The twins of Catalonia

Beyond the flames, the crowd, the jeers,
lie silent, timeless through the years,
twins of silent beauty, blessed
with Catalan crests upon their breasts.
Born from seed and fertile soil,
and christened with palatial style.

Deep in the valley, wild nature grows,
the river sparkles, ebbs and flows.
Its tranquil echoes of peaceful times,
protect these twins dead in their primes,
a graceful shield from world and war,
like blood of lamb upon their door.

In the shadows of a fearsome mount,
these twins are never called to count,
but guard discreetly upon their rolls
raw secrets of twelve thousand souls
who live and breathe betwixt their pines,
and thrive beneath their hallowed signs.

Though battle rages far away
in streets upon an ancient bay,
these twins stand firm in sombre quiet,
and take no part in needless riot,
but instead bring hope from past to present
that end is near for such torment.

Whilst many come here to adore,
one stands alone atop its tor,
a wounded soul with lonely heart,
draws breath and solemnly remarks:
“far from the tumult and storms above,
‘twas with these twins I fell in love.”

Photo: Xavigivax (CC BY-SA 3.0)

I voted to leave the EU, not for a right-wing government to drive us off a cliff

Three years or so ago I was one of over seventeen million people who voted to leave the European Union.

I have for as long as I have been interested in politics been a eurosceptic, and at the risk of falling foul of the unashamedly pro-EU party I am proud to be a member of, I still am. But, in the event, I finally chose to vote to leave because I believed the rhetoric that we would agree a mutually-beneificial deal and depart with some semblance of economic security. What a fool I was.

Fundamentally, the EU is not a socialist paradise built for the enhancement of individuals, but an economic trading bloc designed around protecting member states and the movement of goods and services. For all the many advantages membership of the EU brings, the rights of free citizens and advancement of liberty cannot be counted among them, for the European elite would cast the individual aside without a second thought if the common goal of frictionless trade in a united Europe were at stake.

In October 2017, during the independence referendum in Catalonia, the EU remained silent while one of its member states ordered riot police to violently attack peaceful voters. Whatever the legality (or otherwise) of the referendum in question, such an attack on peaceful European citizens is unacceptable from a member of an organisation which wishes to present itself as the defender of individual rights, and the lack of public admonishment from the EU is shameful, to say the least.

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Are people losing interest in Catalonia’s pro-independence demonstrations?

Yesterday the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) released initial data on this year’s pro-independence rally, with the main headline being that registrations for the event have fallen 25%.

Every year since 2013, the pro-independence organisation has organised a large protest in support of independence on 11 September, Catalonia’s national day. So far 37,500 people have registered to take part in this year’s demonstration, a fall of one quarter compared to this time last year.

The drop in registrations was gleefully reported by the Madrid-based media, with El Mundo’s headline recalling that it is the lowest uptake in six years, while El País says that the reduction comes in the middle of division within the pro-independence movement. Catalan media sympathetic towards independence also recognised the fall, with El Nacional, El Punt Avui and VilaWeb all reporting the registration data.

The division between the two main secessionist political parties Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia) is well documented, particularly since local elections in May, following which both parties formed post-electoral pacts with unionists across Catalonia.

In the midst of the political division, the ANC decided that this year’s demonstration should be about highlighting that, wherever people come from, their objective is the same: the independence of Catalonia. To achieve this, they are focusing the protest on Barcelona’s plaça d’Espanya, where demonstrators will merge from the five main surrounding streets and form the shape of a star. The motto for this year’s demonstration is Objectiu independència, or Objective independence.

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VilaWeb: The ANC will leave politicians outside the Diada protest guest zone

This is a translation of an article from Catalan newspaper VilaWeb entitled “L’ANC deixarà els polítics fora de la zona de convidats de la manifestació de la Diada“. VilaWeb publishes some of their own articles in English here.

Political party leaders will not have access to the guest zone for this year’s Diada protest organised by the Catalan National Assembly (ANC). They have been excluded. This was decided by a broad consensus by the entity’s national secretariat, after having received the unease of many local ANC groups for the lack of strategic unity between the pro-independence parties, expressed, in addition, with pacts such as the one between Junts per Catalunya and PSC in the Provincial Deputation of Barcelona and ERC’s abstention in Pedro Sánchez’s investiture vote in the Spanish Congress. Sources in the ANC have confirmed this to VilaWeb.

This morning, one of the members of the secretariat, Joan Marc Jesús, published the decision on Twitter:

Translation
Eh @sergisabria @elsa_artadi @Aurora_Madaula @martavilaltat
You will have to take your selfies with the people on foot. That way you can also take the opportunity to listen to what we ask for. #ObjectiuIndependència

This implies that this time the ANC will not be sending invitations to institutional representatives and political parties to attend the Diada event from the guest zone. The only ones who will be there will be representatives from the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI), due to the collaborative relationship between the two entities.