divendres, 11 d’octubre de 2013

Soldier Blue - Buffy Saint Marie #12th October

Adaptant-nos a la llei Bauza, avui escriurem directament en anglès :) Sobre el 12 octubre (i una cançó vagament relacionada) ...
The 12th of October is the Spanish National Day, a celebration held every year but which is gaining a certain notoriety this year as we'll explain in a moment. 
Apparently it's held on this day to celebrate the day Columbus discovered America back in 1492, after sailing the ocean blue, and what this meant for the progress of the world and the union of two great continents. This has always seemed a little strange to me - that a country's principal day of celebration is the day they invaded another country/continent. On top of that, as we know Columbus wasn't the first to go to America, nor did he know where he actually was - and he may not even have been Spanish (though he was working for, and in the name of, the Spanish royal family). Wikipedia says that this day is also celebrated across South America, but I imagine it's mainly celebrated by the descendants of Europeans as the descendents of native Americans probably think quite differently about the "progress" this event involved.
Respecting different cultural and historic backgrounds, and speaking from a not-too-informed point of view, I can't help imagining if other European countries like England or Holland held their most important national celebration on the day they landed in north America or the day England "discovered" Australia. Strange.
Anyway, it's celebrated all over Spain but with a "certain reticence" (understatement of the year) in those parts of the political state of Spain which would rather get out of there - such as Catalonia or the Basques. There is a huge and lavish military parade in Madrid and lots of patriotic acts. In Catalonia, most people take advantage of the day off to go mushroom hunting or a to have a paella with the family - but I even know people who make an effort to actually work on this day.
Anyway, there has always been some kind of rally or act in Barcelona by those here who like to celebrate this day - not many, but it's a free country. However, this year, it's becoming a Hot Topic. Coming just a month after 1,600,000 people took to the streets to demand independence, the pro-Spanish unionists are taking the rally in Barcelona seriously to try and show that there are just as many Catalan people against independence and in favour of unity with Spain etc. Obviously, if you look at the numbers, that's an impossible task and so they've started organising buses from other parts of Spain for people to come and march in Barcelona. I suppose they'll give them a Barcelona-disguise when they arrive to make them look like locals (a Messi shirt should do).
 Many of these buses are paid for by political parties (unlike the pro-indy acts, where every person pays their own way). Right-wing parties such as the PP, UpD, Cs are all taking part and encouraging their voters to, but alongside them will be the Falange party. Those of you who know any Spanish history (Civil War, Franco) may be surprised that this party actually legally exists! But it does, and it will be marching through Barcelona beside the Spanish conservative party, and the Catalan equivalent of the racist EDL (the PxC)! Marginal neo-nazi groups have also expressed their intention to join in - with many internet messages explicitly stating they will cause violence and "hunt the Catalans"! Catalan police have said they will take firm steps to prevent this - but the principal Spanish police trade union have actually asked their members to take part in the rally! (yep, there are different police forces here)
As they say, you couldn't make it up!
This seems to be the Spanish govt's strategy to convince Catalans of the benefits of staying in Spain - intimidation, threats, fascism, and violence if you consider leaving!

Today's song - not being an expert on native south (or north) American music, rather than just put a random track on, we'll change subjects slightly and remember Buffy Saint Marie's 1971 song from the film of the same name about the massacre of north American natives.

4 comentaris:

  1. Just Brilliant... Tomorrow there will be at the demonstration less people than the ones who live between Font de Quinto and Raval del pom.

    1. Exactly. If they really want to know just who thinks what, and how many, why not hold a referendum?!

  2. The very first time I visited Sheffield - back in 1971 or 1972 - it was to see Buffy St Marie at the City Hall - supported by Loudon Wainwright III. It was a memorable concert and my mate and I waited on Barker's Pool to watch Buffy and Loudon being whisked away in a big black car. She was always someone who sang about freedom, injustice and the plight of the oppressed. She waved at me. Happy Spanish National Day! Have fun Brian!

    1. Wow, that must have been a great night! Great memories!
      Regarding the "Spanish Issue", there are literally (correctly used) millions of great people in Spain, but on days like today, the worst come to the front - the patriotic, nationalist types proud of their conquering half of south America and insisting on ramming unity down everyone's throat. As I say, a more generous open and listening approach would win them many more friends here in Catalonia, but ...anyway, a bank holiday is a bank holiday, even though being on a Saturday you lose the usual advantages (no work) but get the disadvantages (shops closed - yep, shops close here on holidays).
      I will be celebrating International Pastafarian Headgear Day by eating pasta, wearing a sieve on my head, and looking out for the Flying Spaghetti Monster.