Cinc preguntes que sovint amics i familia no-català em fan. 1. Per que ser independents en un món cada cop més unit? 2. Això deu ser pels diners, no? 3. Si tanta gent vol ser independent, llavors a que espereu? 4. Acabarà com Bosnia? 5. Com podeu fer un referendum si Espanya no ho permet.
Les meves respostes personals, a continuació (en anglès!).
After various posts on the Catalan Issue, today’s deals with a few questions which non-Catalans (friends, family ...) often ask me. And feel free to ask more!
1.Why bother becoming independent in an ever-more connected world – especially as the European Union tries to become a union, with decisions made in Brussels?
Well, firstly, it doesn’t really matter whether you or I think it’s better or worse to be independent. It’s more basic than that – if seven million people want to make their own mind up on that, fine. If the majority of these wants independence, then so be it.
However, getting back to the question: try asking France and England if they want to give up their independence. Not many countries in the world, upon becoming independent, have ever decided to go back to depending on another state – hence, there must be something good about it! Obviously if this attempted union of countries called the EU is to move forward it will be through decisions made by the countries with voting rights – and if you ain’t independent, you don’t get a seat at the table, or your snout in the trough.
Personally, I think small efficient countries are the future, where people still maintain contact with their culture and have real options of participating in their own future and democracy.
2. So, how come this has all come so sudden – must be about the money then (present economic crisis)?
I think the international media has only just taken it on board, since the last three protest demonstrations with over a million people, but it’s a feeling that’s been in place for a long time – maybe even 300 years! Ever since I landed here in 1988, in small town Catalonia the majority of people I’ve met have always been in favour of independence. I think the “problem” is that the Catalans are a very cautious people and the collective consciousness hadn’t yet been aroused. Maybe lots of individual people thought the same but hadn’t realised that this was feasible and, hence, kept (relatively) quiet. The big boom of the public protests and internet connections, and a very open debate, has led to the emergence of a realisation that “we could go for this!”. If any one act did give it a boost recently though, it was probably in 2009 I think when the Spanish government refused to accept Catalonia’s new “constitution” (passed in a Catalan referendum).
3. So, if most people want this, what are you waiting for?
Precisely my question over the last 25 years. Catalans tell me its due to their excessive cautiousness and (misguided) common sense, plus a memory of Franco and fear of losing democracy once more or how Spain might react. Obviously as years go by, these fears lose their strength in the new generations. The fact is that they’ve decided to go for it now!
4. Will this turn nasty – i.e. Bosnia?
Standard answer – this is the European Union, a NATO country. How can you even imagine a violent outcome?
Real answer – watch this space – many second league politicians, police unions, retired military generals are calling for imprisonment of Catalan president, abolishing Catalonia’s autonomy, and military intervention if the Catalans do not accept this quietly. Here’s where Brussels (and London, Paris, Berlin etc) have to step in and tell Spain what is and what is not acceptable in a 21st century Europe.
5. How can Catalans hold the independence referendum if Spain won’t allow it?
Good question. The Catalan Parliament, through 2/3 of its members from 5 different parties, have called the referendum for the 9th November 2014, independently (pun intended) of whether Madrid authorises it or not. They hope to convince Madrid to accept it – but they won’t. So, they’ll do it anyway. Then what? Police confiscating ballot boxes? Catalan President being arrested? How do you stop the 3 million adults who will want to vote Yes this day?
And to wind up, a cool "rural-ska" group sing this protest song about defending the Catalan language - video clip shows the mountains near where I live, and where the disastrous Battle of the Ebro took place.