I’ve got to take my hat off to The Economist for publishing an excellent article about Catalonia called “The party’s over” last week. It has caused great concern here in Catalonia and there’s been much calling for public apologies, articles being banned etc etc.
In my opinion the article was very well written and touched a few key points in Catalan politics. having said that , the people calling for apologies etc would do better brushing up on their English language or lack of English language as this seems to be the case. I say this as these people have taken out of context what The Economist has said regarding “Caciques” or provincial political bosses. It is a term which is applied very well to the likes of Jordi Pujol, Manuel Fraga or Manuel Chaves although not in the way that The Periodico de Catalunya or La Vanguardia newspapers have rendered it.
The article in The Economist talks about “café para todos” which was a formula drawn up in which all the autonomous communities in Spain would have a slice of the pie. The Economist states: ” but this panoply of decentralisation has not placated the politicians of Catalonia, the Basque country or Galicia. This is because they never wanted cafe para todos: they wanted it just for themselves, as a recognition that they were different”.
How true those words are and this still applies today. The demands of these three regions make it very difficult to draw up a stable and permanent set of rules.
As we are all aware here primary and seconday schooling is conducted in Catalan with Spanish being taught as a foreign language. Catalan is also the language of the regional government. A Spaniard who speaks no Catalan has almost no chance of teaching at a University in Barcelona. To top it off, a play or film in Spanish will not be subsidised from public funds.
The Economist goes on to say “The nationalists’ linguistic dogmatism is provoking a backlash. Earlie this year Mr Savater, the philosopher, together with a diverse group of public figures ranging from Placido Domingo, a tenor, to Iker Casillas, Real Madrid’s goalkeeper, signed a “manifesto” in defence of the right of citizens to be educated in Spanish”. They were duly denounced as “Castilian nationalists in the Socialist press.
Many thoughtful Catalans believe that Catalan would be safe if it remained the language of primary schools, but that Catalonia would gain much by allowing a choice between Catalan and Spanish in secondary schools. I have to take my hat off to these thoughtful Catalans, too. There is an example on my blog which has been taken out of context by a few people that shall remain nameless but I’ll paraphrase it here:
a lot of people in Barcelona had done all their schooling in Catalan and went to University and passed their grades and got good careers etc. It was taken for granted that they knew Catalan as this was their main language of study, did all their exams in Catalan and even passed Catalan language as a subject. After the year 1992 the Catalan government decided that from that year onwards anyone wanting a job as a civil servant for example would not have to “prove themselves in Catalan”. Ok, fine but what about the people before that year? No such luck I’m afraid. All these people who have equal studies or in some cases superior to those who graduated after 1992 now have to prove themselves by taking the Catalan B, C or even D test. Now isn’t that quaint! So it really doesn’t matter if you are called Montse Pujol Capdepera if you graduated before 1992. According to the Caciques in office you don’t make the grade anymore and should start shelling out money to get your Catalan Nivell C certificate before they consider you for a decent job!