The Catalan summer


After the 12 months that the Catalans have had and considering the current situation in Catalonia, enjoying a well-deserved break and switching off is nigh on impossible. Everywhere you look and everywhere you go there are reminders of the hellish year that began on 17 August 2017 with the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils and will end with the King of Spain gatecrashing their solemn commemoration and politicising the event. The Catalans will of course behave with dignity and respect in general. The dignitaries will be here to take advantage. For many, there will be no summer holidays really.

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Watching King Felipe VI and Spanish unionist and nationalist politicians holidaying and summer politicking in the regions is like watching a pack of dogs engaged in uncontrolled territorial pissing.

Felipe VI of Spain, the weight of the world on his shoulders; he doesn’t remember if he’s on holiday or at work

Pablo and Pedro

They get roundly booed or ignored everywhere they go – of course they do. They can’t complain; they’re also fêted by small organised groups of unconditional supporters. They don’t behave like guests, but the Lords of the Manor. For them, everything is theirs, everything is Spain.

Pablo:

Vitòria greets new Partido Popular president, Pablo Casado, with chants of protest

Pedro:

Pedro Sánchez and his wife were welcomed to Sanlúcar de Barrameda beach with cries of “Get out of here, you crooks!”

If you’re in the Catalan Countries this summer – because you live here, you’re visiting or here on holiday, respect the Catalans, their language and their culture, like they respect you and yours, even under provocation.

ln Spain, hearing Catalans express themselves in Catalan amongst themselves has always been a potential source of annoyance to the particularly delicate Spanish ear.

Tired of going down south and coming across the typical asshole with a badly channelled frustration and an inferiority complex

“The problem is that the Catalans speak Catalan deliberately even if they’re surrounded by Spanish speakers, to demonstrate their supremacy”

Catalans going away should also be careful. Just speaking in Catalan could get your vehicle vandalised. How dare you speak in Catalan!

For me one problem with the Catalans, and they would be the first to admit that they have many, has always been an almost automatic switch to Spanish on detecting that Catalan isn’t someone’s mother tongue, without being asked, home and away.

Anyone in the Catalan Countries this summer actually lucky enough to hear some Catalan – rare as it is – enjoy this beautiful language.

And in the unlikely event that you hear any variety of Catalan in the Catalan Countries this summer, listen carefully – Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, etc people can pick up a lot without really trying.

If you don’t understand or want to be addressed in another language, ask nicely and your request will be immediately fulfilled. Anyone offended by the Catalan language or culture is what Catalan president Torra has called a ‘beast’, ie aggressively catalanophobic. Most are Spanish nationalists, but by no means all.

Why would an expression of someone’s language or culture offend you? Remember, contact with another language or culture is ALWAYS an enriching experience, home or away.

Contact with another language or culture is even an enriching experience when you’re an exile:

“It might sound surprising, but it was an enriching experience – both personally and politically. I had no unpleasant encounters in Germany, everyone was respectful and polite toward me, even when they didn’t share my point of view. Even when I was behind bars, I was treated well. I had faith in the fact that I was in a country where the rule of law prevails and that I was in the hands of people who knew what they were doing.” President Carles Puigdemont.

And if hearing some Catalan causes you some kind of allergic reaction and it’s all too much for you to take, ALL Catalans speak Spanish, and most at least one other language.

The ultimate goal of this burning public hatred of a language and a culture, fanned by the mainstream Spanish media, the reason for being of right wing anti-Catalan populists, Ciudadanos, is the suppression of the Catalan language and culture and the supremacy of the Castilian language and Spanish culture.

And if you come across a demonstration in support of Catalan political prisoners, respect it. It isn’t acceptable to attack or assault people for expressing their beliefs. Have your own demonstration somewhere else.

The real fascists are those that do not tolerate other, difference, other’s opinions, that would destroy all expressions and symbols of beliefs other than their own. This is a real problem in Catalonia.

Spanish unionists and nationalists feel within their rights to run around every corner of what they consider their territory rudely, loudly , sometimes violently complaining of anything they consider unspanish, insisting on greater Spanishness, demanding that certain views be silenced, like members of a strange monolingual monocultural cult.

You might come across a group of people outnumbered by their Spanish flag parasols and beach towels – don’t be alarmed – they are Spanish nationalists expressing their Spanish nationalist belief that ‘Catalonia is Spain’ and by extension Catalonia is theirs.

This is, however, unlikely, such initiatives being so very poorly attended due to the inevitable embarrassment of forming part.

Another problem is that some people simply have NO MANNERS. Good manners and respect are things all European peoples should understand and practise. Whether host or guest, don’t be rude!

And if you’re at the beach on the Costa Brava or Costa Daurada and the sun’s too much for you (you know it is!) pay a visit to the Òmnium Cultural bus and find out what’s really been going on in Catalonia for the past year. You might be surprised.

The Catalans have put up with a massive amount of provocation in the shape of police violence, legal abuse and now the ‘strategy of tension’ – involving the encouragement of anti-indy and anti-solidarity assaults, abuse, trespass, insults and vandalism in the streets.

One of the most unnerving elements to this is a national Spanish unionist party’s encouragement of the formation of groups dedicated to “cleansing” public spaces of all symbols giving support to Catalan political prisoners and exiles and all independentist symbols, despite the hundreds of crimes committed by unionists in their cause.

Ciudadanos’ recent campaign started out with a video of a non-hooligan group “cleansing” public spaces and calling on others to follow suit – a clear call for vigilantism. Now it’s a more fascist sounding clamour for “Order & Security” in one of the most orderly and secure corners of Europe. The creation of a parallel reality has been Ciudadanos goal for a long time, actively encouraging conflict fuelled by a fake narrative of division and imminent conflagration. The Partido Popular and the Partido Socialista Obrero Español are on board with it. Societat Civil Catalana is the Spanish nationalist glue element and Ciudadanos its most shameless proponents.

Their stated aim is to promote “neutrality” in public spaces – whatever that is – and “harmony” in the community; by trespassing, stealing, vandalising, insulting and assaulting people because of what they think?

If Spanish nationalism carries on like this, more Catalans are going to get hurt, or worse, and the police and judiciary look on, arms crossed, unwilling or unable to intervene. Meanwhile, people try to ignore the madness, get some rest and enjoy the summer. It isn’t easy.


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