What is Catalonia?

By Help Catalonia

Catalan flags

Catalan flags

Catalonia is one of the oldest European nations. Located in the North-Eastern corner of the Iberian peninsula. It has its own culture, language and traditions. Catalonia fought during centuries against Castile and France to preserve its independence. They were defeated several times but both opponents were stronger after all.

When Castile defeated other nations in the Iberian peninsula they created Spain. Spain is nothing less than Castile’s empire. Basques, Galicians and other nations were conquered by the Castilians. Catalonia tried to find a federal agreement with Castile without success.

In 1707 Catalonia allied with the British and the Austrians. France and Spain also formed an alliance. The British and Austrians finally let the Catalans down, as was recently recognized by Westminster.

Until 1714 Catalonia was an independent state with its own government, laws, constitution and institutions. It has one of the oldest democratic traditions, having created the first Parliament in mainland Europe during the Middle Ages. That year, after the military defeat, the Castilians imposed their language, dismantled the Catalan institutions and committed cultural and historical genocide attempting to erase any historical traces that portrayed Catalonia as a leading nation in Europe and the Mediterranean.
The 20th century brought a civil war, three Spanish dictatorships (Berenguer, Primo de Rivera and Franco) and even further efforts to make Catalonia become a Castilian (Spanish) province by actively persecuting and making public use of the language and culture illegal and banning Catalonia’s claims to self-rule. Fortunately, the Catalan nation has resisted all efforts to make it disappear.

The Kurdish people know this struggle well, they know Ataturk’s impositions, Saddam’s crimes and the Iranian theocracy’s persecution. We had our language forbidden as well; in fact it is not legal in some parts of Spain, like Aragon, and is mistreated in the Valencian region.

The current Spanish constitution only recognizes the existence of one nation, the Spanish one, meaning the Castilian one, and doesn’t give Catalan language an official status. The Spanish legal system is heavily politicized and dependent on Castilian interests, creating a de facto first class nation (the Castilian-Spanish one), and several second class nations: Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia. Catalonia is currently an Autonomous Community inside the Spanish state and has the same status and degree of self-government as the Spanish provinces which are not nations.

Catalonia currently sustains an unparalleled fiscal plundering of 8-10% of its GDP, around €22bn – €16bn per year, which equates to about €3,000 per Catalan citizen. In federal countries this redistribution is limited and controlled, ranging from 2% (Canada) to 4% (Germany) of the GDP of the richest regions. Catalan culture is also threatened, even though historically the Catalan language has been the best tool for integration of immigrants.

Now Catalonia is back. Last September 2012 about 1,500,000 Catalans demonstrated for independence, and the Catalan Parliament has declared the people’s right to decide on their future. A referendum should to be held next 2014. The Catalan struggle is a democratic one to regain our independence. But Spain is not a democratic country although more than Turkey).

What is Help Catalonia?

Help Catalonia is a digital medium made with the collaboration of many volunteers with the objective of spreading the word on the situation of the Catalan nation, sharing objective data about the silent war Spain is waging against this millenarian people, to increase the awareness of the international community on his important matter.
Did you know that we speak a different Romance language and have a distinct and very rich cultural universe that more than 12 million people share?

Did you know that Gaudí, the architect of the Sagrada Família, was beaten because he spoke Catalan?

Or that Barcelona FC (Barça) was created to promote the Catalan culture? Did you know that Catalans are forbidden to call a referendum on their own destiny?

Or that they would be one of the richest countries in the world if they just weren’t plundered 10%+ of their annual GDP?
Help Catalonia is non-partisan with five versions: English, German, French, Spanish and Italian. The web expresses the views of Catalan democrats, both unionist and pro-independence. The Spanish kingdom is not a democracy because it denies the right of peoples to decide their destiny. If you are Kurdish you know this well.

Help Catalonia has denounced that school principals are to be fined up to €5,000 for displaying symbols supporting the cause  of the Catalan language. Spanish military personnel have also threatened the Catalan people and the Kingdom is buying more and more weapons. Some in the Spanish Army are suggesting the military occupation of Catalonia. There are several other reports of many, many cases of Catalanophobia.

We explain what Catalan is; whether it is a Language or a Dialect of Spanish, what our own literature is, who our poets are, such as Espriu, artists like Tàpies or cultural festivities, such as Sant Jordi. Do you know what they are? Sant Jordi is the Festivity of the Book, the rose and of a singular and universal language and culture. Every April 23rd Catalan men give a rose to their beloved  and Catalan women also have a present for their love: a book. In some ways it is similar to your ancestral Newroz.

We also remember our history on the day that 700 Catalans were beheaded by the Spanish, or the collaboration between our enemies and the Nazis. And it is not only history: the Spanish hate is alive today as we demonstrate every week. We must remember one thing: Catalonia has the sad honour of being the ONLY European nation whose democratic President has been executed. This was Lluís Companys. Companys was handed over to the Spanish by the Nazis who caught him in occupied France. Some months ago Spanish unionists desecrated memorials to the Catalan president in Lleida, Blanes and Barcelona. This was not an exception.

Last September Spanish unionists replied to the monster pro-independence rally with a wave of terrorist attacks. But we are lucky after all. We have received support from Poland, USA and many other places. We know we do not suffer the harassment of the Kurdish people but we are not respected either. When a language is not respected, democracy is not observed and monuments are desecrated there is no freedom. That is why we are open to our Kurdish friends. Some people say that the Kurds have no friends but the mountains. This is not true. You have friends on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea.






















4 Responses to What is Catalonia?
  1. surfzone
    February 15, 2013 | 15:00

    Many thanks to spread the word about Catalonia!

  2. Lorenzo Garcia
    February 16, 2013 | 12:31

    I am catalan and the history you related about my country has many flaws. Castile and Aragon merged by mariage and in this time Aragon included Catalonia.
    The catalans have too a story that I am not so proud of of genocides in Llevant, Balearic Islands etc.
    Yes, even today some people of Levant afre “threatening” their children by sayin that “the catalans are coming”.
    No, Kurdistan has other places to look after a role model than Catalonia. Kurdistan is far more rich in wealth, history and culture than Catalonia.

    • Help Catalonia
      March 4, 2013 | 13:59

      Dear Lorenzo,
      You talk about “your” country. First of all in Catalan your name is “Llorenç” and not the Castillian one “Lorenzo”. You make many mistakes in your comment. When Aragon and Castile merged by mariage Catalonia remained a sovereign nation with his own Parliament and the Castilian king was under the Catalan laws when he was in Catalonia. Make no mistake: Catalonia is a Spanish region since 1714 when he was militarly defeated. Only one day 700 Catalonian people were beheaded by the Castilian army. This is not a mariage. Your comments about Levant (what it exactly meansthis geographical reference?) are extremely wrong. Can yoy justify them. We justify everything we say. We agree that Kurdistan is far more rich in wealth, history and culture than Catalonia but we haven’t seen the Spanish state defend this lovely nation. We, the Catalans, do it. Best wishes.

      March 4, 2013 | 14:25


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