Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Galícia gets on board for Independence Referendums

A vote similar to that in Arenys de Munt is being organized in a town near Santiago

The referendum on independence for Catalonia that was held on September 13 in Arenys de Munt has been, without a doubt, the first section in a new chapter in the history of independentism. While on the Catalan front there are more and more city governments who are approving motions in support of these referendums, now this initiative has crossed the border and arrived all the way to Galicia. "In Arins like in Arenys: Independence" is the lemma that the Sei o Que Nos Figestes... Nos Últimos 525 Anos Organization is using to promote the referendum that they will hold this Saturday, October 3 in the town of Arins, near Santiago.

The vote will begin at 6 in the evening, after a conference on "The passionate strategy of popular referendums" by the professor of Economic Structures at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Ramom Lôpez-Suevos, and which will also feature the presence of representatives of the Lliga Anticolonial [Anticolonial League]. The question that they ask is: "Do you want Galicia to continue being a colony like during the last 525 years or, on the contrary, would you like it to be, from this point forward, something completely different?"

Originally published in Racó Català, 30/sep/09 14:00h

Ripoll, Arbúcies and Blanes Approve Giving Support to Independence Referendums

In Sant Feliu, the motion did not pass thanks to the vote of PSC, ICV and PP

Ripoll, Arbúcies and Blanes are the latest to add themselves to the long list of towns who have approved giving support to the celebration of a referendum on the independence of Catalonia. In Sant Feliu de Llobregat, the motion was not successful because of the votes of PSC, PP and five councilpeople who belong to ICV. A session in Roses defeated the motion but approved another that defended the referendums at any rate.

Dozens of town governments have voted in recent dates on motions in support of a referendum on independence. This Monday in Tarragona, PSC and PP joined forces again to defeat a motion in support of a municipal referendum on independence in that town. The councilpeople from ERC (2) and CiU (8), who had voted in favor, were not enough to overcome the votes of PSC (11) and PP (4). The city government, thus, governed by PSC and ERC, denied the motion presented by ERC. Last Thursday, motions were approved in Montblanc, Cardedeu, Borges Blanques, Alella, Bell-lloc d'Urgell, Linyola d'Ivars d'Urgell and Caldes de Montbui. In Balaguer, there was also a vote, but PSC (8) and PP (1) joined forces to vote against it, so that it could not be approved; the five councilpeople from CiU and ERC voted in favor and the two from ICV abstained. aims for more than 100,000 votes for independence

On December 13th, there will be many towns celebrating referendums for independence and the organizers have begun to outline the details. will approve a organizational plan on Saturday for the referendums. The proposal is that the sum of the referendums serve as a National Referendum, with local constituency, and that on the 13th there be more than 50% participation and that they achieve more than 100,000 votes for independence.

Originally published in Vilaweb on 30/sep/09 at 10:39h

Spanish Senior Organization Expels Catalan Group

They kicked them out because they had criticized the anticatalanism of the Spanish group's president

The Federació d'Associacions de Gent Gran de Catalunya (FATEC) [Federation of Associations of Seniors in Catalunya] has been expelled from the Confederación Española de Organizaciones de Mayores (CEOMA) [Spanish Confederation of Seniors' Organizations]. Anticatalanism is at the root of the case. It all started when the president of CEOMA, José Luis Méler, spoke on a radio program in December of 2008. The chronological explanation of the facts begins at that point, when Méler, on the weekly program, 'El Observatorio del Mayor' [Senior Observatory] on Ràdio Onda Madrid, criticized the outlay of the Government of the Generalitat [Catalan Autonomous Government] in linguistic policy, assuring that with this budget they could resolve the financing of the Llei de la Dependència [Law of Dependents]. "The Catalan government spent 157 million euros last year [2007] and with just one fourth of what Catalunya spends on linguistic policy you could finance the economic budget of the Law of Dependents for all the Catalan Seniors for which the Catalan government says there is no money," declared Méler. He rounded it out with a rhetorical question: "What would we rather, more linguistic policy or more attention to the necessities of a law like that of Dependents, that promises you can have your cake and eat it too*," according to directe!cat.

These declarations offended FATEC and they asked for an apology. Méler, without any intention of apologizing, sent a letter to FATEC in which he said his declarations had provoked "an unfair indignation" and that his only objective was "to defend the interests of seniors, which is the principal objective of our confederation." Later, in an assembly that took place on July 15th of this year, with 27 votes in favor, 6 against and 6 abstentions, a vote was taken to expel FATEC for provoking "an obvious bias against the activities of CEOMA."

As a final point, it's important to explain that the 157 million euros that Méler spoke about corresponds to the sum of all of the budget items in all of the departments of the Generalitat related to the Catalan language and the the secretary of Linguistic Policy of the Generalitat has only a budget of 30 million euros.

Originally published in Racó Català on 30/sep/09 at 12:45h

Translation Notes

Méler originally used the phrase "el oro y el moro", which literally translates as "the gold and the Moor", and which means "wanting it all".

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A group inside CDC defects to Reagrupament [Regrouping]

The leader of the group is an ex-national-councillor of Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya [Democratic Convergence Party of Catalonia]

Joan Fonollosa, ex-national-councillor of Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya [Democratic Convergence Party of Catalonia] (CDC) has decided to join Reagrupament [Regrouping], and even present his candidacy for the executive council, at the National Assembly on Saturday. Various members of this sector of CDC, named "Democratic Conferences of Catalunya" and born on September 11th last year, decided to follow Fonollosa's footsteps and also join Reagrupament. The principal goal of the sector is to push for the independence of Catalonia in the European Union from within the CDC; Fonollosa considered CDC "Catalonia's most powerful political tool" for achieving that goal, but now his perception has changed (read it on his blog) and in the meeting that was held September 27, he noted that CDC "has not made any appreciable progress in the sense of working in an effective way toward liberty for Catalonia".

They denounce the "passive attitude of the CDC toward the democratic referendum celebrated with popular support in Arenys de Munt and that will be followed by other towns all over Catalonia". In addition, they also recognize "the disillusionment with the attitude of CDC's direction at the same time as it was becoming more and more clear that faith in CDC was misplaced and that it made more sense to go with Reagrupament".

Following the same line as the independentist ideal, Fonollosa now opts for Reagrupament and hopes to be one of the 18 who will form the executive committee that will be configured this Saturday.

Originally published by Racó Català on 29/sep/09 at 15:00h

Economic Crisis and Sovereigntism, in the general policy debate in Parliament

PSC and CiU bump heads over the success or failure of the management of the economic crisis and ERC defines its sovereigntist* profile

The economic crisis and the new surge of sovereigntism dominated the general policy debate** in parliament. The PSC will try to center the debate, which will be opened by José Montilla this afternoon, on the management of the economic crisis and in defense of self-government, but avoiding everything that has to do with nationalist ambitions. Esquerra, on the other hand, will look to define a nationalist profile, and CiU will try to show that its time in the three-party coalition is coming to an end.

José Montilla will open the general policy debate session at 5 in the evening with a speech in which he will look over this last year, marked by the effects of the economic crisis. It's possible that the president will want to strengthen the image of the government as manager that he has given since the retaking of his political career; in this way, Montilla will attempt to keep discussions that make his party uncomfortable in the background, like the strength and across-the-board acceptance that was won by the independentist movement thanks to the referendum in Arenys de Munt, and the debate over a possible curtailing of powers in the Estatut [Statute of Autonomy] by the Constitutional Court of Spain.

In fact, the Socialist spokesperson, Miquel Iceta, already announced yesterday that his party would omit this last matter from the debate. 'We don't believe that some topics should distract from the fundamental theme, that is the economic crisis," said Iceta, who will outline the merits of the three-party coalition: 'This was the year of the desalinization plant, of the Hospital de Sant Pau, of the tunnel of the Bracons, of the finalization of the deployment of the 'mossos d'esquadra' [Catalan police force], of the inauguration of the 'Ciutat de la Justícia' [Judicial Headquarters of Barcelona and Hospitalet de Llobregat], of the outlying areas, of the negotiation of the financing model, of the LEC [Law of Catalan Education] and the 'Pacte Nacional per la Immigració' [National Pact on Immigration].

Artur Mas will also want to highlight the government's management of the economic crisis, but rather in an effort to demonstrate that there has been a lack of leadership. The president of CiU will make a speech in which he will offer a plan to get through the crisis and to defend self-government and to remind everyone that the constructive opposition that the party has followed permitted the passing of the Law of Catalan Education and the National Pact on Research and on Immigration.

For his part, Joan Puigcercós will speak in a more sovereigntist tone and will announce the beginning of 'an era of national aspirations'. The Republicans will try to show that their management of the government, at the side of PSC, is compatible with contributing to the path of constructing a separate State. 'It is perfectly coherent to be part of the government and to continue to demand change.'

The participation of the parliamentry groups, and the replies by the President of the Generalitat will take place tomorrow. On Thursday, the session will close with the votes on the proposals that will be presented.

Originally published in Vilaweb on 29/sep/09 at 06:00h

Translation Notes:

*Sovereigntist - See Wikipedia article. Although they reference only Quebec and France, I think it's for lack of knowledge, and not lack of relevance
*Debat de política general - I have translated as "General Policy Debate" but I'm not sure if this is a term that already exists in English. Suggestions welcome.

17 days of Experimental Music in Barcelona

This Thursday marks the beginning of the 14th edition of LEM (Localització Executant Metafòrica*)

The fourteenth LEM, without a doubt one of the most eclectic festivals of Barcelona's music scene, unwinds in the Catalan capital from the 1st to the 7th of October. The program, under the responsibility of Gràcia Territori Sonor [Gràcia: Territory of Sound], offers many artists of the new local scene and dedicates a section to some of the most highlighted names of exploratory music in Poland, which is the invited country. There will be Vialka again, the tastes of Àgape (at Casa Almirall).

LEM 2009 offers 22 proposals from poetry, conferences, presentations, gastronomy, sound installations, video, and naturally, experimental music, which is the inevitable protagonist. The opening ceremony, Thursday at Fontana (Espai Jove de Gràcia [Young people's Space in Gràcia], will consist of a triple session. First, the percussionist Carme Garrigó will perform, accompanied by a dance performance by Àfrika Martínez, then, La orquesta del caballo ganador [The Orchestra of the Winning Horse] will mix free jazz, punk, electronica and tropicalism; to finish, Bèstia ferida [Wounded Beast] the trio made up of Mark Cunningham (member of the no wave of New York), Adriàn de Alfonso and Arnau Sala will present their first recorded album, 'Wounded'.

As in other years, LEM will also bring together the works of some of the year's artists in residence at Gràcia Territori Sonor. For example, on October 8, the Misaluba Quintet de Fusta [Misaluba Wood Quintet] will introduce their work inspired by the poems 'Ho Vaig Fer Fer' [I had it done] by Carles Hac Mor at the Caldera, and on the 17th, at Fontana, there will be the Projecte Kalduk - Tejero: guitar, bass, sax, hand-woven recordings, distorted images, samplers, synthesizers, vocals, and black humor.

From the Polish scene, the participants in LEM 2009 include Marek Choloniewski, who, with the Aixònoéspànic [That's not panic] (formed of Víctor Nubla, Quicu Samsó and Albert Guitart) will be the hosts of Impronit this year (on the 14th at the Elèctric Bar), and Krzysztof Kinittel, a signature artist of contemporary Polish music from the last 30 years (on the 15th at the Gràcia Library). Both Krzysztof and Marek will also play in the auditorium at MACBA on the 16th, together with Wlodzimierz Kiniorski, on sax and percussion, and Piotr Bikont, on vocals and objects.

In addition, and for the second year in a row, the Àgape project of gastro-poetic-musical exploration will return to offer their tastings at the Casa Almirall (on October 4).

Each year, the LEM festival proposes a lemma. 2009's is "Non-instruction Manual".

Originally published in Vilaweb on 29/sep/09 at 06:00h

*[rather defies translation.... something like Metaphorical Localization in Action, but suggestions welcome]

Monday, September 28, 2009

Xavier Folch, Chance and Training

Interview with the founder and first publisher of Empúries, on its 25th anniversary

It has been 25 years since Empúries Publishing House, a hallmark of Catalan publishing, was born. We interview Xavier Folch, head of the company that housed Vicent Andrés Estellés, Miquel Bauçà, Enric Casasses, Narcís Comadira, Josep Maria Fonalleras, Biel Mesquida, Josep Palàcios, Albert Roig, Joan Vinyoli, and that offered many books about language and one of the best collections of poetry.

In addition to the interview, we offer a speech from Josep Benet, at the introduction of Empúries, in 1984, and the text from Xavier Folch on the occasion of the 25th anniversary, both of which are included in the commemorative catalog that has just been published.

On April 4, 1984, at the palace of the Generalitat de Catalunya [Catalonia's Autonomous Government building], an event of cultural significance was held: the introduction of Empúries Publishing House. The importance of the event was evidenced by the presence of Jordi Pujol, then president of the Generalitat, and Mayor Pasqual Maragall, who shared the presidential table, despite the fact that their relationship was so tenuous that they were not on speaking terms. The historian, Josep Benet, an important name and consensus builder in Catalan cultural circles, gave a stirring speech, that maintains its significance to this day, to the 400 guests present. Heribert Barrera, president of the Parliament and Xavier Folch, Empúries' publisher, rounded out the presidential table.

The introduction of the publishing house was a very institutional act. Why?

For us, that inaugural act was something very normal, what any European house like Gallimard or Einaudi, who were our role models, might have done. Of course, Empúries didn't have the same resources, but yes some particular characteristics (for many years we published more books about language than all the other Catalan houses combined since language is a central issue to Catalan culture).

Empúries was founded by the owner of Nenuco, Miquel Horta, the filmmaker Pere Portabella, the publisher Enric Folch, and you. And later you were joined by the painter, Antoni Tàpies. Empúries, then, was born in the bosom of PSUC [Communist Party of Catalonia].

I was a member and Pere Portabella was there as an independent. Miquel Horta was more a sympathizer of a branch that broke off from PSUC. Enric Folch, however, stayed away from politics. Folch, who is no relation to me, helped us very much at the beginning. He was the head of Paidós and he rented us two rooms before we had our own offices.

Tell us about the role that Miquel Horta, Pere Portabella and Antoni Tàpies had at Empúries

Miquel Horta is one of the best and most generous people I have ever met. And being rich and generous at the same time is quite rare. During the first years, we were always trying to make ends meet and he covered us (thanks to the success of El món de Sofia [Sophie's World] by Jostein Gaarder that paid all the debts). After Miquel Horta, it was Pere Portabella who most helped us. Because, beyond investments, he had a huge network of contacts. And Antoni Tàpies in other ways, he donated covers and other things for us. Really, the founders gave us moral support, but they didn't intervene in the day-to-day dealings of the publishing house. Maybe Miquel did that the most, because he had more time and because he also had many good ideas: thanks to him we published 'El Bulli. Els sabors del Mediterrani' [El Bulli Restaurant. The Tastes of the Mediterranean] by Ferran Adrià and also 'Barcelonés' [Barcelonian] by Manolo Vázquez Montalbán.

Empúries began without a collection of fiction, publishing only poetry and essays

That's because my publishing experience was with non-fiction. And because I had two original collections of magnificent poetry, one by Joan Vinyoli and the other a translation by Xavier Benguerel of "El cementiri marí' by Paul Valéry. Poetry has been the crown jewel of Catalan literature. Without poetry we would have second-rate literature. And it's clear that we have good story tellers, but they are few. Throughout history, we find Llull and El Tirant, and then we get to Pla, Rodoreda, Sales, Villalonga, part of Sagarra...

What would you like to highlight in the catalog?

If I wrote a history of Catalan literature, between 1984 and 2009 we would see that some authors have gotten a lot more play than others: Joan Vinyoli has gotten much more attention now than he did 25 years ago; and also Miquel Bauçà. And some that are alive: Fonalleras, Mesquida, Casasses... There are also names that we discovered, like Fonalleras, Casasses (who was surrounded by legend), Albert Roig...

You have published special editions of five books out of the entire catalog on the occasion of your 25th anniversary: 'Carrer Marsala' [Marsala Street] by Miquel Bauçà; 'Domini màgic' and 'Passeig d'aniversari' de Joan Vinyoli (in a single volume); 'Nou contes' [Nine Stories] by J. D. Salinger; 'El desert dels Tàrtars' [The Tartar Steppe] de Dino Buzzati; i 'Memòries' de Vicent Andrés Estellés, que inclou 'Tractat de les maduixes' i 'La parra boja'. How did you make that choice?

We thought, no-one has noticed, but we have published some very important books: 'Carrer Marsala' by Miquel Bauçà was a sleeper when we published it, because Bauçà had put out, while he was at the university, 'Una bella història' [A beautiful story] but then he had gotten sidelined. And 'El desert dels Tàrtars' [The Tartar Steppe] by Dino Buzzati, we published because Calders told me it was his favorite novel. And in addition to the Buzzati, we also offer the first Salinger that we ever published, 'Nou contes' [Nine Stories], that was translated by Quim Monzó. I've got a great story about that book: With Monzó we decided that the book had a very dry title, and we thought we'd change it, choosing one of the titles of the stories, 'Just abans de la guerra amb els esquimals' ["Just Before the War with the Eskimos"]. But when Salinger arrived (he used to control everything and he probably still does), and saw what we had done, he told us that we weren't complying with the contract, which said that we had to translate the original title literally. With 'The Catcher in the Rye', Benguerel had translated the title as "L'ingenu seductor" [The Naive Seductor] but when we published it, with a translation by Fonalleras, we returned to the original title, which was not easy to find, but I think we got it just right: 'El vigilant en el camp de sègol' [The Guardian of the Rye Field]. Now, in October, the fifth special edition will arrive, the prose of Vicent Andrés Estellés, an author who perhaps is not well enough recognized but whom I greatly admire.

The choice you've made covers all the linguistic territory.

Yes, that's true, it's worked out well, but we were looking for the authors and not where they came from. As it turns out, we have published a lot of Mallorcan authors, and very few Valencian ones. Even though we published one of the best, 'AlfaBet' by Josep Palàcios.

25 years ago, Josep Bonet described founding a Catalan publishing house as a 'beautiful and daring adventure'. Is it still?

Yes, it still is. Because, on the one hand, there is this apparent normality: much is published and it works just fine. It's clear that these 25 years have been the best years in the history of publishing in the Catalan language. Without a doubt. Looking at the entire 20th century, the era of the Republic was good for publishing, but it didn't last very long. Then we have to look at the work done by Selecta, who published the works of Pla and of others (Cruzet, the publisher, paid attention to the advice that Pla gave him and published Carner, for example, but also young authors, because there had to be continuity). Then came Edicions 62, the first modern Catalan publishing house, the first that translated great literature from all over so that we could read it in Catalan. And then after that came Quaderns Crema, Columna, Magrana, Empúries... And in that way the plurality of voices and points of view were heard and there was a richness in publishing that had never before been achieved. But, on the other hand, there are many obstacles. They tell us that we have the same problems as the Swedes and the Danes, but that's not true. Because we have to compete with Spanish. Here the majority of books that are sold are in Spanish, in a proportion of 5 to 1.

And why does that situation persist?

One of Empúries' bets for the future was that since Catalan had begun to be the language used in school, that would bring more readers. But that hasn't quite worked out. Why? Among other things, because the entire spectrum of the world of communication and publishing is in Spanish, and we still haven't gotten over the prohibition of the public use of Catalan and the required teaching of Spanish.

Why do you give so much importance to chance in the text that you wrote on the occasion of your 25th anniversary? Is it because the years have backed you up and so you can allow yourself that luxury?

Jacques Monod, Nobel Prize winner of Medicine in 1965, wrote "Chance and Necessity', a book that affected me a great deal and which speaks about how both influence genetics. Chance is important and I explain it already in the catalog. Now, beyond chance, there is training: you have to have the antennae properly adjusted and you have to see where the good books are. I am also of those that believe that luck favors those who deserve it.

Has luck favored you?

Me and Empúries, yes, luck has favored us.

Montserrat Serra

Originally published in Vilaweb on 28/sep/09 at 06:00h aims to get more than 100,000 votes for independence on December 13

PSC and PP vote together again against the motion in favor of the independence referendum in Tarragona

Many towns will celebrate a referendum for independence on December 13 and the organizers have begun to nail down the details. [We Decide] will approve the organizational protocol for holding the referendums on Saturday. The proposal is that the sum of the referendums will be a national referendum, with local participation, and that the voting on December 13th be higher than 50% and that they receive at least 100,000 votes for independence.

Saturday's meeting will gather mayors, or mayors' delegates, of the towns and municipalities interested in organizing a referendum for independence, in order to coordinate activities that come from the local entities in charge of running the process. They will also approve an organizing committee and a technical committee, the general coordinator of which will be Alfons Lópex Tena and which will consist of 8 members: including the following who have already agreed to participate: Uriel Bertran, Josep Manel Ximenis, Miquel Martin i Gamisans and Vicent Partal.

The proposal was edited with the experience of Arenys de Munt by that town's selectperson, Josep Manel Ximenis and by Alfons López Tena and Uriel Bertran, who were members of the approving committee.

PSC and PP defeat the motion in support of holding a referendum in Tarragona

This week many votes continue to be held on motions of support for referendums; that will be the case of Sant Feliu de Llobregat and of Ripoll. And today, in Tarragona. PSC and PP have joined forces to defeat the motion in support of a municipal referendum on independence in the Tarragonian capital. The councilpeople of ERC (2) and of CiU (8) who voted in favor, were not enough to counter the votes of PSC (11) and PP (4). Tarragona, therefore, governed by PSC and ERC, has denied the motion presented by ERC. The PSC argued that the right of deciding about independence is not contemplated in the Estatut [Statute of Autonomy].

Originally published in Vilaweb on 28/sep/09 at 16:26h

PSC and PP vote together again not to support a vote for independence in Tarragona

PSC and PP have joined forces again, this time in Tarragona, to defeat the motion in support of a municipal referendum on independence. The selectpeople from ERC (2) and CiU (8), who voted in favor, were not enough in face of the selectpeople from PSC (11) and PP (4). The Tarragona City Government, which is governed by PSC and ERC, has thus denied the motion, which had been presented by ERC. The PSC justified its vote arguing that the right to decide on independence is not contemplated by the Estatut [Statute of Autonomy].

This week will also see votes on motions of support for independence referendums in the council meetings in Sant Feliu de Llobregat and Ripoll.

Originally published in Vilaweb on 28/sep/09 at 12:05h

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Montblanc and Cardedeu approve the motion to support a referendum on independence

Dozens of town vote on similar motions today, tomorrow, and in the coming days

The town governments of Montblanc and Cardedeu approved a motion this evening in favor of holding a referendum on independence. In Montblanc, it was approved by a wide majority (only one unaffiliated councilperson voted against). In Cardedeu the motion was approved with 6 votes from CiU, 3 from Esquerra, 1 from ICV and 1 from CUP. PSC voted against, and the PP councilperson unexpectedly abstained.

The motion in Montblanc was almost unanimous, with 12 votes in favor and one sole vote against, that of the unaffiliated councilperson, Juan Molina. The mayor explained that there are several entities in the town interested in organizing the referendum.

Originally published in Vilaweb, 24/sep/09 21:17h

Dozens of Catalan Towns Debate Independence

Balaguer, Gavà, Cardedeu and Fornells de la Selva vote on the motions today, and Montblanc and Hostalets de Pierola will do so tomorrow

Many towns are currently in the process of deciding whether or not to support popular referendums on independence, like that of Arenys de Munt. Today, Balaguer, Gavà, Cardedeu and Fornells de la Selva will vote during their council meetings on motions of support from their towns for independence; tomorrow they will vote in Montblanc and Hostalets de Pierola, Tarragona will vote September 28, Reus on October 8, and thirty more towns will vote in the coming weeks.

Josep Manel Ximenis, councilman and member of the organizing commission in Arenys de Munt explained to Vilaweb that the group Coordinadora 13 desembre - Consulta per la independència [Coordinating December 13 - Referendum for Independence] met yesterday to develop a model, based on that of Arenys de Munt, that can be used by the towns to hold their independence referendums from this point forward. "It's better to have a referendum in 20 towns and do it right than to have chaos in 200 towns," said Ximenis. The Web site of the December 13 group is active as of today and soon will have an updated list of towns holding a referendum, in addition to support services and information for the towns themselves. In particular, Ximenis underlined the importance of the towns agreeing on a single date for the referendums. The group has already proposed the date of December 13.

Choosing a date for the referendums

The date is one of the principal matters that the mayors and councilpeople  who belong to the movement will decide during their next meeting planned for October 3. One member of the association, and mayor of Sant Pere de Torelló, Jordi Fàbrega, declared to Vilaweb that December 13 is one possible date, but that there are two additional proposals, all of which are before Christmas.

ERC and CUP promote referendums in the towns they control

While they're deciding on the date to hold the referendums, there are other towns that have also confirmed that they will participate. the president of ERC, Joan Puigcercós announced last week that the towns of Borges Blanques, Agullana, Almoster, L'Arboç, Tagamanent, Caldes de Montbui, Alella, Xerta, Santpedor i Serós, where the mayors belong to his party, will vote on motions of support very soon.

For its part, CUP are also promoting referendums on independence in the towns where they have representation, in Sant Celoni, Sallent, Montesquiu, Vilafranca del Penedès, Manresa, Valls, Molins de Rei, Capellades, Celrà, Viladamat and Torà, where they will also vote in the coming days during their council meetings on whether or not to support the referendums.

Other towns that have also expressed interest in holding a referendum, but have not yet specified the date for voting in council are Castellserà, Sant Antoni de Vilamajó, Lleida, Blanes and Sant Pere de Torelló.

Councilpeople who don't follow the party line

In the case of Santa Coloma de Farners, the PSC councilpeople have not followed the recommendations of their parties with respect to the Catalan question. In the council meeting on September 14, the three groups that make up the governing group (CiU, ERC and PSC) expressed their desire to give support to "any initiative" that arose from town entities with respect to holding a popular referendum on Catalan Independence. This attitude contrasts with the message expressed from the headquarters of PSC on Nicaragua Street, given that the leaders of the Catalan Socialists at the national level are not in support of Independence Referendums.

In contrast, the mayor of Tortosa, Ferran Bel (CiU), who is the organizer of the group [We Decide] and member of the National Council of CDC, decided on the opposite position, and has made it clear that his government will not support a popular referendum because there is a ruling that prohibits it. Bel has made it clear that he is not in favor of allowing the city to become part of a "media circus", as he described the events at Arenys de Munt.

Originally published on Vilaweb on 24 September 2009 06:00h

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Community of Madrid goes to the Supreme Court over Catalonia issuing work permits

They believe it to be unconstitutional

The government of the Community of Madrid has presented a "contentious-administrative" suit today to the Supreme Court against the Royal Decree approved last July that permits Catalonia and Andalusia to issue work permits to foreigners. The government of Esperanza Aguirre believes that this decree imperils Article 149 of the Spanish Constitution, which says that "the state has exclusive jurisdiction in matters of nationality, immigration, emigration, and the right to asylum".

The Community of Madrid's government also believes that the procedure established by the decree "makes a complicated bureaucracy even more so and generally makes things more difficult" for foreigners who want to come work in Spain.

Finally, the suit argues that the decree "confuses the normative hierarchy" because, in its opinion, it modifies the Llei de Estrangeria [Law of Immigration], without there having been any vote to this respect.

Originally published on Vilaweb on 23 sep 09 at 16:45h

The Judges who visited the Sagrada Família avoid meeting with the Temple Association

They twice refused to greet Rigol and Sistach and did not enter the temple

The president of the Association of the Sagrada Família, Joan Rigol, and the Archbishop of Barcelona, Lluís Martínez Sistach, left the church in a bit of a huff because the four judges from the National Court of Spain, who were visiting the high-speed rail construction site and its route adjacent to the temple, refused to greet them in two instances. Rigol and Sistach were waiting inside the Sagrada Família but the magistrates, accompanied by the architect and the lawyer for the Sagrada Família, did not go in.

The visit was made on a request from the public prosecutor, who wants to prove that the section of the tunnel that goes under Mallorca Street will not affect the foundations nor put the building in any real danger, despite assertions to the contrary by the Association of the Sagrada Família. In fact, it was the association that brought the suit, with the understanding that the route under this particular street would affect not only the temple but 800 neighboring buildings.

This decision forms part of the action that the Contentious-Administrative Court opened at the request of the temple association.

The 8th Circuit denied, for the second time, in April, the suspension of the tunnel construction that is to connect the Sagrera and Sants stations, arguing that there was no substantial change with respect to the first time that case was brought before them and that nothing is endangering the temple. At the same time, the National Court requested all of the information about the high-speed rail and that it be notified about any changes that might alter the original design of the excavations.

The organization AVE pel Litoral has distributed a press release (pdf) about the judges' visit. In the release, addressed to the public prosecutor, the members of the organization denounce the fact that no-one is taking into account the 18,000 homes that in its opinion are in grave danger from the construction. They complain that only the value of the Sagrada Família is being taken into account while their homes are also 'sacred'.

Originally published on Vilaweb on 23/sep/09 at 14:25h

Five Judges from the National Court of Spain will inspect the high-speed rail construction site to determine if it puts the Sagrada Família in danger

AVE pel litoral [An organization whose loose translation is "High-speed rail through the beltway"] denounces the fact that the safety of 18,000 homes is not being taken into account

Five judges of the 8th Circuit of the Contentious-Administrative Court of the National Court of Spain will personally visit the Sagrada Família today to inspect the construction underway in the high-speed rail tunnel that is scant meters from the church's foundations. The Temple Association has decried that the construction is putting the building in danger. The visit was the decision of Judge José Alberto Fernández Rodera, at a request from the public prosecutor, who wants to prove that the section of the tunnel that goes under Mallorca Street presents no danger.

This decision forms part of the action that the Contentious-Administrative Court opened at the request of the temple association, which believes that the route of the high-speed rail tunnel through Mallorca Street could affect the Sagrada Família as well as 800 other buildings.

The 8th Circuit denied, for the second time, in April, the suspension of the tunnel construction that is to connect the Sagrera and Sants stations, arguing that there was no substantial change with respect to the first time that case was brought before them and that nothing is endangering the temple. At the same time, the National Court requested all of the information about the high-speed rail and that it be notified about any changes that might alter the original design of the excavations.

The organization AVE pel Litoral has distributed a press release (pdf) about the judges' visit. In the release, addressed to the public prosecutor, the members of the organization denounce the fact that no-one is taking into account the 18,000 homes that in its opinion are in grave danger from the construction. They complain that only the value of the Sagrada Família is being taken into account while their homes are also 'sacred'.

Originally published in Vilaweb on 23/sep/09 at 10:46h

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

PSC, ICV i PP vote together to derail a referendum on independence in Sitges

Salt [town in Girona] adjourns the motion on the question because one of the CIU councilwomen who might have broken the tie in favor was absent

The Sitges city government (Garraf county) yesterday defeated in council a motion by ERC to give support to a municipal referendum about independence. The councilpeople from PSC, ICV and PP (thirteen) voted against with those from CiU, ERC, and Acció per Sitges [Action for Sitges] (six) voted in favor, while two from Nou Horitzó [New Horizon] abstained. The president of ERC in Sitges, Aurora Carbonell, explained that there were private entities interested in organizing the referendum.

In Salt, the vote will come in the next council meeting

The Salt city government (Gironès county) was also slated to vote on a motion to support a referendum by the people for independence, but in the end the vote was adjourned until the next meeting because one of the councilwomen was unable to go to yesterday's session. The vote of this councilwoman was crucial, since it would have broken the tie in favor of the motion. All of the groups, except for PSC and PP, had planned to vote in favor.

Originally published in Vilaweb on 22/sep/09

The National Court of Spain confirms that whistling at the end of the 'Copa' is not a crime

The National Court of Spain has ratified the decision handed down last July by Judge Santiago Pedraz, who refused to hear a motion presented by DENAES [Foundation for the Defense of the Spanish Nation] against Catalunya Acció (Action Catalonia) and Esait [an organization working towards Basque National sports teams] for whistling at the king while the national anthem was playing in Valencia during the Copa del Rey final between the Barcelona and Athletic de Bilbao teams. The Court denies thereby the motion presented by the foundation against Pedraz' decision.

The decision, which calls those who whistled "badly behaved", explains that the sole act of displaying an independentist Catalan flag or a sign with the slogan "Goodbye, Spain" [sic] is simply a way of saying what one prefers. "There is nothing that can be said to those who proclaim themselves against the symbols and institutions of the State, or the regime that is specified in the current constitutional framework. That said, it might be different depending on how said displeasure is manifested," continues the judicial decision.

DENAES is the same foundation that sued Pepe Rubianes in January of 2006 for some statements that he made about the unity of Spain on Albert Om's afternoon show.

Originally published in Vilaweb on 22/sep/09

CiU, ERC and ICV demand that the European Commission prohibit the display of fascist imagery

German and Italian Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) had already criticized the authorization by the Spanish Judiciary of the Falange's appearance in Arenys de Munt

The European Members of Parliament, Raül Romeva (ICV), Ramon Tremosa (CiU) and Oriol Junqueras (ERC) have demanded that the European Commission take action to stop fascist parties and organizations in Europe and that they prohibit the display of imagery of this type. The petition stems from the demonstration of the Falange in Arenys de Munt, the authorization of which was strongly criticized by German and Italian MEPs from the primary political groups.

The three MEPs point out that fascist imagery is 'incompatible' with the principles of liberty, democracy, and respect for human rights as well as with the fundamental freedoms of established democracies according to Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht).

In a release, CiU noted that, during the demonstration of the Falange, fascist flags and emblems were exhibited and the official hymn under Franco was sung, acts that would be prohibited in countries like Italy or Germany.

Originally published on 22 sep 09 at 19:22 h

Welcome to News Catalonia!

There is so much going on in Catalunya right now that I want to share with my English-speaking friends, that I asked Vilaweb, Catalunya's most important online news service, if I could translate and publish their articles in English. They kindly gave me permission and so here it is!

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