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SPAIN: Catalonia



Miquel Strubell defends Hank Levin's views on Catalonia but adds: "the idea of splitting the government ministries between Madrid and Barcelona" is a complete and utter pipe dream. I have lived in both Barcelona and Madrid and it is totally, completely, utterly inconceivable that the civil servants of any ministry would accept being transferred nearly 400 miles to Barcelona. You have no idea how centralist mentalities work,

Valencians and Catalans have been lumped together since the 13th century. The idea that they might federate together again (as they were, until the battle of Almansa, 1707) owes more to a Valencian, the former vice-chancellor of the University of València, Josep Guia, than to anyone from Catalonia proper! Catalans from Catalonia proper are well aware of the hate campaign waged for years, until only last year, by the Valencia daily Las Provincias, of the weird theories about the origin of the language that groups like "Lo Rat Penat" spread around, and of the odd orthographies invented by people like the Real Acaedemia de Cultura Valenciana, and of the impact all this had on public opinion in Valencia. However, a lot of us have excellent Valencian friends who are quite aware of the "the hostility of Valencians to being lumped together with the Catalans and who have been treated virtually as traitors by some of these extremists groups. I doubt you'll get any angry messages from Barcelona denying this! It's sad, it's shameful, but is really is undeniable!

Finally, the correlations between opinion polls and election results is tenuous at best, particularly when it comes to issues (such as independence) which cannot be resolved in a regional election. I can't see why "these issues seem intractable to reason". I have survey results of the matter, which seem perfectly tractable (it's probably opponents of Catalonia's will for freedom that don't want to discuss the matter reasonably!)".

My comment: Attempts to unscramble the Spanish egg would have one of several results: the attempt might be successful, to the amazement of all the political cooks; there might be another civil war, with all that this would involve; or Spain could revert to the first republic of 1873. The constitution provided for internally self-governing provinces bound together by voluntary agreement. In its eight month life, the federal republic had four presidents. Madrid lost control of the country and the army stepped in. The monarchy was restored without civil war. In all of this we should remember that both in Catalonia and the Basque provinces there has been a large influx of people from other parts of Spain who are just Spaniards, although their children may become nationalists. An opinion poll. just in the four provinces of Catalonia, would be a good guide to public opinion. Each side accuses the other of being unreasonable. Outsiders like myself are more dispassionate.

Ronald Hilton - 7/29/02


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