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Today, unlike other days, I will write about my country. Recently, the Minister of Arts and Culture of South Africa, Nathi Mthethwa, visited Madrid. The purpose of this visit was to prepare an exhibition of South African artists to be held at the Reina Sofia Museum of Contemporary Art, to meet with the Spanish government, and to participate in a tribute to Nelson Mandela, held in Madrid. Mthethwa asserted, “We want to learn from the Spaniards, who have made their culture a recognizable brand worldwide, Spanish culture is world-renowned and recognized. We would like to achieve the same.”
While from outside, our culture and historical heritage is largely admired, in Spain we keep being around the Catalan question. While the cause of the so-called “Process for Independence” has the support of Yoko Ono, what a sad character, who has recently stated so, a significant number of Catalan intellectuals and artists have manifested themselves in recent days about the ´Process´. All of them have had a great influence in the literature, the music or the Spanish theatre of the last decades, and therefore they enjoy a great social influence. It is interesting to know what they say, because it helps to understand the reasons that in Spain is about to trigger a serious institutional and civil crisis. Of all the 15-people interviewed, only the writer Nuria Amat correctly mentions the Nationalism, its manipulation capacity and its lies, and its toxic responsibility in all these. The others shirked their point.
Also, the recognized Catalan actor and playwright, Albert Boadella, has written an interesting article on this issue this week. In his article, he shows how since the 1980s a single decentralization process had begun in Spain, unique in Europe. The Spanish Constitution has structured the State in the form of Autonomies and specifically Catalonia, got transferred most powers of the State: a region which declares the Catalan as the official language of Catalonia, marginalizing the Spanish and the Spanish culture and endowing its own parliament with the attributions of education, police, health, public works, urbanism, radio & television broadcasting, among others. The Catalan nationalist government has used its powers in educational matters to indoctrinate two generations of young people in the hatred of everything related to Spain. Under the distortion of history and the exaltation of Catalan superiority against Spain, the virus of xenophobia has been instilled since childhood. The public money has also been used to subsidize the Catalan private media, to obtain their adhesion to the nationalist cause.
The Nationalism always grows creating a common enemy. Its spread is made by creating a general paranoia, in this case, against Spain. It also does so against the inner dissident who is quickly accused of treason. This persistent policy of confrontation has also provoked the division between the Catalan society itself, in which a part of it despises and marginalize to those who dare to protest against the separatist drift, and which is more than half of the population. Discord between organizations, families or friends has become commonplace in recent times.
It is almost a commonplace of the Catalan constitutionalists and the rest of Spain to accuse the two great Spanish parties, both left and right, for not having faced for years an intellectual and political battle to delegitimize the nationalism. Of course. But what about the ‘intelligentsia’ most directly affected by it? What some of the intellectuals do today is what they have always done: to temporize with a sinister ideology, to justify it in some way. What the great majority of them does not want to notice in the Process is precisely its radical element: a considerable part of the Catalans, led by a morally corrupt government, have chosen the xenophobic path and refuse to live with the rest of the Spaniards. Moreover, it is likely if they dare recognizing the implicit nationalist xenophobia, would oblige them to stop being equidistant with the two parties, as they have been for years.
The former French President, Francois Mitterrand, asserted that Nationalism is war. He described it this way because Europe has known in its own flesh the tragic consequences of instigating this impulse, which encourages lack of solidarity, xenophobia and destruction to the contrary. The European Union was born to avoid in the future the disintegrating shoots which end up leading irreversibly to the confrontation. In recent times, the European extreme right reappears under the ultranationalist incitement which pushes to close the own borders to filter any foreign intrusion of any kind. In this sense, the Catalan nationalism is equated with this emergent extreme right: it is the rich region which does not want the burden of less prosperous Spanish territories. That is the core of its objectives: the separatist unsupportive and disintegrating trying to break and put borders to a democratic Spain, organized under a solid principle of liberties.
Our young Spanish democracy has had to bear the brunt of Basque and Catalan nationalism along its path of progress and freedom. A ballast tinged with blood and pain, and constant pressure to sacrifice the equality of the Spaniards for the sake of false ethnic differences. Although in the background, it always plans the shadow of blackmail for the obtaining of economic privileges: the unique and the whole issue.