience in recent European history.
Another cliché describes the level of Catalonia's “autonomy” as extremely high. This is blatantly untrue, given the increasing narrow and biassed interpretation of the Spanish Constitution by the Spanish authorities and the Constitutional Court. Catalonia's policies in terms of immigration, retail commerce, consumers’ rights, education, supporting poor families, raising new taxes, foreign policy, and many others, have been blocked in the courts by central government. The Catalan government has residual tax-raising powers and its own social and economic policies are dwarfed by those of the Spanish government.
The current institutional clash is undeniable, but it is totally unfair to attach the blame one-sidedly to the Catalans or to apply another cliché, that claims that the Catalans have been dragged, as an indoctrinated or misinformed flock, into an impossible adventure, by mad, improvising leaders. Thus, for instance, Catalonia's White Paper on National Transition to independence is an extremely thorough set of documents, and – for instance - outlines a number of ways an official referendum could have been held (binding or otherwise). No-one in Madrid, to our knowledge, congratulated the winners of the election held on September 27, 2015, which most voters took part in as if it were a plebiscite (we do not know what the results would be in case of a clear Yes-No referendum, for the Spanish government has used all its tools to prevent such a democratic exercise). That probably explains the historically high turnout, 75% (the «Junts pel Sí» alliance won 39% of the vote and 62 out of 135 seats, six short of an outright majority; 47·8% voted for independence,2 39·1% against, while the remaining 12·5% of voters - mostly Unió Democràtica's 103,000 votes, and Catalunya Sí Que Es Pot's 367,000 - refused to take a stance on the subject). The former king abandoned his constitutional role as being politically neutral, in trying to call the Catalans to order, and this might explain why the portrait of the previous king in the Saló de Sant Jordi - the hall in the building the Catalan government (or Generalitat) chose as its seat in 1400 – has been covered for some years now, to our knowledge. The current king did the same even before refusing to receive the Speaker (who, to be fair, had said «Visca la República» in Parliament); he also signed a decree on president Mas' resignation which, breaking with protocol, did not thank him for his services; and Puigdemont received no formal congratulations from Spanish authorities after his swearing-in, again a break with tradition. So it was hardly surprising - and especially given his political mandate and objective, an independent republic -, that when president Carles Puigdemont legally swore office as the 130th President of Catalonia he promised loyalty to the people of Catalonia, and not to the King or to the Spanish constitution. Incidentally, he did not follow the existing oath of office, which had been devised by president Tarradellas in 1980, and was therefore hardly «traditional», and certainly not laid down legally.
With a parliamentary mandate for independence obtained in September 2015, the Catalans now enter a political minefield. However, it is quite misleading to believe that «Scotland’s independence referendum is the source of inspiration for the Catalans». They had been wanting to vote on independence since at least September 2009, when hundreds of unofficial polls began to take place. Having said that, the refusal of Spain to allow a referendum is in stark contrast to the UK's government's position. Spain's response has not been political: it has shown no willingness whatsoever to sit down and discuss Catalonia's claims. It has refused to appease the Catalans in any way at all. On the contrary, it has only fuelled the flames, time and again. Parliamentary resolutions, and even committees have been deemed unconstitutional. Several leading politicians, including former president Mas, could be politically debarred or even sent to prison. Among other threats, the Spanish Constitution has a widely-quoted article, 155, which does not however contemplate the «cancelling» of Catalonia's regional constitution; while Spain's media archives are full of voices calling on the Spanish government to put an end to Catalonia's claims – and moves - to nationhood, by the use of force if necessary.
On the economic scene, the Spanish government would seem to be following a scorched earth policy in terms of investment in essential infrastructures, some of which are missing, while others (such as the interstitial railway network) are completely obsolete. Spain has been financially starving the regional government and Catalonia as a whole for at least 30 years. There is a systemic outflow of public money equivalent to 8% of Catalonia's GDP, which is crippling Catalonia's economy. Part of this outflow is due to serious direct under-investment by Spanish ministries in infrastructures in Catalonia.
To cope with the coming roller-coaster months, the «separatist alliance», holds 62 out of 135 seats, six short of an outright majority. The other separatist group, the radical left CUP has 10 seats, while the other parties (not all of which are openly hostile to independence) hold 63 seats. This is why three months of negotiations led to a last-minute agreement for a stable legislature during which the state structures and legislation will go through Parliament. This included president Mas' personal decision to stand down, (he was certainly not «unceremoniously dumped»!), to ensure the support of the CUP and thus avoid new elections.
However, to say that "the members of the government are working at cross-purposes" or that "the alliance hangs by a thread" is false, unfair and ridiculous (even wishful thinking, we venture to speculate), as the government was constituted just sixteen days before Professor Encarnación’s article was published, and at that moment there was no evidence whatsoever of that. And of course, in Catalan politics one can expect to find the same type of internal tensions within parties and alliances as in any other part of the world. But Catalonia is different in that, leaving history to one side, the movement towards independence is driven by its grass-roots, not by political parties. And the main NGO, the «Assemblea Nacional Catalana», will certainly settle for nothing less than independence.
Is there an alternative to independence? The widespread feeling in Catalonia is that there is no turning back, and the boats have been burnt (by the opponent!). Most Catalans have, after 150 years of seeking a federal solution for Spain, simply given up. The “enough is enough” feeling that has swept across the country explains why the Catalan independence movement has grown so much. Catalans want problems to be solved, while those in power in Madrid (and by no means just the government) seem to want the Catalans to be crushed.
It is easy from afar to claim that now is the time for federalism. But what does «federalism» mean, beyond a fairly vague statement of distribution of power among equals? How much power would the federated states agree that Madrid should have? A leading specialist on federal systems, Prof. Ferran Requejo, concludes (2011) that the lowest level of federalisation that most Catalans would (grudgingly) accept is well above the highest level of federalisation that most Spaniards would (grudgingly) accept. Ne'er the twain shall meet, especially given what all polls say.
Fundamental changes to what is not a federal Constitution require such an elaborate process and such large majorities that no-one in their right mind can honestly believe that this is a feasible option (the amendments made up to now have affected secondary issues only). Has «unequal autonomy» increased since 1982? Every Tom, Dick and Harry now has his public regional TV channel; all regions are now responsible for the running of the schools; some have commercial offices and delegations abroad (and spend considerably more than Catalonia on them!). True, only Catalonia runs its prisons, but that has been the case since 1984! And other than traffic policing, which was taken over by Catalonia in 1997, we can't see any «increase in recent years» in the differential. Had the 2005 draft Statute prospered, things might have been different. But even there, other regions have levelled the playing field by copying the 2006 Catalan statute… without their text being taken to the Constitutional Court.
Our view (and Brussel's, according to one report) is that the long-standing “Catalan problem” is really, essentially a “Spanish problem”, and we are convinced that Catalonia and Spain will in the near future get along much, much better as (equal) neighbours.

20 de febr. 2016

"Frases belicistas"

M'ha aparegut aquest cromo de l'ABC, d'agost de 2015. Segons el Diccionari de la Llengua Catalana, de l'IEC, el titular pixa fora de test notòriament. No es el primer cop.


m. [SO] Tendència a resoldre els conflictes per mitjà de la guerra.


adj. [SO] Relatiu o pertanyent al bel·licisme.
adj. i m. i f. [SO] Partidari del bel·licisme.

Las 12 frases más belicistas del independentismo catalán

maría jesús cañizares - Barcelona - 06/08/2015 a las 12:10:58h. - Act. a las 13:33:50h.

"¡Es la guerra!", sostiene el independentismo catalán. O al menos es lo que se desprende del discurso utilizado por los dirigentes y activistas del secesionismo, jalonado de expresiones bélicas. Estos son algunos ejemplos:

-"Nos han dado palizas de arriba a abajo, con leyes injustas y regresivas, multas millonarias solo por ejercer el derecho de expresión" (Raül Romeva, cabeza de lista de Junts pel Sí)

-"La respuesta será tan beligerante por parte del Estado hacia Catalunya que simplemente la opción de quedarnos como estamos es inimagibable". (Raul Romeva)

-"Cuando se ataca sistemáticamente a la autonomía se tiene derecho a la legítima defensa" (Artur Mas, presidente de la Generalitat)

-"No descarto que haya guerra sucia por parte del Gobierno, pero nosotros no la haremos" (Artur Mas)

-"El adversario al cual nos enfrentamos es mucho más poderoso que nosotros; pero David no venció a Goliat porque fuese más fuerte, sino porque era muy astuto y muy hábil». (Artur Mas)
-"Si atacan al Gobierno catalán por defender la democracia, nos atacan a todos» (Oriol Junqueras, líder de ERC)

"Pues el 11 de septiembre de 1714, hace 300 años, hubo una guerra en Barcelona y en Cataluña, y ganaron, no los catalanes, ganaron los otros" (Núria de Gispert, presidenta del Parlamento catalán)
-"Aspiramos a una Cataluña libre y gloriosa, cuya supervivencia depende de su capacidad de derrotar a sus poderosos enemigos» (Josep Rull, coordinador de Convergència)

-"No solo se está haciendo una ofensiva irresponsable contra el autogobierno de Cataluña, sino contra la nación, contra las personas, contra la sociedad civil" (Josep Rull)

-"Ha llegado la hora de los valientes, de la verdad y del vértigo y hay que llenar las calles para llenar las urnas". (Alfred Bosch, concejal de ERC en el Ayuntamiento de Barcelona)

-"Vivimos ocupados por los españoles desde 1714". (Quim Torra, presidente de Òmnium Cultural)

-"España ya no nos da miedo, ya no esperamos los tanques. Hemos visto que podemos ir a votar el 9-N y aquí no pasa nada" (Joel Joan, actor)

A Response to Omar Encarnación

Please go here to read the latest post, which is a response to a paper by Omar G. Encarnación.

Note that the editors of Foreign Affairs "found it an interesting take [sic]. We're overstuffed [sic] with content and commitments at the moment, though, so we'll pass [sic]".