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1714 (IT In Transit #19)


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Source: IT In Transit.

Date: September 2013.

Published in: News & Politics
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1714 (IT In Transit #19)

  1. 1. 300 Years after 1714: Commemorating Our Past and Changing Our Future 1714 issue #19 - september 2013 All too often, when Catalans review our past, we do it yielding to the force of inertia, accepting a story that has become diluted and distorted as it has been passed down from generation to generation. This habit is especially apparent when we look at the Spanish Succession War and the events of 1714, when – either because of bias or ignorance – we invariably begin with the cliché that we are celebrating a defeat. The paradox is so evident – a loser celebrating a defeat – that I find it hard to understand how a story built on such shaky ground has had lasted so long. It is time to put an end to this story of defeat, which makes us feel inferior. And the Tricentenari is the opportunity to do it. We aim, as far as possible, to contribute to raising our collective self-esteem without any chauvinism but also without shame. In order to raise our self-esteem, the Tricentenari, which starts in January 2014, will focus on four themes: commemoration, reaching out the future, unity, and projection. First, we commemorate historical facts that are relevant to our country’s history. It is important to do this because these facts affect who we are today and who we can be in the future. Commemoration is one of our fundamental rights as a nation – a right that has often been denied us, and one that we have often abandoned. Across Europe, remembering and preserving history is a concern and priority of citizens and governments alike. There are countless reasons for this, including the desire to link past and present and the ethical imperative to incorporate marginalized people into the national historical narrative. Commemorations are moments of civic affirmation, but they are also moments of democratic and critical commitment. We remember the past to be conscious of our identity, and also to create a shared awareness, for the present and for the future. Secondly, we want the Tricentenari to contribute to imagining a new future for Catalonia and express our willingness to take an active part in the challenge of designing a desirable tomorrow for all aspects of our country. The commemoration of the Tricentenari is a unique opportunity to rethink our collective future, and the historic 300-year mark is an ideal catalyst. Today we are experiencing a great deal of social ferment – both internally, as all Catalans question who we are and where we want to go, and externally, as this process has grabbed the world’s attention. The Tricentenari is our opportunity to call upon the talent and creativity we possess so that we can collectively re-envision our social, economic, cultural, and technological models. Times of turbulence like the one we are experiencing require the courage to adapt to change. But turbulence also presents an opportunity for those who are daring enough to challenge and create change rather than simply adapting. The Tricentenari is a tool in the hands of a nation that wants to take charge of its own destiny. It is up to us to decide how we want to use that tool. Thirdly, the Tricentenari is an opportunity for unity, to summon all citizens to a collective reflection process and to bring them together later on to participate in an exciting shared national project resulting from that reflection. The Tricentenari is intended to leave a legacy that survives it beyond 2014. The commemoration is absolutely inclusive. It is an intergenerational pact, the meeting point for the whole of Catalonia, is the agora where no opinion is excluded beforehand. If the project is not for all the Catalan citizens, it is not truly a project. According to Professor Richard Florida, those societies that are more able to accept complexity and take advantage of the diverse experiences of its citizens in order to converge and multiply their skills will be in a better position to be competitive in the world – a world that is more competitive today than ever. Last but not least, the Tricentenari must transcend our borders and satisfy the curiosity of a world that is watching us. We might give them inspirational answers. When we say that the world is looking at us, it is not an exaggeration – it is a very fitting description of reality. Media from all over the world are closely following the process initiated in Catalonia. They are sending correspondents to inquire about and understand our reality. And they do it with an objective distance that we do not have. Things haven’t been like this for 300 years. The Spanish Succession War was probably the last time that Catalonia received so much attention from governments worldwide. “The Case of the Catalans,” the name of Miquel Calçada i Olivella seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter EDITORIAL
  2. 2. one of many pamphlets that appeared at that time, made its author’s fortune and is now the name by which the Catalan issue is known. Today, the case of the Catalans is more valid than ever. Now it is up to us to take the reins and provide new answers to the questions that the world is asking us. The Tricentenari will recover a forgotten chapter of our history – a chapter that is crucial to understanding the whole of our history. It will highlight the persistent link between 1714 and 2014. The Tricentenari will also serve to widen the boundaries of our national identity, incorporating everyone who is here right now. This will strengthen a society that is undeniably diverse, but whose ties are being questioned and weakened by the pressure of the moment. The Tricentenari will show both Catalonia and the world that we have the power to fully unite what we once were, what we are, and what we will be. Past, present, and a very long future. Miquel Calçada i Olivella is Commissioner of the Tricentenari commemoration.
  3. 3. El Born: The Catalan Ground Zero 1714 issue #19 - september 2013 El Born Centre Cultural (the Born Cultural Center) of Barcelona will open its doors on September 11th 2013, the starting date for the tercentenary of the events of 1714. It stands as a witness of this crucial event in our history, which is closely linked to this site. With this “city within a market”, which allows us to see the spirit of a people from close up in a magical, almost telluric way, we are opening the door to an exciting, epic and creative world. A space of living memory. I “On September 11th 1714 an entire world disappeared in Barcelona”, Vicenç Villatoro has one of his characters say in the novel La dona a la finestra. El Born, 10 de setembre de 1714 (The Woman at the Window. El Born, September 10th 1714). It is not often that one has the opportunity to rebuild and rethink worlds that have been demolished. Thanks to the efforts of many people, El Born Centre Cultural, which will open its doors on September 11th, 2013, coinciding with the start of the tercentenary of the events of 1714, to an exciting, epic and creative world. The epic feeling of walking the same streets where General Villaroel led his final counterattack on September 11th, advancing with the cavalry to meet the Bourbon troops before he fell wounded; the thrill of discovering a neighborhood and a city full of light, life, leisure, trade; a dynamic and open neighborhood that the Dutch consuls called home, close to where string-makers would be putting the finishing touches on the violas that they would then export to all of Europe. This entire world would disappear, demolished, together with one thousand more homes, during the Bourbon repression that followed the Catalan defeat. The freedoms, Catalan institutions, the language. And also the homes. Some 20% or the city of Barcelona would be demolished. A population similar to that of Mataró or Girona of that period. Between the city’s ruins and the enormous fortress, the Ciutadella, erected exclusively to monitor and control those that remained, there lay an empty space, the esplanade, which is where the archaeological site would later be uncovered. Almost a century and a half later, the Barcelona City Council organized a municipal competition to urbanize the Eixample. Curiously enough, years later, between 1874 and 1876 two of the winners of this competition, the official winner, Antoni Rovira i Trias, and one of the runners up, Josep Fontseré, built this magnificent market. The unique design of the market was what made it possible for the ruins buried underneath to survive. Their subsequent “rediscovery”, which occurred after there were initial plans to build a library on the site, and everything that has happened since, are well-known facts. And yet, as the former director Albert Garcia Espuche once said: “El Born is not just a place of memory; it is not just a place of history and heritage; it is not just a “museum”; it is not just a covered public space; the Born, above all, has no precedent: it forces us to innovate, and its strength lies in its complexity and its ability to allow fresh approaches. In the Born what is essential is the dialogue between past and present, the analysis of the continuities and the ruptures within it; the will to overcome the borders between heritage and modernity; the push for a creativity today that is based on historical knowledge. El Born, therefore, will be, among other things, a space where there can be a meeting and a dialogue between the past and the present, between heritage and modernity. This approach is fundamental in the cultural moment we are living in. We must approach these past-present reflections from a more profound perspective. We need to contemplate today’s creations taking into account our current cultural foundation.” El Born, therefore, is clearly one more step in the direction of the recovery of the memory of the Catalans, in the difficult, long and winding journey that our country has been on for generations to find itself. [...] El Born wants to be a singularly unique public space; a place of living memory, a historical building of heritage without precedents. Rooted in the foundations in the past to think about today’s complexity and tomorrow’s dreams. The same dreams that the Catalans of the 1700s were determined to never renounce to. Why did they fight that September 11th? To continue being Catalans, as they had always lived. They knew that what was at stake was simply this. Seen from a contemporary perspective, the memory of 1714 should be a great celebration of resistance. We resisted! For the celebration of September 11th it would be enough to just go walking around hugging each Quim Torra - Revista VIA seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  4. 4. other. We have resisted and we Catalans are still here, despite everything that has happened to us in our history, and that is the best homage we can pay to the heroes and defenders of Catalonia. A resistance that has only been possible thanks to memory. El Born Centre Cultural will open its doors on September 11th 2013. Welcome to the Catalan ground zero. Quim Torra - Editor and law graduate. Director of El Born Centre Cultural Photo by Margaret Luppino Translated from Catalan by Margaret Luppino
  5. 5. 18th Century - the Poll Tax: Philip V punishes Catalonia The ‘cadastro’was a new fiscal measure introduced after the Spanish Succession War 1714 issue #19 - september 2013 In the early-18th century, absolute monarchies set about the task of reviewing fiscal systems in order to cover the expenses of war. Their aim was to increase taxes without harming economic development. However, in the case of the Kingdom of Castile, with its chaotic finances and huge deficits, this was impossible. The advisors of King Philip V, on the throne since 1700, were opposed to increasing fiscal pressure on Castilian taxpayers. The Crown of Aragon –that is, the confederation of realms formed by the Kingdom of Aragon, the Kingdom of Valencia and the Principality of Catalonia– also expressed their disapproval of such a measure. A turning-point Catalonia had its own fiscal system, under which taxes were collected and administered by the country’s own government, known as the “Diputación del General” or “Generalitat”, and not by the king, as was the case in Castile. This state of affairs gave the Catalan people freedom to decide whether or not to contribute financially to the Spanish monarchy’s foreign policy. In truth, the Catalans were little enamoured of imperial policies, and often refused to pay. After the end of the War of the Spanish Succession, Philip V’s ministers’ intention was that Catalonia, which had fought alongside Archduke Charles and the Anglo-Dutch alliance, should pay for the army that occupied the country. To this end, a new fiscal measure was introduced. Known as the ‘catastro’, or cadastre this poll tax was levied on property and people. A distorted image Although, it was explained that the new levy was aimed at achieving greater social justice in fiscal matters, the truth is that it was immediately seen as a punishment: a war tax dressed up as a civil tax. The coercive measures used to collect the poll tax included requisition and imprisonment. The amount stipulated to be collected –one million Castilian pesos– was disproportionate. Castile believed that Catalonia was still the prosperous land it had been before the war, and did not take into account the effects of the conflict on the population. As a result, the amount set to be paid under the ‘catastro’ never corresponded to the real income of society as a whole. Nor did it take into account, for example, that a poor harvest might make it impossible to pay. As a result, there were years when the tax burden applied to Catalonia was so brutal that the Spanish collectors themselves recommended that it should be reduced. Fiscal pressure in numbers The ‘catastro’ poll tax became consolidated over the period from 1726 to 1744, parallel to the introduction of the new political regime brought in by Philip V. The amounts payable remained practically frozen, however, and eventually became out of date. The result was that, by the second half of the 18th century, when population and economic growth in Catalonia had made the relentless fiscal pressure more bearable, there was no longer any opposition to the tax. However, nothing could compensate for the drain on the country’s resources that had taken place over previous decades. In fifty years (1729-1779), indirect taxation rose by 248% in Catalonia, and total taxation, including the catastro, by 150%. In 1845, tax reforms were introduced, and the ‘catastro’ was abolished. However, perceptions of Catalonia’s supposed lack of fiscal solidarity continued to abound in Castile, as the country had achieved considerable development through expansion of trade and industry. As a result of these perceptions, Catalonia continued to pay the price for the defeat of 1714 in other ways. Jordi Mata (Text) Agustí Alcoberro, Francesc Cabana, Josep Maria Solé i Sabaté (Advisory) Alan Moore (Translation) Jordi Mata (text) Agustí Alcoberro, Francesc Cabana, Josep Maria Solé i Sabaté (advisory) Alan Moore (translation) Sàpiens seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  6. 6. 19th Century - New Regime, Old Ways The debate between protectionists and free-traders began to affect relations between Catalonia and Spain 1714 issue #19 - september 2013 In 1814, at the end of the Peninsular War (known in Spain as the “War of Independence”), which was followed by the restoration of the absolute monarch under King Ferdinand VII, the Spanish economy was in ruins. Lack of capital and the general misery severely restricted the country’s purchasing power. Spain could find few markets in which to place its wares, a problem intensified by the fact that its American colonies, invaded by the English and French, had rebelled in order to become independent. Despite all this, in 1830, Catalonia, with a population of 1,200,000 and average income of 225 reales per inhabitant, was the fourth most powerful trading power in the world. Two concepts of trade After the death of Ferdinand VII in 1833, the first Carlist War (1833-1840) broke out in Spain between the defenders of absolutism on the one hand and liberalism on the other. In 1835, a revolutionary process aimed at accelerating reforms to dismantle the old order, including the tax system, was unleashed. During this process, the Barcelona bourgeoisie called for the abolition of accumulated taxes, since the result of adding modern and medieval taxes together resulted in a figure that represented two-thirds of overall production. Reform to this end was not introduced until 1845. Bombs in response to economic revolt With liberalism installed in power, a struggle between two economic movements became clear. These were, one the one hand, protectionism, whose supporters wanted restrictions on imports, and, on the other, the free trade movement, which opposed state intervention in international trade. Catalan industrialists were, in general, in favour of protectionism. However, the centralist policies of General Baldomero Espartero, appointed regent until Queen Isabella II came of age, entailed opening up Spanish borders to British products, direct competitors to those made in Catalonia. The Catalan cotton industry was the sector most seriously threatened and, in November 1842, the bourgeoisie and workers in Barcelona rebelled against Espartero, who responded by bombing the city. This violent reaction had the effect of increasing opposition throughout the State to Espartero, who resigned and fled to Great Britain the following year. Count Güell takes on the Madrid press In the mid-19th century, the debate between protectionists and free traders began to affect relations between Catalonia and Spain and the cliché of Catalan lack of solidarity raised its head once more. The pro-free-trade Madrid press attacked industrialists, mostly located in Catalonia, and the story spread that Catalonia was becoming rich by exporting its manufactured products to the other Spanish provinces, which were becoming poorer and poorer. However, the Catalan industrialist and economist Joan Güell spoke out against this, in 1853 refuting the argument by providing customs figures which showed that Catalonia’s balance of trade with Spain was never favourable to the former. Figures that speak for themselves It was possible to quantify the ill-feeling that divided the industrial bourgeoisie from the government. Figures on industrial and trade taxes for the 1888-1890 period show that each Catalan paid 4.78 pesetas, more than double the average for Spain, which stood at 2.08 pesetas per person. According to another statistic, devoted to foreign trade, the Catalans handed over five times more than the rest of the population in taxes to the State. In short, Catalonia paid over 8.8 million pesetas per year in taxes, whilst the rest of the State combined contributed 32.7 million. And this, at a time when the Principality had a population of 1.8 million compared to the 17.5 million inhabitants of Spain as a whole. Consequently, whilst accounting for 10% of total Spanish population, Catalonia contributed 27% of total taxes. The tax burden on the country was disproportionate in the extreme. Civil disobedience The loss of Spain’s last remaining colonies in 1898 led to a complete breakdown in relations between the bourgeoisie and the system. This situation worsened in 1899. The previous year’s defeat had resulted in a deficit, which the government sought to balance by raising taxes. The response by the guilds of Barcelona was to close commercial and industrial establishments so as to avoid paying tax without breaking the law. The consequences of this unusual strike, which spread to many medium-sized towns in Catalonia, was the suspension of constitutional guarantees, embargoes and arrests of taxpayers and the resignation of the mayor of Barcelona, who disobeyed orders from Madrid by refusing to embargo the assets of those who refused to pay. 1900 balance The century ended in this heated atmosphere. According to the official figures for 1900, Barcelona province paid a tax bill that was as high as the whole of Andalucía, more than Old Castile, Aragón and Valencia together, and almost as much as New Castile (including Madrid), Galicia, León, Extremadura and Murcia, combined. The Catalan province contributed 174 million pesetas to the State, whilst Madrid paid less than 143 million. Barcelona paid even more than Cuba had when a Spanish colony, and complained about being forced to pay 24 million pesos, which were then distributed on the island itself. Jordi Mata (text) Agustí Alcoberro, Francesc Cabana, Josep Maria Solé i Sabaté (advisory) Alan Moore (translation) Sàpiens seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  7. 7. In investment, too, the contrast was shocking. Public works were practically non-existent in Catalonia, whilst one-third of the State General Budget remained in Madrid. Just the one hundred million pesetas invested in the Lozoya Canal, which brought water to the Spanish capital, a project that had begun in 1851 and was still unfinished, was more than was spent on works in Catalonia in the whole century. Jordi Mata (Text) Agustí Alcoberro, Francesc Cabana, Josep Maria Solé i Sabaté (Advisory) Alan Moore (Translation)
  8. 8. 20th Century – Dictatorships and disenchantment The debate between protectionists and free-traders began to affect relations between Catalonia and Spain 1714 issue #19 - september 2013 In the early-20th century, Catalonia, Spain’s industrial driving force, embodied an incredible paradox: the country did not possess even the minimum infrastructure proportionate to its contribution to the public purse. The Catalan press of the time denounced this discrepancy whilst also highlighting another disturbing fact: the gap was not only financial, but also human, as Catalonia provided 900 more recruits to the armed forces than would correspond to it according to population. This discrimination is explained by documents from the time in which State bodies suggested that the “right of conquest” over Catalonia permitted them to act as they did. Self-government without powers or resources The ‘Mancomunitat’, or association of municipalities of Catalonia (1914-25), the first self-governing body since 1714, alleviated the deficit with the State by using resources from the provincial governments of Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona, as the Spanish government refused to devolve powers over tax collection. Consequently, the State continued to levy 250 million pesetas every year in Catalonia, returning just 19.1 million in investment in public works, education, health and agriculture. After General Miguel Primo de Rivera abolished the Mancomunitat, the tax deficit continued to exist. In 1926, Catalonia, by no means the largest or most-populated region in the State, contributed nearly one-third (30%) of all the taxes paid in Spain. The restoration of the Generalitat, or Catalan government, during the Second Republic (1931) did not bring about an immediate improvement in the issue of financing. Spain’s slow-footedness in devolving powers to the Catalan government caused absurd situations, such as that concerning public works. The decision to devolve powers to the Generalitat in this area was made in 1931, but did not enter into effect until 1935, though this detail did not prevent the State from leaving Catalonia out of its public works plans, as it considered the Generalitat responsible, even if only nominally, in this area. Overall public investment in Catalonia amounted to less than one-third of the total taxes collected by the State from the Catalan people. Taxation in wartime During the Civil War, the exceptional situation led to exceptional initiatives. Due to the circumstances of the war, the Generalitat was required to take over the functions of the Republican government in Catalonia. In January 1937, despite central government opposition to Catalan autonomous economic management, the Generalitat restructured financial relations between the two under a new fiscal system. Taxes intended to provide sources of income for the Catalan Treasury and whose purpose was to help sustain the war effort were established, amended or restored. Nevertheless, the course of the war led a decrease in tax revenues, and the Generalitat accumulated a huge deficit. The Franco regime installed an autarchic system, with strict rationing and restrictions on foreign exchanges, in which the State was to produce all necessary goods. The new authorities demonstrated their clear intention to make economic recovery in Catalonia as difficult as possible. The headquarters of Catalan companies were transferred to Madrid, and Spanish banks absorbed the country’s financial institutions, with the result that Catalan banks represented just 3% of the Spanish banking system in the mid-1950s. Stagnation under Franco The defeat of the Nazis led to stagnation in the Spanish economy. There was a shortage of energy and raw materials. The Catalan industrial and commercial bourgeoisie was content merely to keep their businesses going despite State interventionism. The State did not always get its own way, however. The dictatorship, which wanted Catalonia to specialise in textiles, was forced to bow to the FIAT automobile manufacturer’s desire to install the SEAT factory in Barcelona due to its port and the local qualified workforce, increasing the weight of the iron and steel industry in Catalonia. As usual, fiscal pressure was kept up. In 1951, the State invested 28% of the taxes it collected in Barcelona province in the province itself; that is to say, a fiscal deficit of 72%. In the 1950s, incapable of raising living standards amongst the people, the autarchic model entered into crisis and was forced to evolve towards a greater liberalisation of the economic system. But nothing changed in Catalonia. In 1956, State income from Barcelona province was 5,551,154,212 pesetas, whilst spending was 1,179,668,992 pesetas. In other words, just 21% of revenue, a 79% deficit. The population and economic growth which followed in the 1960s brought no improvements to the services that should exist in a country that acts as the driving force for an entire State. In 1975, the deficit in public education in Barcelona Metropolitan Area was 58% as regards places in basic and pre-school education whilst, in health care, there were six hospital beds per thousand inhabitants in the capital, when the WHO recommended ten beds per thousand. Democratic transition and self-government The dismantling of the dictatorship following the death of Franco, the restoration of democracy and the re- establishment of the Generalitat presented an opportunity to correct old vices. During the process of drafting the Catalan Statute of Autonomy in 1978, the possibility was considered of establishing a financing system based not on what the central administration should transfer to the autonomous government but on what Catalonia should transfer to the central government. The idea was to give the country complete freedom to Jordi Mata (text) Agustí Alcoberro, Francesc Cabana, Josep Maria Solé i Sabaté (advisory) Alan Moore (translation) Sàpiens seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  9. 9. decide how to use much of its money whilst also ensuring solidarity with less developed areas of the State. The Spanish government, presided over by Adolfo Suarez, rejected this proposal, now known as the fiscal pact, and economic issues were relegated to a secondary position since, in those times, there was more interest in securing devolution of powers in such areas as language and education, considered vital providing a firm structure for the country. In 1994, Catalonia paid around 20% more than the Spanish average and received 17% less than that same average. Despite this, the country continues to be accused of a lack of solidarity, and these accusations are not contested outside Catalonia because conserving this image reaps political and economic benefits for Spanish political parties and State structures. What is most ironic is that Catalonia leads the autonomic process: in a curious exercise of imitation, if the country achieves powers in a particular area, the other autonomous communities also demand its devolution from the State. Perhaps this explains why Madrid refuses to talk about reforming system under which Catalonia is financed: the task threatens to be long and arduous, and there is little desire to redress injustices. Jordi Mata (Text) Agustí Alcoberro, Francesc Cabana, Josep Maria Solé i Sabaté (Advisory) Alan Moore (Translation)
  10. 10. A new museum shows Barcelona in 1700 and explains the military and political defeat of 1714 1714 issue #19 - september 2013 Barcelona (ACN).- On Monday evening, Barcelona officially unveiled a new museum built within the renovated iron structure of an Art-Nouveau market from the late 19th century, located in the Born neighbourhood, next to the Gothic quarter. The new facility has been unveiled following many years of renovation work and will enlarge the Catalan capital’s vast number of cultural attractions. It explains how city life was during the early 18th century, with a permanent exhibition of 8,000 objects. In addition, the Born Cultural Centre shows the neighbourhood’s ruins dating from 1714, when residents were obliged to destroy their own homes and leave without any compensation after Barcelona’s military defeat on the 11th September of this year. After this episode, the largest urban military citadel in Europe was built in that area, being part of the fierce repression that the new Bourbon regime inflicted on Catalan citizens. From that moment onwards, Catalonia lost its self-government institutions as well as its own laws and freedoms, and it began to be ruled by the Kingdom of Castile, which from that moment onwards became the rule of Spain. Furthermore, the Catalan language was banned and persecuted with the aim to homogenise the newly-formed Spain (previously Catalonia was part of the Spanish Crown but Spain did not exist as a united state). The new museum pays tribute to those families as well as those who suffered during the Spanish War of Succession, Barcelona’s long siege and the terrible consequences of the defeat. However, the 8,000-square metre new museum goes beyond these episodes of History and it also offers a rich programme of cultural events such as temporary exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances, conferences and cinema projections. On top of this, the Born Cultural Centre has been conceived as a partially-open space, allowing the free circulation of pedestrians crossing the building while being able to contemplate the ruins of the 1714 city from a balcony. On the 12th September, the day after Catalonia’s National Day, the Centre will open its doors for the wider public, after a long and tedious renovation process. On Monday, it was unveiled by the President of the Catalan Government Artur Mas, the Mayor of Barcelona Xavier Trias, as well as other public figures and invited guests. Barcelona has just solved one of its eternal pending issues: the renovation of the former Born market, which used to be the city’s wholesale fruit and vegetable market until 1971. Since then, the Art-Nouveau iron structure, dating from the 1880s, has been lying idle. Institutional disagreements and the discovery of the ruins have delayed the renovation, transformation and re-opening of the space for 43 years. In the late 1980s and 1990s, there were several proposals on the table for the ageing building, particularly from the moment that the Born neighbourhood became particularly trendy. Two of the projects that were ruled-out were the proposals for it to become a huge FNAC book store or a faculty of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), which has other facilities nearby. However, the project that was decided upon was approved in 1997 and was to locate Barcelona’s Provincial Library, which was to become the main library in the area of Barcelona – a cultural facility that the Spanish Government never built. However, while preparing the site, the Medieval town ruins appeared. Studies were carried out to modify the initial project to include both the ruins and the Provincial Library. In the end, however, the whole project was changed and the decision was taken to build the library elsewhere. Then, Barcelona’s City Council started to be in charge of the old market and, in 2003, it took the definitive decision to build a centre around the 1714 ruins, explaining the medieval town and offering parallel cultural activities. A long construction work The construction work took much longer that initially expected, since the digging of the ruins was more complex that initially foreseen – something that also happened with the renovation of the iron structure, which was more damaged and had much more architectural features than it was previously thought. On top of this, the economic crisis restricted the funds available and forced the construction works to slow-down. However, a year and a half ago, it was announced that the cultural project would be unveiled around Catalonia’s National Day of 2013, exactly a year before the 300th anniversary of the military defeat of 11th September 1714. A cultural centre split in 3 The 8,000 square metre Born Cultural Centre is mostly divided into three parts. The first one is located at street level and consists of a free circulation space for pedestrians. It has a balcony overlooking the ruins and gives access to the other parts. It will be open from 9am until 8pm and people will be able to freely walk through it. The second part is formed of the ruins, which are below street level. It is the main and largest area of the centre and it shows the streets, floors and part of the walls of the neighbourhood of 1714. Finally, at street level, at each corner of the market there are four large rooms and an additional fifth room in an adjacent building. Three rooms have 350 square meters and the two others are slightly smaller. One will host the permanent exhibition, which will show how Barcelonans lived during the early 18th century, with many objects on display. Another large room will be devoted to temporary exhibitions. The first one will be on show until 2014 and it will explain the 14-month military siege, Barcelona’s occupation and the repression that followed for several decades. A third room will host the parallel activities, such as concerts, conferences, film projections and theatre performances. It will be able to host almost 300 people. A fourth room will host a book Catalan News Agency seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  11. 11. shop and a gastronomic area, which will be run by the Barcelona-based beer company Moritz. Finally, the fifth room, located in an adjacent building (were the offices of the cultural centre are located) will be used to host small side events that cannot coincide with those developed in the multi-purpose space.
  12. 12. We admire Catalonia 1714 issue #19 - september 2013 For decades the Spanish media based in Madrid created an idea of Spain that distorted reality. In this misrepresentation Catalonia was both ignored and dismissed by way of self-serving clichés, and as a result most of the Spanish population knows nothing about Catalonia and is full of prejudices about the Catalans. The media painted us a picture of a Catalonia that is provincial, closed, dull, unsuccessful, obsolete... But the Diada this year marks a turning point that contradicts all of this and has revealed a country full of energy. From now on there will be some Spaniards who look at Catalonia with curiosity, others with fear and mistrust, but many will want to understand what has happened. And what has happened was foreseeable for anyone who had taken a closer look and bothered to listen to what people living there were saying and feeling, all of which had simply been hidden from them. Instead, just about every month the Spanish press would do a fresh story on how a child couldn’t receive schooling in the Spanish language, that bullfighting was being persecuted... It seemed to be nothing more than a few petty issues. And then all of a sudden more than a million Catalans were demanding independence. Where had all these people been that no one had ever told us about? Although it might seem hard to believe, the day after this important civic and political event (I don’t know if there is anything similar to it in Europe) we could read headlines that scoffed at it and news reports that undervalued it, which only further fed the blindness of their readership. What has happened in Catalonia is exemplary and has made history in terms of democratic struggles. And it is not the first time Catalonia has offered us a lesson. But lessons are only learned by those who don’t harbor prejudices and by those who wish to learn. In my case I am aware that I have my prejudices but I also like to learn, and I have learned a great deal from the Catalans. Even though it is frowned upon in Spain, I am not ashamed to admit that I admire Catalan society. As a Galician, I am a citizen of a defeated country that has been incapable of overcoming its history, which failed to stop depredations and humiliations, is missing a collective pride and civic nerve. As a Spaniard, I come from a fratricidal and uncivil country, marked by a regime that deteriorated the country to a deplorable state, and a traumatic and deep-set historical experience that is often deliberately dismissed as “the dictatorship.” And this is why I envied the seeds of freedom and civility that came out of Catalonia, from the “Rosa Sensat” pedagogical renewal, when education was still seen as a means of liberating, to the workers’ struggle of the PSUC and the libertarians, the resolve in Pau Casals’s exile, the nova cançó and Lluis Llac’s songs “al`Olimpia” and also his “Campanades a mort” dedicated to the assassinated workers in Vitoria, Catalonia’s struggle for national self- government... In Barcelona I discovered a city always attentive to culture, which hosted the music of Beethoven and Wagner in its Palau de la Música, where in July of 1937 Schoenberg rehearsed with the orchestra “Moses und Aron” when the Fascist bombings began, where Picasso and Picabia rehearsed their freedom, the city that was a pilgrimage destination for Don Quixote, and with him his author, to the glory of the book industry. As an author in Catalonia I felt warmly received and respected without it mattering what language I wrote in or where I was from or who my relatives were, there I met my publisher and the best editors and the most intelligent and the sharpest people in the book industry and the arts. And I found myself before literary works such as “Quadern Gris” (The Grey Notebook) by Josep Pla, which if Spain happened to consider literature in Catalan to belong to the Spanish literary canon (which is not the case), it would be one of their four or five major works of the twentieth century. Naturally, I also saw the limits and the shortcoming of Catalan society, it has them just as every other society does, but my admiration for its virtues is far greater. Without being Catalan I am a Catalanist, I confess. I can sum it all up by saying that at one point in my life I found myself forced, for the first time, to have to think about leaving Galicia, and I had no doubt about where I would go and where there was an open society that could take me in. I had no doubt about it. And with this Diada the Catalans have given us a new lesson in civility and freedom. To understand just how necessary this lesson is we should be aware of what happened that same day in Madrid; a Fascist attack that is not a mere anecdote. We will be able to measure the level of freedom and the general climate in Madrid and in the Spanish state by how they treat this attack: will they apply the anti-terrorism law? Will these organizations be made illegal and persecuted as the Spanish politicians and judiciary did in the Basque Country? And when plenty of well-armed policemen appear each time citizens legitimately defend their rights, why weren’t they nearby this time to protect these citizens? I find it disgusting. On their national day what the Catalans offered us was a free and joyful citizenry against embittered thugs and roughnecks. In response to the minister who threatened with sending in the Spanish army, people of all ages opposed him with sandwiches, t-shirts and flags. It will be impossible to grasp the true dimension of this great civic event if we don’t realize that it wasn’t a demonstration like the one we saw a few months ago. The Catalan Way was the result of months of organized planning; each person registered and directed themselves to their assigned spot along the route. Things had not heated up in a day or week, and it wasn’t the kind of anger that brings people out on the streets. Instead, each citizen went out and found a t-shirt and signed up ahead of time Suso de Toro - El - 12-09-2013 seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OPINION
  13. 13. for a spot. It was not a crowd of protestors but instead a citizenry that had organized itself voluntarily and from the grassroots level; we are talking about a determined people with a clear intent. It is a decision that has matured tremendously over the years following the repeated experiences that showed time and again that the Spanish state did not recognize their demands and did not protect their language or their interests. It was not a spontaneous event. In recent years, every time I discussed the Catalan social and political process with politicians from Spanish political parties they always answered “but [President] Mas...”, “what Convergència really wants is...”, “...the flags...”, “but the Catalan bourgeoisie...”, “but Esquerra...” No matter how much I insisted they repeated their comfortable prejudices and they reduced it all to a political party dialectic, and hardly any were humble enough to travel from Madrid to Barcelona, never mind to any other Catalan city, to ask questions and listen to the people. They didn’t understand that it was the people and not the political parties; Artur Mas put himself at the head of this deeply rooted social movement because he had no other choice. What the media in Madrid and Spanish politics did was belittle the Catalans, reducing them to a people that had been put under a spell and astutely manipulated by malevolent political enemies of Spain. What they did was deny the Catalans a sense of personal dignity, precisely to those people who had always given a civics lesson to Spain. The Catalans have many flaws, but they are a society with a civic complexity and depth that is like no other I know. What we have before us is the reality, all this time the Catalans were not a bunch of leeches that sought to exploit the rest of Spain, as we had been told, but instead they had dignity. Loads of collective and personal dignity. For now we can only learn from Catalonia. Paul Celan wrote about a Germany that was a master of death, Catalonia in exchange is a master of civility. It would have been much better for Spain if it had listened to it and learned its lessons. I don’t want to imagine a Spain without Catalonia. The Francoists will invoke the sacred unity of the motherland and the duty of the Spanish army, even though they didn’t do so when they handed over the Spanish provinces in the Sahara to the Moroccan monarchy at the behest of their American masters. And Spanish nationalists in general will invoke a Constitution dictated by Jehovah and that Moses carried down from the Mount (when it was first drawn up they already had people in the Constitutional Court who interpreted it in a way that best suited their interests, and they have Pérez de los Cobos presiding the Court), that already gave us their opinion of the Catalans. But those of us who believe in democracy and are not Catalans have the duty to recognize that they are simply exercising democracy and their freedom. All we can do is try to imagine how Catalonia can become what its citizens freely desire it to be, and hope that this doesn’t mean they will become strangers to us. This is how we feel. Suso de Toro is a Galician writer. Photo by Margaret Luppino Translated from Spanish by Margaret Luppino.
  14. 14. Lithuania’s Prime Minister on Catalonia: each country “has the right to self-determination” 1714 issue #19 - september 2013 Barcelona (ACN).- In an exclusive interview with the CNA, the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Algirdas Butkevicius, stated that each country “has to find its own way” and “has the right to self-determination” when he was specifically asked about Catalonia’s human chain. Lithuania is holding the European Union Presidency from July to December. The CNA interviewed the Lithuanian Premier on the occasion of the 400-kilometre human chain ‘Catalan Way towards independence’, which was inspiredbythe‘BalticWay’of1989requestingtheindependence of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from the USSR. The ‘Baltic Way’ united in an uninterrupted and peaceful human chain Tallin, Riga and Vilnius; two years later the 3 Baltic states became independent. Butkevicius said he was “very happy that the Lithuanian model inspires people from other places”, as with the Catalan human chain. In another interview, the Prime Minister of Latvia, Valdis Dombrovskis, also showed great respect for the ‘Catalan Way’ and even opened the door to recognising a hypothetical independent Catalonia if the process were to be “legitimate”. “I welcome all peaceful ways to express the people’s solidarity and the [right to] self-determination”, stated the Prime Minister of Lithuania. However, Butkevicius underlined that any self-determination process has to be developed “according to the legal basis”, including “international law”. He explained that Lithuanians “developed” their own legal framework in order to proclaim their independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. Catalonia “has to find its own way” and “has the right to self-determination” In addition, he pointed out that “today the situation within the European Union is completely different”, since the “the EU is a democratic union of states that respects political rights and is based on free will”. He also added that Catalonia’s independence has to be discussed “within” Spain. Nonetheless, when he was explicitly asked about Catalonia’s human chain, he stated that each people “has to find its own way” and “has the right to self-determination”. The ‘Baltic Way’, an example for humankind Butkevicius, who is the leader of the Lithuanian Social-Democrat party, also stated that he feels “very happy” that Lithuania’s example can “inspire” other people. He emphasised that the ‘Baltic Way’ “now belongs to the entire humankind”, as it was recognised by UNESCO. “Lithuania recovered its independence in a unique way. It might be considered as a model for humankind to reach independence in a peaceful way”, he concluded. Finally, Butkevicius emphasised the existing economic ties between Catalonia and Lithuania, with Catalan investments in the Baltic country. The Prime Minister also “invited other entrepreneurs” from Catalonia to set up an economic co-operation with Lithuania. To see the full video please visit: Catalan News Agency - 14-9-2013 seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OPINION
  15. 15. Independent Voices 1714 issue #19 - september 2013 Many people in Scotland (or Alba as we call it in my language) are fascinated by the vigour of the independence movement in Catalunya and, if we were called upon to lay a bet on which country might achieve independence first, we would be hard-put to know where to place our money. Putting a million people on the streets of Barcelona last year was a phenomenal achievement, and certainly not one that could be copied (even at a smaller scale) in Scotland. If our country’s drive to independence seems to be lukewarm currently, there is more than just economic uncertainty to blame. Indeed, a lot of the political lethargy (with eighteen months to go until the referendum) can probably be linked to the fact that the United Kingdom authorities have actually been rather gentle with, and largely respectful to, the ‘errant’ Scots – so far, at least. Those who wish for independence would probably welcome a Madrid-style interference with our governmental priorities in order to raise the political temperature! Scotland has been part of Great Britain since 1707, and part of the United Kingdom since 1801. It was in theory an equal partner with England (including Wales) in the 1707 union, but in practice there never was, and never would be, equality between the two countries. England had four times the population of Scotland in 1707; it now has ten times Scotland’s population. The only way that equality might have been achieved would have been for Scottish and English identity to disappear, and for everybody to view themselves as British, and only British. That has never happened. Scottish identity is undeniably stronger today than it was in my childhood, and it now has expression through the devolved parliament and government in Edinburgh. If only our football team were better…! While it might be tempting to some to compare the roles of Francisco Franco and Margaret Thatcher in boosting the desire of Catalans and Scots to achieve independence, the comparison would be unfair. Thatcher was a democrat, and didn’t try to squash Scottish identity through banning the country’s minority languages. But there is little doubt that the Iron Lady’s policies, and her premiership, fuelled a sense that Scotland was being misgoverned. The English elected her, the Scots suffered her – or so the orthodoxy goes. The end result of that process of disengagement was the setting up of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. Since that time, there has been a new political dynamic in Scotland, and the Scottish National Party, which seeks independence, is now a majority government in a parliament whose electoral system was established with the aim of preventing such a scenario. But many Catalans would be surprised to hear that language plays an insignificant role in the Scottish independence debate. ‘We want to govern ourselves; we want to have the economic levers to create a more prosperous society; we want to build a fairer society with less of a gap between rich and poor; we want our country to pledge itself to peaceful co-existence with its neighbours and to reject militaristic adventurism’. You will hear all of these comments from advocates of Scottish independence. What you won’t hear is ‘we want to speak and use our language without interference from the authorities in London’. London doesn’t interfere in that way any more. It doesn’t need to – our languages are so weak that they provide no challenge to the hegemony of the English tongue. The contrast with the vigour of Catalan in Catalunya is stark. There are two major indigenous languages in Scotland. One is Scots, a close relative of English, which grew out of the Anglian speech common to northern England and southern Scotland. It is traditionally associated with the eastern and southern parts of the country, although dialects are also spoken in the once-Norse island groups of Shetland and Orkney in the far north. My own tongue, Gaelic, a sister language to Irish, is the only founding language of the kingdom of Alba still spoken today. It grew to be the majority language of Scotland between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries, reaching most corners of the country and establishing a Scottish identity that prevented the country being absorbed into an aggressive and expansive England, but it was gradually pushed into its later stronghold of the mountainous Highlands. It is now only spoken by a little over one percent of the population, having been in retreat for a long time, although there are hopes for its regeneration, particularly through Gaelic Medium education which, like the Catalan system, produces fluently bilingual children with an above-average command of the national majority language (English in our case, Spanish in the Catalan situation). However, in contrast to the vast numbers in Catalunya, only some 3,500 children currently gain the benefit of a Gaelic Medium education. Whether Gaelic would benefit from independence is not clear. It has certainly benefited from devolution, however. The Scottish Parliament passed the Gaelic Language Act in 2005 with all-party support, and the language’s new confidence and dynamic saw the creation of a (part-time) Gaelic TV channel, BBC ALBA, in 2008. On a small budget, it provides an excellent service. I was in Catalunya some years ago and met some language activists in Girona. They were unhappy at what they saw as the oppressed state of their language and were convinced that only political independence from Spain would ensure its future. The continued suppression of the language in the Valencia community and other parts of Els Països Catalans, plus the current attempt by Madrid to demote the place of the Catalan language in education in Catalunya itself would certainly seem to support their contention. But I also experienced a language spoken by many millions (not tens of thousands like my own), with a vigour that most lesser-used or minority languages around Europe can only dream about. Ironically, it is the success Ruairidh MacIlleathain - Catalan Views - 6-5-2013 seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OPINION
  16. 16. of Catalan that marks it as a powerful political symbol, both for its supporters and opponents. The Gaelic language can be largely ignored by the central powers, but Catalan cannot. An act of suppression can be read, if one is a lateral thinker, as a compliment! If Catalans are a little disappointed at the apparent lack of interest among Scottish politicians in the struggle for Catalunya’s independence, they can rest assured that there is a lot of interest both in political circles and within the general population. However, Madrid’s tentacles have clearly stretched as far as Edinburgh, stilling Scottish politicians’ tongues when it comes to voicing support for the Catalan cause. In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote for independence in September next year, an independent Scottish government would have to take part in negotiations over the country’s future in the European Union, NATO and other international organizations. The opportunity for Spain to play mischief-maker and block Scotland’s route into those organizations is clear. However, the attempt by the Spanish authorites to fundamentally alter Catalunya’s education system would be impossible in Scotland. We are entirely autonomous when it comes to education and we have our own legal system, separate from that in England. Decisions to expand or restrict Gaelic Medium education are made in Scotland. Decisions to support the language in other ways are made in Scotland. The role of the UK in such matters is mainly as a signatory to pertinent international treaties such as the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In that respect we already have a lot of freedom and, even if the majority reject independence in next year’s plebiscite, it is likely that Scots will demand, and most likely receive, further powers from London, particularly concerning economic governance. And Scotland has a couple of big bargaining chips – its substantial subsea oil deposits and its hosting of the UK’s nuclear-armed submarine fleet. On the other hand, the Scottish government’s desire for an independent Scotland to be part of a Sterling currency zone, rather than joining the Euro, is seen by London as boosting their own bargaining position. What neither Catalunya nor Scotland yet knows is how the independence movement and campaign in each of our countries will affect the argument in the other. We should speak to each other more. What each learns from the other can help to inform our political outlook and ambitions, and our understanding of the universal desire of humans, whatever our languages, to build prosperous, happy and peaceful societies. Ruairidh MacIlleathain Scottish journalist Ruairidh MacIlleathain works primarily in the Gaelic language.
  17. 17. Interview with Montserrat Carulla ‘The Catalan people face a constant struggle against fascism’ 1714 issue #19 - september 2013 Montserrat Carulla (Barcelona, 1930) is one of the best-known and most respected actresses in Catalonia. ‘The passage of time has left its mark, but it has never taken my immense desire to live’, she writes in her memoir El record és un pont al passat [Memories are a Bridge to the Past]. She feels fortunate in that, in spite of the obstacles she has had to overcome, she has been able to do the job she loves. Her one regret, however, is that the Catalan people’s desire for freedom is still to be realised. She would like to see her country achieve independence before she dies. She is convinced that the long-awaited national liberation will be accompanied by a collective Golden Age. You say that you often introduce yourself by saying: ‘I’m Montserrat Carulla, Catalan actress and nationalist’. Is Catalan independence a part of your identity? Of course, in a very profound way. I’ve been a Catalan nationalist since I was eighteen years old, when I first became aware that our language and our culture were forbidden. I thought it was outrageous. I had lived in the shadow of the post-war period, where everything was in Spanish and they told you to ‘shut up and don’t ask questions’, until one day I said ‘that’s that, I want to speak my own language’. I began to speak in Catalan all the time, with everyone, except when I was with strangers or old people who weren’t from here, who had come with the wave of immigration during the sixties and who genuinely didn’t understand me. Now when someone tells me they don’t understand me in Catalan, I ask how long they’ve lived here. If I went to Germany, the first thing I’d do would be to learn to say ‘good morning’, ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ in German. Interestingly, you started talking in Spanish to your children. Yes, because my first husband worked as a dubbing artist and at that time a Spanish actor couldn’t have any trace of a Catalan accent. He suggested that we spoke to our children in Spanish to help him with his accent. I was very young and I accepted. We enrolled our children in one of the very few schools where Catalan was spoken, and their father told me that they would learn Catalan in school and in the street. But when I went to work in Madrid I took all four children, I spoke to them in Catalan, because then the language they could learn at school and in the street was Spanish. You always make it clear that your nationalism isn’t against anyone. Exactly, because I have nothing against Spanish people or anything against Castilian or Spanish culture. I think they are a great people, it’s a great language and a great culture. But that doesn’t mean I have to give up my identity. When you were awarded the Gaudí Honorary Award, you took the opportunity to remind everyone of your vision of a Catalonia which is ‘socially just, culturally prosperous and free as a nation’. It’s my great dream, yes. That we become a free country, a free nation and a free state. I’ve got a bottle of cava in the fridge to open on the day we celebrate Catalonia’s independence. I’ve had to change the bottle a few times. Do you think you’ll be able to open it soon? How do you see the sovereignty process that’s going on at the moment? I think we’ve made some progress, but we still have a lot of fighting to do, look at what the Spanish are saying to try and make us give up. They’ve even begun to promise us stuff so we don’t leave: telling us they’ll make up for it a little more financially as if we’re willing to sell our identity for a bowl of rice. We’ve been there before and we don’t want to go back. I’m optimistic because before it was only old people who were calling for independence, but now there are a lot of young people who defend our country’s freedom. The children and grandchildren of immigrants that Franco sent us in the sixties (immigration was all part of a plan) feel as Catalan as I do and they’ve even become pro-independence. A million and a half people took part in the demonstration on the 11th of September 2012. Not everyone had been born Catalan, but they all supported Catalan independence. In an independent Catalonia we’d be better off. The healthcare system, education and benefits for the needy would all work better because we would have more money. And if we needed to be more supportive, we would be. Over the years we’ve shown we’re a very supportive country. The Catalan economy is strangled by all the money we send to the rest of Spain that never comes back. Catalonia is drowning. Times are tough everywhere, but we Catalans are fighting against time and a particular set of circumstances. Eva Piquer- Catalan International View - Summer 2013 seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter IN DEPTH
  18. 18. Are you confident that in a referendum the ‘yes’ vote will win? If there’s a referendum and the ‘no’ vote wins, then I’m sure a ‘yes’ will win the next time, because people who are still in favour of ‘Spanish unity’ today will see we’re not getting anywhere. Some people think we want to put up borders, but it’s not like that: I’ll still go to Madrid whenever I want, and I’ll obviously respect the Spanish as much as they’ll presumably respect us. Catalan people live in an eternal struggle against fascism; this is about freedom from fascism. We are defending a thousand year-old country. My parents, my grandparents and everyone who went before them were people with a unique culture, language and way of thinking. It doesn’t mean that we’re better or worse: we’re just Catalans. Do people who are in the public eye have a responsibility to be socially engaged? I don’t see it as an obligation, but rather as an opportunity to say what I think and what I feel. I have a platform and I make the most of it. I say out loud what a lot of people think. The darkness of the Franco regime has made us Catalans a bit cowardly. Moreover, we Catalans have always been nonconfrontational; we’ve always liked to reach an agreement without resorting to violence. And the other side aren’t so willing to reach an agreement. The Bourbons didn’t ask our permission to annex Catalonia to Spain: they came by force, and as we didn’t have an army... Catalonia isn’t inside Spain because of a decision made by the Catalan people, but because they took all our rights away in a war during the eighteenth century, they were stripped from us. When your father returned from the concentration camp where he was interned following the Civil War he said, ‘defeated soldiers keep their mouths shut’. Everyone kept their mouths shut in the post-war period, in the 1940s, didn’t they? Yes, a lot of people. We were a people that had been defeated militarily. History repeated itself: When we started to want to be ourselves, to go out on the balcony and speak about a Catalan state, the Spanish Civil War broke out. And the Catalan people, who are peaceful by nature, fell into despair and a feeling of helplessness. Your family went hungry at that time. During the war my father, who worked in aviation, sent us a bag of food every week or every fortnight. But during the post-war period we went hungry. I’m not a big eater and I was really hungry. I used to come home from school feeling terribly hungry and someone had always eaten my bread ration which I kept for my tea. I never found out if it was my mother or my grandmother who ate my bread. You wrote, ‘I think that learning to cope with the setbacks at that time has helped me a lot’. Yes, because everything shaped me, it made me stronger. I knew that things weren’t easy, I had to fight for them. There’s always been a time in my life when a bridge has broken and I’ve had to rebuild it myself in order to keep going, and it has worked out. Things aren’t easy for people who have nothing, but often they’re difficult for people who have a lot. I don’t know how people can eat a good meal when they know that there’s a woman round the corner begging for loose change. You say that, ‘being born into a home without books affects you a lot’. ‘It means that life has left you in the middle of a cultural desert which is too difficult to get out of ’. You managed to find a way out. I got out thanks to my curiosity. I always asked questions when we were eating dinner, and my father used to say, ‘shut up and eat’. As I used to ask questions and they were never answered, I found lots of answers in books. I got books from the library, I took them home, I copied them and took them back. I also started buying books in instalments. I discovered Stefan Zweig and I read everything he wrote. I’ve read a lot ever since. Your children were born into a house full of books... Yes, my books and especially their father’s books. He was a very cultured man. My children really appreciate books and read a lot, all four of them are well-educated but they don’t have that desperate need that I had, that anxiety to read, because you don’t appreciate the things you obtain easily. Many actors say they’re shy. Is that true for you? Yes, it’s very true. Actors are timid and insecure, and maybe that’s why we do this job, because we don’t dare to show ourselves as we are, so we do it through our characters. The different characters I played when I was younger helped me to create my personality, rather than the environment in which I lived. Now I’m no longer shy: it took me many years, but I did end up shaking it off. I stopped being shy quite recently. Which of your roles do you love the most? I have great affection for the roles I played in three plays: Joan Oliver’s version of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, J.B. Priestley’s Time and the Conways and La filla del mar [The Daughter of the Sea] by Àngel Guimerà. You obviously resent the forty years of your career in films that were stolen from you. The fascists stole them from me, yes. They told me I’d never make a movie in Madrid again and I spent forty years without making a film there, till Pilar Miró hired me for a movie, Tu nombre envenena mis sueños [Your Name Poisons My Dreams]. When we started shooting my scene, I couldn’t speak. Pilar Miró asked me if something was wrong and I said ‘yes’, that forty years of my life had been lost and that they were the best forty years to work in films. I was a young girl, beautiful, with a good memory. I could have done so many things that they wouldn’t let me do. For a woman of your generation, combining a career with four children can’t have been easy. Not that it is now...
  19. 19. It wasn’t at all easy. When I was working in Madrid I took the four kids, the suitcases and trunks and off we went to Madrid on the train. We rented an apartment and stayed there for a while. And when I did theatre in Barcelona, I got up very early to get the kids off to school, I gave them their breakfast, helped them get dressed and went back to sleep. We’d rehearse after lunch, do the afternoon performance, I’d drive back home on my scooter, give the children their dinner, put them to bed and go back to the Romea theatre for the evening performance. You have to be very young to do this, which I was because I married very young and had four children in four and a half years. I did it without getting tired and without thinking I was doing anything special. The pedagogue and literary critic Joan Triadú told me that the women’s revolution had triumphed in the twentieth century. Do you agree with him? Absolutely, we women have achieved a lot. We have a long way to go, but in many ways we’ve taken the lead. In terms of freedom of thought, for example, in being comfortable with ourselves and in education: there are more women than men at university. Before, women always depended on men. When I went to work in Madrid I had to obtain my husband’s consent to open a bank account. You also had to have your husband’s permission to leave Spain. And if a couple separated, the man got almost everything, even the children if it was the woman who had asked for the separation. We’ve made a lot of progress. You can have a career and your husband doesn’t stop you, he doesn’t force you to stay at home. But I’ve had children and I’ve had to give up more things than he has. This has been going on for thousands of years, of course. It’s always been the woman who runs the house, taking care of the children and the elderly. We’re not the weaker sex. Men are amazing and I love them, but they always need women, they need a mother, a wife or a sister. They’re more dependent on us than we are on them. Do we get wiser with time? Over the years we gain insight and knowledge, but experience doesn’t exist, it’s useless. No aspect of your life repeats itself identically. You can’t assume that if you do a certain thing something else will happen that you’ve already experienced before, because everything changes, the moment is always different. How do you see life now you’re over 80 years old and you’re richer in terms of memories than a future? I’m optimistic and enthusiastic. I often forget I’m over 80. I sometimes wake up and think about everything I have to do, until I stop and say to myself, ‘Carulla you’re of a certain age, don’t go too fast or you’ll come a cropper’. I believe that while you can do things, you have to do them. I don’t look back, I look forward. And you’ve been adapting to new technologies. The writer Josep Maria Espinàs has resisted using a computer because he says he doesn’t need it. Meanwhile we arranged this interview by email... Espinàs isn’t the only one: my husband also uses a typewriter. When people started talking about computers, there was a kind of trade show in Montjuïc. I went along and saw an exhibition of different brands, I got them to tell me about them and I left with a computer. I put it on my desk, I plugged it in and I said to myself, ‘now what’? It was before Windows, you wrote stuff and you lost it, I didn’t know what was going on... but I bought the computer, I knew it was the future. I didn’t want to miss the bus. If you don’t catch things in time it’s too late. Do you think the human race progresses? Yes, it’s been progressing throughout the centuries. We’ve taken steps forward and steps back, humanity has its positives and its negatives, we’re not all equal, there’s good and evil, there are people who are supportive and constructive and people who are destructive and selfish. But overall we are progressing. Culture is one of the areas which is suffering most from the economic crisis. Culture is always the first on the receiving end. The powers that be aren’t interested in people being educated, because an educated populace is a demanding populace, it’s less easy to manipulate. This is a problem with all governments, perhaps the Left are more in favour of culture, but not always those who get to the top. Do you feel you’ve received the recognition you deserve? I’ve received a great deal of recognition, but I’ve no idea if I deserve it. From both the public and the critics? I don’t recall any critics that have been too harsh on me. It must have happened at one time or another, but I don’t remember. I almost always get good reviews. And the public have been wonderful to me. When I walk down the street, people stop me, they congratulate me... Do you long for anonymity? No, because I’m the one that chose this job. I don’t understand the actors who are bothered by being recognised in the street and people coming up to them. They could have chosen another profession. If you choose to be on display, you can’t complain when people recognise you and are excited to talk to you, I find it ridiculous. Sometimes I’m in a hurry, and I say so, but I always have time for people who stop me in the street, and I get stopped a lot. How can you get angry with someone who comes up to you to tell you they’ve seen you act and you’ve made them happy?
  20. 20. At the end of your book, it says: ‘Nowhere is it written that the daughter of humble workers, of a family that had just lost a war, could afford to devote herself to the theatre, let alone the theatre in Catalan’. I’ve been very lucky. There are people who are just as talented as I am who haven’t managed to get where I am. I know some very good people who are sitting at home without any work. At least I have the peace of mind not to have to think I’m mediocre and I’m taking someone else’s job, I’m a good actress and I do my work honestly. I’m outraged when I see people who are mediocre and they’ve got their job thanks to a relative or a political party. Have you been through periods when they haven’t offered you any roles, when the phone didn’t ring? Yes, I once went a whole year without working. All that time I was never able to pick up the phone to ask for work. I’m not telling you this as if it was something heroic: I think that when you need something you have to pick up the phone and ask for it. It was during the seventies. In the mornings I went to a clinic where I was a supply nurse and in the evenings I used to bind books. I’ve had hard times like everyone else, this profession is very irregular. I remember one time when we came back from Saus, my house in the Baix Empordà, and I told my kids that we only had sixteen pesetas left. Half an hour later Ventura Pons called me offering me a job in Portugal. You’ve said you don’t want to retire, that they’ll have to drag you off. Maybe they will end up dragging me off. I want to work while I can. I haven’t stopped working since I was fifteen years old, except for the nine years I spent at home when the children were very young. The idea of sitting on the sofa watching TV fills me with dread. You’re working on a new volume of your memoirs. That’s right, it’ll be called Davant de l’horitzó [Facing the Horizon], because that’s where I am right now. I’m aware that I’m facing the horizon. And there’s nothing behind it. When I disappear over the horizon, everything will have finished. Are you afraid of death? No, not at all. I’d be very afraid if I was a believer, I’d be wondering if I’d been good enough to go to heaven. But I don’t believe in heaven or hell or purgatory. This life is heaven, hell and purgatory. I’ve lived in heaven, at times I’ve been scorched a little, but I’ve lived in heaven. Eva Piquer. Writer and cultural journalist. Works for several newspapers and magazines. Has been a lecturer at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and a New York news correspondent. Won the 2002 Josep Pla prize for her novel Una victòria diferent (A Different Victory). Also author of several books, including La noia del temps (The Weather Girl), Alícia al país de la televisió (Alice in Television Land) and No sóc obsessiva, no sóc obsessiva, no sóc obsessiva (I’m Not Obsessive, I’m Not Obsessive, I’m Not Obsessive). Her latest book is called La feina o la vida (Life or work).
  21. 21. The Blossom of [Theatre] Companies 1714 issue #19 - september 2013 Independent theatre appeared at the end of Franco’s regime. It was a theatrical action full of political intent and encouraged by the director Francesc Nel·lo, the poet- playwright Feliu Formosa and historian Xavier Fàbregas. An important antecedent of this action was the Grup de Teatre Popular Gil Vicente, which was a guerrilla theatre. It had an important resonance on various Catalan counties, in which there were very active youths who were working with groups of amateur theatre. In the Vallès region, there was the Globus of Terrassa; in the Baix Llobregat, the Teatrí d’Esparreguera; in Osona, La Gàbia de Vic; and in Hospitalet, the Grup d’Acció Teatral (GAT), amongst others. The artists and groups inserted into this type of theatre did it as a protest against linguistic prohibition and theatrical culture embedded in conventional areas and based upon dramatic texts. Therefore, they demanded the liberty of creation and exhibition and carried out a renovation of theatrical language using imagination and incorporation of the ideas which they extracted from the artistic models of other countries. Moreover they had the desire to give interactive and interdisciplinary performances. With all these tools and a model of team work and self-management – without the initial support of financial support –, the companies of independent theatre also chased another objective: the recuperation of a public which had abandoned the theatre. The apogee of these groups was partially possible because a line of criticism knew how to introduce them and recognised the validity of their works. Some companies tied to independent theatre became professional. The ones most worthy of mention were, in order of appearance, Els Joglars, Comediants, Dagoll-Dagom, La Fura dels Baus and La Cubana. In 1962, Carlota Soldevila, Antoni Font and Albert Boadella founded Els Joglars, from the group Arlequí of l’Agrupació Dramàtica de Barcelona. This company has realised works of collective creation, initially based upon mime, which have always been built from sarcastic and provocative comedy, according to Albert Boadella, in the same way as the buffoons performed during the Medieval Ages. The aim was to demystify, as well as social denunciation or gibe against social customs, contemporary people or institutions. From his rehearsal studio in Pruit, Osona, he dreamed-up productions like the trilogy formed by the three mime spectacles ‘El joc’ [The game] (1970), ‘Cruel Ubris’ (1972) and ‘Mary d’Ous’ (1973); ‘Àlias Serrallonga’ (1975); ‘La Torna’ [The makeweight] (1977), which was prohibited, and brought about the imprisonment of Boadella; ‘M-7 Catalònia’ (1978); ‘Teledeum’ (1984) which was a satire aimed at the catholic church; and ‘El Nacional’ (1993) which criticised theatrical policies. The Comediants group maintains a much more evident collective nature than Els Joglars. Founded in 1971, its headquarters are in the facilities of La Vinya de Canet de Mar – open to schools and all classes of public – since 1987. In their performances, which are usually on the street, they re-vindicate theatre as a game and offer an unfolding of popular and traditional elements: masks, puppets, pyrotechnics, pagan and religious iconography, popular songs, etc. They have taken-part in festivals like the Fair of Tàrrega, that of Avignon or Munich. ‘Non Plus Plis’ (1971) and ‘Els dimonis’ [The daemons] (1983) are some of the most representative productions. Another emblematic moment of their career was when they took part in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Barcelona 1992 – La Fura dels Baus performed during the opening ceremony. Furthermore, Dagoll-Dagom started as a university collective in 1974. Joan Ollé led them and he is actually the person responsible for the name of the group, ‘Dagoll-Dagom’, which are two words he used when he was a child to refer to everything that could be used to write and draw. Most of the performances of this company have been constructed from texts by writers like Rafael Alberti (‘Yo era un tonto y lo que he visto me ha hecho dos tontos’ [I was an idiot and what I have seen has turned me into two idiots], with which they débuted), Pere Calders (‘Antaviana’, 1979) or playwrights like Àngel Guimerà, of whom they adapted ‘Mar i cel’ [Sea and sky] in 1988. With that production they gained a memorable success, and for this reason they repeated the experience in 2004. Dagoll-Dagom is half way between literary theatre and a complete work of creation. Joan Lluís Bozzo, who has been with the company since its beginnings, makes the productions lean towards a musical genre. It can be said that the introduction of the grand format musical in Catalan theatre has been due to him and, thanks to this genre which has become his speciality the company has managed to capture a large portion of the public. The next group, following chronological order, is La Fura dels Baus, which was founded in 1979 by Marcel·lí Antúnez, Carles Padrisa and Pere Tantinyà. In spite of this, it was not until 1983 that this Barcelonan group finished defining something which turned their works upside down. They found themselves leaning towardsartistic performance; hard, impacting, enlivened with rock music, virtual images projected upon giant screens and all manner of mechanical apparatus. All this, located inside an urban surrounding in which light and sound take on a significant role when helping to recreate the distressing atmosphere which the authors are seeking. The work of this company aims to reflect a society totally subjugated to machinery, in which individuals fight to free themselves from the yoke that subjugates them in a cruel way. They carry this out with the expressiveness of their body, oozing primitivism and bestiality to the limit of their strength. 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  22. 22. even threatened by elements of the production, both physically and through elemental emotion which could provoke fear, aggressive behaviour... This company has had an enormous international recognition with works like ‘Accions’ [Actions] (1984), ‘Suz/o/suz’ (1985) and ‘Tier Mon’ (1985) which form a trilogy; ‘Noun’ (1990), which was the first production to include actresses; ‘M.T.M.’ (1994) where they used words for the first time, or ‘ÒBIT’ (2004), where the spectator becomes an actor. Nothing can stop their wish to experiment. They have even ventured into the realms of opera and realised digital theatre with connections to works represented in a simultaneous way. La Cubana was founded in 1980 by Jordi Milán and Vicky Plana. Their first performance was on the square of their city of birth, Sitges, in 1981 with the performance ‘Dels vicis capitals’ [Of the capital vices], a recreation of the Majorcan ‘entremesos’ [short, one-act play] of the eighteenth century. Later on they have turned towards the genres of comedy, musical and magazine, which they have accompanied with wanton, common aesthetics: clothes of all colours, wigs... They are nomads, they do not have a permanent workshop and the needs of their productions are what enables them to choose the appropriate place for each performance. Some of the successes of La Cubana have been ‘Cómeme el coco, negro’ [Drive me crazy, Blackman] (1989) and ‘Cegada de amor’ [Blind with love] (1994) where they played with the frontiers between theatre and cinema. For this company, verbal communication is fundamental; it is based upon textual works (which are sometimes bilingual) with a marked humorist tone which does not initially facilitate the exportation of their productions. In spite of this, at the 2005 Edinburgh Festival they performed ‘Nuts Coconuts’, which is a recreation of ‘Cómeme el coco, negro’ (1989) interpreted by British actors and directed by Jordi Milán. Their aim was not to recuperate the text, but the action. In the Balearic Islands and the Valencian region, the blossom of independent theatre developed in a different way. On the islands they were unable to generate a so-called movement because the companies which arose did not have a clear continuity. It is for this reason that the authors who wished to become implicated in the renewal of the theatrical scene often opted to project their works towards Barcelona. However, there are some exceptions like the Artis company (from Palma), which was active from 1948 until 1969. This company cultivated a theatre of customs, but over its final years of activity has gambled on renewal with the help of new generations of actors, like Alexandre Ballester, Baltasar Porcel and Gabriel Janer Manila. Moreover, in Formentera there was one independent and stable company, S’Esglai, which was founded in 1982 by Sister Francisca Serra. In the Valencian region, independent theatre arose in the universities. In 1970 the Centre d’Estudis Teatrals de València was formed, which soon after gave rise to the creation of two new groups: El Rogle in 1972 which produced works like ‘Homenatge a Florentí Montfort’ [Homage to Florentí Montfort] (1972) by the Sirera brothers and the Grup Carnestoltes in 1975 with pieces like ‘Jordi Babau’ (1976) written by Juli Leal and based upon ‘Georges Dandin’ by Molière. Later, other companies joined the movement, some of whom had started working in Spanish: the Grup 49 (from Alfara del Patriarca), directed by Manuel Molins; Torrent (from Alboraia); Uevo; Ubu Blau; Pluja Teatre (from Gandia), which is a group set in the method of collective creation – from which productions like ‘Sang i ceba’ [Blood and onion] (1977) have arisen –; Moma Teatre, which was a company founded in 1982 by Carles Alfaro and which opened the Espai Moma with all kinds of innovative scenic proposals, etc. The recovery of the theatres of València Cinema and the society El Micalet allowed the new emerging companies to gain strength. In particular, the ‘Manifest del Teatre Valencià’ [Manifesto of Valencian Theatre] which was redacted in 1974 emerged from El Micalet. ISSN: 2014-9093 | Legal deposit: B. 2198-2013