Saturday, December 30, 2006

Catalonia, a country without “cojones”

In the Spanish speaking countries, the word “cojones” is gross. Surprisingly in the Anglo countries the same word has pretty positive connotations (a bit “macho”, but positive). I have heard the word used in business meetings several times and I seem to be the only one who gets a bit shocked with the expression, even though the Catalan version of the word, “collons” (pronounced “koo-ee-ons”), is much softer and can be used without raising eyebrows.
To illustrate that the word “cojones” has no negative connotations among the North American Anglo community, I will mention the ad campaigned that Volkswagen started in USA a few months ago. The billboards describe its new Golf as the “Turbo-Cojones”. The campaign did not last much due to the complaints of people, mostly in Florida, who did understand the real meaning of cojones and did not want to be exposed to a gross ad promoting the “turbo-testicles” and maybe, did not want to see the saga continued with a next round of ads promoting the Jetta “Turbo-polla” (Turbo-dick).

However, for this posting, I want to stick to the Anglo meaning of “cojones” and definitely, at the end of the year 2006, I have to proclaim that Catalonia is a country without cojones.
For hundreds of years the majority of Catalans have believed that even though Spain is a good country with excellent people, it is not our country, it is not the country where we belong. We have allowed that people arriving in our country change our way of life in a way only seen in places where the invader had a much more developed culture (and army) than those invaded. A high percentage of the millions of people who came to our land, Catalonia, seeking prosperity (and many of them got it) have “hispanized Catalonia” instead of adapting to our culture and values.
But the responsibility does not lie on those who came. The responsibility lies on those who call Catalonia their nation. And the reality is that we do not have “cojones”, we always back off because we are afraid of losing what we have achieved so far. We hide our Catalan identity, because we believe that if we display it, Spanish will boycott it and foreigners will not recognize it and we will sell less. We are a country of “botiflers”, a country without “cojones”.
As an example, I am including a picture of two bottles I bought here in USA, both bought at Costco. The single malt bottle of scotch shows proudly on the front of the bottle “The Macallan distilleries Inc, Easter Elchies, Craigellachie, Scotland. Product of Scotland”. On the bottle of Freixenet “cava”, there is no reference to Sant Sadurdi d’Anoia, Barcelona or Catalonia, just a laconic “Product of Spain” on the back label. I told you, a country without “cojones”.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Montserrat schism

El cisma de Montserrat
The Catholic Church has always been anti-Catalan. The Catholic Church likes empires, likes authoritarian regimes, likes commonality and Catalonia does not offer any of them. Do not think that the aversion to Catalonia by the Catholic Church is something new. It’s a millennium old.
In 1301, Pope Boniface VIII fell ill. His Roman doctors were not able to heal him. Pope Boniface hated Catalans, he had done everything possible to stop their expansion in the Mediterranean and he also denied the rights of the House of Barcelona to the Crown of Sicily. However, as a last resort, they brought the famous Catalan doctor, Arnau de Vilanova, to see the Pope. Arnau had been put in prison upon arrival in Rome some time before.
Arnau was able to relieve Boniface’s suffering. After that, Pope Boniface exclaimed: “at last I have found a Catalan who does good”.
In the XV and XVI century, the situation got even worst. The fact that Catalans did not support the implementation of the Inquisition was the main reason for that. They even assassinated some of the Castilian lead Inquisitors who were sent to the kingdom of Aragon to implement the Spanish Inquisition. In my opinion that’s the main reason why Catalans were forbidden by Isabel Queen of Castile to go to America till the end of the XVIII century.
Recently, we have seen similar moves by the Catholic church establishment to weaken the Catalan identity. A few years ago, the Vatican determined that the Western Strip (La Franja), the Catalan speaking counties located in the Aragon region would not longer belong to the Lleida archdiocese (Catalonia), but it would become part of the Aragonian archdiocese of Barbastro. La Franja had been part of the Lleida archdiocese for more than one thousand years. The motivation behind the decision was to reduce the influence of Catalonia on this Aragonian region with more of 90% Catalan native speakers (the highest percentage of Catalan native speakers in any region in the world).
The last straw has been the approval last week by the Spanish archbishop conference of a documents declaring that the unity of Spain is a “moral good”, trying to quell any separatist desire in Catalonia or the Basque country. What does the unity of Spain have to do with religion or morality? Why don’t the Spanish bishops spend their time doing the real moral good, as for instance, helping the poor, putting in prison the pedophilic priests or giving support to the use of condoms to curve the growth of AIDS?
I am a catholic, I always went to catholic school and I like Jesus and his teachings, but I really cannot stand the Roman Catholic apparatus. Pope, bishops and archbishops are not a moral good, they are basically a waste. They also proclaimed that the Roman empire and the old Spanish empire were a moral good. Both are long gone. That’s the only thing that gives me hope.
Hopefully one day, pretty soon, the abbot of the Montserrat monastery will secede from the Vatican and declare the Montserrat Schism (“el cisma de Montserrat”), with the basic good teachings of Jesus, but with divorce, non abortive contraception and female priesthood.
I include a videoclip showing the entry of the Franco dictator troops in Barcelona in 1939. My grandfather was by then a P.O.W. My grandmother and my 4 year old father had nothing to eat. The rest of my Catalan relatives were crossing into France, where they have remained since.