Article: New Spanish attacks against the Catalan language and Self-government

September 16, 2011.

By Max Zañartu Plaza, EFAy Bureau member

Catalonia is living one of its most important moments in the history since the Spanish transition. After the Catalan Statute’s cuts introduced by the Spanish Constitutional Court in 2010, Catalonia is again under attack. This time the target is not the power of its Regional Parliament but the Catalan language itself. In addition, the recent pact between the PP and the PSOE, that reintroduces some articles of the constitution with the aim to limit the public debt, also affects the Catalan right to decide about their own affairs. This modification of the constitution will not be voted in a referendum because the two key parties (PP and PSOE) are against a referendum.

These new attacks against Catalonia show once again that it is not possible for us to fit in the Spanish State. The separatists know this fact but the Catalan federalists should learn the lesson. However, these new attacks against our language have massively mobilized the Catalan civil society in order to protect our main heritage.

The Catalan linguistic normalisation was implemented after Franco’s death, with the aim of reintroducing Catalan language in the social spheres. This model, which has been defended by many international organisations, is now in danger. Since the Transition, Catalan has been the main language in public schools, as most of the classes are taught in Catalan. Apart from that, the Spanish language has also had big importance in the Catalan schools. As a result, at the end of the secondary education, the students are able to speak and read both Catalan and Spanish (in the case of Spanish, as in any other part of the Spanish state). This model has facilitated great cohesion in the Catalan society. But this year, due to a judicial ruling, this model can be broken. This ruling says that students should receive their lessons in Spanish if their parents wish. This will create different lines in Catalan and Spanish language in every public secondary and primary school and may lead to student segregation based on language. This segregation model actually exists in the Valencian Country causing the Catalan/Valencian to become a minor language (actually, the Valencian Government considers the option of deleting the Catalan line in public schools with the aim of giving more importance to the English language).

These kinds of attacks against our language are very dangerous, because our model of linguistic normalisation has a big consensus in our society. Only two parties, the PP and Ciudadanos (another unionist party),  give support to this ruling. On the other hand, Esquerra, Solidaritat per la Independència, CiU, PSC and ICV-EUiA, are against this ruling. We could fight against this situation in two ways: through civil disobedience or with the help of judicial instruments. JERC, Esquerra, and most of the teacher and students trade unions, opt for the civil disobedience. This is an opportunity for the CiU’s government to demonstrate its capacity to defend the interests of Catalonia. For the moment, most of the Catalan parties have asked CiU to stop its political pacts with the PP. However, the Artur Mas government, even if it is in favour of the Catalan linguistic model and against this ruling, still thinks that PP is a good travel partner. One thing is sure – as a reaction to these attacks against our government, culture, economy and interests, the Catalan separatism is growing every day more and more.

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