The people of Catalonia have once again held a massive rally in Barcelona in commemoration of September 11 (see last year). One would think that after several years of huge demostrations calling for independence from Spain, Catalans would be exhausted. After all, these tremendous gatherings of people are created voluntarily by the citizens of Catalonia. Nonetheless, Catalans have once again managed to amaze. This year a mega rally consisting of no less than 2 million people still managed to remain as peaceful, well mannered and merry as in previous years, and with no shortage of creativity.
A university student from my Catalan Culture class commented, in relation to the Catalan demonstrations, that the people of Catalonia should be praised not only for their determination and civility, but also for their creativity. I believe she was right, because the inventiveness displayed in each one of these rallies is truly remarkable.
This year the theme for the rally in Barcelona has been “Freeway to the Catalan Republic”. People gathered at the Meridiana Avenue in groups carrying pointers of ten different colors representing the objectives of the new Catalan Republic, such as democracy (yellow), social justice (brown), equality (lilac), sustainability (dark green) or culture and education (orange). At 17:14 hours (in reference to the year 1714 when Barcelona was conquered by Spain) in the middle of the street a giant pointer, carried by champion athletes, moved forward at around 15 km per hour towards the Catalan Parliament. As the giant pointer passed a group of a particular color, the group raised their pointers. At 18:00 hours the giant pointer arrived at its destination, a grand stage, to be followed by speeches and music.
In this link the video with the message from Liz Castro, in English, addressed to the world.
The event was attended by more than 150 international media journalists, from the BBC, The Guardian, The New York Times International, al-Jazeera, Le Monde, Wall Street Journal, Le Figaro, and many others.
The Free Way demonstration this September 11 takes on a special significance because it is only 16 days away from the parlamentarian elections in Catalonia —September 27—, which will serve as a plebiscite for Catalonia’s secession from Spain and the creation of a new sovereign Catalan State.
Will the Catalan people finally break the chains that bind them to a country that despises them? Or are Catalans to continue entertaining the world with impressive demostrations while enduring further robbery, insults and attacks on their culture from Spain? If the votes on September 27 result in majority in favour of independence, and the Kingdom of Spain continues to refuse to accept the will of the people of Catalonia, perhaps then the international community, until now content to sit on the sidelines, will finally step forward.
Another September 11th and another huge demonstration for independence in Catalonia. Well thought out, highly successful and perfectly peaceful and civilized, as all other rallies for independence have been in this Mediterranean nation (last year here). This time it gathered up to 2 million people, becoming the second largest demonstration in European history. In Barcelona two million Catalans dressed in red and yellow T-shirts formed an enormous V ―for victory, for vote, for voluntat, Catalan for “will”― that stretched 11 km along two main avenues. Needless to say, it was accompanied by Catalan independence flags and songs and a good spirit.
Hopefully this will be the last rally needed before achieving their separation from the Kingdom of Spain, because this year, on the 9th of November, the Catalan people want to have a referendum to vote for independence. A perfectly normal wish, to vote in a referendum, a right in any democratic country. However, the response of the Spanish government to this issue is prohibition. It proscribes the people of Catalonia to express themselves in a democratic manner, by voting. Therefore, the Catalans will have to find a way to have an official referendum despite Spain’s intolerance.
In addition, this September 11th of 2014 has marked exactly the 300 years since the fall of Barcelona after a horrific siege, when Catalonia lost its independence and was annexed as a colony to the Kingdom of Spain. In the History of England (1732), Nicolas Tindal wrote the following:
The Catalans . . . underwent the utmost miseries of a siege; during which multitudes perished by famine and the sword, many were afterwards executed, and many persons of figure were dispersed about the Spanish Dominions and dungeons.
Since then and for 300 years Catalonia has been under the control of the newly created country called Spain which despises anything Catalan. The Catalans have been mocked, insulted, oppressed and robbed by Spain which to this day claims its right of conquest. For 300 years! Wouldn’t you agree that enough is enough?
Work keeps me away from this blog for too long but some Catalan news is so tremendously important that I am impelled to write a post. As was the case last year, today’s post arises from the events on the 11th of September that in the last two years have transformed Catalonia’s national day into a demand for independence. You can read last year’s post here to keep track of history in the making of this mediterranean nation.
This year’s national demonstration has been called Catalan Way Toward Independence. A human chain extended throughout 400 kilometres along the coast, from Vinarós (Valencia, inside the Spanish State) to El Pertús (Northern Catalonia, in the State of France), to tell the world Catalans want their own State. One million six hundred thousand people joined hands at 17:14 hours, a reference to the year 1714 when Barcelona ―the last place still standing up to the Bourbonic army― was taken and Catalonia was integrated by force into the new State of Spain.
If last year’s colossal demonstration in Barcelona for the independence of Catalonia caught the attention of the media around the world, this year’s human chain achieved even more wide spread attention. It was impossible to ignore such an endeavour by the Catalans. Can you imagine not only the amazing number of people and the extension of the human chain but also the organization requiered to acomplish it? One has to applaud the people of Catalonia for their enthusiasm, effort, perseverance, coordination and, let’s not forget, the exemplary manner in which everything was performed. Once more Catalans have demonstrated a high level of civility.
Between August 1 and September 11 the Catalan Way was also built in numerous countries around the world: Canada, China, Argentina, England, Germany, Gambia, Nepal, Australia and many, many more. In Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Andorra and Alghero (Sardinia), all part of the Catalan Countries, other human chains were also formed on September 11 2013.
There cannot be a doubt in anybody’s mind that Catalans want to secede from Spain, to once again have their own country, the sovereignty to make their own decisions like any other free country, to regain what was brutally taken from them in 1714 by an artificial construction called Spain. How many massive demonstrations and gigantic human chains are necessary to obtain freedom?
Link to The Guardian (including many photos of the Catalan Way)
The Catalan Way in Toronto (Canada)
The Catalan Way in London (England)
The Catalan Way in Catalonia
A few days ago, on September 11, 2012, a peaceful march of one million and a half people (2 million, according to organizers) was held in the city of Barcelona. Everybody was calling for the independence of Catalonia from Spain. Why? Because Catalans are absolutely fed up with Spain. It is not a new feeling, by the way. The sentiment of frustration has stayed with the Catalans since Barcelona fell to the Bourbon army on September 11, 1714, when Spain invented itself as the State we know today.
For three centuries Catalonia has endured opression, bombardements, Spanish fascist dictators, ridicule, hostility and endless attacks to its language, Catalan. Let’s not forget that Catalonia was an independent Nation-State dating back to the 13th century, as international historian Pierre Vilar has clearly explained. Why, then, this cry for independence when Spain is now (in theory, at least) a democratic country? Because Spanish lack of respect towards Catalonia and its language has never ceased to exist and, on top of it all, Spain is strangling Catalonia’s economy. Catalonia is the largest contributer to the Spanish economy, an excessive fiscal contribution without precedents in any other European country, and yet now Catalonia cannot pay for basic services. This constitutes outrageously unfair treatement by Spain considering that, after fiscal redistribution, Catalonia has worse public services than subsidised regions.
Therefore, the reasons for this march are historical, cultural and economical. Catalonia has no more patience. Independence from Spain is the only answer. To make this message clear, a million and a half Catalans joined together on the streets of Barcelona on Tuesday. It was a demonstration not only astonishing due to the number of people gathered but also for the civility showed by all —there was not a single incident of violence or uncivilized behaviour. People sang, danced and, hoisting thousands of independence flags, expressed in happiness their determination that Catalonia once again, centuries later, be a free country, a European state, an independent nation.
No, not this blog, far from it. I am talking about the Lipdub for Independence, that you can see in the post below. Today it has reached one million views. Or in other words, on the date 11-1-11, this video has now been watched one million times.
If you have not watched it yet, just go to the post under this one and click it. Do not miss it!
Do you know what a Lip dub is? It’s the new craze on the Internet. A group of people are filmed while they listen to a song and pretend to sing it. Later on, in post editing, the film is dubbed over with the original audio of the song. The result is a music video. It needs three characteristics to become a succesful Lip dub: the appearance of spontaneity and authenticity, and participation. Usually this videos are done in a single shot that moves through different areas.
Recently, on October 24, 2010, a Lip dub video was recorded in the city of Vic (Catalonia) with the participation of almost six thousand people. The World Records Academy awarded the World Record to this video for having the highest participation ever.
There is more to this video, though. Its title is “Lip dub for the independence”, the independence of Catalonia and all the Catalan Countries –aside from Andorra which is alredy independent. The idea behind was to make known to all the world that Catalonia is a nation that should be independent. The song played is “La Flama” (The Flame) composed by the band “Obrint pas” from Valencia.
Today I would like to share with you an excellent You Tube video created by Quico Romeu: World Heritage in the Catalan Countries.
This is a general overview of the Catalan Countries, from prehistoric times to the art of Gaudí, from beautiful landscapes to a moving speech at the United Nations. Everything is very nicely designed, and the traditional music from the Catalan Countries as a background enhances the video’s appeal.
I am very grateful to Quico Romeu for allowing me to use his video in my blog.
In the Sant Andreu district of Barcelona, Catalonia, there is a school of music. There are many schools of music in Barcelona, but this particular one is the cradle of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, composed entirely of young musicians, some as young as 8 years old. And they are fantastic! It is the European jazz band with the youngest musicians and is already participating in numerous jazz festivals. In some performances they play alone and in others they are accompanied by famous jazz musicians. The creator of the band and its musical director is Joan Chamorro.
Here are some videos so you can judge for yourselves. Don’t miss it!
Yesterday, July 10, the Catalan people asserted that they want to break with Spain. Using the slogan “We are a Nation. We Decide”, and raising thousands upon thousands of Catalan flags, Catalans had a demonstration in Barcelona with an attendance of one and a half million people. The demonstrators included people of all ages, political ideologies, social status and representatives of Catalan institutions. This event also saw demonstrations held throughout the rest of Catalonia. The Basque Country gave its support to the people of Catalonia as well. Catalans living abroad gathered together or organized smaller rallies in Paris, Toulouse, London, Dublin, Berlin, Quito and New York. This has been the first massive demonstration for independence in Catalonia.
This did not come out of the blue; the independent movement has been gaining momentum for a long time. For instance, there have been numerous referendums on independence organized by thousands of civilians since September 2009. The last event, though, happened recently, when the Constitutional Court of Spain changed the articles of Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy. The result of the changes left Catalonia with reduced rights within the the Spanish state, which, to the majority of Catalans, is intolerable. Among what are considered to be a series of acts of legal butchery to the document, one in particular has infuriated Catalans: the Constitutional Court of Spain has decided that Catalonia is not a nation. The changes in the Statute are a slap in the face for Catalans. Therefore, Catalans have decided that enough is enough. We are a Nation and we decide our future.
And a picture from London, England
On the night of June 23, Catalonia and the rest of the Catalan Countries celebrate the Nit de Sant Joan (Night of Saint John), which coincides with the summer solstice. Nobody is quite sure of the origin of this celebration. What is sure, though, is that it is a magical night in which fire plays a major role. Many bonfires burn all night in small towns, in front of farms and throughout neighbourhoods in the cities. And all over Catalonia there is an amazing display of firecrackers and fireworks, colourfully illuminating the summer night.
In 1955 an old tradition related to St. Joan was reinstated; since then, Catalans have annually lit a bonfire at the Canigó mountain, in the Pyrenees of Northern Catalonia. On the morning of June 23, they take a flame from the Canigó mountain and carry it around the Catalan Countries lighting many thousands of bonfires. During the years of Franco’s dictatorship in the State of Spain, the celebration of the Flama del Canigó had to be done in secrecy, except in the French territories, due to the fact that the flame is a symbol that represents the Catalan culture and its hope for persistence.
In Our World
Some of you may wonder why I decided to make Catalan the language spoken in most of the other world.
Maybe you did not realize that Beyond the Dream is a translation from Més enllà del somni, written in Catalan. Well, Catalan is my language and I wrote the book in my language. Later it was translated into English by the Canadian author Caroline Roe.
Now, perhaps, you may want to find out about this language. What language is Catalan?
Catalan is one of the Western Romance languages -as is French or Spanish or Italian- and is spoken in Catalonia and other Catalan Countries since the Middle Ages. By the 12th century Catalan was spoken in Catalonia (north and south of the Pyrenees). During the 13th and 14th centuries it spread its dominion throughout Valencia and several areas of the Mediterranean, particularly the Balearic Islands. Although the first written documents appeared in the 12th century, Catalan literature flourished from the 13th century onwards. It is a language actually spoken by around 10 million people; clearly not a minority language. Furthermore, literature written in Catalan encompasses thousands of works and is of a very high standard. Many of these works have been translated into other languages, some of them in English. Below you have a couple of exemples.
Mercè Rodoreda is considered by many to be the most important Catalan novelist of the postwar period. Her novel La plaça del diamant (“The diamond square’, translated as The Time of the Doves, 1962) has become the most acclaimed Catalan novel of all time and since the year it was published for the first time, it has been translated into over 20 languages. It is also considered by many to be best novel dealing with the Spanish Civil War. (click the book for more information)
Written from a totalising perspective, Espriu’s work has taken on the form of an “encyclopaedic summa”, of the classical epics and great contemporary authors: Eliot, Pound, Joyce, etc. Perhaps the most important virtue and, ultimately, originality of Espriu has been his capacity to reconcile, in the same unitary work, the spiritual problems of man, with metaphysical resonances, with his fate as a member of a group subjected to social and political tensions, while posing the great questions of justice and liberty. (click the book for more information)
In the Other World
Although you now know about Catalan, you may still be asking yourselves why I chose it as the common language for the other world.
I just explained that Catalan is my language and that I wrote Beyond the Dream in this language, therefore it stands to reason that I chose this language and not another. But why does the other world need a common language anyway? Well, because it is easier to develop the novel, to avoid boring and endless explanations and to mantain a sort of logic througout the story.
Before writing the novel I was thinking about how I could create a story where the characters in another world would be from many different countries and should understand each other. The answer came almost at once: a common language! And that language should be, of course, Catalan.
I also needed this common language to be understood by the main character from our world. In Beyond the Dream, Anna, the main character, knows Catalan. Although Anna is from English Canada, her parents were born in Catalonia and she speaks this language with them. Her classmate Alison, who also travels to the other world, learns Catalan in order to understand the people there.
The readers of the novel may remember that another language is present in the other world: English, spoken only by the inhabitants of Gelgel. This addition was useful for allowing Anna and Alison to better understand their new surroundings. It also gave a bit of linguistic diversity to that world.
In our world Catalan is well known by the people of the Catalan Countries but not as well by other people, while English is a very strong language and everybody knows at least of its existence. Ironically, in Beyond the Dream Catalan gets the upper hand by becoming the common language of the majority of a whole world.
In Catalonia, where I was born, we have a wonderful celebration. We celebrate culture and love and we have this celebration on Saint George’s Day, La Diada de Sant Jordi, on April 23.
Saint George is the patron saint of Catalonia and from him originates the Legend of the Killing of the Dragon. Saint George’s Day in Catalonia is a unique traditional festivity that all Catalans await in anticipation of giving Books and Roses to their loved ones.
Saint George, Sant Jordi, is now celebrated around the World.
Join the Catalans today April 23 with books and roses.
If you have read Beyond the Dream you know that up on a mountain there is a castle overlooking the Town of Rocdur. It is the infamous Castle of Rocdur. It is inhabited by the Lord and his people. Among them are a selected few, the Keeper of the Mirrors and his team, six men altogether. They are the Wise Men who work in the Hall of Mirrors.
In Beyond the Dream the description of the Hall of Mirrors is as follows:
“The Hall is spacious and contains six mirrors at which the wise men usually work. The mirrors are used, mostly, for spying operations, a difficult task that requires great concentration on their part. They are to watch enemies, but are also useful for finding one of their own men.” (31-32)
In a way, the mirrors function as a sort of computer and the wise men, well – I suppose they are really government workers. But the Hall of Mirrors does not resemble an office. The Hall of Mirrors is quite dark –all the rooms in the Castle are. The only illumination comes from two torches perched on the back wall, casting shadows over the oppressive room. Because even the considerable size of the hall and its high ceiling cannot dispel the overwhelming feeling of stuffiness and enclosure.
The mirrors are also dark, barely reflecting those who stand in front of them. It is only when the images they are seeking flicker in their smooth surface, that colours, movement and voices dissipate the dimness, dullness and silence that fills in the hall. But the shimmer, the images and the sounds hardly ever appear – except in a couple of mirrors on lucky days. The rest of the time the hall is in gloomy darkness.
The unpleasant atmosphere of the place is made worse because of the large table that stands against the wall in front of the mirrors. Its surface covered with bottles of different sizes, all full of blood. The dark red that fills the bottles intensifies the lugubrious atmosphere of the Hall of Mirrors.
On page 232 of Beyond the Dream we learn that the six “mirrors had been in the Castle from remote times, before the Lord of Rocdur”. And, dear readers, I must leave it at that. I cannot give you more information, yet, about the origin of the mirrors. It is still a secret. You’ll find the explanation in one of the books that will follow Beyond the Dream.