dimarts, 11 de setembre de 2012

Bona Diada: The National Day of Catalunya

The 11th of September is the national day of Catalunya, commonly reffered to as the diada. This year, perhaps more than ever the celebration has been transformed into a rallying point for pro-independence Catalans. Millions of people are expected to fill the streets of Barcelona for what is being called a 'March for Independence' under a banner declaring, in English as well as Catalan, "Catalonia; the next state of Europe". Estelades, the pro-independence variation of the Catalan flag, will be draped around shoulders, be waved aloft and hang proudly from town halls, civic buildings and homes across Catalunya.


Estelades in Barcelona

In the weeks leading up to the 11th of September, the political atmosphere within Catalunya has approached a boiling point. On the 3rd of this month the mayor and council of  Sant Pere de Torelló voted to declare  the small town a 'free Catalan territory'. This prompted veiled threats from an outspoken general of the Spanish army. Francisco Alamán has been quoted as saying "Independence for Catalonia? Over my dead body", drawing worrying support from some Spaniards, and widespread Catalan condemnation and demands for an explanation from the Spanish Ministry of Defence. In the past week many more town councils have passed pro-independence motions, urging the ruling CiU party and president Artur Mas to take a stronger position on the future of an independent Catalunya.
General Francisco Alamán-Castro
These events have gone widely unreported in the UK, where the majority of media outlets normally see 'Catalonia' as synonymous with bylines of  'Spain', 'bailout' and 'euro-crisis'. While the Guardian features a story titled "Barcelona braces for million-strong march for Catalan independence" on its homepage, news of the march on other sites is conspicuous in its absence. Yet Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams has tabled a largely symbolic early day motion that "congratulates all the people of Catalonia on the occasion of their National Day" and "expresses concerns that the current Spanish constitution allows neither for the independence of part of its territory nor for the holding of a referendum on independence". While the motion will not recieve required signatures to force a debate on the issue, the EDM text will be placed on public record at Westminster as an expression of solidarity from the Pro-independence Welsh party. 

This September 11th could prove a definitive turning point in the future of Catalunya. Whatever the political ramifications that may follow, here's hoping that today will stand as an example of what peaceful demonstration can achieve, in direct opposition to the threats of violent oppression from General Alamán and his ilk.

Bona Diada a tothom.


Links:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/11/barcelona-march-catalan-independence- Guardian article
http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/491- Hywel Williams' Early Day Motion
http://www.elperiodico.com/es/videos/politica/sant-pere-torello-declara-independencia/2044527.shtml- (Video) Sant Pere de Torelló declares independece (in Spanish)
http://www.elperiodico.com/es/noticias/diada-2012/coronel-ejercito-amenaza-intervencion-militar-catalunya-proclama-independencia-2195147- General Alamán's threats (in Spanish)

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