So, here we are again, this time I’ll share some of the thoughts Xavi shared with me, regarding Catalonia’s independence (2nd part) and a popular assembly we went to.
On another note, I’ll add a picture of Mar Carrera and some info about her work, before Xavi’s texts.
The Canòdrom is an old facility placed in the neighbourhood of “el Congrés” in Barcelona. For many years it was used for greyhound racing, but some years ago it was closed and while the running track was converted into a park, all stands and rooms fell into disuse. 10 years have passed and the Canòdrom is still abandoned. By 2006 it has been planned to transform it into a hub or platform for the development of cultural enterprises, but after 8 years and a lot of complaints by the associations of the neighbourhood it is still just a promise. Moreover the Building won the FAD award of architecture and it is recognised around the world.
In this context a group of neighbours started to claim this building for the neighbours use (https://www.facebook.com/canodrom?fref=ts) and not for cultural enterprises, in order to give use to this building and at the same time provide the community with events and a space that could be used for activities and associations.
The initiative was conceived in the course of an open assembly of the CUP (Popular Unity Candidates) (http://cupsantandreu.wordpress.com/) that took place in the neighbourhood of “el Congrés”. The assembly pointed out the necessity to push the City Hall to do something with this building. It was then when a new assembly was formed, to create a campaign to take back the building. This new group brought together all the neighbours who were interested in the cause, including the Assamblea de Joves del Congrés (an assembly of young people from the neighbourood) (https://www.facebook.com/jocongres).
In addition, the CUP supported the group with its resources. Their first demonstration was an open-door day at the Canòdrom. The day was full of activities. There were cultural activities with Els Diables de Sant Andreu (http://www.sant-andreu.com/entitats/diables-stap/), activities for the children, breakfast, brunch and two talks on similar experiences more developed to this project like Can Batlló. It was an occasion for the neighbours to propose ideas about how to use this building. In conclusion, the main idea of all of that has been to create awareness among the neighbours about this problem, to open the project to the people and to pressure the City Hall to listen to the people.
What’s happening in Catalonia nowadays.
In Catalonia there’s a popular revolt. This revolt is caused by the collapse of the norms and ideals that rule the actual Spanish regime, el Pacto de la Transición española (the Spanish Transition Pact). In some way it’s caused by the economic situation that the Spanish State is living but equally important is the growth of separatism over the last decades, deriving from the lack of sensibility of the Spanish State about the Catalan culture and identity.
On the other hand, the revolt has been provoked by some disloyal political choices of the Spanish government on great public issues that have caused a great disappointment in the catalan society, such as the decision to banish the new regional Carta Magna of Catalonia or the construction of important facilities and communications. At the root of that ideological movement is a disagreement about what Spain is supposed to be. There are different points of view about the territorial development, the respect for the cultures, languages and identities that are not Castilian. Overall it is an opposition to a centralist nationalism that understands that the most important part of the development of the Spanish State has to be carried by Madrid. In fact all the communications and investments start in Madrid although there’s such a big potential in the Mediterranean and Cantabric coastal regions.
This Catalan separatist movement has been possible due to the incapability of the Spanish government to predict what is going to happen in Catalonia and to the immovable political position based on threating, avoiding negotiation and banning the democratic referendum in Catalonia. The Spanish Government can’t say much or do a lot because, for decades, they have been feeding a Spanish nationalist right wing, that believes the exact opposite of what the Catalan idea advocates. They have won the debate of what is to be Spain. The Spanish left, on the other hand, not only has lost the social debate (right-left) as the rest of the socialdemocratic parties of Europe. They have also lost the territorial debate, embracing, only with some thin differences, what the Spanish right/centralism says.
The Catalan case is really a particular example of how the people are answering the economic situation that affects all the southern countries of Europe. There is a remarkable level of empowerment of the people on these matters. In fact this issue has not been put in the political agenda by the political class. It was put by thousands of people from the bases that started to do local referendums in every town in Catalonia. These initiatives kept on increasing until 2011, when one million and a half people took part in a demonstration in Barcelona to claim the right to vote. The following year the Catalans did a human chain that covered the whole coast from one border to the other: nearly 400 km of people taking their hands. The answer to the call was massive and representative of the social diversity of the country. At the end the political class had to defend that political option. Now they are waiting for a referendum at 9 of November to vote if the Catalans want to be independents or to be part of the Spanish State. There is still a question about that because the Spanish government has forbidden this referendum. Nobody really knows what will be the next step.
This social movement is not a classic nationalist movement based on a leader and on fundamentalist beliefs. The Catalan society has always been an open society in which anyone is defined as a Catalan if he/she wants to. What catalanism ever said is that a Catalan is anyone who lives and works in Catalonia. There are no specific religious or racial characteristics. For Catalans what is important is the language, that has always been threatened by the great presence of the Spanish and its wide use in many sectors of the Catalan society.
For all Catalans this process supposes a change to rewrite their rules, to create a new country and a new constitution. It is an opportunity to try to solve the mistakes that brought them to this crisis. The majority of the Catalan society is positioned on the left, so for all of them there is the hope to take back most of the welfare state that the crisis and the neoliberal politics have stolen from them (and I add, while redistributing it amongst corrupt bodies of power, decision and enterprises).