The Catalans: They Deserve It

December 18, 2012


As an American, I have long been deeply interested in the struggle of the Catalan people to recover their great tradition of liberty and self-determination in a country that had elective parliaments before any other nation. My ancestors in this country participated in their own victory over a power, Great Britain, that was then the most democratic in the world but from which they wanted to be independent. The Spanish state, with a constitution forced through by survivors of the Franco regime just after a cruel dictator’s death, is nowhere near that level of democracy; nor is it even competent, as its current economic haplessness symbolizes. It borders on being what is called a “failed state.”

Today, the governing conservative party of Catalonia (CiU) and the left-republican party (ERC) put out this proclamation, upon which they have agreed, even while retaining their very different political principles on almost every other issue. Already voices in Madrid are calling for the army to intervene; this is the way they respond to any signs of progressive movement — an instinct left over from the dictatorships that they have so often found congenial. The idea that people might want to determine their own future is against everything they believe, and, to be sure, any such referendum is against the Spanish constitution that voters ratified under threat of armed restoration of dictatorship.

While the American Declaration of Independence gave far more space to detailing grievances against the British Crown, I find it impossible not to hear echoes of our Declaration in this modern, more streamlined document that came out today.

By the way, the 2014 deadline is significant emotionally. It was in 1714 that the Bourbon Philip V subjugated the Catalans, declared all the Catalan laws, traditions, and liberties null and void, outlawed the public use of the Catalan language, and imposed the Castilian autocracy and subjugation by the army. And still the Catalan people survive, with the culture as vibrant as ever. It seems clear that it’s high time they had their reward, for the first time in 300 years being allowed to speak freely as a people about their own future.

Here’s an English translation of the statement, with a link to the Catalan original.

5 Responses to “The Catalans: They Deserve It”

  1. axlroig said

    Thank you for your words. We are in debt with all of the people that is pending events in Catalonia. There is a popular petition to support the People of Catalonia in our effort to decide our own future:

  2. rogerevans said

    But that petition is to the White House, which has no jurisdiction in Catalonia; and, as an ally of the Spanish state could do nothing in any case without diplomatic impropriety. If you’re a Catalan, I encourage you to look to your own people’s action in this matter. That is what you should rely on. The international community cannot act for you until you have acted.

  3. axlroig said

    Sure, of course. That petition is not the solution to our matter, but while we act, we’ll need international community to be as informed as you are. And any effort is good for us. We don’t ask the world to come solve our problems, we only need international community to think “what they want? simply vote? why they can’t?”. Our acts (like 9/11 demonstration, 11/25 elections, parliament next resolutions, civil society behaviour) and diplomacy will do the rest without having to sink any Maine, I hope.

  4. rogerevans said

    Why would you have to sink the Maine? It’s not the U.S. that has occupied you for 300 years, while — even an ardent Catalanophile like me has to admit — many of your elite have collaborated with the oppressor at times. I have high hopes for Catalonia, but you have to get up on your hind legs and stop appeasing Madrid. I realize that that’s easy for me to say, who have not lived under that stifling regime, but you will indeed have the support of freedom-loving people around the world when you act. However, it is you who have to act. You are far more culturally established, economically powerful, and politically sophisticated than the thirteen puny colonies that became the United States of America were when they were foolhardy enough to defy the British Empire. And your opponent is not nearly so strong and well-regulated. Anims! Visca Catalunya lliure!

  5. Thank-you very much for your encouraging words.

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