All Saints Day and Sanity Returns

I just finished reading yesterday’s papers: although the cheap newpaper prices and convenience of the online news kiosk has been useful in reporting the past week’s events, it is good to get three physical newspapers and slowly work through them. 
After my summer holiday was ruined because of the great donkey panic (Aitana’s awful decline in health after the vet innoculated her with ‘flu vaccine while she was weak with laminitis), this half term has been a time to relax and catch up with some of the summer jobs around the house and field that did not get finished in August.

Concerning Catalonia, I have commented extensively (and ironically) on this blog, and it is time to provide some sort of summary of where we are now.  There is no need to give readers an update in English, for you now have the mad news about Puigdemont’s flight to Belgium on news headlines in every language.  I am even more inclined now to provide an opinion on it all, a point of view based on my own love of this country which I have known for fifty years.

Sometimes, when I have commented on Spanish news websites, I have been met by angry responses: “Who are you to comment on our political problems, English?”  Fair comment, if you are a xenophobe.  We have them in the UK too, don’t we?  “Who are you to comment on Brexit? Go back to Poland where you came from…” (etc. etc.)

The Spanish press is filled with opinion articles, by both journalists and pundits of various backgrounds: academics, businessmen, politicians, musicians…  I read a wonderful article this morning in La Vanguardia by John Carlin, From London with love  (1) He says everything I would want to say about this entire sad business of the failed Catalan coup d’etat (for that is what the Spanish are calling it.)  He starts by saying he is half Spanish, by birth.  I already feel half Spanish by chosen identity, and I agree with his opening introductory remarks that Spain (and Catalonia in particular, where he lives) has been for him the best place, the most welcoming place, the most free, the more tolerant and stimulating place to live, than anywhere he has lived before.

I returned to Spain in 2010 after some very negative experiences with agencies of the British state of my birth, and I never want to return to the UK to live.  After Brexit I cannot wait to dump my UK passport and gain the privilege of Spanish citizenship.  The whole Catalan debacle has been a great worry for all of us here, particularly for the British who have seen our country made to look stupid after Brexit.  For Spain to have been divided by the trickery of the Catalan nationalists would have been tragic.  But happily, the whole situation has been resolved.  The relief here is palpable.  An illegal bunch of Catalan separatist pirates has fled to Belgium and taken under the wing of an outright Belgian group of neo-nazi extremists: it has all descended into comic opera.

The winners will be the leaders of democratic parties in the young democracy of Spain, particularly Ciudadanos, but also the parties who have ruled Spain since the 1970s, the Partido Popular and the PSOE socialists.  At the end of this I am more persuaded by the party of Inés Arrimadas than the ruling PP or PSOE.  Arrimadas (2) has shown that a new generation of young leadership is shining through and pushing aside the corrupt grey men of the transición (the years since Franco), and there is a new sense of patriotism and Spanish identity.

Patriotism does not have to be nationalism.  In Spain – after a terrible history of political conflict in the 20th century – people are proud to be patriots of democracy.  A Constitution and all the separate powers of state that guarantee our rights here.  I love Spain.  I stopped loving Britain a long time ago, and Brexit simply confirmed my experience.  Here in Spain, we have something to celebrate today.  Europe has something to celebrate too: for Europe held the line against the extremists in Catalonia and it showed why being an EU member is better than being alone.

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(1) John Carlin’s article is not available in English, however he wrote about the Catalan situation earlier in The Times

(2) Inés Arrimadas confronting Carles Puigdemont was one of the best things to come out of Spanish democracy in recent times. Here she is on the day of the declaration of independence, which she demolished with quiet assertiveness, addressing her words to a visibly cringing Carles Puigdemont.

18 thoughts on “All Saints Day and Sanity Returns

  1. Yes, we heard the same World Tonight programme. The BBC coverage has been poor throughout, often not properly up to speed and facts and opinions have been blurred. Normally there is more than one voice to hear, but yesterday we only heard this man’s opinion and that was the it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My concern, Jabba is that we have only about five million people involved in this election. (Yes, that includes the possible maximum of 136,300 first time voters eligible to vote in Catalonia in December.) It is a very nice little number for the kind of digital manipulation and propaganda targeting through Facebook, Twitter etc. that the Russian-influenced manipulators used in the USA and Brexit, as well as Catalonia in the last (illegal) vote.

    Thanks to the present Senate hearings in the USA and the FBI investigations, we now have more information about this:

    On my earlier point about the Spanish press today and judge Lamela’s decision to lock up the ex-ministers, see La Vanguardia editorial called “The Worst Outcome”…


  3. No Party has had a majority since 2010, and this will be their third snap election in seven years.

    I’ve no doubt the separatists will do well enough at the elections, but then so will the unionists, so the probable result IMO will be another hung parliament.

    Maybe things will be decided by which side has the most protest votes against their actions and mistakes during the past weeks and months of crisis ? I dunno, we’ll see.

    But no, I don’t think that Catalan Separatism will simply disappear …

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “The number of protesters against the imprisonment of the golpistas is minuscule compared to that of the Unity Rally.”

    At first sight, following that Unity Rally, this week seemed to indicate a return to normal and I was feeling as buoyant as you about the situation. I commented here and also to my daughter who has been following the Catalan fiasco from a distance (living in Wales), that I felt quite hopeful about the situation.

    Like you, I have a great affection for Catalonia and Barcelona in particular, with warm memories of living in the Barrio Gótico and working in the School of Fashion (Escuela de Artes y Técnicas de la Moda) in Grácia, at the same time teaching private classes including, for a time in 1992 Jordi Pujol (the elder). I have also made my life in Spain and it is my taxes also that paid for the political propaganda of the Omnium Cultural like that video I attached here, and the salaries of the Catalan parlament that have foolishly gone against the Constututional democracy of this country.

    I have every reason to hope there is now a resolution and – like you – I saw in the sight of a million people on the streets of Barcelona waving Spanish flags (not Catalan esteladas) a sign that we were going to go forward to the elections in December, putting the foolishness and political ambition behind. People like Arrimadas and Albiol of Ciudadanos and the PP, together with the better elements of the left, Iceta and the PSC, would convince the majority of Catalans to get out and vote on 21 December, and the separatist threat would be over, with a reduction in their vote due to seeing the stupidity of their actions. Following Puigdemont’s flight to Belgium with five others of his ministers, you could also add cowaqrdice to the charges against their leadership.

    Today I am not so sure. What has changed? Judge Carmen Lamela jailed the ex-vicepresident Oriól Junqueras and the rest of the deposed government (apart from one who resigned before the declaration of independence was made.) The jailing is not going to help matters.

    You quoted a story above from the ABC newspaper, Jabba. It is a paper I read because it confirms my prejudices, and it is a monarchist newspaper! Today it is all for the locking up of the Catalans and it stands alone among the Spanish press today, as far as I can see. That’s unusual because all the press has been fairly unified on this whole business so far. Today the opinion columns of the papers and the editiorial comment is far from triumphant: there is a cry of “Oh God no!” and the reason can be simply summed up in a sentence: “This is an impeccable judicial decision but it is the last thing we needed for the 21 December elections!”

    You only have to look at the way that nationalism thrives on notions of victimhood to see exactly how this will be used to regenerate the separatist cause, after the temporary setback they have suffered. Expect a fightback. It could even tip the balance and give them a majority in the new Generalitat after the elections.


  5. Yeah, the Guardia Civil are a kind of Gendarmes, which could be rendered with the English words Constable & Constabulary, certainly not “military police” !!

    Just another attempt to promote the “Spain is fascist” lies and propaganda.

    As for his “neo-nazis” claim, a) what about all the extremist violent pro-independence thugs who participated in the fighting last week ? (I’m reminded here of the attempt to whitewash the actions of the antifa provocateurs and thugs at Charlottesville) ; and b)


  6. Alys, Jabba and othetrs reading this blog who are following the Catalan crisis closely:

    I am becoming increasingly astonished by the overwhelming bias of BBC coverage of the Catalan crisis, as there is an undoubted bias towards the unconstitutional posturings of the nationalists who have dragged Spain into a political and economic mess. The latest example was on the world tonight (Thursday 2 November):

    The Catalan MEP Ramon Tremosa was “interviewed” in such a way as to give him a free platform for the views of the nationalists. None of his outrageous claims against the Spanish state were challenged. No alternative speaker was asked to comment. During the “interview” Tremosa compares the Spanish judiciary with African countries (a racist slur, as the nuance suggests all African countries are undeveloped), he refers to the policing of the referendum as carried out by “military police” which was entirely untrue, and he says that “neo-nazi groups” are now beating up people on the streets of Ctalonia. This probably refers to one incident where falangists flying Spanish flags got into a fight with separatists and managed to get themselves on the Spanish television news, which always surprises people in Spain as falangists are less visible in this society than neo-nazi groups in Britain, or other countries in Europe (Belgium for example: where a far right group welcomed ex-presidennt Puigdemont and staged his press conference.)

    The “interview”- which was simply a party political broadcast for the PDeCat party – had the effect of legitimising their destructive nationalist views while entirely discrediting the legal moves by the independent Spanish judiciary which have been necessary to address criminal actions by the Catalan separatist government (now dissolved). I have no doubt that anyone listening to the programme in Britain would be persuaded by Tremosa’s unchallenged propaganda because the understanding of Spain’s modern democracy is very poor. People still have a memory of Spain as a dictatorship and have no idea about its modern democratic institutions.

    How dare the BBC allow such biased coverage! Spain has a better developed modern Constitution than the United Kingdom, in my opinion.

    Friday 2/11/17
    P.S. I have added this comment – translated into Spanish and reduced to the 1200 characters allowed – to the comment section of Spanish newspaper El Pais, beneath a news story about Puigdemont and his cronies manipulating the news. I have also taken the trouble to contact the BBC and make a complaint. Ironically, the Thought for the Day slot on BBC Radio 4 Today programme was an excellent commentary on “fake news” by the the ever-trustworthy rabbi Jonathan Sacks.


  7. I think last Sunday’s massive pro-unity rally of hundreds of thousands of Catalonians in Barcelona, possibly up to a million, has broken the back of the Independence movement, at least for the short and medium-term future. There’s simply no more pretending that “90%” are in support, from that grotesque parody ballot-stuffed “poll”.

    Of course, the shameful behaviour over the past week of the coup’s leaders is hardly helping their “cause”.


    1. (Replying to Jabba on Sunday’s rally.)
      I would like to agree with you and until yesterday I had exactly the same feeling about this. The game-changer is judge Lamela’s decision to put the ex-government front bench in prison, a very understandable legal move but a political disaster. It ironically proves the separation of powers in Spain: it is entirely counter-productive as far as the work of the Spanish government is concerned in putting down the rebellion.


  8. One – of the five who were with Puigdemont – turned up in Madrid. Yes of course there were loads more: they went from Barcelona. Still awaoting Lamela’s decision to grant bail or not.


  9. hmmmmm, maybe Puigdemont will seek political asylum in the Venezuelan, Cuban, or some other Embassy of some other Masonic South American Marxist “People’s Republic” in Brussels ?

    Problem is, he’s just a dwarfish self-important Gironan man-in-a-suit, not a charismatic semi-albino genius with strong (albeit disputed) rights in international Law.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Harvesting olives. Expecting news from Audiencia Nacional but it looks like it will drag on a bit longer. Lawyers for Catalans just came out to get 12 cans of Coca Cola and sandwiches from refreshment machines…


  10. An international arrest warrant has been requested for Puidgemont and the other two fugitives.

    El querellado Carles Puigdemont Casamajo ha manifestado públicamente su intención de no comparecer y ha solicitado, como también lo han hecho Antonio Comín y Meritxell Serret Aleu, efectuar declaración por videoconfefencia, sin ofrecer dato alguno sobre su paradero. En atención a lo expuesto, se solicita del juzgado que ordene su busca y captura y detención de ámbito nacional e internacional

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lovely idea, Boris Johnson fleeing to Belgium. Just heard the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has resigned for touching a woman’s knee fifteen years ago. Very touching. Here in Spain a politician would not spend fifteen years worrying about that. Rather, they would spend fifteen years worrying that their secret bank account in Andorra might be discovered by the Guardia Civil.

    Talking about secret bank accounts in Andorra, I am hoping nobody connects me with Jordi Pujol in 1992. That’s where the current Catalan secessionist story begins, during his presidency, and I taught him English. It’s all my fault.

    I did not put my hand on his knee, however; so when he finally spills the beans I have nothing to hide. Nor did I put my hand on his secretary’s knee, his asset manager’s knee, his Catalan Police bodyguard’s knee, or his pet parrot’s knee.

    My conscience is clear.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your relief is palpable, even from a distance. A much more positive way to enter into November than we did October. The question is which of the Saints had their hand in this? Whoever it was, they are all being celebrated today. The other question is, how much longer we have to wait before Boris Johnson et al flee to Belgium?…

    Liked by 1 person

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