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SPAIN: Human Rights in Catalonia--US Dept. of State version

Miquel Strubell i Trueta, a Catalan nationalist born of an English father and a Catalan mother, criticizes the annual State Department Report on Human Rights:

"The political parties and the press in Catalonia, year after year, react with indignation at the remarks made on Catalonia (referred to as Catalunya, as if an English equivalent didn't exist; or even, in recent years and to further discredit the Report, Cataluyna) in the Department of State's annual Report on Human Rights in Spain.

I myself wrote an article in Avui outlining the main factual errors, and giving my opinion on the - in my view - intolerable level of bias in last year's report. I sent a copy of it to the US Consulate in Barcelona. I also wrote to the Department of State, and I'm sure many others have also done the same. But as we found out on February 26th, the Department of State stolidly refuses to rectify, repeating the same old statements from one report to the next.

Either language policy is an issue to be included in a report on human rights, alongside torture, immigration mafias and racial discrimination - in which case let's also talk about the Spanish government's unquenchable thirst for monolingualism, as well as trying to get the facts right and in perspective - or else it isn't, in which case leave the issue out altogether! Each annual report really gives one the impression that the only source of "information" is the press in Madrid: the reactionary ABC and El Mundo, or El País, which also has bones to pick with the government of Catalonia."

My comment: I am sure the State Department has been overwhelmed with complaints about the report, some justified, some not. It may have adopted the policy of not replying in order to avoid becoming entangled in endless arguments, The US is seen as having a holier than thou attitude. It is the major market for drugs, yet it "certifies" other countries' fight against their production. The producing countries demand a review made by an international body which would include the consumer countries.

The gap between rich and poor in the US is widening. How would the US react if countries like Cuba or China issued a report damning this? The US supports an international court against war crimes in Yugoslavia, but not the idea of a court before which the US military would be held responsible..

On the subject of language, I do not agree with the condemnation of the Spanish government, for which I have the greatest respect. It does not oppose the Catalan language, but rather the linguistic chaos which the proliferation of local languages would bring about. A major news item yesterday was the publication of a book by a well-known Catalan writer, a socialist nationalist, claiming that Spanish immigration was endangering the Catalan language and therefore Catalonia itself. He got the endorsement of the president of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol. He seemed to be proposing the banning of immigration from Spain, which would be against EC laws. The language issue cannot be compared with torture or major human rights violations. There are so many language squabbles around the world that the State Department may have decided not to include the issue.

Ronald Hilton - 3/1/01