Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mea maxima hilaritas

El partido Reagrupament, fringe and splinter party if there ever was one, ahora asociado a CiU, ese gran partido que fue y a ver cuando volverá, se ha inventado otra iniciativa. Escribir a la ONU para pedir amparo y poder votar en un referéndum de autodeterminación.

No sólo es hilarante porque la argumentación parte de la idea de que Cataluña es un territorio oprimido (cual Kosovo, vaya, camino al súper he tenido que saltar tres cadáveres por lo menos), sino porque -¡oh, sobre todo por eso!- cita al TIJ re Kosovo traduciendo del francés al inglés lo que el mismo texto ya ofrece en ambas lenguas. Como si de hacer mofa del independentismo se tratara -y no sé si de los catalanes en general, allá ellos- la traducción es mala. Léanlo, comparen, está en el punto 79.

Kosovo, porta coeli.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dumb, but Typical

"Laws do not exist to limit democracy." This phrase is as dumb as it is typical for the present mindset of the Catalan nationalists. Already before last week's vote in the Spanish Congress about a referendum on the independence of Catalonia, which the Congress refused to be held on the grounds that such a referendum would be unconstitutional, Catalan president Artur Mas said "they will not stop the will of the people of Catalonia", as his ruling coalition proudly pointed out.

After the vote, the president of the Catalan National Assembly ANC (an NGO, mind) said defiantly: "The Spanish government does not understand that if we have to choose between the constitution and democracy, we will always choose democracy." Nationalist government and nationalist "civil society", hand in hand. And they're proud of it.

But back to our lawyer, who believes in a limitless democracy. Mr Sagarra, quite in line with Mr Mas's internationalisation of the conflict, looks at the EU for assistance and writes:

"The principles and values on which the European Union is based, as seen in the EU Treaties and its Charter of Fundamental Rights, are obviously: democracy, freedom, and above all, respect for the importance of its citizens and their individual and collective dignities."

This is fun! Let's have a look at the texts he refers to. He left out a crucial concept, which I emphasise in cursive.

Treaty on European Union, Article 2: "The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail."

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, from the Preamble: "Conscious of its spiritual and moral heritage, the Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity; it is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law."

Democracy and the rule of law, as the song goes you can't have one without the other. But not for us Catalans, says the Professor of International Law, who calls on fundamental rights which have been established precisely with the intention that they cannot be abolished.

Not even by any popular vote, as democratic as it might be.

The "radical democracy" so favoured by Catalan nationalists has its limits, only the idiocy of its proponents has none. And this is how nationalist politicians lead their people. Pure populism.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Catalan Nationality and Religion

In his book The Invention of the Jewish People, Shlomo Sand tells the story of a man from Barcelona who comes to Palestine, fights for the independence of Israel, settles in a kibbutz and gets married.


The Ministry of the Interior soon discovered that a serious error had been
made: Bernardo, now known as Dov, was not a Jew. Although the marriage was
not annulled, Dov was summoned to a formal meeting to clarify his true identity
In the government office to which he was directed sat an official wearing a large
black skullcap. At that time, the religious-Zionist party Mizrahi, which ran the
Ministry of the Interior, was cautious and hesitant. It was not yet insistent about
"national" territories or the politics of identity exclusion.

The exchange between the two men went more or less as follows:
"You are not a Jew, sir," said the official.
"I never said I was," replied Dov.
"We shall have to change your registration," the official said casually.
"No problem," Dov agreed. "Go right ahead."
"What is your nationality?"
"Israeli?" Dov suggested.
"There is no such thing," stated the official.
"Why?"
"Because there is no Israeli national identity," the ministry official said
with a sigh. "Where were you born?"
"In Barcelona."
"Then we'll write 'nationality: Spanish.' "
"But I'm not Spanish. I'm a Catalan, and I refuse to be categorized as
Spanish. That's what my father and I fought about in the 1930s."
The official scratched his head. He knew no history, but he did respect
people. "So we'll put 'nationality: Catalan.' "
"Very good!" said Dov.
Thus Israel became the first country in the world to officially recognize the
Catalan nationality.
"Now, sir, what is your religion?"
"I'm a secular atheist."
"I can't write 'atheist.' The State of Israel does not recognize such a cate-
gory. What was your mother's religion?"
"The last time I saw her, she was still a Catholic."
"Then I shall write 'religion: Christian,' " the official said, relieved.
But Dov, normally a calm man, was growing impatient. "I won't carry an
identity card that says I'm a Christian. It's not only opposed to my principles; it
offends the memory of my father, who was an anarchist and set fire to churches
in the Civil War."
The official scratched his head some more, weighed the options, and found
a solution. Dov left the ministry office with a blue identity card that declared
both his nationality and his religion to be Catalan.



Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Venice Commission v. Artur Mas

Catalan president Artur Mas applies the "principle of democratic radicalism" and says Catalans have a "right to decide", both concepts explained in this document. Now the Venice Commission has issued an Opinion that totally ruins his spiel.

It talks about Crimea, but never mind. The principles applied here are understood to be universal.

Here are some quotes:

"If the Constitution of Ukraine does not allow a referendum on secession, this does not in
any way contradict European constitutional standards. Rather, it is typical for constitutions of
Council of Europe member states not to allow secession."

"This does not mean that the notion of self-determination would be alien to European
constitutional law. However, in its Report on “Self-determination and secession in
constitutional law” quoted above, the Venice Commission concludes that self-determination
is understood primarily as internal self-determination within the framework of the existing
borders and not as external self-determination through secession."

As we have seen in the first document linked to, the "right to decide" is different from the right of self-determination. Nobody really knows what it is, but in the present case it boils down to the will of the Catalans being above the law.

A last quote from the Venice Commission's Opinion re Crimea:

"Holding a referendum which is unconstitutional in any case contradicts European standards. The Code of Good Practice on referendums provides in Part III.1 on the Rule of Law:

The use of referendums must comply with the legal system as a whole, and especially the procedural rules. In particular, referendums cannot be held if the Constitution or a statute in conformity with the Constitution does not provide for them, for example where the text submitted to a referendum is a matter for Parliament’s exclusive jurisdiction."

Friday, March 21, 2014

Not Only the Cataloonies

Spanish foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo has said that "the parallelism [between Crimea and Catalonia] is absolute". No, minister. Both in international and in domestic law, the presence or absence of physical violence is a decisive factor. Plus, democracy was abolished in Crimea by the Russian military intervention, while Catalonia is part of a democratic state. It is odd that a Spanish minister would not see that difference.

Margallo has also said that "a referendum that violates an internal Constitution violates by definition international law". Domestic law and international law are two different pairs of shoes. I have very strong doubts they would link up like this. What he most probably means is that a declaration of independence and the referendum which lead to it cannot be recognised when they were the consequence of military force. Then he should say so.

Not only Cataloonies say stupid things. Here's another example. Augstí Colomines wrote an article arguing that opinion makers which are not pro-independence of Catalonia are not excluded from debating on Catalan public TV and radio stations. He gives a long list of names. Those names are public, quite logically, and Colomines does not qualify them any further. In reply to this, Cristina Fallarás, who was one of those mentioned, writes in El Mundo about a "list of bad Catalans". Blacklisting is a very serious issue, and it has to be treated seriously. Fallarás does not do that. She sees a black list where there is not. At least it is not in Colomines's article.

Using stupid arguments does not further the debate, but on the contrary raises tensions. If this is how both sides want to handle it we're in for serious trouble.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Core Contradictions of Catalan Separatism

(25/03/2014, 13:58 PM: Entry amended with apologies to Mr Strubell. See debate below.)


Luckily, it's all in English.

Mr Strubell, who is an influential figure among Catalan nationalists and rather a moderate among them, speaks of "good neighbourliness", a theme important enough to be both in the title and in the last words of his article. A commenter to this article wonders how he can speak of "good neighbourliness", given that the independent Catalonia Mr Strubell wants would lay claims on territories of neighbouring states.

Mr Strubell has replied, and he has not denied that he would want an independent Catalonia to do just that. Quite on the contrary, he has dug himself even deeper into the hole by saying that "as a future signatory of the European Charter for Regional of (sic) Minority Languages, Catalonia would make it possible for Valencians to once again pick up high quality television in their language", i.e. they would be able to watch Catalan TV3. I'd like them to be able to watch it now, along with all public and private TV stations of Spain, and if possible of Europe and the whole world.

But how, just how, would an independent Catalonia "make it possible"? It is not possible now that Catalonia is part of Spain. Catalan TV3 has no license in Valencia region. Will independence bring this license? This sounds even more hilarious than Barça still playing the Spanish Liga, which is actually what an advisory council to Catalan President Artur Mas thinks.

On another note: I get a lot of criticism from Cataloonies for calling them precisely that, Cataloonies. They think I'm being disrespectful. Yes I am. I cannot respect idiots. It would be beyond me. Just stop saying idiocies. Especially, stop saying I do not respect Catalans. That's precisely what makes you a Cataloonie. You do not represent Catalans or Catalonia. I am aware of it, you are not. Cataloonies are people who resort to the most hilarious of arguments, lies and manipulations for the sake of their ideology, and who when criticised hide behind the Catalan flag.

For this kind of extreme, and dumb, nationalists I have no respect whatsoever. Get used to it. And get a life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Certifiable

Those he doesn't like are "that fifth column [...] those pseudo-intellectuals [who show a] biological similarity with parasites [...] botiflers [traitors], who like terroristes should not receive any free publicity". What he wants are "authentic research centres loyal to Catalonia".

This is Àlex Calvo, of whom we'll have to speak more in a later entry. A fascist, most obviously, and he is being much quoted these days and months by Catalan separatist media.

Media which could not exist without the subsidies the Catalan regional government grants them. In brief, my money. Everybody's hard-earned eurocents. We are financing the fascists, it's as tough as that.

Here is the full text. Alas, it's in Catalan, so many of you will not get the whole beauty of it.