Category: #11set2012


Ok, let’s cut the chase. I get to the point right now. Medias in res.

In Spain, we have two major problems.

The two biggest internal affairs right now are as follows:

1.) There is the ongoing fight in the Spanish parliament about whether or not Catalonia should have a referendum for the possible Independence of Catalonia. This is one major concern right now. You cannot open the web, without being aware of tons of articles, or not, but as a foreigner you tend to get lost easily. So what’s up with that?

There are two sides, as always. The one side wants the referendum. The other one does not. The reason for why Catalonia should have their referendum is pretty clear. Two weeks after the 11th of September, which was the celebration for Independence Day, broadcasted around the globe a couple of hundreds of millions times with the historically long “Via Catalana” a human chain by hundreds of thousands of people, and above all, peaceful, without any type of violence. The other side, however, says no… Ok, so let’s ask why…

I could speculate and speculate but the main reason is and always has been the money… Barcelona and the Catalonian region have a functioning economy, much to the chagrin of the NO sayers in Madrid. USA Today even called Catalonia the milk cow that’s being milked every so often when the funds in Madrid are empty. The cow seems to be tired of being milked so often. Ok. This in itself may explain for the obvious NO from Madrid as they do need the money. But let’s go one step further, let’s ask an underlying question. Why is there so much hatred that goes with the whole question…? There is such an underlying hate element in the Spanish society that sometimes even frightens me.

Best example was this poor Valencian guy who was imprisoned for talking to the police (in a normal traffic control) in Catalan, one of two official languages of the Catalonian region. The thing is: He was neither drunk nor drugged. And yet, he was taken away, he was arrested and put before a judge: For speaking his mother tongue. No, we haven’t taken a time machine. This is not 1939. This is 2013. This has some strange taste to it. There are a lot of historic “ghosts”, evanescent moments of hatred and repression that still work the same way as 75 years ago. All this is embedded on a very emotional level. Luckily, the poor chap, got some media coverage and via change.org and with the help of the social networks, the man was freed and his prison sentence of six months for speaking to the police in Valencian was revoked. But does it need to get that far??? I mean, come on, really. The whole incident seemed so warped that I had to include it even though it seems like a slight affair.

We are faced with the dark side of history. Spain had a dictatorship up until 1975 and the violation of civil rights, the pain and suffering, the cruelties, the passion, the fear and the repression so many people had to deal with, it is still alive. It is still inside most families. Some of them remember who someone close to them was charged politically, was taken away, and imprisoned or even executed. Spain is a free country. It is democratic. Is it?

Yes. On the whole it is. Spain is even liberal when you think of places like Marbella or Ibiza… But then again, is this actually the real Spain, or is it just what people think Spain is??? So what do I know??? You might argue, but you are not even Spanish, or have a Catalonian husband or whatever, but I see what I see. And each day, I get a better impression about what happens. Ever since I started to learn Catalan and finally prick up my ears.

The thing is there will not be any kind of mutual understanding and a non-hatred fuelled relationship between Spain and Catalonia, unless Spain simply lets go and leaves Catalonians be who they are, and let them go their chosen way. It might not be what Madrid, what the Spanish royal family, or what Rajoy would want for Spain, but still, they have a right to decide. We live in a democratic state (at least that’s what they say), so let them have it their way. Let them please vote.

We in Europe have so many states with two, with three or even with four languages. Think Belgium, Switzerland, parts of Germany, think Sicily, think Crete, think Malta. The more attractive a region is, less chances you have of there being only spoken one language. Chances are that a couple of nations already tried to invade it, and chances are that this happened. I am sorry if this is a bit juvenile but I always think of Asterix and Obelix when I think about invasion.

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You might think that the people in Madrid may be the Romans trying to force the Catalans to give up their language and cultural identity. But Madrid and a couple of politic agitators just see it just the opposite way. They see the Catalans as the agitators, or the traitors of the Spanish crown. There are some ultra-right wing people who deliberately disturbed the celebration of the “Onze de setembre” (September 11th), the Catalonian Independence Day. Funnily enough, justice was very lenient here, and they got away with a ridiculously low amount of 300€ while they smashed up things, menaced people, were hooded, entered a government building and were clearly not there in a pacific mission.

 

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Justice is a funny thing. This is something that startles me. How on earth can they get away with that? And how can the politicians in Madrid believe that their behavior was tolerable when they behave like that, that one might call a screaming injustice. Justice must have had a pretty bad day to sentence one man to 6 months of prison for speaking his mother tongue, and for fining another for an act of sheer and utter violence & some slight terroristic tendencies with a slight slap on the wrist.

Ok, I now. I am guiri. I should shut up. What do I know anyway?

Being a foreigner in Spain, not knowing any Catalan, and just about able to speak a few sentences in Spanish, I came here to the island of Ibiza in 2007, in December. I was not aware of all these underlying conflicts when I first came here. I tried to find my way around this place. I was busy getting my kids into kindergarten and into school. I had to work. And I had to take care of the kids on my own, as my husband was still 1 and a half years in Germany while I already lived here. I was quite alone, kept to myself, but in a still quite male dominated society I was treated like a “soltera” and somehow, people suspected I was. I did not know what to think about it but I was too busy to care.

So many of my friends in Germany shook their heads in despair when they heard where I was going and they asked me “Why on earth are you going there?” (rough translation: this pool of sinners, of depravity, hedonism and sex, drugs and rock’n’roll). I just laughed it off. And hey, now, almost six years later, I still live here. I feel integrated. My husband came down to Spain one and half years later than us because it was more difficult than we thought. Exit personal history.

But one thing really still startles me, especially now that I understand Catalan and speak it fairly well. Why on earth, do my friends who dared me, who induced me, who told me to learn Catalan… Why do they now back down when we are talking about the Catalan Way, the question of Independence??? Why are they the ones I never see when there is some event for the Independence? Why don’t they react when I post something on facebook??? Even though in private, they are fervent defenders of their home, their island, the right to speak their language and their right to vote. What’s up with that?

On the 8th of September, Ibiza also had a small human chain. The press said that there were 300 people. I can safely say that there were little more than 160 people, maybe 200 in the end. So: What’s up with that?

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However, now we come to the second problem, or to the second internal affair, that Spain has to deal with.

2.) The plan and its implementation of the TIL – integrative trilingual language system. This is a brain child of Jose Ramon Bauzà who somehow now seems like a Little Napoleon as he tries to push forward with this seemingly progressive system. So what does the TIL include: Basically it means a reduction of the Catalan and a high increase of the English language, that instead of 50% Catalan and 50% Spanish, the children get their classes in 30% in Catalan, 30% in Spanish and 30% in English.

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Don’t get me wrong. I love English. And for me, it would probably be a piece of cake, but then again… Think about how well or in some cases how not so well the outcome might be. Do they have decent teachers, do they have decent funds to invest in this Project. No. E.g, the school of Sant Miquel (a small village in the north of Ibiza) had placed up a huge bed-throw at the Wall of their school advertising tyhat the Balearic government still owed them a sum of 19,000€. And that is only one school. How so? How are they going to pay for the extra teachers… ??? How are they going to pay for the extra tuition??? For the extra books??? Hahahaha… Ladies and gentlemen. This will be solved Ibiza style, or Mallorca style. That is so easy, if your name is Jose Ramon Bauzà. Basically the answer is you are not getting any of this. Yes, You heard me.

No extra teachers.

No tuition paid.

No funds for books.

No funds for even paying old debts that concerned parents, the school itself or the state.

How on earth can this be a good basis for such a Project that – if it were well planned and well put into practice – not such an idiot thing. However, we are faced with empty wallets, resigned teachers, teachers who fear being menaced by disciplinary punishments and so on. The spirit of the generalissimo is still very much present. That present that the press today showed that Madrid does not want to change the name of Franco because of linguistic reasons. It is scary to see the adoration of a dictator who would have thrived in the amount of fear and repression that is subconsciously planted in the souls of so many, many Spaniards, as well as Catalonians.

And even if the TIL had come out as a proper plan, it would still be an attack against the Catalan language.

Let’s talk about how well are the Balearic Government free to decide what they are doing. There are many, many jokes in the net and one can see on television who is in charge. It is clearly Bauzà himself. Getting rid of a third of his parliament and claiming it was to show respect and the need to cut costs, was a nice excuse to get rid of his opposing forces within his own party. Bauzà has a nice little streak of a mini dictator in him. He may look like an ageing model or a car salesperson but in fact he is very strategic in what he does. Plus he thrives in the power he was given.

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Back to topic. No… I don’t know either. It is scary and it is such a preposterous idea. I am a strong activist for any type of increment of language and literature in school. But the way this is done is just… so, so, excuse me, it is so wrong… We have heard about the proposed system change right before the summer break and even then teachers were saying no. Little did we know back then. Now it is the second week of school and the teachers are still on strike, twitter is full of hashtags that show the support they are getting from so many different places, from so many different people.

So, I hope you know now about what’s going on in Spain and more specifically on the Balearics.

Why did I mix these topics together and added some streaks of personal history to it, even though they only on the surface have something to do with each other?

I would think that there is a deep underlying structure. If Wert called for the fact “españolizar” hispanize the children of Catalonia, then this is actually quite fascistic if not downright fascist.

If speaking Valencian is a crime, and smashing up a government building and disturbing an official act (given you’re rightwing!!!) is a small thing easily forgiven and does fall under the jurisdiction.

If a TV show (on IB3, the local TV station of the Balearics, government funded… ) about the TIL only shows:

– a group of six, all men (not one woman!)

– the majority were lawyers and not education experts

– one teacher, whose forte certainly was not to speak in public

– and without a decent distribution of the time allowed for each side (the defenders of TIL had 7 minutes, the ones against it 2 minutes!!!)

There is slight feeling, that this whole program could have been government sponsored and PP-program aligned. It is just so wrong the way they do a supposedly political program on TV. It was just so previsible.

Personally, I could not believe that there was not one person who was rhetorically able to speak up and up for the challenge.

Conclusion:

In effect, I wrote this blog post here, mainly because I was getting tired of being asked all over the same questions.

What is the TIL?

Why are you so in favor of the Catalonian Independence?

Why are you so Pro-Catalan?

Why are you against the TIL?

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Mainly, I hope to have clarified this issue with the above text. I am a language lover, I do not think that TIL is actually oriented in real life and will promote “fracaso escolar” more than anything else.

My obvious tendency towards the Catalonian Independence derives from the fact that I among other subjects (I majored in languages), I studied history and I think that the free state of the Catalonian people is necessary. Historically it can easily be derived that Catalonia is a state. I could go deeper into history but this would go to far. Also from the point of view that being a repressed nation, the Catalonians deserve to decide for themselves. Psychologically it can be argued as well, when the amount of suffering has been big enough for them that their will for independence outweighs the fear of being defeated. The Catalonians need to try it, I feel also Catalonian, I am one of them, and I wish them, I wish us the best of luck, and I think that Spain would be wise to let them go. Unless they want to have a century long hate relationship with even worse cases of linguistic recriminations and also crimes in the name of the Spanish state which presides everything.

First of all, I know, Catalonia is different, but Ibiza is also different. We work so much with tourism on a daily basis that the idea of reinforcing English in the school system is not the worst idea, but again… The way this is done, is what makes it turn out to be a total disaster or a plan that should be planned and scheduled properly in order to be successful. Please do not implement TIL. It is not worth the trouble it will surely cause. And try to prevent it for the sake of your children!

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So, where do I tie the knot?

Language and culture is like two peas in a pod. They belong together. If you take away the language from a person, in the sense that you make it a crime to speak that language, you steal part of his culture and basically you victimize him.

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Invaders have often done this. The Romans did this. The Greeks did this. The Spaniards did this. No big deal. But this here is the 21st century. I wish for mankind to be as far evolved that they see that you cannot suppress culture and language for a long time. It will stir things up. It will make people rebel.

Those in charge in Madrid, and also our little Napoleon of the Balears, Ramon Bauzà, would be well advised if he saw that denying people to speak their own mother tongue is a crime. It is a direct reference to the military dictatorship of Franco. And to be honest, this in itself gives me the creeps.

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What gives me the creeps even more is that there was a report that they want to reprimand people who speak on facebook, twitter or any online media about things that could cause a public disorder. This is also a step away from a democratic system. Be warned. And be alert that Spain and also the Balearics do not move back in time. This would be fatal.

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I seriously apologize that I could not post the homage to T.S. Eliot whose birthday it is today. But I will take the opportunity to thank you.

There is a distance that seems endless, limitless and somehow almost unfathomable when we think back to our predecessors. And yet, we still have so much within us that goes back right to the times when we were barely clad with some animal skins and went out collecting berries, herbs and fruit while the strongest and most valiant of our tribe would go out hunting to put meat on the table. When I think about what is going on in our society I come to the conclusion that we are not that far away at all. Not only are our clothing customs somewhat strange when one thinks about it long enough, not only are the women still suffering from hitting the socalled glass ceiling that keeps them from rising fast enough and high enough according to their mental and social qualities. Not only are the most valiant ones in our tribes somewhat degenerated. They no longer go out hunting. They no longer come back with something which is good for everyone in the tribe. And what’s more: They no longer are the most valiant ones, the most clever ones we have.

To be honest with you… In one weird fleeting moment I really thought about what would happen if Rajoy, Sarkozy and Merkel and all the other statesmen were subjected to the piercing eyes of a neanderthal tribe… What would happen then? We can only guess. Sounds like the beginning of another far-out science fiction story? Maybe. But… Come to think of it. The Neanderthals were not foolish. They did not have the intellectual capacities. But they had another thing instead, and that was the will and the power to survive. They knew if they would stick together they would be able to feed each and everyone who was strong enough to make it. There was a selection, maybe a cruel one. But at the end of the day they would make sure that only the ones that understood better, worked harder, and fought better, hit harder and had stronger teeth or wider shoulders would make it. Don’t get me wrong I am not an advocate for a social Darwinism here, not at all.

All I am saying is that back in those days, they still had the right perspective. And that was a straight and narrow path they had. Make or break. Do or die. They knew it. If they made one fatal decision, well, it might cost them or the whole tribe their lives.

So, back to our situation in 2012, here we are. Mankind, highly eveloped species. Or at least that’s what we think we are. I think we are not that far away from Mr and Mrs Caveman around a few thousands years ago. Only, Mr and Mrs Caveman died probably at the age of 34 or 39 if they were lucky enough to see their grandchildren. Life was accelerated back then. Accelerated to survive.

Today we have a different kind of acceleration. An acceleration to consume, to use, to abuse and to throw away. We have children at the age that some of our predecessors had when they died after a long and fulfilled life. We, in turn, don’t know what to do with ourselves. We want to remain children all our adult lives, in an endless quest to pamper ourselves, we lose ourselves in the endless sea of open doors, of unfulfilled possibilities. And still, we are not one inch better than the caveman. Cos we also like to make a killing, we would like to see defeat, we would like to burn down the house of someone who did us wrong. So, any kind of upbeat message here?

To be honest, I guess there is none.

Mankind in itself is cruel, set out to kill, destroy and dominate their peers as much as their enemies. We live in a not so fairytale world. How did I come up with this topic? Well, that is a very good question indeed. I am not so philosophical myself but I do consider myself a good observer of people and also of situations. I can see a picture or a scene, and I can tell you straight up what is wrong here.

The problem however being that seeing the problem … well let’s be honest … it does not get us anywhere. In my book, we as a species, can only survive if we stop being so downright debased, mean, selfish, and depraved. That is what is killing us? It is our own innermost character. Nothing more, nothing less.

We all shout it from the rooftops, we all want to be the good ones in the script, but when someone knocks at our door, the scenery changes very fast and we become someone we would not like to be at all. We become the judge, we judge anyone else but ourselves. We are quite a selfish lot. A lot that really does not understand the truth that is staring us in the face.

Europe is a blatant failure when you take away the pink glasses that every Eurovision Song Contest still wants to convey – alas, in vain. Maastricht seems to have been nothing but a fairytale. And that was just a historic breath away, twenty years, no more.

The currency Euro has failed as well.

The commonground idea of the European union has been given up by some politicians who have their say. It is a sad circus of overpaid government officials.

The majority of people is not really interested in reading the sign of the times. The writing is on the wall.

The coming years, we are going to experience life not as fun, not as easygoing as it once was.That of course only goes if you belong to the 80% of the people who are not blessed with a big acquisitive power. Let’s put things even more plainly. We may have no hope to reach financial freedom in our lives. But let’s be clear. The stakes are high. The crisis has sharpened the gaping jaws of poverty that are opened wide and we can maybe just about make it. That is: if we are intelligent enough and if we are lucky.

The most essential items are back: We are lucky if we have a roof above our heads, if we are allowed to work, and if we can set food on the table each and every day. If we can afford medical attention. The crisis is the new plague. The incubation time is over. The illness is spreading, and the patient is frail, but it has not reached its peak yet, even though some of us might believe it is already full on there, but no… Lucky us, no?

But inspite of the turmoil, the confusion and the spreading loss of values in society, in society’s nuclei (the family) and in companies, people try out things. New things. Exciting things. They start to remember their creative power. They organise themselves. They form new entities. New stateforms. New political parties. Alternative paths are often chosen.

 

 

Like in Catalunya, as much as in Scotland. People are remembering that they might actually be able to move a thing or two if they start fighting. To be honest, living in Spain and in a region were Catalan is spoken, at this very moment, proves to be the most exciting experience I could wish for. Don’t get me wrong. I live here because I chose to be here. It was not a random decision. It was well anticipated.

For me, as a philologist and historian, this whole Independence issue in Catalunya and the fight for Catalan remaining a second language is a very exciting, thrilling, and intriguing thing to witness. Everything seems possible at the moment. If people are strong enough to fight.

But there are other things, that go right beyond Spain and the Catalan Independence Fighters. Europe itself is reshaping. I have the feeling that the next five years and our economic wells and woes are going to shape Europe, the old world and also shape us in many ways.

It is time to pass on to a new chapter. This is history that invites you not just to sit there and stare at your computer on end. Think of all the bad things going on in your own country. Think about what you as an individual could do to make a change. Think about where you seem to be the prisoner of old habits, of jaded traditions, a victim of politicians’ greed for more, just spending the money of others while doing nothing for the public benefit. Where are you in this picture? Who or what is holding you back? Or if you are free – Where could you help others or yourself to free yourself of the shackles of modern day life?

Sometimes, many isolated baby steps may lead to a giant leap. Even though, I must admit, I am not really a deeply political person, I am fed up with the situation in so many ways and for me it is true. The time has come. No-one with a decent enough brain and heart should be non-political. I would wish for many changes. As much for the system itself, as well as in terms of political transparence, in terms of penalization of defrauding of boni grabbing, greedy and simply lying politicians as well as bankers, in terms of a solidarity between the rich and the poor, in terms of respecting language, identity, education and culture.

Culture is not a luxury. It is a must.

You too can make a change!

When you look around in the world. Most of the people are concerned with the 9/11 celebration and remembrance services for the heroes in NYC. But, living in Spain, 9/11 gets outdone easily by this year’s “L’Onze de setembre” which is the National Day for all Catalans. I don’t want to go too deep into the history of the date but it goes back to the year 1714 when a lot of people died a heroic death, serving their country and dying for it.

The world of 2012 is undisputably quite different nowadays. First of all, today a lot of Catalans were in Barcelona celebrating the Catalonian National Day. This was a day of historical dimensions. There were 2 million people present in the Catalonian capitol Barcelona. A lot of them waving the red and yellow flag with the star. They showed their political opinion. And it was a demonstration that had no major hickups as far as I know.

Then, some of us need to follow a more mundane rhythm of life. Basically, you are far away. Back in the olden days, you would have yesterday’s paper to inform yourself. But hey, this is 21st century. You have all the comfort of sitting at home, watching television, using the social media such as facebook and twitter to receive the information of an event you would like to witness rather closely but cannot make it.

To be honest, I did feel quite close to the events. I read a lot of well written articles about how people right now. Of course, I am just someone who immigrated about five years ago, but I still feel I have a right to form a political opinion on what is evolving here before my very eyes. Even though it is quite clear that if I had had such a terrible urge to go, I would have gone there. I can safely say: Go on, Catalans. Try to push forward. It is worth a try. Go on, Catalans. Don’t submit yourself. And what I saw today was a sign that a lot of young and youngish Catalans are not prepared to tolerate too much shit we are being fed each and every day. They have been pushed that far that now the idea of separating from Spain altogether does not seem such a bad idea.

And you know what… After having done a fair bit of reading, I totally agree with them.

Visca Catalunya lliure.

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