Saturday, June 28, 2008

Do you know what "gilipollas" and "imbécil" mean in Spanish?

Do you speak Spanish? Then you might know what "gilipollas" and "imbécil" mean. These are not very polite words. They can be usual in the street, among very close friends joking, or in a extreme situation when someone is very angry. But it is not so often that you can hear that on a public radio. If they talk about Catalan or Basque people or subjects, and if a Spanish radio is the case, that is not so strange.

Clicking here, you will be able to listen to a radio station quite famous in Catalonia because of what they say of Catalan people: COPE. Actually, the curt belongs to a Catalan radio station where it was commented. They begin speaking Catalan and somehow laughing at the attitude (unfortunately, many Catalans have adopted such resignated behaviour) and after a little introduction comes Mr. José Antonio Abellan (wikipedia), no more and no less than responsible for sports area of COPE.

He refers to the fact that Puigcercós (ERC, Catalan) and Urkullu (PNB, Basque) declared they do not want Spain to win the Euro 2008. They have their own selections, but Spain is always making it impossible for Catalan and Basque selections to join international competitions. Considering such attitude, it seems logical that Catalan and Basque feel no sympathy for the Spanish team, although many Catalans play in it.

These things happen everyday in Spain. A public radio supports these people saying "gilipollas" and "imbécil" and no one shuts down no microphone. Do you think Spain is a beautiful country?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fall'08 in Catalonia

Catalonia is approaching the final period of its way to an own state. International observers and journalists might have read the elections on March 9 the same way José Zaragoza (PSC-PSOE) did: as a support to Spain. But a close analisis would deny such an interpretation. Catalan votes for PSOE were nothing but severe opposition against PP. Under the PP-PSOE war, other trends grow stronger and stronger everyday and the predicted issues from September on are turning quite clearly against Spanish interests.

The ERC had Congress last week-end. There was a risk that the result could divide the party, being they the main secessionist political group. But it seems that the new leaders (Puigcercós and Ridao) are assuming internal opposition in a way that will allow them to continue growing after the crisis.

The Congress has been considered as an example for democracy not only by national journalists, but also for politicians from the rest of the parties. Consequently, the CiU, which is the next party to celebrate Congress in July, is seeing internal pressure grow to add unpredicted issues at the agenda. A group of the party had the strategy of forcing a crisis, having elections and returning to the government they lost in 2003 be it alone or with PSC-PSOE. Others, however, are pushing hard to force a secessionist position that would approach them to the ERC.

Meanwhile, Spain keeps on deceiving masses of people. President Zapatero promised on april he would make public the difference between what Catalonia pays through taxes and what we become through state investments (unbelievable but true: top secret for Spain; an example of public administration). Tha date has expired and a new date has been proposed.

Before August 9, Spanish Government and Generalitat have the mission to sign a document stablishing legal basis for Catalan funds when Catalan public services are about to collapse just because Spain has other priorities. Such mission comes from the Estatut, after all a Spanish law.

And still a third point is pending: The Tribunal Constitucional is to dictate if Catalan Estatut is legal. Such decision from half a dozen "wise men" comes after quite a long and accidental process: September 30 2005 90% of Catalan Parliament agree on a text after Zapatero promised he would respect the text coming from the Parliament (a constitutional counsel had already made the work); Zapatero and Catalan opposition leader Artur Mas renegociate and devaluate the text before the Spanish Cortes admit it. June 2006 comes the Catalan referendum and, although participation is low, the text is approved.

Now, Omnium Cultural and Plataforma pel Dret de Decidir are preparing massive responses to prevent the Tribunal from modifying a single word of what Catalan people already voted. If they do, the only possible answer will be a legitimacy crisis in Spain and a self-determination process widely open.

Wait and see? That's an option. But when it comes to democracy and human rights, I would not hesitate to support the victims of abuse. That's why the Spanish Empire is about to lose a new colony and continue its way to the origin, back to where they came from: Castilla.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A blogger on strike

I am glad to see that this blog is increasing its visitors number. I never pretended to make much more than an experiment, to see how many non-catalan-speakers would find interesting to read about the process towards an own state we are living. In fact, my blogger activity is fulfilled through another one I write in Catalan on Vilaweb. That blog has given me great satisfactions since I started on february 2006. But now, since June 1st, I'm on strike. On blog strike. Strange? Sure! Does it make any sense? I don't know it yet.

When I started blogging I found most opinions on newspapers neglected a topic I considered necessary: the right to self-determination. Nowadays it is quite usual to read about it. Sure, it's not because of my blog alone, but I hope it helped in any sense. Now the problem is a different one. Some surveys are saying Catalonia has a majority of people willing to vote for independence. In any modern european democracy, the data the Government is handling would be enough to stop and ask the people. But President Montilla doesn't. I'm not asking him to declare independence. I'm just asking him to let Catalan people talk through a referendum like they did in Montenegro or Kosovo or like Salmond's SNP wants to do in Scotland. If a YES comes out, we 'll see what follows.

We bloggers for independence go on discussing every little line we read, we keep discussing if a politician has a good strategy or a bad one to reach our goal as soon as possible. But when independence comes it will be through a democratic act which needs a majority. An obvious strategy for those who want Catalonia to continue in Spain is to neglect this point, to avoid discussing in this terms. Everyone has their right to defend a point of view, but democracy should be the way to solve it. So clear, so easy.

But there seems to be no democracy in Spain. Basque lehendakari Ibarretxe has planned a referendum for next October. He simply wants to ask the Basque people if they support a dialogue-driven process towards peace. Surprisingly enough, Spanish president Zapatero will not give permission for it.

I think we are risking the quality of our democracy. Some people might blog just for fun; others might do it as a therapy; maybe I do both, but I also blog because I think blogging is a way to create public opinion, and that leads to social change. When social change is possible through democratic expression, those who block it destroy social and public debate. What can we bloggers do, then? Our words become useless. We can protest through our posts. I have been doing it for months. But when words are useless, and since I reject violence, maybe silence is the way.

From June 1st, I am posting everyday a single line under the title "Blog strike for souverainity"; and as text, "Day X on strike". Occasionally I add some links to other relevant informations or to posts from other bloggers I add comments to. I will post again the day president Montilla recognizes the need to give the word to the people, the day he lets us decide on our future.

I will post again too if the three parties that recognize Catalan right to self-determination sit down and talk about how and when to it. It's easy and simple. So much, I can't understand they haven't done it yet. That's why I protest. That's why my blog is on strike.

My silence is a very little one. Insignificant. I am nothing but a blogger. But my reasons are powerful because they are simple.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Air Berlin or the mistake of a misinformed good company

An airlines company has no need to discuss on topics that depass their area. They can, of course; but there is no need. In any case, if they do, it should be on the basis of information. Otherwise, writing stupid things that might offend some clients can report bad consequences: loss of clients is the first and most imminent, but damage on corporate image is not less important.

On April 25th, I wrote about the case of Volkswagen's SEAT and how Mr. García Sanz had pronounced words that Catalans found offensive and how it had led to a bad image. Not a couple of months have passed and a new mistake comes from a German company: Air Berlin. Catalan newspapers and blogs are massively rejecting the company because of a text (in German) they had no need to publish.

Mr. Joachim Hunold tells he had a letter from the Balearic government where they politely ask to make a right use of the official languages in the Island in the communication with their clients. After all, Catalan is the language of Mallorca, where Spanish is also official. But despite such a polite and institutional petition, Mr Hunold decides to write on Air Berlin Magazine in a despective way. Surprisingly enough for a CEO Air Berlin, he comes out to digress, among other useless issues, on how Spanish is not taught or spoken anymore in the Balearic Islands, which is obviously false. It happens to be that both languages are official, and just because of that, both shoul be used by the Company. So simple, so easy. No need to make a war of it. No need to make a commercial problem of it. But now Mr. Other airlines enterprises like American Airlines, Ryanair or Clickair use Catalan as a usual and common thing, so why such a resistence and such despective answer? Hunold has put the company in a mess. See what.

Catalan digital newspaper Vilaweb has reported the incident. So does Avui, one of the most important ones. And not only the Balearic Government is responding, but also the responisble for the language policy in Catalonia, who happens to be Bernat Joan, former EU deputee. And, what's best, he's not alone. Right now, bloggers from all the Catalan Countries are posting about that miserable attitude showed by Berlin Airlines. They are using an image of the company with the nazi symbol added. Nazism is surely an extreme the company has not reached, but on the other pole we have the idea of a respectfull and efficient company. Hunold's trend seems to be looking at nazism much more than the other pole.

The investors and leading team of the company would make a good deal if they revised the incident. How was it possible. Who is misinforming them? Who is leading them to such despective attitudes? There was no need to be so agressive. Now, if we look for the company on Google, maybe we'll find more about their mistakes than about their good services. Bad strategy, Mr. Hunold.

Finally, the answer from the Catalan Countries is this letter we massively send to Mr. Hunold at

Herr Joachim Hunold

Generaldirektor Air Berlin

Sehr geehrter Herr Joachim Hunold,

Als katalanisch sprechender Bürger Mallorcas bin ich wirklich enttäuscht
über die unglücklichen Äusserungen, die in Ihrem Magazin zu lesen waren.*

*Es ist tatsächlich die Mehrheit der balearischen Bürger, die die
katalanische Sprache als Muttersprache hat, weshalb natürlich viele
Menschen bitter enttäuscht darüber sind, dass Ihre Sprache schlechtgemacht
wird; und dass im Hinblick auf die Tatsache, dass Mallorca einer der
wichtigsten wirtschaftlichen Standpunkte Air Berlins ist und zum Aufbau des
Air Berlin- Flugnetzes in entscheidendem Masse beigetragen hat. Insbesondere
die lange Zeit der sprachlichen Unterdrückung, welche die
katalanischsprachigen Teile des spanischen Staates unter General Franco zu
erdulden hatten, hat zur logischen Folge, dass die Bürger in der heutigen
demokratischen Gesellschaft mit und in ihrer Sprache leben möchten.*

*Ich bin mehr als überzeugt, dass der Service, ihre Fluggäste auch in
katalanischer Sprache zu informieren, von ihren balearischen Kunden als ein
schönes Zeichen der Verbundenheit Air Berlins mit Mallorca sowie den
anderen katalanischsprachigen Teilen des spanischen Staates verstanden würde
und in nicht zu unterschätzendem Masse zu einer weiteren Festigung der
deutsch-mallorquinischen Verbindung beitragen wird.*

Mit fereundlichen Grüssen,

Thursday, June 5, 2008