#9 People II

This is part of a short series called People, which will consist of interviews with people who are Catalans or who live or have lived in Catalunya, trying to catch a glimpse of the ideas and opinion of these people referring to the current conflict.

Instructions:
The questions were framed by me, the given answers were written by the people themselves and were not edited afterwards. To keep the balance, there will be an equal number of both female and male persons interviewed, as well as there will be shown as many different political opinions and positions as possible.
Everyone interviewed is a friend or a friend of a friend of mine and anonymity will be kept, not giving any further information than the one they provide them self.
Of course, the interviews can only show a highly subjective point of view without the aim of being representative.


 

What does Catalonian Independence generally mean to you?

To me the independence of Catalonia is the opportunity to create a country more similar to the average of our European partners. This is something that Spain as a whole should probably do and relevant parts of the Spanish society already strive for it. The problem is that the social diversity of Spanish and Catalan societies is too big and the pace of the social changing as well. Only being an independent State we will be able to implement policies that in Catalonia have a general acceptance but won’t be acceptable for the majority of Spanish voters for the decades to come.

What does the Spanish State represent for you? What do you think about the current government?

At some very concrete historical periods the Spanish State has meant a space of opportunities and mutual understanding for the different nations cohabitating in Spain. Nevertheless, as a general rule, in history and nowadays it has acted as just the opposite. After the worst period for the self-being of Catalonia, the Franco’s Dictatopship, the best time for autonomy arrived for Catalonia with the so-called State of Autonomies. But during the early 2000s a process of recentralization was started by the Partido Popular and it appeared to be acceptable by the other big Spanish Party, the PSOE. The fact is that the Spanish Constitution says very little about the territorial political order and the distribution of powers among the “federal” entities. In sum it means that it is not a real federation but a conditional transfer of powers that is not constitutionally granted but subject to the political will of the Spanish central power –comprising the Government, Administration and Judicial power–. Consequently, to me the Spanish State and the Government is an abusive paternalistic figure which its way of treating Catalonia goes from paternalism to bigotry depending on the circumstances.

How would you describe the Catalonian movement for independence?

I consider the independence movement as an extremely heterogeneous phenomenon. From the ideological point of view there are several motivations for being so and for each individual is important one or several of them in varying proportions.

There is an independentism mostly based on identity that considers that Catalonia should be an independent state because it has its own language, culture, Law and a History of self-ruling. Probably this is the oldest independentism but the one with the least consensus. For many people the economical reason is very convincing: mostly the tax deficit and the lacking of investments in infrastructures. Thirdly the rejection to the recentralization policies is a powerful reason for many people that embraced independentism recently. And lastly we have to point out the reason of considering Spain as a country with a shortage of democracy and separation of powers: unseen (and uncontested) corruption levels, brutal repression of voters, public prosecutors acting at the orders of the Government, overtolerance with fascist groups, etc.

But the movement of independence is diverse also for the organization of it. The are some parties that support it but also a huge amount of associations, NGOs and informal groups rooted in the civil society that work for it counting only on donations and the efforts of its supporters.

Are you for or against the independence? Why? Since when?

I am for the independence since I was 19 years old. Until then I considered myself Spanish and I thought that the independentist movement was a nationalistic idea that I rejected. It was when I went to live to the UK when I realized that my identity was Catalan. I saw that nothing of what is understood to be Spain defined me and all of a sudden the fact of being legally Spanish became very abstract. From this very moment the objective reasons for supporting the independence (economicals, but specially politicals) became very natural to me.

How important is it to consider the historical background of the region for understanding the conflict? Crucial or not all? Do you consider the current conflict result of a historical conflict?

As in any social or political conflict the origins of it has to be found in the historical background. I think that history demonstrates that the relationship between Spain and Catalonia is most of the time very difficult and negative for one part at least. Probably the reasons of the conflict are based in the fact that from the point of view of Madrid since Catalonia was invaded at the beginning of the XVIII century the logics of a region that has to be exploited, kept captive and that at any moment can claim its sovereignty has been a constant (conqueror syndrome?).

But this is just a hypothesis and impossible to demonstrate. In addition other regions in different countries have similar experiences without deriving necessarily in independentism. That’s why we shouldn’t base our political positions in historical explanations, especially if it means to dig three centuries. Being the reasons of the current conflict historical or not there are plenty of reasons to want to be independent taking in account only the political facts of an individual life time (even if you are one week old).

How do you imagine Catalunya in 10 years?

I imagine Catalonia as an independent State in the EU (or what remains of it).

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#8 People I

This is the start of a short series called People, which will consist of interviews with people who are Catalans or who live or have lived in Catalunya, trying to catch a glimpse of the ideas and opinion of these people referring to the current conflict.

Instructions:
The questions were framed by me, the given answers were written by the people themselves and were not edited afterwards. To keep the balance, there will be an equal number of both female and male persons interviewed, as well as there will be shown as many different political opinions and positions as possible.
Everyone interviewed is a friend or a friend of a friend of mine and anonymity will be kept, not giving any further information than the one they provide them self.
Of course, the interviews can only show a highly subjective point of view without the aim of being representative.


 

What does Catalonian Independence generally mean to you?

Catalonian Independence means to me that part of the Catalan population would like to vote to decide if they rather would become an independent state or if they prefer to continue staying as another region of Spain.

What does the Spanish State represent for you? What do you think about the current government?

The Spanish State represent to me a sovereign politically organized community living under a system of government that need urgently to be addressed. I would rather live in a Republic, and I truly think we need a to change the Constitution and to create a new social pact.

I think the current government is a corrupted and authoritarian government, some representatives of which should definitely be into jail.

How would you describe the Catalonian movement for independence?

Much more complex of what people outside Catalonia think it is.

Are you for or against the independence? Why? Since when?

Neither for nor against. I am not Catalan, and I don’t plan to live my whole live in Catalonia, so I am no one to decide for them. If I would have to vote right now I would say I rather have a Federal State in the a Spanish Republic. But mainly because I am against creating new borders and because I have never been nationalist, not even Spanish nationalist. But again, it is the Catalan people who have to decide by voting, since we live in a democratic State.

How important is it to consider the historical background of the region for understanding the conflict? Crucial or not all? Do you consider the current conflict result of a historical conflict?

Crucial. And I totally consider the current conflict is the result of a historical conflict and the main parties responsible are not the independents parties, but the conservatives and nationalists Spanish parties (PP, PSOE, and right now, also Ciudadanos).

How do you imagine Catalunya in 10 years?

I can’t imagine anything right now, because lately, sadly, everything has been possible, even the worst scenarios.

 

#7 Details

La Esteleda

The Esteleda is the Catalonian flag for independence, marked by four red and five yellow stripes, joined by a blue triangle with a white star.

La Estreleda
The Esteleda, the Catalonian flag of independence.

The triangle can also be seen in black, red, green or yellow – depending on the political opinion of the person showing the flag (black triangles for anarchists for example).

In contrary the Senyera, the flag of the Region Catalunya shows the same yellow and red stripes but without any other colour, symbol or star.

 

 

 

 

How to hold a flag?

Maybe it only cached my attention, but I was often surprised by the many ways a flag can be hold in order to swing it above the heads of the crowd. After some close inspections, one can recognize broomsticks on the one side and for the elastic effect fishing rods on the other side.

 

1-O, 3-O, 10-O

Referendum 1-O, Huelga General 3-O. After wondering if that might be a reference to sports, it comes clear that 3-O is just a short cut for 3rd of October. From then on, obviously 10-N means 10th of November and so on.

 

#6 Fotos: Huelga General 3-O

#4 Huelga General 3-O

After the happenings during the Catalonian Referendum on independence, the Catalonian Unions announced a huelga general (general strike) for October 3rd. As it is impossible to describe a general strike of an entire state, I want to briefly describe what I’ve seen and how I experienced that day in the city of Barcelona, where I currently live.

Around 1pm I made my way down to the city center – walking. Since it was a real huelga general there was no public transport and no taxis but people walking and biking.

Passing the Sagrada Familia I’ve met the first group of people demonstrating while walking down the street towards the city center. The group were maybe some 500 persons, a lot of families and ‘normal looking’ people chanting els carrers seran sempre nostres (‘the streets will always be ours’), a chant which is accompanied by a certain rhythm of clapping and raising hands and very likely to hear these days in Barcelona.

Walking further down I start to understand what the ‘general’ in huelga general means: a real general strike, including closed shops, cafés, restaurants and bars. Only big luxury brands have their stores open – other than that, almost everything is really closed. In this case huelga general also means thousands of people in the streets, some wearing the estreleda (Catalonian flag for independence), some equipped with humorous and sometimes tough posters and banners.

In the city center I meet my father who came to town October 2nd in order to work there for three days and who experiences the huelga first hand – now giving him the chance to take a personal look at the situation and to talk to people here.

A few blocks away from Plaça de Catalunya we meet one of the big demonstrations with no visible start or end. Interesting to mention is the fact that people seem not to be organized by any higher institution or organization and kind of randomly shutting down the streets in a peaceful way, and not letting the cars pass.

After a lunch break in one of the few open restaurants we walk towards Universitat de Barcelona and just stay at the corner of Plaça de Catalunya and La Rambla, talking to people, seeing young people dance fast traditional style when a group of young musicians play live music. Around the University its mostly young people, the atmosphere is nice but also with a feeling of determination to speak up against the police violation during the Referendum – and to find a peaceful way to deal with one owns experiences.

Something which really cached my attention are the carteles (posters) and the chants of the protesting people. Namely, besides els carrers seran sempre nostres, it was very likely to hear los catalanes hacen cosas: a sentence which was humorously adapted by the Catalan people after the identical comment of the Spanish president Mariano Rajoy. In reference to the police violence during the Referendum vusaltras escopetas, nusaltras papeletas (you – shotguns, we – ballots) as well as aquesta democracia no fa ni puta gracia (this democracy has no fucking grace). Passing helicopters (police or press) and visible press or journalists would be accompanied by loud shouts of prensa espanyola, manipuladora (Spanish press, manipulator). My personal favorite is sense las donas no hi ha revolucion (without women there is no revolution).

Later that evening rumors are spreading that the Guardia Civil is leaving the ships in the port where they stay, dressed up as civilians with orders to act as argent provocateur, to provoke violence and disturb the peaceful protesters. Another rumor going around is the Mossos d’Escuadra saying everyone should go home early, so there cannot be violence, whereas again another rumor says how everyone should stay outside to maintain a peaceful crowd. Another rumor speaks of ‘fascists’ marching.
But as the word indicates: rumors are rumors. Barcelona stayed peaceful, I didn’t see any violence – not in person nor later in the news.

Again I was very happy to start walking home (no public transport, of course) after such an intense day. I was really surprised and amazed by the peaceful protest of the people – without higher institutions organizing specific events, without violent incidents although the police violence of the Referendum was only two days ago and still very present.