Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Nation or financing, LET'S TAKE THE CASH

I am in Hamburg (Germany), Hansestadt Hamburg to be precise (that's why the car plates have a double HH, I love double letters), at the airport lounge wirelessly connected to my blog while drinking schnapps. I am in a federal country, something that in Spain seems to be a heretic concept. I am sure that some of you have seen this beatiful palace in an upscale neighborhood in Brussels with the sign, free state of Bavaria embassy to the European Union. What an insolent behaviour? If the Spanish Popular Party ruled Germany, this would have never happened. Only Bonn has the right to have international representation, or it is Berlin now? Things can even change in the old Europe. They will even have a new chancellor that comes from Eastern Europe and is a female!. The concept of having a Catalan president in Spain is totally unthinkable independently of gender, any party who would nominate a Catalan candidate for the Spanish presidency would commit political harakiri, we saw that already.

That brings me back to the Catalan Constitution (L'Estatut) and which aspects need to be preserved in the final negotiation. The way is going to be long, and we need to make sure that we advance in the right direction with detemination and resolve, with common sense and avoiding confrontation and rupture. There are two main concepts in the Estatut that are controversial, the notion that Catalonia is a nation and the control of our finances and taxation, one is emotional, the other one is practical. My advise is to be pragmatic. Let's give up the first one and focus on the second. We all know we are a nation, even the Castilians know we are a nation even though they do not want to admit it in the open, so let's not spend our efforts in the evident. Let's take the cash, let's make sure we can control our finances, that we can fund all our development plans, that we can invest on education, infrastucture and R&D, let's not forget that "pesseta", the old currency is Spain, is a Catalan word. Let's agree on less controversial denominations as a "national entity", but let's not give away control on a single euro cent.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

“boyCATt” me

As a result of the approval of the new Catalan constitution (L’Estatut) by the Catalan Parliament, many in Spain have called for a boycott to Catalan companies and products. This is not the first time, by the way.
In order to facilitate the work of those individuals who want to boycott Catalonia, a good Catalan Samaritan has created a website called “boiCATeja’m” (“boyCATt” me) that provides good reasons to boycott Catalonia, as for example:

  • One I said a few bad words about Spain
  • I have a basque friend
  • Once I celebrated the defeat of the Spanish national soccer team
  • At home we speak Catalan, just to annoy Spaniards
  • I read the Catalan constitution and I think it is not that bad
  • In addition to Catalan, I am gay/lesbian
  • My parents gave me a very Catalan name (Jordi/Montserrat)
  • I would not mind if we would give away the north Africa enclaves (Ceuta/Melilla) to Morocco
  • Etc.

I like the site because it radiates good humor. Almost 4000 people have already signed up and provided a wide variety of reasons to boycott us.
The creator of the website is Emili Junsalba who works in a textile company in Barcelona. He created the site after receiving a letter from a Castilian customer who informed them that that they would no longer buy carpets from them, because they had read in the papers that Catalonia did not want to remain as part of Spain and they refused to learn Catalan (a sheer misinterpretation of the facts, but anyway).

It is going to take a long time to get where we want be as a nation. We need to be relentless, but, at the same time, face the daunting job with good humor and without a revengeful attitude. We can make it, yes we can.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I am a “blocaire”

I was thinking of writing something about the draft of the new Catalan constitution (L’Estatut) that was approved in the Catalan Parliament last week and has been submitted to the Spanish parliament for “rejection”. I say rejection because the Spanish nationalists have already started a campaign against not only against the new Catalan Constitution but also calling for a boycott against Catalan products as a reprisal (there is several websites giving the name of Catalan companies and asking people to boycott them).
The document is a beautiful piece of legislation, very progressive, with the highest levels of human right protection. There are, however, two areas that the Spanish nationalists cannot swallow (especially those of the right wing Popular Party). The first one is that the document describes Catalonia as a nation, the second is that the task of raising all taxes is given to the Catalan government that will hand over to the Spanish government an amount to be agreed upon (now everything goes to the big pot in Madrid and Catalonia gets whatever the Spanish government wants).
That’s why, to my despair, I am convinced that the Catalan Constitution will never be approved. Last time we tried something similar, in the thirties, there was a military “coup” that lasted 40 years. I hope this time we can handle it better, but anyway we need the funds to become a leading nation. My benchmark is The Netherlands and that’s a tough goal if you cannot manage your finances.
However today I do not want to talk about the draft constitution (L’Estatut), I want to share with you that the organism that regulates the new terms that can be used in Catalan language (Termcat) has accepted two new terms: “bloc” (for blog) and “blocaire” (for blogger) that substitute the previously accepted forms that would translate as “personal interactive diary”. I have to congratulate Termcat for its flexibility to adopt new words. That makes Catalan a language that is much more dynamic than Spanish, where it is very difficult to get neologisms accepted and sometimes they sound so ridiculous that no one uses them, like “cajeta” for cassette/tape or güisqui for whisky.
So yes guys, I am a “blocaire” and you are reading my “bloc”.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Who cares about borders, fences, walls, border patrols, barb wire and all that stuff. We live in a cyber world. Her Excellency the Queen of Namibia was trying to justify the inexistence of the Catalan nation based on the fact that she did not find solid lines in the map around the Catalan territory. What an old-fashioned mentality! I can scientifically prove that Catalonia is a nation using "inference" as a reasoning tool.
In a world dominated by routers, search engines, email, websites and bloggers, the concept of nation can be proven if those companies dominating the cyberspace devote the necessary attention to Catalonia, Catalan people and the Catalan language. Let's start with Google (I assume some of you will find this the most powerful argument, because of its co-founder Sergey Brin). All Google applications are available in Catalan, the search engine googlecat and gmail. Microsoft has a very effective spell check in Catalan that allows me to write in Catalan virtually spelling mistake free, even though it was forbidden to teach Catalan at school when I was a kid. Finally the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) approved in September the .cat domain to be used by everyone related to the Catalan language and Catalan culture. Even though I do not agree with Chomsky's definition of language, I think it is 100% applicable to nations: "a nation is a group of people that think they are a nation, especially if they have a web domain". Therefore it is scientifically proven that we are a nation, at least a virtual nation, and that's all that matters.

As you can imagine, some Spanish nationalists are outraged by the concession of the internet domain to the Catalan people, what they qualify it as secession, a virtual secession, even though the .cat domain is not ISO compliant (.ct would be the ISO-correct domain for a Catalan nation). However they kept the mouth shut when Gibraltar got its domain (.gi) what, in my opinion, goes against the Utrech treaty. Other remarkable domains are .hk (Hong Kong), .tw (Taiwan) and especially .tk (Tokelau), all of them with a two letter national denomination. Food for thought.