Troglodytes Making Waves

A couple of weeks ago I posted here about how a senior officer in the Spanish army – Lt. Gen. Jose Mena Aguado – had been placed under house arrest for insinuating that the Spanish military might have a responsibility to intervene in defence of the Spanish Constitution if the new Catalan Statute of Autonomy went forward in its present form. Well yesterday news of this seems to have reached the New York Times. Describing the officers in question as troglodytes, the NYT has especially harsh words for the opposition Partido Popular, whose leaders, it should be remembered, described Aguado’s statement as ‘logical’ in the context of what was being proposed:

The response of the center-left government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has been appropriately firm, including the dismissal and arrest of one of the culprits, a senior army general. Regrettably, the center-right Popular Party, the main opposition group, seems more interested in making excuses for the officers than in defending the democratic order in which it has a vital stake.

“Spanish society, Spanish politicians and, for the most part, Spanish military officers have come a long way from that (the Franco) era, moderating their views and deepening their commitment to democratic give-and-take. But the Popular Party has had a hard time getting over its electoral defeat nearly two years ago, days after the terrorist bombings of commuter trains in Madrid. It has never really accepted the democratic legitimacy of that vote. It is time for the Popular Party to move ahead. Spanish democracy needs and deserves vigorous bipartisan support.”

The NYT does arrive rather late on the scene. The Economist had this piece on the 12th January, and the FT this one on the 10th January. Meanwhile, the New York Times story is itself making waves here. The Basque news agency EITB24 covers it here. And all of which on the day in which the Partido Popular has begun collecting signatures for a referendum (in defence of the constitution and) against the the new Statute, a referendum which would itself be, well, guess what, unconstitutional, and on which Josep Piqué, leader of the PP in Catalonia, had to be given a three hour talking-to to convince him not to resign from the party, since, again guess what, he thinks the latest version of the text isn’t at all bad!

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

72 thoughts on “Troglodytes Making Waves

  1. And to think that some people were upset when I characterised PP as ‘post-Francoist’.

    Well, maybe they were right, in a way; maybe that ‘post-‘ was premature.

  2. “Does Spain not have free speech?”

    It does, but it seems some people aren’t very happy with that. That’s why they propose using tanks to regulate what you can and can’t say.

    In fairness, as the NYT says, these people are really Troglodytes, and as the FT notes:

    “Spain was mildly shaken but far from stirred. General Jose Mena Aguado will go down in history as an anachronism.The days of the military pronunciamiento are over. Spain is a confident and prosperous democracy inside the European Union, a cultural and economic powerhouse and an international citizen of standing. Its federal political system – despite tensions with the Basques and Catalans – must be accounted a success.”

    The more worrying detail is the attitude of the PP. It is worrying, since it appears that Spain is now about to enter a period where it has no credible opposition. This is bad for any democracy.

    “And to think that some people were upset when I characterised PP as ‘post-Francoist’.”

    Well this group is certainly now at the steering wheel, and about to crash the car. Driving when they are ‘over age, and half blind’ probably.

    Rather than Francoist, or Post-Francoist, I would describe them as Spanish separatists. With this referendum proposal they appear to be in danger of separating Spain trom Catalonia and the Basque Country (Euskera).

    Fortunately this proposal appears to be unconstitutional, because if it wasn’t, and they forced a referendum, there would be little doubt that a referendum in Spain about how the Catalans handle their internal affairs would immediately provoke a referendum in Catalonia about how they see their relations with Spain, and this would then almost certainly be followed by a similar one in the Basque Region.

    Catalonia wants to be part of a Federal Spain. It simply wants the same right as Bavaria has in Germany. But as I say, some seem to think that the only response to this is to turn the world upside down.

  3. There is something important here. The PP is not a monolithic party right now. There is a faction that could be regarded as close to the American Democrats and the faction where the troglodytes come from which is very close to the neocons and catholic religious groups.

  4. Quick thing, Euskara is the language. The Country or Region is Euskadi. I’ve been living here in the Basque Region for almost 2 years now.

    In response to Catalonia’s rights, and the Basque Country’s for that matter, the right to succeed is pretty import. These are unique and different ethnic groups, linguistically and culturally. Why should the remain part of something they may or maynot want to, if they don’t want to. It’s well know that Spain is only holding both back. They are the industial and economic centers of Spain. Without either, Spain wouldn’t be in the position of “standing” that they are.

    Spaniards, for some reason, seem to feel justified in there beliefs that Catalonia and the Basque country should always be a part of Spain. Why? Because they were conquered a few years back? History changes. Look at all the countries in the east of Europe. No one, including Spaniards, is doubting there legitamacy.

    So, if somehow, through luck I imagine, both Catalonia and the Basque Region get independence, what are the Spanish going to do? Roll out the tanks and show the world what they’re really like? Still Fascist at heart. One thing I’ve learned while living here is this. The left (PSOE – Zapatero) and the right (PP – Raxio) are really the same when it comes to regions deciding anything for themselves democratically – Fascist.

  5. I know a few supporters of the basque and catalan cause around here (Portugal) and CiderJoe, I must tell you, calling fascist to everyone just because they want something less then to break a country with 500ish years old does NOT help the seriousness with wich sucessionist movements arguments are taken.
    Using bombs to support those arguments is makes it even worse.

    The best way to get yourselfs taken seriously is, in my opinion, to get proper electoral results for independentist movements – with that you can even say you got legitimacy enough to override the constitution and unilateraly delcare independence.

    I also gotta say though, in a europe everyday more united, I can’t see spain spliting up really.

  6. Don’t take any body’s word for it. Read it yourself: there is a translation available in English of the Catalonian “Estatut”.

    http://www.cataloniatoday.info/pdf/estatut.pdf

    It will take you no time at all to see what this is about. It’s pretty clearly spelled out in the first line:

    One. Catalonia is a nation.

    This entire document is oriented towards creating a separate nation. It is but a step away from separating completely from Spain. It describes how all taxes will be collected for their own use, that they will seat representatives for the European parliament, etc., etc.

    Sorry, but MOST Spaniards do NOT agree with this proposition.

    Ask yourself–do you support the confederacy of the South in the USA? Because they separated from the USA and declared themselves a nation. Civil war resulted. The majority of Americans would NOT say that that was a mistake, or that Lincoln was wrong.

    Same thing applies to Spain. What the Catalonian extremists are trying to do is attempt to separate from Spain and create a separate nation. That, and nothing less.

    And most Spaniards do not agree with this.

    Catalonia already has tremendous autonomy to run their region as they see fit. But, the left wing extremists aren’t satisfied–they want it all.

    And that doesn’t bode well for Spain as a country. Being broken up into separate tiny nations means the end of Spain as a first world country. Catalonia, no matter what they may claim, could not be the world power it is by standing alone, and will end up bringing down both Spain and Catalonia.

    All so some greedy politicians can whip up nationalistic support in order to grab power for themselves.

    Now, back to the original article. General Mena perhaps stepped out of line by making public comments that could be interpreted as political. That is prohibited under the military code of conduct. But the CONTENT of what he said is 100% accurate: he merely pointed out that the Spanish constitution does not permit the breakup of the country, and that the military is charged with maintaining this. The Catalonian Estatut is completely illegal according to the Spanish constitution. Period. (The politicians are scrambling to try to find a way to make it not sound like this, but again, the purpose of the Estatut is to create a nation. How can you possibly dress this up in some other manner that makes it acceptable?)

    Yes, a military general should not be pointing this out. But General Mena did not make anything up, nor misstate anything regarding what the duty of the armed forces.

    And, contrary to what was stated in the NY Times opinion, he did NOT make any threats of “marching their troops into the capital to overturn decisions of Parliament”. That was made up by the NY Times columnist. Nowhere in his speech did he make any specific threat or discuss any sort of action that would be taken. Again, he merely pointed out what is stated in the Constitution. Period.

    It is precisely the constitution, the bedrock of democracy in Spain, that General Mena is defending. Fighting against what should have never been brought to the Spanish parliament in the first place: a petition to create a separate nation. This is the Catalonians taking advantage of an extremely weak central government that has to bend over backwards in order to stay in power. And the rest of Spain has to pay the price.

    Let’s hope there is some firm leadership at some point to say “enough is enough” and put a stop to this madness. Three cheers for the PP–the only party willing to stand up for all Spaniards, instead of trying to cut back room deals to carve up Spain into tiny fiefdoms.

  7. Well, i’m readin’ your opinions and in general, let me advice u to inform u a little more about Spain.
    Firstly, ’cause the opinion of 2 issolate officers does not absolutely mean a general opinion here.
    Secondly, because the real challenge in this negotiation is making the ‘Estatuto’ to meet with our Constitution, in order to not permmiting that any spaniard citizens could have more rights or benefits than the others in depending on the region they’re born.
    Thirdly, because Spain is one of the most rich and multicultural countries in the world, and there are many rich and lovely regions and ancien cultures on it due to our past, and not only Catalonia and Basque Country. The one has said that GILIPOLLEZ has never lived in Spain, that’s for sure!
    And finally, i must admit that it’s really very funny to hearin’ how american people talk about fascism in Spain. Let me remember u that the right here is always far away at the left comparin’ with both main political forces in the us.

    Best regards from MADRID

  8. Edward,

    Apparently Spain doesn’t believe in free speech if someone gets house arrest for expressing an opinion.

  9. Will,

    apparently you need to learn a little bit more about what happened in Spain. The person whose free speech was ‘abridged’ was a general officer on active duty who threatened armed rebellion against the state. As a soldier, he broke the law by so acting; and, as a soldier, for doing so he can be (among other things) confined to quarters and/or cashiered.

    You also need to learn a little bit more about the USA, seeing as you are so quick to defend them. Have a read of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the statute that governs all members of the US armed forces. Pay particular attention to arts. 9 and 10, which permit the authorities to do to a soldier what you complain about Spain doing to General Mena Aguado, and art. 94(a)(2), which permits them to kill that soldier if he be found guilty at court martial of doing what the general did.

  10. I’m totally agree with Vicente. Did you send a letter to The NYT?.
    I was thinking to send it, because, besides more things, it seems to be that they do not have any idea of our history and how Spain was leading to the Civil War.
    Perhaps they have to study that in 1934 there was a rebellion from the left-wings parties against the right-wing parties, who winned the legitimal elections, as they say. And, Demostoles, do you know anything about our history?.
    Do you know that these few years that you say are more than 500 years!!!. And, that Catalonia was never conquered?. This region was part of Aragon Reign, one of the reigns, with the Castillian Reign, that joined together in that date.
    Even, Basque Country, was never a Reign or a country. Dou you know that Navarra was a Reign, and that Basque Country separatists want to anexionate it?.
    Who is more troglodite? The person who does not have culture, and does not know the history of other countries, but wants to make opinions about it, or a person who knows perfectly the Constitution of his country, because he, like me, one day sweared the Constitution.
    Why we want a Constitution, if it is not going to be respected whenever anybody wants?
    Even, I do not know who is more fascist. Because, Artur Mas, the head of CIU, a natioalist party in Catalonia, is saying that all the catalan people must to feel Catalonia as his nation. I’m catalan, from Barcelona. I’m military and I’m living in Madrid, but my family is in Barcelona. I feel Spain as my entire Nation, with all his regions and diferences, and I feel catalan as part of this entire nation. So, now, I have to have two nations, or I have to choose one?. Are these nationalists politics to force me to feel catalan. And what is going to happen with my family. Are they going to force them to leave the “Catalonian nation”, if they don’t want to feel it as a nation?.
    This “Estatuto”, even does not reflect the feelings of the majority of the catalan people!!
    Thanks for let me express and not send me to prison.
    Greeting from Ethiopia, sharing experiences and hard jobs with other world collegues. This is open mind!!!

  11. Sorry Demosteles, I wanted to say, Ciderjoe. And I am agree with Lincoln, besides Luis Vicente

  12. “Apparently Spain doesn’t believe in free speech if someone gets house arrest for expressing an opinion.”

    I think Will you don’t understand the foundations of modern democratic theory. The state is conceded a right to a monopoly over the force of arms provided that these are not used against the citizens themselves when they go about the course of their normal business. Aguado wasn’t simply saying he personally didn’t like the constitution, he was *reminding* Spanish citizens that the Spanish army has a duty to intervene if it feels the constitution is under threat.

    He feels that the constitution is under threat, ergo the army has a duty to intervene. This is not simply an opinion but a declaration of a duty to follow a course of action. If the head of the US armed forces said ‘I think its time we stopped letting the politicians play around’, this would not be an opinion, but a call to action.

    Linguistically this kind of thing falls into the category of what the British philosopher Austin called ‘performatives’ (like the ‘I do’, when you get married, which is not only the opinion ‘I want to marry you’ but also the act of marriage). Saying ‘we have the duty to intevene’ is the first act of intervention. It is an act, in itself, of rebellion. Of course he was quickly retired and the rebellion ended.

    “Quick thing, Euskara is the language.”

    Thanks Cider Joe, a typical Edward cable-cross.

    “Spaniards, for some reason, seem to feel justified in there beliefs that Catalonia and the Basque country should always be a part of Spain.”

    Basically I agree with this. I don’t think Catalonia needs independence, although if Rajoy wants to declare Spain Independent from Catalonia, well nobody here is going to stop him.

    Incidentally the Partido Popular is completly hypocritical here, since it says on the one hand that the frontiers of 1714 cannot be touched, and on the other it continues to agitate for the return of Gibraltar, which was conceded to the UK in association with the Treary of Utrecht which formed part of the same general settlement. Either the frontiers can be changed, or they can’t.

    Basically what this is all about is generating a modern pluralist, plurinational state structure for Spain, one which focuses on the diversity of the population. I also see this as essential in preparing Spain for the identity issue which is inevitably coming in having to adapt to all the new immigrants.

    I am a European. I favour a federal Europe. Europe would be better if it was based on its regions, and not on the existing old-fashioned states, a foundation which only leads a we see every day to continual bickering. Catalonia and Euskadi fit perfectly into the new regional framework of Europe, as for example, does Bavaria or the Veneto.

  13. “Using bombs to support those arguments is makes it even worse.”

    Of course, Luis, I agree with this 100%. 150% maybe. When I first started coming here on holiday from the UK in the mid 80s I vaguely knew the socialist politician Ernest Lluc (who funnily enough was also an economist) since we holidayed in the same village and went to the same swimming pool every day. He was cruelly assasinated by Eta five years ago. We are all touched here one way or another by terrorism.

    “I can’t see spain spliting up really”.

    Me neither. Certainly nobody in Catalonia is proposing this, and even in Euskadi I think there can be a final and definitive settlement which will go far short of independence.

    As I keep saying, the only people who seem to be hell bent on breaking up Spain are in the Partido Popular.

  14. “One. Catalonia is a nation.”

    Of course Catalonia is a nation. Wales is a nation, Scotland is a nation. I don’t see the problem.

    “Sorry, but MOST Spaniards do NOT agree with this proposition.”

    I think this is not the point. What matters is whether or not the Catalans feel they are a nation. The Spanish cannot decide for them. Ask the Turks whether the Kurds are Turkish. National identity is about sentiments. But this is the point about Rajoy’s referendum proposal, you cannot ask the Spanish to vote on what the Catalans or the Basques feel. This is the quickest way to break-up the state. Of course, there won’t be a referendum, and Spain will continue to exist, with the PP in opoosition for a long, long time.

    “But, the left wing extremists aren’t satisfied they want it all.”

    By definition almost there are no extremists in Catalonia. Extremism does not form part of the Catalan temperament. Most Catalan parties are centre parties, centre right, centre left, and pragmatic. Angela Merkel would fit in perfectly here :).

    “It is precisely the constitution, the bedrock of democracy in Spain, that General Mena is defending”

    “Let’s hope there is some firm leadership at some point to say “enough is enough” and put a stop to this madness.”

    Well I think it’s clear where you stand. What I don’t understand is how you can call yourself ‘liberal’ (neo or otherwise). As we say here, the Spanish constitution was signed with pistols on the table (as, incidentally, was the Turkish one).

  15. “Best regards from MADRID”

    Angel, best regards from Barcelona. I was very impressed with how so many people at the Bernabeu stood up and clapped Ronaldinho last time he was there. I think people from Madrid are tremendous, just like the people from Barcelona are. Cheers :).

    “Secondly, because the real challenge in this negotiation is making the ‘Estatuto’ to meet with our Constitution, in order to not permmiting that any spaniard citizens could have more rights or benefits than the others in depending on the region they’re born.”

    I think this is the main point. There are various points of view on this, and democratic debate is about how to get the balance right. If you look at the structural investments in Catalonia over the last decade, and you look at the contributions which come from Catalonia to the state treasury I think there can be little argument that the balance has not been right. This is one of the issues the statute will undoubtedly address, and hopefully resolve. This is why I mention Bavaria, since Bavaria has been making exactly the same points in the German debate, but no-one is suggesting (to my knowledge) that Bavaria wants to break up the German federation of Lande.

  16. “Greeting from Ethiopia, sharing experiences and hard jobs with other world collegues. This is open mind!!!”

    Greetings to you too Diego, from back home in Barcelona.

    “I feel Spain as my entire Nation”

    I think Diego you are perfectly entitled to feel this. Let me explain something. I am Welsh. Actually I never felt very Welsh, since I was born in Liverpool. Even more I always wanted to escape to the European continent, since I always felt more European than anything.

    Also my father spent 11 years in the United States (1922-33) as a poor immigrant, so when I was a little child I felt a little American too.

    Now I live in Catalonia, and I call myself Anglo-Catalan. I don’t feel Spanish. What am I trying to say? That we all have these multiple identities, on various levels, and I don’t see the big problem: we all have to resolve them in our own way, always respecting the right of the other to feel what they feel.

    What about the new Catalans, the Morrocans, the Senegalese, the Ecuadorian ones? What will they feel? We don’t know. Can we tell them in advance what they have to feel: no.

    I think you, like many others here, can continue to feel that one part of you is Spanish, and the other is Catalan. After all I am absolutely sure that Lola Flores’s ‘alma gitana’ did nothing at all to stop her feeling perfectly Spanish.

    BTW good luck and a safe trip home.

  17. Hi from the Basque Country…

    I see some kind of misunderstanding about what a nation and state is… I truly think Spain should move to a multiple identity, multinational, multicultural and multilingual state….It means a reconceptualization of traditional states…And an alternative to the breaking up/making up of new states…Shared sovereignith could be a way forward and the self-determination principle doesn´t only imply the creation of a new state. It is one of the option and what the Catalans and the Plan Ibarretxe did before is explore this third way…..

    Unfortunately many still have a traditional conception and consider “the one state, one nation” as the only desirable one…This is the very seed of conflict and has been the very seed of conflict for years since some are willing to apply the infamous article 8 and use the Army to finish the nationalist problem….Violence in any of it forms is always the worst answer….

    What is going on in Catalunya is an attempt to integrate the existing nations, which were recognized as “nacionalidades” (funny kind of euphemism) in the Spanish Constitution,
    the multinational and move to a real multicultural and multilingual state…

    By the way to say that radical nationalist are “left-wing extremist” is false…The Basque Nationalist Party running the Basque Government for the last 25 years or CIU in Catalunya are right-center (former democristian parties).

    About collecting taxes as equal to independence as one fellow says…Just nonsense…In the Basque Country we do collect all the taxes and pay 6,24 back to the State for common services. We would be willing to get rid of some of them like the KING, The Spanish Army, Spanish Police etc…So for the last 25 years we have been enjoying the advantages of the “Concierto Economico” here and in Navarra and it doesn´t mean Spain has collapsed…On the contrary it is an example of how ethnic conflict can be managed through democratic dialogue and political creativity

  18. “This is why I mention Bavaria, since Bavaria has been making exactly the same points in the German debate, but no-one is suggesting (to my knowledge) that Bavaria wants to break up the German federation of Lande.”

    Funny you should mention “federation”. The Spanish state is not trying to prevent the *break-up* of a federation–it is trying to prevent the *emergence* of a federation of Autonomous Communities.

    Artículo 145
    1. En ningún caso se admitirá la federación de Comunidades Autónomas.

  19. “Funny you should mention “federation”. The Spanish state is not trying to prevent the *break-up* of a federation–it is trying to prevent the *emergence* of a federation of Autonomous Communities.”

    Yes, I agree with this. The thing is I favour it, and Rajoy is opposed. I think this is the rational solution, and is the basis for eg Maragall’s proposal for asymmetric federalism.

    “Artículo 145
    1. En ningún caso se admitirá la federación de Comunidades Autónomas.”

    I’m no constitutional lawyer, Pepe, but I think what this refers to is the possibility (which for eg is now happening in the South of Iraq) of different communities federating into a single entity. Those who favour the Paisos Catalans here would like to do this with the communities in Valencia and Mallorca, but I think this is a very minority view, and I’m sure the people in Valencia and Mallorca generally aren’t interested. The main idea here which people really hold seems to be to work through EuroMed, for a community of Mediterranean regions.

    On your interpretation of article 145, this is where the debate really gets interesting, and where the situation is actually now.

    I am sure the PP is right that to have what Maragall wants means ammending the constitution, but this isn’t possible without the support of the PP because you need two thirds majority.

    This is why Zapatero has tried to make a minimal agreement with Mas, behind the backs of Maragall and Carrod Rovira. But I’m not sure this agreement will hold. My feeling is that this may well fall apart here in Catalonia. My best guess is that if this happens, Zapatero may well go for national elections. With the PP so “out to lunch” conditions couldn’t be better, and he would have the possibility of an absolute majority, and thus wouldn’t need to depend on fringe parties.

    He would then have the mandate required to introduce the PSOE proposed statute that is on the table now, and to negotiate with Eta an end to the issue in Euskera from a position of strength which he doesn’t have now.

    This, I suppose, is me saying what I would do if I was ZPT. In reality anything could happen, since there are so many lunatics and wild cards floating about.

  20. “Hi from the Basque Country…”

    Hi to you redcloud.

    You talk a lot of sense.

    “Unfortunately many still have a traditional conception and consider “the one state, one nation” as the only desirable one…This is the very seed of conflict and has been the very seed of conflict for years since some are willing to apply the infamous article 8 and use the Army to finish the nationalist problem….Violence in any of it forms is always the worst answer….”

    I think this is absolutely to the point. All this energy wasted on nonsense arguments, when what Spain has to do is become a ‘knowledge-based economy’. A state can adopt any number of different forms, and still remain a democratic state. People need to be flexible and imaginative. If people are so rigid about all this, how the hell are we ever going to get flexible labour markets, flexible attitudes to lifelong employment, flexible retirement policies etc etc here in Spain.

  21. Here we can see some ideas that are part of the nationalist (both spanish and peripheric) deep myths that are so common in Spain.

    On one side the idea of Spain conquering catalonia or the Basque country is absurd and fabricated by peripheric nationalists. Catalonia was part of one of the two kingdoms that joined to become Spain (Aragon), and the basque country was conquered by the other much before Spain was founded (Castille).

    But we can also see fabricated history from the Spanish nationalists here. Some of they (with important economic support) are selling the idea of a spanish civil war that was started by peripheric nationalists and leftists in 1934 to which Franco had to answer in 1936 (when the war really started) no real historian outside Madrid defends such a stupid thing. 1934 was the miners revolt and happened after General Sanjurjo’s attempt on a coupt de etat in 1932 (another troglodite soldier). Why not saying Sanjurjo started it all?

    Finally, there are many of us in Spain who believe on a rationalist model of state based on citizenship and not in ethnic heritage. Those who think like that advocate for a model of state that ensures people in Catalonia, Basque country and Madrid or Canary islands to be able of voting, deciding and having local governments within a the common framework of Spain which is WITHIN another framework: the European Union. We are not fasctists and not nationalists of either side, we are just people. People who doesn’t think Spain is culturally richer that any other country, we just know it to a greater extent of detail because we live in it.

  22. Demostoles….Aragon conquering the Basque Country? Historically the part of the Basque Country (as a long existing cultural reality emcompassing those who speak Basque)was Navarre…But let´s forget history and focus in today´s issues…I am for a new form of state able to combine and respect national realities/disparities….rational models like those of Habermas tend to ignore people´s complex feelings…And national identities have prove to be a force able to survive modernization theories….Many of the current conflicts are internal and are labelled ethnic conflicts just our of misunderstanding and traditional policies are not able to deal and accomodate them, just because there is a strong pro state vice…Considering them irrational is not a good starting point to be inclusive and imaginative about how to integrate diversity in international and intra-state relations

    About rational and democratic models I rather have the Canadian reality or that of Belgium, both quoted as as future break up states/or state existing under very tense situation…Any Canadian general calling for the inminent invasion of Quebec?.

    In all this bizarre issue about the Army troglodytes as the NYT says…what bothers many in the Basque Country is the long history of military/police occupation we have here….Three wars in the XIX century….One in the XX…40 years of Franco´s dictatorship…35 of ETA…And the Spanish military as any military in the world is no joke…Less testosterone and more grey matter and political capability are needed….

    I think that a European Union of bottom up national realities living along with that of states could be a step forward…many countries in the EU of 25 face multinational and national minority issues….How we deal with them can be a contribution to the world….Political frameworks should be won by persuasion and incentives not by imposition…..State-building has often been based on a nation-destroying process…that is the seed of many actual conflicts

  23. “Demostoles….Aragon conquering the Basque Country?”
    Not Aragon, Castille. Somewhere around the middle age and it was not exactly conquering as they reached some kind of treaty but, as you say, let’s look ahead
    “.rational models like those of Habermas tend to ignore people´s complex feelings…And national identities have prove to be a force able to survive modernization theories….”
    Rational models do respect feelings that are irrational (like religious feelings, nationalistic feeling or love) they just don’t build common structures over them as they don’t have to be shared. A state based on god (take any) do respect HIS followers but not the followers of other religions. Ethnical states ignore by definition those who don’t share the nationalistic feelings. I am Canarian born and raised but I simply can’t understand the feeling of canarian nationalists ¿Should I lose my citizenship? ¿Move to Madrid? Then I should leave Madrid because I don’t like the spanish nationalistic feelings anyway ¿Where the hell could I go?

    The answer is clear. The state should allow EVERYONE to express their feelings as long as they respect each other’s. That’s citizenship over ethnical/religious barriers.

    I don’t share that victimistic view of spanish/basque history you have. Everybody, specially Madrid had to suffer being attacked by the fascists in the civil war. All spain was subject to a brutal regime by Franco. Do the victims of Franco’s Requetés (Theocratic Basque/Navarrean troglodytes) say they were attacked by the Basque country? They don’t. There were Requetés and Gudaris because, as in al the country, that heinous war did break villages, families, regions and finally our country.

    My personal view is that the problem might be solved by a federal system but nobody will support it. Federalism goes against the ideas of spanish nationalists and would not be actively supported by Catalonian or Basque nationalists because they can get more money with the current political game. Finally, much of this quarrel is the irresponsible use of demagogic agitation by Spanish (pp) and other nationalists (pnv,erc) in front of the weak position of the socialists in order to control how funds are distributed.

  24. Over the past hundred years or so (and perhaps before), the Andalucians have thought of Catalonia as a place to go to get a better paying job. Not surprising, really. Catalonia is the wealthiest part of Spain. I don’t think that the andaluces – or any other immigrants to that area – are particularly concerned about the politics as long as it doesn’t affect them much. Catalonia’s plan to become its own nation, however, supposes a couple of things that fly in the face of the rest of the country.
    Firstly, the insistence of the Catalonians on speaking (and forcing everyone else to speak) their own patois, a language which may have some cultural consolation for the Catalonians, may be natural to speak at home or amongst one’s own, but is in international or commercial terms, a dead duck. There are no institutes elsewhere in Spain that offer catalán as a course, and, there’s no one who would want to learn it anyway.
    By insisting on the use of this language, it divides Spaniards living in Catalonia into first and second-class citizens. By using it in public pronouncements (when everyone knows that the speaker can just as easily say it in Spanish), the rest of the country feels provoked.
    Spanish, or rather ‘Castillian’, is the third (or second) most used language in the world. Celebrated in 2005 as the language of Cervantes… and yet, there’s a part of Spain which wants to use another… patently useless language.
    I think that this is the issue that most bothers the Spanish.
    The Catalonian claim on retaining half their taxes, if spread to the rest of Spain, make an imbalance more acute. Other parts of Spain receive less as things go, and with the national government releasing funds to the richest part of the country, and promising further and extra investment in Catalonia – for purely political reasons (the PSOE government is in Madrid with the support of sundry minority nationalist parties) – the rest of Spain is becoming indignant. Even ‘barons’ of the PSOE, like Ibarra and Bono – and even to a degree Chaves, together with Felipe Gonzalez and others – are in disagreement.
    Spain is in danger, so it appears, of being broken up. Spain, the country of Una, Grande y Libre, may soon become a country of cantons and mini-nations. If Catalonia is allowed to declare itself ‘a nation’ (supposing immediately that any control from Madrid becomes ‘foreign intervention’ or ‘occupation’), then the Basque Country and Galicia are ready to follow. Even in Andalucia, the junior partner on the left, the Partido Andalucista, is talking of ‘Andalucian nationhood’.
    Arrayed against this is the slightly unwilling COPE radio broadcaster. Owned by the Church (loosely speaking), the COPE is under threat from a singular Catalonian institution that exists nowhere else in Europe. This is the CAC, a government controlled body that can fine or close-down any broadcaster that ‘strays from the truth’!. Since no Spanish journalist can call a spade a spade, but must wander past a subject and then rush up from behind and bite it on the ass, this is quite a threat. Since the CAC shares the politics of the Generalitat, it is in an excellent position to close down all the COPE radio stations in Catalonian territory. Some fifty different ‘freedom of speech’ groups from around Europe have so far petitioned the Generalitat to drop the CAC. Impressed, Zapatero is considering introducing a similar body to the rest of the country). The COPE is Spain’s second largest radio broadcaster (after the SER, owned by a group of socialist millionaires) and, not only uneasy about being taken as the champion of the Right, is now under pressure from Madrid as well (twice in the past few months, a government minister has gone to see the Pope in an effort to persuade the Church to close down the COPE). It has no other products to fall back on, again unlike the SER, which is part of a huge multinational media group with many newspapers, magazines, television and satellite companies in Spain and Latin America.
    Catalonian pressures have shaken the rest of Spain in a time when the country wants to move closer to a federal Europe.

  25. I feel kind of in the middle here. Arguing against one side and also against the other. The CAC is a regulatory council like those which exists everywhere in europe, but it is true that catalonian nationalists are giving it attributes that seriously threaten freedom of speech. The most surprising thing for me is that catalonian media, according to those who created CAC must reflect Catalonian Cultural reality which is just political crap for: Media must say what we want them to say.

    However this is another situation in which the so called champions of free press, that is COPE -the catholic church broadcasting station- is doing things that would lead all other regulatory councils in europe to impose some kind of (BIG) fine to them. Paying no respect for the law, the honor of other peoples or even thir own catholic faith they are broadcasting obvious falsehoods and spitting insults onto everyone that oposes their right right wing ideas and, as the NY times said about pp, they are trying to justify the behaviour of the troglodytes as they actually agree with them. I don’t think it justifies the creation of a monster such as CAC. Only judges should be able of closing media. But I do believe it is a good idea to create a council that can put a fine in cases of abuse. No media in the civilisd world can say: “the king and the president of the nation have made a coup de etat” or (like in webpage Libertad digital) “The masons were involved in the bombings of Madrid 11M as observers…” if you don’t show evidence,that is just crap.
    The reason for this is the slow pace of justice. There are sues against COPE, but they might take five or ten years to reach the courts. Time enough to get their friends back to power and give the favours back as they did with that judge who was expelled for abusing his position to help pp and was readmitted (¿indulted?) by the government of Aznar (pp)

  26. Edward wrote,

    “Of course Catalonia is a nation”

    Not according to the Spanish constitution. They are an autonomous region, not a nation. And that definition has worked extremely well for both Spain and Catalonia.

    “What matters is whether or not the Catalans feel they are a nation. The Spanish cannot decide for them”

    Again, this is not permitted. Sure, they can “feel” whatever they want. But they are not permitted to split apart Spain (at least without directly breaking the Constitution which governs them). They are first Spanish, then Catalonian. The reverse can only lead to ruin for them and the rest of the country.

    People are governed by laws. You don’t just do whatever you “feel” like doing. Or do you not accept this basic premise?

    “By definition almost there are no extremists in Catalonia”

    Wow. That’s a pretty amazing declaration. The ERC is “center”? So I guess Carod shaking hands with ETA is considered mainstream. Hmm. I suspect most Spaniards (and probably quite a few Catalonians) would not see things this way.

    “As we say here, the Spanish constitution was signed with pistols on the table”

    Where is “here”? In Catalonia?

    Seems I recall the Spanish constitution was signed after the death of Franco (long after the end of the civil war). Don’t think there were too many guns drawn at that time. In fact, most people think the Constitution is an excellent balance of central and regional power sharing. And Spain has prospered enormously since then, thanks to this.

    The Catalonians should take a lesson from the US civil war. The South, who declared independence and separated, lost. The United States was reunited, and went on to become the superpower it is today. That would have NOT happened had it split.

    It seems to me that Catalonia doesn’t recognize that Spain is a united country. They are not thinking for the benefit of all Spaniards (of which Catalonias are), but only for themselves. And as I asserted, they will end up bringing down both Spain and Catalonia.

    And they would have NEVER tried this stunt without such a weak leader as Zapatero in place, bending over every time they ask him to. That is what’s truly pathetic about this whole situation. It should not even be on the table.

  27. Lincoln, your analogy to the American civil war doesn’t really work. In that case, you see, it was the poor, superstitious and barbaric part of the country that was trying to break away from the prosperous, civilised part.

  28. “And they would have NEVER tried this stunt without such a weak leader as Zapatero in place, bending over every time they ask him to. ”

    It is not that easy. The spanish system is quite different to the american in which winning the elections is an all or nothing condition. In Spain, it is very difficult to have a majority. There are many little parties which can turn the tide when the two big parties are balanced.

    Now is such a situation and there’s an intense struggle between nationalists of Basque country and Catalonia (which represent roughly half of the population of these provinces) and the spanish nationalists (such as the two troglodytes in NYT) the government has to deal with ones or the others in order to get the needed votes or resign and give the reins to one of those sides, both of them scary.

    By the way, a third troglodyte has just shown up. Tejero, the one who attempted the coup in 1982 has just declared they are breaking spain, catalonia is not a nation, threatening with doing something and backing the initiative of pp of organizing a referendum.

  29. The Spanish president, Zapatero, is the spanish politic who did not wake up behind the pass of the USA flag.

    He have attacked continuosly to the Bush Administration making jokes about the retired of the spanish troops from the irak. Mariano Rajoy ( opposition leader) told him wait and talk with Mr. Bush.

    He have got an special “affaire” with Fidel Castro, Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez. All of them, enemies declared of the Bush Administration.

    Obviously, President Zapatero is not a friend of Bush, and he said Bush Administration is the problem, and he is going well with the USA.
    The USA flag is not a property of Mr. Bush. It is a property of all USA citizen.

    He use to talk hidden with basques terrorists and obbey their suggestions. He is breaking the spanish country into parts only by getting and standing in the power.

    The spanish army have got a function in the most highest spanish law: The spanish constitution and it is “Defend the spanish territory from the external or INTERNAL enemies”. Like USA army.

    USA sent the army for stop hawaii and Texas independist revolutions and surely the president Bush will repeat this. Why spain cannot defend its own territory from internal menaces?

    More than this. The General Mena did not do nothing he only spoke and it the freedom of speech is a right.

    I have got good relations with USA companies because Spain and USA had good relations. Since Zapatero the relations are tense and I don’t like this situation.

    I have friends who did vote to “ZP”(Zapatero) but they don’t like the actual policy of “ZP”. They did not vote to ZP for broke the country into parts, dialogue with terrorists, make joke about Bush President ( even He called “frustrated” to the actual German Canciller ).

    This is a pathetic man and we cannot wait 2 years while he is destroying the country and our international relations.

  30. “If Catalonia is allowed to declare itself ‘a nation’ (supposing immediately that any control from Madrid becomes ‘foreign intervention’ or ‘occupation’)”

    Catalonia is a nation. Whether it is put down in writing or not doesn’t alter this one way or the other. Catalonia is a nation in the same way that Wales and Scotland and Ireland are nations. I simply don’t see why this is so hard to understand or accept.

    “”Of course Catalonia is a nation”

    “Not according to the Spanish constitution. They are an autonomous region, not a nation. And that definition has worked extremely well for both Spain and Catalonia.”

    As I say, being a nation or not is about sentiment. I cannot tell my wife whether she loves me or another man (or woman for that matter), she has to decide that, even though under the law, and even while living with another man/woman she would still remain married to me. If you want to know whether Catalonia is a nation or not (if you still have doubts) why not ask them in a referendum, they would soon tell you.

    “Again, this is not permitted.”

    You seem to have what Freud would have termed ‘obsession with the father’. In the modern world you simply cannot go round telling people what they are permited to feel and not feel. What you can do is tell them ‘this is the law, and you to drive your car on the right’. But you can’t tell people what to feel while driving, and you can’t tell them even that they have to agree with the law, just that they have to observe it.

    And parliaments and not military officers make laws, and the relevant one is about to change, democratically and in parliament, and the new statute will recognise – in the preamble, which is constitutional I gather – that the Catalans consider Catalonia to be a nation, and then this debate will be over, just like it is in Scotland, since then it will be the law. And guess what, Spain won’t have broken up, not even one little bit :).

    “They are first Spanish, then Catalonian.”

    No, wrong again, some people are Spanish and some are Catalan, and some (like Diego in Ethiopia) feel themselves to be a bit of both (and why not).

    Can’t you see that the whole view you are presenting is authoritarian, and that this is the whole difficulty, the Catalans don’t have this authoritarian obsession, and don’t want it imposed on them. Authoritarianism runs counter to the whole tradition of modern constitutional democracy, that’s why it is ‘unconstitutional’.

    Incidentally for precisely these sort of reasons the UK doesn’t have a written constitution, since the things tend to get clogged up with hard to change prohibitions. It becomes hard to ‘deregulate’.

    All this reminds me of the bilingual notices in the lifts here:

    Prohibido Fumar: Smoking Prohibited (Spanish)
    No Es Permet Fumar: Smoking Not Permitted (Catalan).

    This in a way brings us back to the differening foundations of civil law in Spain and in Catalonia. Spanish civil law is founded on the Germanic system, and Catalan civil law on the Roman one (and in this it is much nearer the UK).

    Under the former “what is not specifically permitted is prohibited” (if I may say so this is your underlying view). Under Catalan civil law (and broadly speaking ‘anglo’ systems) “what is not explicitly prohibited is permitted”.

    This is partly why these two groups of people are condemned not to understand each other, and hence the subtle difference in the elevator signs.

  31. You know in Spanish there is an expression: “todos tenemos una parte de la razon”. This view is also quintessentially Catalan. It is a good place for meeting and sharing a dialogue.

    It is not the same as the English ‘everyone is partly right’, it is more than ‘partly right’, it is everyone ‘has a part of’, ‘participates in’ reason. It is lovely. Reading all these carefully argued and polite comments reminds me of this. This is why the modern Spain has nothing to do with the one Franco tried to create. Todos tenemos una parte de la razon, y juntos, tenemos La Razon.

    Talking of which, two *in* comments for our Spanish readers. On the telly yesterday there was a fascinating discussion about whether or not Carmen Polo (Franco’s wife) invited Eva Perón to Spain expressly and exclusively so she could administer to her (an in person) ‘un plantón’ :).

    Secondly, the extremly witty Catalan writer Sergi Pamies recently described ‘Francismo’ as the methodone of the collective memory (both Catalan and Spanish). Everyone needs their monthly dose (in the form of debates, documentaries, scandals etc, the Salamanca papers would be the perfect example), whether this ‘everybody’ be those who supported or those who fought against.

  32. “And they would have NEVER tried this stunt without such a weak leader as Zapatero in place, bending over every time they ask him to. ”

    And this “bending over” would be with his trousers down I imagine. Is this homophobic, is this an indirect reference to the gay marriage law?

    Come on lets get out of the closet here. My god, the man even supports Barça football team.

    Actually I don’t think Zapatero is a weak leader at all. And I am certainly not a socialist. Like Xavi Sala i Martin (possibly Catalonia’s best know economist) you would probably mainly want to call me ‘neo-liberal’ (although I despise the expression, and this, incidentally no-one in their right mind could accuse the PP of being).

    But like most people here in Catalonia, whether they be on the centre left, or on the centre right, or like me they are from bang in the middle, I consider ZPT to be quite simply, the best President Spain has ever had (at least in the modern democratic epoch: I don’t know enough history to go much further back). I also think most of people would want to call me ‘neo-liberal’ would probably be forced to agree that he was one too (along with Josep Montilla, Pedro Solbes and the rest of the people who really call the shots in his government).

    What he is doing is dragging Spain, often as we can see kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. When he is done Spain will be a much better place for this.

    (I repeat there is no ‘far right’ and no ‘far left’ here in Catalonia. ERC may be a ‘soft separatist’ party (ie they would probably vote, in a democratic referendum, to leave Spain) but they are certainly not socialist, and no more to the left than, lets say, Gerhard Schröder was). I think you can, like Ghandi, argue peacefully and moderately that your nation would be better off having its own country, although, please kindly note, ERC are quite clear: if they get the kind of statute that *they* are looking for, they will forgo that right to a self-determiantion vote, and they will forgo it permanently. There is no important José Bové type movement (ok, ok a few okupas, but very few) and there is no Jean Marie Le Pen type movement to talk about. Saying Catalonia is a nest of extremists is like saying the UK is, it’s ridiculous. Even the Catalan PP is a haven of moderation.

  33. “By the way, a third troglodyte has just shown up. Tejero, the one who attempted the coup in 1982”

    You raise an interesting question here Demostoles, and it is one which highlights just what a sparse understanding of recent Spanish history Lincoln has when he says this:

    “Seems I recall the Spanish constitution was signed after the death of Franco (long after the end of the civil war). Don’t think there were too many guns drawn at that time.”

    Lincoln doesn’t seem aware that guns were taken into the Spanish parliament in 1982 by the Golpistas, and that tanks were rolled out onto the streets in an attempted military coup. This was 4 years after the 1978 Constitution came into force. Of course there were still guns on the table while the constitution was being debated. There were limits to what could and could not be said, just as there have been recently in Turkey, or are you saying that the Turkish constitution “is an excellent balance of central and regional power sharing”. I presume you are not opposed to the EU trying to get democratic changes in the Turkish constitution, so I fail to understand why you hold this view in Spain. I am sure you wouldn’t consider this “excellent balance of central and regional power sharing” to be an example for the United States to follow.

    Certainly in Iraq, under US tutelege, they are introducing a much more federalist one, and they are even allowing the southern shia provinces to unite in a confederation as well as the oil rich Kurds in the north to keep all the revenue from freshly explored oil wells. Why is this OK in Iraq, but not in poor old Spain?

    The Spanish transition to democracy was a painful and difficult one. War criminals and gross violators of human rights were not allowed to be prosecuted, the graves of those summarily executed were not allowed to be opened (in the way they are being opened now in Iraq), and, of course, Catalonia was not given the option of declaring itself openly a nation, there were always tanks there just in case anyone wanted to do that, as Aguado Mena has so recently reminded us.

  34. “Firstly, the insistence of the Catalonians on speaking (and forcing everyone else to speak) their own patois”

    This just about sums it all up. I suppose we could call English another “patois” too. Why these people have to be so disrespectful is beyond me.

    The alarming thing is the number of supposedly responsible people who use these kind of primitive expressions. Mariano Rajoy hit the headlines this week when he compared the Catalan shopkeeper with a Chinese immigrant who came to Madrid to open a store wanting to communicate with customers in Mandarin.

    Now the important point to bear in mind here is that the Spanish language contains numerous expressions which are deeply racist about the Chinese:

    Barrio Chino: red light district
    Cuento Chino: a lie
    Trabajo de Chinos: any kind of labour intensive and menial work

    This is why it has been such a shock here that China is now the No1 global exporter of IT equipment.

    The Catalan response: everyone has been going round greeting people with a “Ni Hao”.

    Or take the member of the leading jurdic body, the Consejo General de Poder Judicial, who suggested that in just the same way as a judge going to work in Catalonia might learn some expressions in Catalan, a judge going to Andalusia (always these analogies are thought of with Madrid at the centre point for some reason) might want to learn to dance Sevillanas. (Sevillanas are a popular form of Flamenco).

    Now I have been struggling to understand what this might mean. Since the issue in question was whether the judge would be able to follow testimony given in Catalan without an interpreter, I can only imagine he was suggesting that declarations in Andalusia might be acceptable in a non-linguistic gestural form. I can just see Carmen Amaya presenting Garcia Lorca’s Boda de Sangre as her account of the facts of the case, or José Merce, presenting “Confí de Fuá” in canto hondo. This would certainly be a very exciting example of juridic innovation.

  35. I also think that Angel go to the heart of the matter very early on when he said:

    “Secondly, because the real challenge in this negotiation is making the ‘Estatuto’ to meet with our Constitution, in order to not permmiting that any spaniard citizens could have more rights or benefits than the others in depending on the region they’re born.”

    This really is the financial issue. Lenox, in his way, also raises this:

    “The Catalonian claim on retaining half their taxes, if spread to the rest of Spain, make an imbalance more acute.”

    This issue is complicated and important. Before I start, just a correction: Catalonia wants a system equivalent to the existing Basque one (and hence 100% constitutional) whereby the Catalan Generalitat (government) has 100% responsibility for raising all taxes raised in Catalonia, and then agreeing with the central government what proportion of this should go to the central administration.

    So this issue isn’t how much should be kept so much as how much should be paid.

    The second point is that everyone (including the PP) agrees that Catalonia currently pays far more than she should reasonably be expected to pay, and has received back from the state far less in the way of infrastructure than should reasonably be expected. So regardless of whether or not Catalonia is a nation there is an issue to address here.

    This is why the Bavarian example is important. Bavaria is the principal economic grwoth engine of Germany just as Catalonia is the principal economic growth engine of Spain. In both cases people locally are arguing that without the adequate infrastructural resources this growth slows down.

    So the point is, when Spain invests in infrastructure in Catalonia it is investing in itself, it is investing in Catalonia’s ability to pay more in the future, and it is a good investment, since Catalonia has bags and bags of growth potential.

    But just as the government of Bavaria complains that resources are being diverted which harm growth (in this case to the former East Germany) the government in Barcelona makes the same complaint about the quantities of money which go to support the poorer regions of Spain.

    The argument isn’t that Bavaria and Catalonia shouldn’t pay, but just how much they should be expected to pay in the name of solidarity. If Spain invests more here, there will be more GDP for everyone.

    Incidentally the argument has important little details like the fact that in the last four years there have been a million new immigrants in Catalonia. The population is now 7 million, yet funding for the health system has only been based on 6 million. Things like this matter, and are the reality which lies behind all the shouting.

  36. Mrs. Tilton,

    “Pay particular attention to arts. 9 and 10, which permit the authorities to do to a soldier what you complain about Spain doing to General Mena Aguado, and art. 94(a)(2), which permits them to kill that soldier if he be found guilty at court martial of doing what the general did.”

    This only applies to times of war. Maybe you should read closer.

  37. Also, I don’t want to be too semantically (although I probably am) but a General expressing an opinion is not, “a call to action.” A call to action is saying, “round up a posse, because we’re going to war,” or something to that effect.

    I understand the uneasiness that is created when a country that still has vivid memories of a militaristic state hears its own generals making such statements. I have a problem with the statements, but my point was focused on whether true free speech is allowed in Spain. In my opinion, it is not.

  38. “but my point was focused on whether true free speech is allowed in Spain. In my opinion, it is not.”

    Oh, if this is your point Will, you are right. It isn’t. This is the whole point about having a constitution drawn up when the pistols are still on the table. There are certain statements about the military which if made by civilians are still highly illegal. You cannot burn the Spanish flag in public etc etc. Take the recent case of the journalist Io Forn. Forn wrote a satirical article ridiculing the aspirations of those like Mena Aguado who would use the force of arms to settle military disputes. Now let’s let the Spain Herald, a self-proclaimed defender of Libertad Digital take up the story:

    Bono asks attorney general to act against Avui

    “Four days after a controversial opinion article by Iu Forn in the Catalan-language newspaper Avui that addressed military officers, “Remember that the Barcelona civic behavior law prohibits prostitution in certain places. So it would be better for you to come without your mothers,” defense minister Jose Bono said that attorney general Candido Conde Pumpido “would put Avui in its place.” Avui belongs to the Generalitat, the Catalan regional government, and the Godo and Planeta media corporations. Bono attacked Catalan separatist leader Josep Lluis Carod Rovira, who had called the article “a joke,” saying, “Carod Rovira made a serious error when he called Iu Forn a humorist. He wrote an unworthy and offensive article insulting the Spanish military.” PP spokesman Daniel Sirera asked the Generalitat if it would take any action against the articles published in Avui “which contain threats and insults to citizens, media outlets, political parties, and military officers.” He accused Catalan premier Pasqual Maragall of “complicit silence.”

    Now the curious thing about this piece is that our friedns from the department of ‘libertad digital’ are clearly in favour of the anti-democratic gag-law which is being used by Bono to justify this referal, and indeed appear to approve of the move. Which is one good reason why people in the United States ought to wake up and realise that there is nothing ‘liberal’ about these people at all, they are simply good old-fashioned authoritarians with a superficial adherence to the term democracy when it suits them.

    Really I think Spain needs to be referred to the EU in connection with this law, just as Turkey was in the Orhan Pamuk case.

    So people can judge for themselves here is the Io Forn column:

    Manual del bon colpista
    Passa-ho!
    Iu Forn

    Patim una pandèmia de militars d’una molt alta graduació (possiblement absenta) als que no els agrada l’Estatut. O sigui que com que estan enfadadets es dediquen a amenaçar-nos de treure els tancs al carrer. Bé, doncs, o els treuen d’una vegada o callen (també d’una vegada). I si al final creuen que han de fer el que històricament han fet en aquests casos, permetin-me uns consells d’amic:

    Si entren a BCN per la Diagonal, deixin els tancs i agafin el tramvia, que estem parlant d’una ciutat sostenible.

    Un cop a la Diagonal veuran que a mà dreta hi ha la seu de La Caixa, ja saben, aquests de l’opa que vol matar de gana Ej-paña. És evident que mereix ser assaltada. Però molt de compte!!! Si en un despatx es troben una noia alta i rossa, deixin-la estar. Podria ser una filla del rei que treballa a l’empresa.

    Si en ple saqueig de la ciutat decideixen tornar a endur-se papers, millor que esperin que retornin els que ara estan venint de Salamanca. Si se’ls emporten junts, aprofitaran el transport i estalviaran uns calerons, que sempre van bé.

    Recordin que l’ordenança de civisme de BCN prohibeix la pràctica de la prostitució en segons quins supòsits. Per tant, millor que vinguin sense les seves mares.

    Avís important: ¿saben el Financial Times, aquest diari que dimarts afirmava que l’article 8 de la Constitució té “imperfeccions”, que demanar ser una nació és un anhel democràtic i que l’actitud del PP en el cas Mena “pot representar una amenaça més gran a la unitat d’Ej-paña que les ambicions autonomistes de Catalunya”? Doncs aquest diari no és català. Per bombardejar-lo haurien de trucar a informació de la Gran Bretanya i demanar-los l’adreça a ells.

    Ah, i una cosa molt important que em deixava: sobretot facin cas del senyor Tribunal Suprem i només arribar apuntin-se a ballar sevillanes, no fos cas que acabessin aprenent català.

    http://www.avui.com/avui/diari/06/gen/12/130136.htm

  39. Ángel Medina in El Indálico (www.elindalico.com) writes the following:-

    Yo soy valenciano y hablo ese idioma, pero no por obligación, -nunca lo he estudiado-, sino por transmisión familiar. Y siento satisfacción de poder hablarlo con alguna gente, pero siempre me negué, sin resultado por supuesto, a que mis hijos perdieran unas horas de su vida u ocuparan una pequeñísima parte de su cerebro estudiando valenciano. Y sacaron muy malas notas en esa disciplina, por cierto, con mi aplauso. Tras cientos de años de esfuerzos en Europa y América en enseñar e imponer (eran otros tiempos y otras maneras) el castellano y conseguir que sea hoy el tercer idioma más hablado del mundo, con las ventajas económicas, sociales y políticas que eso supone, hay una pandilla de mentecatos que quieren obligarnos a hablar catalán en su predio. Flaco favor les están haciendo a sus descendientes que, ¡sí! serán felices hablando la lengua de sus padres, pero van a necesitar un traductor en cuanto salgan de casa.

    Which I translated as-

    I am a Valencian, and speak that language – not because I was forced to, or because I took it at school – but as a language used about the home. I’m glad enough to speak it to those I need or want to, but I have always declined to speak it because I must! I was against my children being force-fed it at school (since Franco’s times, regional languages have become an obligatory rallying call). My kids spent hours at a stretch being schooled in Valencian, and I am very glad to say that they all, without exception, failed each and every exam put to them in that dialect. After many hundreds of years of effort across Europe and the Americas, forcing whole communities to learn Spanish (‘the good ol’ days’, you might say), with the result that our language is now the third most spoken on the planet, with the obvious advantages that supposes (economic, social, political and artistic), we now find ourselves with crack-brained nitwits who want us to yatter away in Catalonian in their fiefdom.

    So, to many Spaniards, it’s the slap in the face of the language and culture of which they are so proud, which is part of the offence. If catalán was at least ‘useful’… (then, perhaps, they’d find another reason).

    Catalonia, as championed by Barcelona, has always been in a state of tension with (most of) the rest of Spain, as championed by Madrid. Talking of dismemberment of the nation… of moving the Civil War archives from Santander (a PP city, a city in the ‘Madrid camp’) which, at the very least, was a waste of public money.. of supporting the Chaves/Morales/Castro axis over the USA and supporting Morocco’s claims for the Sahara (what price democracy?)are examples of a government which allows unnecessary tensions and rifts in society. That’s the mark of a weak government in my opinion, and a weak president.

    P.D. – Thanks for the soap-box. It’s a great site!!

  40. “Thanks for the soap-box. It’s a great site!!”

    Oh, you’re welcome, obviously I don’t agree with you, but you certainly represent a legitimate point of view.

    One detail:

    “supporting the Chaves/Morales/Castro axis over the USA”

    I’m not sure they go this far, but lets put that to one side. I am no admirer of Evo Morales (although I do like his pullover, and I don’t think he’s in the Castro/Chavez camp yet, clearly he could be pushed there), but I think Spain needs to be very careful here. Companies like Repsol and the electricity groups have very substantial investments in Bolivia, possibly Spain is even more important in this context than the US is. These interests are vulnerable. Only yesterday Repsol went down in the Bolsa because of this issue.

    So I think what the major Spanish companies need from Spain’s government is a lot of subtlety here, a lot of what you call ‘left hand’. What you don’t need I think is confrontation. If you go down that road they will be expropraited and people will lose a lot of money. These are the kinds of issues I have with the PP. I simply don’t think you can keep putting party before collective interests in the way they do.

    Of course I agree with you about the Saharawis, and I also think Spain needs to reach a rapid settlement with Morocco over the long term future of Ceuta and Melilla. As I say I favour the EuroMed dialogue over the policy of Perejil.

  41. “Lincoln doesn’t seem aware that guns were taken into the Spanish parliament in 1982 by the Golpistas, and that tanks were rolled out onto the streets in an attempted military coup. This was 4 years after the 1978 Constitution came into force. Of course there were still guns on the table while the constitution was being debated. There were limits to what could and could not be said, just as there have been recently in Turkey, or are you saying that the Turkish constitution “is an excellent balance of central and regional power sharing”. I presume you are not opposed to the EU trying to get democratic changes in the Turkish constitution, so I fail to understand why you hold this view in Spain. I am sure you wouldn’t consider this “excellent balance of central and regional power sharing” to be an example for the United States to follow.”

    We are all making mistakes here Edward. First me, it was 1981, sorry. Then Lincoln. There were guns on and under the table. And finally you. The guns were not only in the hands of an army that was extremely suspicious and afraid of democracy. There were also Basque separatists (ETA) killing people in the Basque country and in Madrid. Catalonian separatists (Terra Liure) in Barcelona, comunist terrorists (GRAPO) and extreme right terrorists (Guerrilleros de Cristo and more) So the negotiations to write a constitution for everyone were an feat of diplomacy that really did end with some sort of good equilibrium between all the positions. The constitution was a truce and the hope of a making a new country. And we made it. Spain is not more (actualy less right now) autoritarian than the UK and there is room for everyone. I share Lincoln’s opinion about spanish constitution and feel really disgusted by the attitude of some politicians about it. I think it would be a perfect time to change many things in it if we could only sit down and talk about it in this new ¿peacefull? country. But every party has Cried Havoc and unleashed the hounds of agit-prop so this healthy debate will be impossible.

    It seems you’re only getting one side of the story. The ethnotopic tales of Catalonian nationalists about how Catalonia is a great and peaceful territory opressed by the spanish empire. Too simplistic. Too untrue. Nationalism (including or above all the spanish nationalism) needs a mythic past as any religion. In the beggining everything was nice and then THEY came…

  42. Will,

    This only applies to times of war. Maybe you should read closer.

    And maybe you should read, full stop, for you are entirely wrong. Art. 94(b) of the UCMJ punishes sedition with (up to) death, regardless of whether the attempt takes place in wartime or peacetime. This is in marked contrast to (e.g.) arts 85(c) (desertion) and 90(2) (assaulting/disobeying a superior officer), both of which make clear that the death penalty can attach only in time of war. And arrest/confinement of those suspected or accused of crime (arts. 9, 10) have nought to do with timing. Go on, read the relevant passages; I didn’t put those hyperlinks into my earlier comment just to practice coding HTML.

    Your larger point is true, but trivially so. Yes, the freedom of speech of miltary personnel (especially commissioned officers) is subject to certain modest limits. But so what? That’s at least as true in the USA as in Spain — don’t know about Spain, but under the UCMJ (art. 88) it is a crime for a commissioned American officer merely to speak rudely of the president or other politicians. And nobody is complaining (yet) that freedom of speech doesn’t exist in the USA.

    Soldiers in a modern democracy do in fact have a great deal of freedom of speech, but yes, there are limits. And those limits are imposed by the need for military order and discipline, not to mention the need to preserve democracy and subjection of the military to civilian control. If Mena Aguado wanted to argue that the new Catalan statute is the sort of thing the army ought to step in to prevent, he should first have resigned his commission. Once he’s hung up his uniform, he may say with impunity pretty much whatever he likes.

    But if, while wearing the uniform, he interferes with civilian politics, let alone preaches sedition, he may count himself lucky that all he got was confinement to quarters and a face-saving retirement. When Rajoy gets arrested for his racist ‘Chinese’ cracks about the Catalans, or for that matter when Lincoln gets arrested for calling Zapatero a weak leader in comments here at afoe, then you should start to worry about freedom of speech in Spain. (I think it is obvious that I dislike what both Rajoy and Lincoln said; I hope it is at least equally obvious that I believe they have the right to say it.)

  43. “It seems you’re only getting one side of the story.”

    No, I try to understand all sides, that is why I said: “todos tenemos una parte de la razon”.

    “We are all making mistakes here Edward. First me, it was 1981, sorry. Then Lincoln. There were guns on and under the table.And finally you.”

    I agree with this. I accept the point you want to make, and I don’t think I’ve been trying to say that this wasn’t the best deal you could get at the time. I wasn’t here (I’ve only been here since 1990) but I imagine it was. And I don’t doubt that it was necessary to pardon the criminals of the Franco regime at the time. It simply wasn’t worth the agro. Like in Chile with Pinochet now, better to look to the future.

    And I do agree with you that nationalists – whether Catalan or Spanish ones – are forever looking to the past. In fact if you google AFOE Turkey you will probably find that in my posts on Turkey I tend to defend the balancing act the Turkish politicians have to make by pointing to the way things had to be done in Spain.

    “The constitution was a truce and the hope of a making a new country. And we made it.”

    Yep, and you’d be surprised about how many people from all points of view in Catalonia agree with this. Don’t believe what Rajoy says about what people think.

    “I think it would be a perfect time to change many things in it if we could only sit down and talk about it in this new ¿peacefull? country.”

    I agree, but I also agree that this is not going to be possible, yet. I think the PP has to come back from lunacy first, then maybe we can all talk. Maybe when they have to make a deal with CiU and start admitting they use Catalan as a family language in private.

    I think really this is Mas’s main argument at the moment. This is the best deal currently available, but later will come a better moment.

    “The ethnotopic tales of Catalonian nationalists about how Catalonia is a great and peaceful territory opressed by the spanish empire.”

    No I don’t believe this at all, in fact I’ve never mentioned it. I only said that I find the view of the Spanish nationalists incoherent when they say they want Gibraltar back but the frontiers of Spain can’t be touched. Either one thing or the other, but not both.

    Indeed Catalonia isn’t an ‘ethnic’ nation, acccording to Arzallus the Basque one is, genetically speaking I mean.

    Pujol famously said, whoever lives and works in Catalonia is Catalan. This is the same as the United States. It isn’t based on blood. We simply, like they do in the US, ask those who come to live and work here to learn our language. I find this quite reasonabvle in the US case, I find it reasonable in the UK that they are going to introduce a knowledge of English as part of a condition for citizenship, and I find it perfectly reasonable that the new statute will say that those who wish to live and work in Catalonia should have a working knowledge of Catalan. I do not expect this to apply to people who live and work in Madrid, or to Lenox’s friend who lives in Valencia. Of course we do not expect Russian tourists who come and visit us here to speak spanish or catalan, so why should we apply this to Spanish visitors?

    On the ethnic thing, Carod Rovira’s mother comes from Aragon, and Maragall’s mother from Andalusia. Ethnically speaking Catalonia is a mongrel nation.

    Incidentally, one view which is mine. You have to see Catalonia as quite separate from the Basque country in many ways. One of them is this:

    Here there have been two traumatic events in recent years: the killing of Ernest Lluc, and the meeting in the Azores which took Spain into the Iraq war. These two events, in differing ways of course, convulsed Catalonia. They also brought the two communiteis here Рthe Spanish speaking one and the Catalan speaking one Рtogether like I have never seen them before. Something was healed during all this, a breach which had gone back all the way to the early 80s. This is one of the primary reasons, IMHO, that the new statute is now possible: there is absolutely no conflict about it at all here. Even PP leader Piqu̩ is fairly constructive about it.

    If you look at the atmosphere in Spain in the 1970s, in the convulsions which followed the death of Franco, there wasn’t the linguistic division which later arose and was manipulated by Spanish nationalism. It simply was not an issue.

    This division was fomented from outside Catalonia for political advantage both by PSOE (Guerra), IU (Anguita) and PP (Aznar, Alvarez Cascos). The 90s, with the anti-GAL, anti-corruption, anti-Catalan campaign which swept the Spanish language media saw all this reach a high point. But in my view this is now history. The grandchildren of the original immigrants have all learned Catalan in school, support Barça and not Espanyol, Betis or Real Madrid, and probably have some of the most silly anti-Madrid attitudes that you can find here. Times change, and people with them.

    As for me, at the end of the day I think the bursting of the housing bubble is a more worrying prospect than any of this. Live and let live, but please: ‘let live’.

  44. I agree with most things you say in your last post Edward except the compulsory character of the Catalonian Language. There are two main reasons. First, it will be an obstacle for mobility within the country, creating a “speciation” barrier of protectionism. Every catalonian will be able of moving anywhere in Spain but not viceversa. Not to talk about public service in which a position is nationwide and people can be moved from one province to another. This becomes specially important in the Basque case, as their language is much more difficult to learn. Second, Catalonian nationalists tend to forget Spanish is also their language as much as spanish nationalists tend to despise catalan. Spanish is a common language for all and that is enough to guarantee the working order. Therefore what would make sense in the estatut is to say that everyone must speak spanish or catalan.

    As a final consideration, coming from someone who has read a couple of books in catalan and studied it just for the sake of it’s beauty (I live far away in the south). A language spoken by seven million people has to be specially protected to prevent it from disappearing but should not be treated at the same level as the third most spoken language in the world. My catalonian cousin is attending university and makes big mistakes in spanish, a language he despises as much as Rajoy does with catalan. He often says he doesn’t want to learn english (he hasn’t) or spanish (which he does reasonably well anyway) catalan is enough for him. He is of course too young and he will change his mind, but it will be too late for him to learn english. Pressing the youth into such extremistic ideas won’t go for the best interest of Catalonia. And it is a pity, because it is a really nice place.

  45. I suppose one of the weaknesses of a forum is the ease that a contributor can go ‘off subject’.
    Which I now intend to do.
    I often visit Pamplona (or ‘Iruña’ as it is in Euskera). Signs to this city going through the Basque Country are non-existent (for reasons one can only imagine). But I now know the way (essentially – head for France and turn right – or, if you get really lost – ask a gendarme).
    Pamplona, by the way, is considered by the heavier members of the Basque independents as being the capital of Euskadi even though it’s in Navarra – a province (and one-stop autonomy) that stands on its own. Euskera is the second official language (anecdote note).
    I was in Pamplona in a cyber-café, full of young Turks bashing away at the keys, passing the time by writing a letter to The Diario de Navarra – a rather staid and boring daily from the Correo group.
    ‘Does anyone here know how to say ‘where’ in Basque?’ I asked. No, they didn’t. ‘Guys, I’m writing a funny letter to the Diario. I got lost in Vitoria and asked someone how to get to Pamplona – so, I need to say ‘¿donde está Iruña’ to make my point. Now, I’m not a linguist, but I can say ‘donde’ in Italian, German, French, Greek, Portugee, Spanish and English. So, since you lot (there was about twenty people in the shop), since you lot, I say, are in a bi-fuckin’-lingual province, how do you say ‘donde’ in Basque?’.
    Somebody took pity on me – ‘no one speaks Euskera outside of the mountains’, I was told.
    Can you imagine such a conversation going on in Catalonia?

  46. Can you imagine such a conversation going on in Catalonia?

    I cannot; nor indeed in Ireland, where the entire population uses the tongue of the Saxon oppressor solely for talking to foreigners and otherwise natters away exclusively as Gaeilge.

    Actually, it’s not surprising that Catala has done so very much better than Euskara; precisely, as I suspect, because the former is so similar to Castellano (and so easy for Castilian-speakers to learn). The protection of Euskara’s ‘speciation barrier’ is much stronger, but once that barrier is crossed, it’s a lot harder to go back.

  47. Well, it’s me again.
    I’ve read some opinions here and i’ve to say that i’ve read too many silly ideas about this subject (‘the Spanish constitution was signed with pistols on the table’,’there are no extremists in Catalonia’, ‘Apparently Spain doesn’t believe in free speech if someone gets house arrest for expressing an opinion.’, ‘What matters is whether or not the Catalans feel they are a nation. The Spanish cannot decide for them’… and many others).

    I advice them to foreign people (understandin’ ‘foreign’ as ‘no spaniards’) to read (in general) a little bit more about our country if they really want to understand the real political situation in Spain, even if there are many details they’re not goin’ to understand 100% just only ’cause they’re not spaniards.

    Others (spaniards or not) should just review their knowledge about democracy and rights in order we could take in consideration their opinions… And i’m not wastin’ my time explaining them what Law and our Constitution allows or not.

    To those who knows the situation in Spain, i’ll just say that, in my opinion, the ‘Estatuto’ as it is written by catalonian political forces is not the best way to build prosperity, even if i completely agree with the posibility of reviewing some of the conditions of the Estatuto today.
    I mean that the ‘ABC’ of the ‘Society of Prosperity’ built in the European Union is based on the ‘solidarity principle’, that permits every european citizen to have their fundamental rights assured, not depending on how much money he owns (health assurance, education rights…). As u all know, things do not work the same in the US model, for example.
    And the fundamental aspect in order to makin’ this model works is making the ones who earn more money, contribute with more money than the ones who have less. And that works like this in the EU talking about countries, regions, and even about citizens (think about contribution rates in ‘Declaración de la Renta’).
    This model of Prosperity has demostrated to be very precious in Europe, since it eliminates big differences between people, and it eliminates conflicts and tensions between countries due to these differences… (think about countries in South America, where average class does not exist).

    In my opinion, the Estatuto is wrong since it does not respect this ‘ABC’ of this Society of Prosperity model. It does not help to reduce differencies, it contributes to get the opposite.

    Voilà!

    And just to finish, i’ll say Edward that my best friend is catalan (from BCN). Now he’s livin’ in Germany.
    I’m not just telling a topic, I met him in Paris (we studied there for 2 years) and in fact we’re skyin’ in the Pirynees next month. Lovely mountains 🙂

    PS. Just a feature: I dont know if u know it, but Spain is the oldest nation in the world. After Spain, was ‘created’ France, and then England, etc. Germany, Italy, and many others will come later, and of course the US… Then, please, a little more commun-sense talkin’ about this situation.

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