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Tag: Catalonia

Catalonia, 1 October

Monday, 1 October, 2018

Even if the referendum on Catalan independence was ruled illegal and therefore non-binding, 2.3 million people out of 5.5 million eligible voters cast their ballots on this day last year, despite intimidation and violence. When the counting was done, 90 percent had voted to break from Spain. The regional government in Barcelona promised to declare independence within 48 hours of the vote if the “Yes” side won, but when it finally did issue the declaration on 27 October, tellingly, no country recognized Catalonia, and Madrid promptly sacked the entire Catalan administration, causing several key figures to flee abroad, including deposed president, Carles Puigdemont. Others were jailed, accused of rebellion.

Today, separatist groups will mobilize hundreds of thousands of supporters to protest in Barcelona to mark the anniversary of the referendum and to ask that “the wishes of the majority of Catalan people be put into effect.” The reality, however, is that disagreements over independence have deepened since the plebiscite and arguments about implementing “the wishes of the majority of Catalan people” have led to accusations of betrayal. As well, the separatist movement is now divided into three parties and there are also divisions between its leaders who are outside Spain, those who are in prison and those who remain at liberty. Meanwhile, the relationship between Barcelona and Madrid is as fractious as ever, and Catalonia, with all its beauty and wealth, is damaged and disunited, tragically.

“Beware of my partisanship, my mistakes of fact, and the distortion inevitably caused by my having seen only one corner of events.” — George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia

Homage to Catalonia


Un Chien Catalogne

Tuesday, 8 May, 2018 0 Comments

Classic reference in the headline there to Un Chien Andalou, a silent surrealist short film made in Paris in 1929 by the Spanish artists Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí.

The Catalan Dog


Catalonia: Here the Russians, there Assange

Saturday, 30 September, 2017 0 Comments

One of the scariest things during the Catalan referendum campaign has been the instrumentalization by the government in Madrid of El País, Spain’s most widely-circulated daily and considered to be country’s paper of record. During the past week, El País has gone to great lengths to find “reds under the beds” in Barcelona and its articles on alleged Russian involvement in the referendum have been so transparently planted that one has to laugh out loud at their amateurishness. Catalan separatism is not indebted to Moscow in any way and its integrity is as far from Putinism as Montserrat is from Vladivostok. The crux of the matter is cultural:

“Many Catalans do not ‘feel’ Spanish. They have spent the years since the death of Franco recreating their country, taking what power they can and using it to consolidate the idea of Catalonia as a place as worthy to be a state as any other European country.” Colm Tóibín, The Guardian

Still, those who long for tales of Russian manipulation of campaigns will take a crumb of comfort from the intervention of Julian Assange in the referendum. From his self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange tweeted:

“What is happening in Catalonia in the most significant Western conflict between people and state since the fall of the Berlin wall — but its methods are 2017, from VPNs, proxies, mirrors and encrypted chat to internet surveillance and censorship, bot propaganda and body armor.”

Like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange is a Russian tool and a nasty piece of work but his ability to influence events abroad or do harm at home is limited. Both are Twitter bores now and, as Ned Price, points out. “The only thing more insufferable than @JulianAssange is @JulianAssange with 280 characters.”

Robots voting


“Spain Should Remain United”

Thursday, 28 September, 2017 0 Comments

“”Spain Is A Great Country And Should Remain United.” With those words, spoken at the White House, in the presence of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, President Donald Trump guaranteed that he would be unloved by Catalan separatists. Already hated by the media, feminists and North Koreans, Mr Trump didn’t really need to bring down the wrath of Catalonia on his head, but he went there, nonetheless. From now on, Donald Trump will be depicted as the devil at the annual Santa Tecla fireworks displays. But he can live with that, one suspects.

Meanwhile, Madrid is increasing its pressure on Barcelona to cancel Sunday’s “illegal” referendum on independence.

Catalan unhero


Madrid vs. Barcelona

Tuesday, 26 September, 2017 0 Comments

Spain is in crisis and the government in Madrid has two options: bad and very bad. If it overreacts to the Catalan demands for independence, a dramatic backlash in Barcelona is inevitable, but if it ignores the rebellion in the north, constitutional order in Spain will be put at risk. Last week’s arrests of Catalan administration officials on charges of abetting unlawful acts in pursuit of the 1 October referendum have further inflamed the separatists, who control the streets and the means of cultural production. So, the situation is likely to deteriorate, solidifying the victim role that the Catalans are playing to the full. Neither side intends to retreat and the potential for tragedy is real.

Catalonia


Correfoc

Sunday, 24 September, 2017 0 Comments

The annual Santa Tecla celebrations end with an event called Correfoc, which means “fire running”. Catalonia’s streets fill up with characters dressed as devils and dragons spitting fire, with brave spectators running in and out between them. Meanwhile, giant male and female figures are marched around the streets to the ear-piercing sounds of the traditional tible and tenora, tarota and gralla.

Carrefoc


Tecla: key saint

Saturday, 23 September, 2017 0 Comments

Santa Tecla is regarded as the patron saint of Tarragona in Catalonia and her September feast day is the town’s major holiday. The event is accompanied by non-stop drumming, firecrackers and spectacular fireworks after dark.

Tecla celebrations

Note: In many Spanish-speaking countries, Santa Tecla is also considered the patron saint of computers and the internet, from the homophony with the Spanish and Catalan word tecla (“key”).

Tradition: Tecla (Thecla) was a saint of the early Christian Church and a follower of Paul the Apostle. She was miraculously saved from burning at the stake by the onset of a storm and then travelled with Paul to Antioch of Pisidia where an aristocrat attempted to rape her. Tecla fought him off and was put on trial for the crime of assaulting a nobleman. She was sentenced to be eaten by wild beasts but was again saved by a miracle, when the female beasts protected her against the male aggressors. She rejoined Paul in Myra and became a healer. Such was her popularity that the physicians in the city lost their livelihoods, so they hired a gang of young men to attempt to spoil her virginity at the age of 90. As they were about to take her, she called out to God and the ground opened up and then closed behind her. She was thus able to go to Rome and die in peace beside Saint Paul’s tomb.


The drums of Catalonia

Sunday, 9 November, 2014 1 Comment

The Catalans are having a moment today. They’re holding a referendum of sorts on the notion of independence from Spain. But because central government in Madrid forbids the use of the “referendum” word in this case, Barcelona is forced to speak of “a non-binding, participatory process” instead. When Scotland held an independence referendum in September, EU leaders hailed it as an exercise in popular democracy, but they’re hostile to the right of Catalonia to make a similar decision. Why? “Apparently they have forgotten that the right of self-determination of nations is a long-standing, fundamental and universal principle of modern democracy.” So says Latvian writer Otto Ozols in an article for Delfi. Meanwhile, Sydney has voted on “el 9N.”

Catalonian drummers


Casa Bacardi

Sunday, 23 February, 2014 0 Comments

Facundo Bacardí Massó was born in Sitges in Catalonia in 1814, and emigrated to Cuba in 1830, where he began distilling rum. Three innovations led to fame and fortune: He filtered his rum through charcoal, which removed impurities; he isolated a strain of yeast that continues to gives Bacardi its taste profile, and he aged […]

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The Nose goes digital and pivots to Asia

Friday, 28 December, 2012 0 Comments

Back in December 2000, William Langewiesche wrote a superb portrait of Robert Parker, the man who revolutionized the world of wine, for The Atlantic titled The Million-Dollar Nose. Snippet: “The Wine Advocate has 40,000 subscribers, in every U.S. state and thirty-seven foreign countries. These are influential readers, and they pass the issues around, igniting the […]

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At the pork shop

Sunday, 30 September, 2012

“A peasant becomes fond of his pig and is glad to salt away its pork. What is significant, and is so difficult for the urban stranger to understand, is that the two statements are connected by an and not by a but.” John Berger

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