News from round these parts: September 11 is a holiday in Catalonia, the National Day, commemorating the fall of Barcelona in 1714 to Bourbon troops. So nobody had to go to work and nearly everyone went to the beach or something. Traditionally, in the morning, all the civic organizations and political parties lay wreaths at the statue of Rafael Casanova, the Catalan leader during the siege. Wacky far-out Cataloonies show up and scream at them for not being radical enough. In the evening the kids come out and play; the Esquerra youth brigade brought out three or four thousand in a demo, and assorted radical groups shouting slogans in favor of the defunct terrorist gang Terra Lliure brought out about the same number. Used to be they'd have some rioting, but there wasn't any this year.
Idiot jerk actor Joel Joan, known for his appearances on local TV since he couldn't get a job on any network that reaches more than seven million people, screwed up again. He made the mistake of publicly praising crazy old Cataloony coot Lluis Xirinachs (who offed himself earlier this year), and Xirinachs's declaration that he was "a friend of ETA," at the Catalanista wingding they have every year at the Fossar de les Moreres, where those killed in the 1714 siege are supposedly buried. The actor has denied it, but he's almost certainly lying; a couple of years back, in an attempt to shoulder the mantle of victimism, he claimed to have been kicked out of a restaurant for speaking Catalan. He'd made up the story, and was forced to retract after the restaurant's owners and clients publicly challenged him on it.
Says Francesc de Carreras in La Vanguardia:
During the days previous to the National Day on September 11, the media reflect, every year, a dissatisfied and victimist Catalonia, desperate and agonized, because of the statements and rebuttals of our politicians. It all usually reaches a delirious climax in the various official ceremonies and the street demonstrations: it always seems as if we were at a key moment in history, facing crucial dangers, heroic challenges, and a glorious and attainable future.
In reality, nobody believes any of this, not even the politicians themselves; it is simply a ritual, mere protocol, boring and dull. For many years, few Catalan flags have been seen hanging on balconies, and those who can go to the beach and enjoy the last sunny days of summer. The last thing they're thinking about, on such a pleasant and relaxing holiday, is discussing the past and future of Catalonia, the dangers and challenges it faces. Though on TV3 and BTV they never stop beating us over the head with the subject, adoctrinating us with a falsified version of history, fortunately there are other channels. Official Catalonia and the real Catalonia are so different.
Other nationalist news: Josu Jon Imaz, the fairly moderate president of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), is stepping down because of the conflict between the party's moderate and more extremist wings. Seems that the extremists, which include Basque regional premier Ibarretxe, want to call a referendum on Basque independence now. The moderates don't want to call one on the grounds that a referendum is one of ETA's objectives, and they aren't willing to support any ETA objectives while ETA is still committing acts of terrorism. Neither of the two groups seems to realize that any referendum they may call will not be legally binding, since referendums on regional independence are specifically banned by the Spanish constitution, but anyway.
Spain's national soccer team has looked ridiculous this past week, with a draw against Iceland and then a 2-0 win over Latvia. Get this: their big game is going to be Denmark. If they can't beat Denmark, they're likely eliminated from the next European Cup. Geez. Iceland, Latvia, and Denmark. Real powerhouses. Spain should have fired racist old coot coach Luis Aragones a long time ago; he's completely out of touch and seems to have lost all control over the team. Hire someone young and intelligent like, say, Emilio Butragueño, or get Rafa Benitez. Aragones has to go.
La Vanguardia actually gives page 10 over to Fidel Castro's claims that the Cuban KGB discovered an alleged far-right plot to, get this, assassinate Ronald Reagan in 1984, and informed the American government. The US government proceeded to lock up those involved on trumped-up unrelated charges. Yeah, right. Fidel also claims that the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was a CIA plot of some kind. In case you were wondering who the "truthers" are listening to, it's Fidel. The old international left, the new ecological left, the radical nationalist left, and the insane Islamist far right all have the same goal, overthrowing American power, and very strange alliances are being formed.
All the little carpet-munchers and ankle-biters went back to school yesterday. Good.