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December 02 2013

Spain Regional Education Minister Steps in it with Translation Gaffe

Spain's Regional Minister of Education for the Balearic Islands, Joana Maria Camps (@joanamariacamps), has proven herself not very familiar with one of the most important studies on education: the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). In a parliamentary session on November 21, she talked [ca] for some minutes about some important study called “trepitja”, the Catalan translation for the Spanish word “pisa”, a conjugation of the verb meaning “to step”. The mistake, probably the result of her advisers using an automatic translator to translate her Spanish text into Catalan, shows she did not know very well what she was talking about.

A YouTube video offers the audio of Camps’ speech, which ended with the conclusion that a reform in the education system is needed. On Twitter, netizens used the hashtag #InformeTrepitja (Trepitja Report) to post outraged comments and jokes on the tragicomic scene.

Camps is the same minister that dealt with the massive teachers’ strike and protests that took place in the region in September and October 2013.

November 20 2013

Catalan Independence Debate Explained in 16 Languages

The debut video of The Catalan Project (@Catalan_Project) features Fernando de Castro, “a Catalan from Galicia and Spanish”, presenting the project and explaining why some Catalans want independence from Spain using the 16 languages he is able to speak. Subtitles are available in English, French, German, Spanish and Catalan.

The Catalan Project, an independent and non-profit association, provides an open online platform where “all citizens that work and/or live in Catalonia and that have ideas on how to create a better country” can discuss how a hypothetical independent Catalonia should be. Because “independence is not a goal, it is a starting point”. The project is collecting funds on the crowdfunding site Verkami.

Sponsored post

November 04 2013

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Praises Catalan Viquipèdia


Jimmy Wales speaking at the Open Science conference on October 24, 2013. Credit: VUBrussel.

During the Open Science conference at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium on October 24, 2013, Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales highlighted Viquipèdia, the Catalan Wikipedia, as a success story. A video on YouTube features the moment when Wales talks about Viquipèdia (transcript by Viquipèdia editor Arnau Duran):

“…in some of our small language Wikipedias, we have very active communities, and there’s maybe only a few people there, but they are very passionate about their mother tongue, and they really want to do the work, and so they work really hard. If we have a look some of the larger minor languages of Europe, like Catalan is a good example. Catalan Wikipedia is far larger than you would have guessed from the number of people who are speaking Catalan. And it is because the Catalan people are quite passionate about their language, which has been historically under threat.”

Earlier this year, Viquipèdia reached the milestone of 400,000 articles, and the Amical Wikimedia, the association that promotes Viquipedia, got a chapter of its own, thus becoming the first Wikimedia chapter of a territory which does not correspond to a state.

October 24 2013

Catalan Man Sentenced to Prison after Refusing to Speak Spanish

Carles Mateu, a man who refused to speak in Spanish during a routine traffic test in Valencia, was sentenced to six months in prison and had his driver's license revoked for disobeying authority.


“WE ARE ALL CARLES MATEU / Group supporting the driver sentenced to 6 months in prison in Valencia.” Poster from the group supporting Carles Mateu in the town of Alemenara (Castelló). 

Mateu was driving his car in December 2012 when the Civil Guard, the federal military guard of Spain, stopped him for a routine traffic stop in Castelló (Valencia). But he was detained for three hours by two agents, who accused him of refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test and of not wearing a seat belt nor a reflective vest. Mateu, however, claims that these reports are false and the agents sanctioned him for speaking to them in Valencian, a regional dialect [ca] of Catalan that is spoken in the territory, and refusing to express himself in Spanish.

The Valencian language holds official status in the region along with Spanish, just as in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. According to online news publication La Veu del País Valencià [ca], Mateu felt that the agents were displaying signs of “contempt” toward him and his language, using phrases like “speak to me in Spanish, we are in Spain.”

Mateu was acquitted [ca] in January 2013, but the district attorney appealed and the sentence was revoked. At the same time, Mateu's previous countersuit against the agents’ false accusations was thrown out. The new sentence [ca] issued on September 20, 2013 condemns him to six months in prison and the suspension of his driver's license for a year and a day.

A victim turned into offender

The case has attracted much interest, both civil and political, along the Catalan-speaking territories, given that many view it as one more case of discrimination with linguistic motives, similar to those reported at music festival Arenal Sound last summer. In an interview [ca] with Catalan newspaper El Punt Avui, Mateu explains:

He de dir que vaig reaccionar com qualsevol persona a qui intenten furtar el seu dret a la lliure expressió i vaig reaccionar –ho dic sincerament i amb el cor a la mà– per sota de la pressió a què els dos agents em van sotmetre.

I must say that I reacted just like anyone else whose right to free expression was taken away, and I reacted—I say this sincerely, with my hand to my heart—under the pressure I was subject to by those two agents.


“I, TOO, POSSESS THE FLAW OF SPEAKING VALENCIAN.” Shared image on Twitter from Alícia (@marclia), professor of Catalan at the University of Valencia.

Mateu's lawyer explained to digital newspaper VilaWeb [ca] that the linguistic conflict [ca] is now considered Mateu's strategy for slowing down the breathalyzer test, which converts the victim into the offender.

We are all Carles Mateu

Demonstrations of solidarity have multiplied online. A Facebook page, Jo També Sóc Carles Mateu [ca] (I, too, am Carles Mateu), collects messages of support.

On Twitter, many users showed their discontent with the hashtag #TotSomCarlesMateu (We are all Carles Mateu). Antoni Manyanós [ca] (@amanyanos), professor of geography and history, says:

Valencia, a place where the Spanish regime can condemn you to prison for speaking in Valencian with the Civil Guard #WeAreAllCarlesMateu #Enough

Valencian journalist Amàlia Garrigós (@AmaliaGarrigos [ca/es]) encouraged her followers to sign a petition on [es] for Spanish security guards in the territory to speak in Catalan:

A Valencian driver sentenced for speaking in his own language. Will you sign this petition? I just did! #WeAreAllCarlesMateu

Moreover, a group [ca] supporting Mateu was organized in his town of Almenara, and a petition on [es] has gathered more than 11,500 signatures to demand the sentence be withdrawn.

Political reactions

Carles Mateu's case arrived at the Spanish Parliament thanks to the representatives Joan Baldoví [ca] of the Coalició Compromís (Compromise Coalition), and Joan Tardà [ca], of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left Party) (ERC). Baldoví said that it would be “barbaric” to send a citizen to prison for speaking his own language, while Tardà formulated many questions for the Ministry of the Interior.

Ramon Tremosa, a member of the European Parliament representing the Catalan moderate right-wing ruling party, Convergència i Unió, reported the case to the European Commission with the support of opposition parties ERC and ICV-EUIA [ca]:

Now we will ask the European Commission about the sentence against Carles Mateu for speaking Catalan. The undersigned: @ciu @Esquerra_ERC i @icveuia #WeAreAllCarlesMateu

Rising awareness to stop language conflict

Josep Escribano, president of El Tempir [cat], a civic association for the language, encouraged [ca] people to report cases of linguistic discrimination to generate social pressure.

Escribano argues [ca] that the language supremacy of Spanish has allowed, over time, for Catalan-speaking people to interiorize their prejudice toward their own language, considering it of an inferior status. But he remains optimistic:

Cada vegada més, la gent que és ferma i que té una lleialtat lingüística, que s'estima el país i que s'estima la llengua, està fent un pas endavant i ho denuncia.

More and more, people who are strong and have a linguistic loyalty, people who love the Catalan nation and love the Catalan language, are taking a step forward and reporting cases of this kind of discrimination.

By making these cases of linguistic discrimination public, citizens receive support from the entities defending the language and from the community, which facilitates the linguistic normalization [ca] and universal linguistic rights of Catalan's use.

Reposted bykrekk krekk

October 13 2013

Hundreds of Earthquakes on Catalan Coast Stir Protests Against Gas Company

Promotional image from the Castor Project website

Over 300 microtremors hit the northern area of Valencia and southern Catalonia the first week of October. The quakes could be related to the recent injection of natural gas by the Castor Project [es], a submarine natural gas company found along the Mediterranean coasts of those areas.

The injection is meant to convert an empty oil reserve into a gas storage facility. The Spanish government has stopped [es] the gas injection, which began a few weeks ago, until technical reports clarify the matter. The company denies the injection caused the tremors, but ecological and political sectors view a direct relationship, and local online movements have begun to speak out against the project using the hashtag #projectecastor [ca] (Castor Project) on Twitter. The protests connect [ca] the injection practices with the globally controversial technique of fracking.

The Castor Project boasts [es] an oil well 1,750 meters (approximately 1.1 miles) deep that stores enough gas to serve up to a third of the Spanish demand. The project, which cost 1.3 billion euros (1.762 billion US dollars), was granted approval by a joint venture with the canadian CLP (30 percent) and the Spanish ACS (70 percent), a construction company supervised by Florentino Pérez, who also oversees the football club Real Madrid. 

Even though the movement against the project emerged strongly after these possibly related quakes, some ecologists and politicians have already been warning against these same sorts of threats for some time. On his blog, European parliament member and ecologist Raül Romeva noted [ca] that the concern over this gas company should not come as unexpected:

Potser hi ha qui s’ha sorprès amb les recents notícies relacionades amb els moviments sísmics que han tingut lloc a la costa, davant de Vinaròs, relacionats amb la planta d'emmagatzematge de gas, més coneguda com a Projecte Castor. No obstant, cal recordar que fa molt de temps que molta gent ens ve advertint dels riscos vinculats a aquesta mena d’explotacions, i que han fet arribar a les diferents institucions les seves preocupacions.  

Perhaps there are some who have been surprised by the recent news related to the seismic movements that took place on the coast, in front of Vinaròs, related to the oil plant, better know as the Castor Project. Nevertheless, we must remember that a long time ago, many people warned us about the risks linked to this kind of cultivation, and that their concerns were sent to the different institutions.

On Twitter, Juan López de Uralde, member of the political and social movement EQUO [es], warned of the consequences that a project like Castor could create and criticizes the Spanish energy policy:

Regarding #Castor on the Mediterranean coast. It shows the absurd Spanish energy policy: support for gas and punishment for renewables.

The mayors of some of the towns affected by the tremors have come out against the project, as announced in this tweet from the Platform in Defense of the Lands of Sénia [ca/es], located in the town of Sénia on the Catalan border near Valencia:

Marcelino Domingo, head of the People's Party [es] in Benicarló, announces on his FB profile that he'll order the cessation and dismantling of #ProjecteCastor

In an interview with the leading Catalan online periodical, VilaWeb [ca], Lluc Ulldemolins, of the same Sénia Platform, shows the fears of uncertainty about the origin of the earthquakes, which continue even though the Spanish government assures that the gas injection has stopped:

—Sí, l'empresa diu que ja no injecta gas, però els terratrèmols han agafat més intensitat. I això encara és més preocupant. Si sabéssim que hi ha terratrèmols perquè s'injecta gas, tindríem la causa controlada. Però si és cert que l'empresa ho ha aturat, i amb tot i això els terratrèmols continuen, és que la situació és més complicada que no ens podíem imaginar. A qui ens hem de creure? Realment preferiríem que fos l'empresa que mentís, no per donar-li la culpa, sinó perquè almenys sabríem la raó dels moviments sísmics.

—Yes, the company says they no longer inject gas, but the earthquakes have gained force. And that's even more worrisome. If we knew that there were tremors because gas has been injected, we would have the cause controlled. But if it's true that the company has stopped injecting, and yet the quakes still continue, the situation is more complicated than we could ever imagine. Who are we to believe? We'd really prefer that the company lie, not to put them at fault, but rather to, at least, know the reason behind the seismic movements.

While the indignation and fear grow within the population, the natural gas company, according to some press reports [es], has begun to make arrangements to get rid of the grant and charge a compensation. The company has the right to reverse the grant to the state and receive the net value as compensation, since the project was promoted by Ministry of Industry.

October 09 2013

Teachers’ Strike, Protests on Spanish Balearic Islands Defend Catalan Language

Imatge compartida a Twitter per Jordi Sàlvia (@jordisalvia), amb l'increïble Hulk, el superheroi de còmic, cridant per l'educació pública.

The incredible Hulk protesting for public education. Illustration by Juan Francisco Mota.

After two weeks of an indefinite teachers’ strike on Spain's Balearic Islands, more than 80,000 people have taken to the streets to demand the withdrawal of a new education decree that would trade Catalan-language education in favor a new trilingual model.  

On 29 September, a “wave of green” [es], the colour representing the side defending public schooling in the protests against the cuts, invaded the streets of the Balearic Islands capitals to protest against the regional government, presided by José Ramón Bauzà (People's Party). According to the Balearic Mathematics Society [ca], in Palma more than 80,000 people demanded the withdrawal of the new education law under the motto “Call for quality education”.

It was a continuation of the indefinite teaching strike that started on the Balearic Islands on 16 September, with more than an 80 percent of teachers participating [ca], according to the unions. The controversial decree proposes a tri-lingual education model (TIL), which displaces Catalan as the lingua franca in schools. The protest declares that the government is using trilingualism as a front to weaken the local language.

At a delicate time for public education, threatened by austerity policies and constant cuts [es], imposing the TIL model on the islands, where Catalan is an official language as well as Spanish like in Catalonia and Valencia, was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Over the past few weeks, people from various cities [ca] in Catalan-speaking regions have come together. On Twitter, the hashtag #VagaIndefinidaDocents [#IndefintiteTeachersStrike] has become a global trending topic.

The government's point of view

In the face of the most widespread [es] social protest during the current era of democracy on the islands, the government affirms that the strikers and protesters do not represent the majority [es] of society, and it is adamant in its decision not to retract the decree. Moreover, it is playing down the figures [ca] (while the unions speak of a 90 percent of teachers participating, the education authorities record only 20 percent). The government is also threatening the striking teachers. Antoni Camps [es], member of parliament for the People's Party (PP) and member of the Balearic Parliament's Education Commission, said in an article [es] published by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo:

[…] es conveniente que los docentes que se «apunten» a la huelga sepan que hasta la fecha, a los instigadores de las mismas, léase sindicalistas apoltronados/as, NO se les descontaba de su sueldo los días que hacían huelga, pero este año va a ser diferente. Es decir, que estos señores/as que, únicamente, trabajan los días de huelga, verán recortados sus emolumentos al igual que el resto de «huelguistas». 

It's convenient that the teachers who “show up” for the strike know that, up to now, the instigators of the protests, referring to the lazy trade unionists, are NOT unhappy with their salary on the days that they are on strike, but this year is going to be different. This means that men and women that are only working on strike days will see pay cuts like the rest of the “strikers”.

Images shared by demonstrators showing a spirited protest: 

Spectacular photo of today's protest. Green in Palma. Bauzá, this is the silent majority!!! 

Under the tags #29sTotsSomDocents [#29SeptWeAreAllTeachers], #Bauzádimissió [Bauzáresignation] and  #alesillesencatalà [#onthecatalanislands], among others, show a support on Twitter that rivals what is seen in the streets.

The controversial decree

The TIL establishes a trilingual teaching model where Catalan, Spanish and English are employed equally. This modifies the Catalan Language Immersion model that has been used on the islands for the last three decades.

During Spain's transition to democracy, normalisation of Catalan in schools was promoted on the Balearic Islands, like it was in Catalonia and Valencia. The 1986 Linguistic Normalisation Law [ca] assures the recognition and the progressive use of Catalan as the lingua franca in education and calls on the government to guarantee that this continues.

The trouble started in summer. Three head teachers in Mahon [ca], Menorca were suspended without pay in July because they refused to apply the TIL model. A support campaign [ca] was launched on, and on Twitter the hashtag #TotsSomDirectorsMao [#weareallheadteachersmahon] received expressions of solidarity. On 25 September, the government assented [ca] to reintegrating them, even though they remain expelled. Up to now, this has been the only conciliatory gesture with prospects for the strikers.

The Supreme Court of Justice received the appeals against the TIL from the unions UGT (Workers’ General Union) and STEI [ca] (Union for Educational Workers on the Balearic Islands) in early September. On 6 September, a judge ordained its preventive suspension [ca], but hours later, the Executive approved the model by decree without parliamentary debate, and it was put into effect immediately.

Will cuts and trilingualism reduce school failure? 

The government alleges that its model will contribute to reducing academic failure. Many doubt this claim, such as Jaume Lladó (@datiljlj), a maths teacher, columnist and activist, who explains [ca] in an opinion article in the Catalan newspaper Diari de Balears: 

Quant a la llengua estrangera, també està demostrat que només s'hi poden cursar matèries curriculars quan s'ha arribat a un cert nivell de coneixement. En cas contrari, no s'aprendrà la llengua i, a més a més, s'aprendrà menys de la matèria o matèries en qüestió.

Regarding the foreign language, it is also said that students can only pursue curricular subjects when they have reached a certain level of understanding. On the other hand, students will not learn the language, and what is more, they will learn less of the subject or subjects in question.

If a student has problems understanding a subject in their own language, what advantage can introducing a new foreign language that they don't speak fluently bring?  

Moments of solidarity

There have been many demonstrations of solidarity [ca] within the education community. Teaching platforms, social and cultural entities, institutions and famous people from the rest of the Catalan-speaking regions and Spain have expressed their support for the strikers.

The same citizens have gathered funds to compensate the reduced pay for the teachers on strike. Journalist Joan Canela (@JoanCanela), one of the journalists behind the project Mè [ca], tweeted: 

More than 40,000€ [about 54,000 US dollars] in the resistance funds for the #indefiniteteachersstrike and soon they'll be saying that these are not moments of solidarity — Joan Canela (@JoanCanela) 19 September, 2013

For the moment, and until the government and organisers sit down and negotiate, the strike will continue. 

October 03 2013

Global Voices awarded in Catalonia

Global Voices Català has won [ca] an award at the Catalonia Blog Awards [ca] held annually in Catalonia by the association Societat de Tecnologia i Coneixement (STIC) [ca] (Technology and Knowledge Society) in the category of communications and new media. The awards ceremony was celebrated on September 28th, 2013, where journalist, blogger and Global Voices author Joan Antoni Guerrero Vall collected the prize on behalf of the Catalan team. Congratulations, everyone!

Here you are the award Global Voices Catalan just won at the #pbc13. It is an honour to collect on on behalf of a great team :)

The association STIC aims to promote interactivity and innovation within the context of Catalan culture and language by using the new communication and information technologies, with a special sensibility towards education, actions of solidarity that help reduce inequality and the defense of Catalan culture.

September 11 2013

Catalans Around the World Claim Independence from Spain

In the midst of the preparations for their next national day on September 11, 2013 Catalan communities all over the world have celebrated with human chains to claim independence from Spain.

On September 11, celebrations will include the Via Catalana (Catalan Way), a human chain along Catalonia's (Spain's northeast region) coastline, which is meant to be the longest human chain ever made in the European Union. The chain is organized by the civic association Catalan National Assembly (CNA), in an attempt to show the increasing popular support for the option of independence and to push the regional government to start the negotiation process with the Spanish government.

Screenshot of the website collecting all posts and pictures that will be shared on social media during the human chain celebrated in Catalonia.

Screenshot of the website collecting all posts and pictures that will be shared on social media during the human chain celebrated in Catalonia.

More than 400,000 people who have published comments, pictures and videos on the Catalan Way can be tracked through this website and through the hashtags #11s2013 and #viacatalana.

On September 11, 2012, thousands of hundreds of Catalans took to the streets of Barcelona in the largest pro-independence rally in the region's history, also organized by the CNA. As a result, the center-right governing coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU) decided to hold the regional elections ahead of schedule, on November 25, 2012. Voter turnout peaked at almost 70%, the highest in 30 years, and the four political parties committed to holding a referendum on self-determination (CiU-ERC-ICV-CUP) got more than twice as many seats as those defending the status quo (PSC-PP-C). Crucially, both of Catalonia’s major parties – the governing center-right CiU and socialist PSC – suffered severe setbacks.

In order to show their support and encourage participation, Catalan communities all over the world have organized human chains in different cities. Below are some of the most striking pictures and videos.


With more than 50 people, the chain of Prague has been a success!

Video (not broadcast) human chain yesterday at the Great Wall of China

Eduard: “Catalans around the world have gone mad.” Iluc: “Indeed. Dozens of independents at the Great Wall of China.”

— Berta (@bertags) August 25, 2013

I am full of pride!!


September 05 2013

Catalans Get Ready for Another Massive Pro-independence Event

Catalan National Day, September 11, is just around the corner. The civic Association Col·lectiu Emma (@CollectiuEmma) has published a statement in English and 9 other languages on its blog. The text explains the current political situation in Catalonia (Spain's far north-east corner) and calls worldwide media to keep an eye on the public pro-independence event that will take place on September 11.

In an attempt to show the increasing popular support to the option of independence and push the regional government to hold a referendum, the civic association Catalan National Assembly (CNA) is organizing a huge human chain along the 400 km long Catalan coastline, called The Catalan Way (#CatalanWay, #viacatalana). 105 human chains around the world have already been or are scheduled to be celebrated in advance.

August 24 2013

Three Youths Harassed After Speaking Catalan at Music Festival in Spain

Three young people have reported incidents of discrimination and physical abuse for speaking Catalan at the Arenal Sound music festival in the eastern region of Valencia, Spain. Like in Catalonia, Spanish and Catalan are both official languages in Valencia.

The fourth Arenal Sound musical festival took place in Borriana in the south of Castelló province from 4-7 August, 2013. On the first night, Laura, a young woman from Castelló, was denied entrance to the arena for having addressed a security guard, who was manning the entrance, in Catalan. According to what Laura explained [ca] to the online newspaper Vilaweb [ca], the security guard demanded that she and her friends spoke in Spanish because he didn't understand any other languages. When the guard searched Laura, he found she was carrying self-defense spray. He used this as an excuse to refuse her entry and notify the Guardia Civil, the Spanish gendarmerie.

The Guardia Civil suggested that the young lady spoke in Spanish if she wanted to regain entry, but she and her friends preferred to abandon the festival rather than the right to speak their own language. They then demanded a full refund which they were denied because, according to the guards, the festival director was not informed. Laura and her friends wore their festival wristbands in protest against an incident which was not motivated by a genuine, language-related misunderstanding, but rather an act of humiliation because of the language they spoke.

Arenal Sound

Photo of the Arenal Sound festival-goers found on the festival's Facebook [es] page.

On Sunday night, another two youths, who had found out about what had happened to Laura, asked the guards if they spoke Catalan. The same guard who was involved in the previous incident confronted them.

According to the story that one of the young men, Christian, reported to Vilaweb [ca], Christian's friend accused the guard of being a fascist and it was from there that things escalated. They were surrounded by five guards and one of them pushed Christian to the floor and kicked him. The hospital report [ca] that the young men shared with Vilaweb provides evidence of the attack.

The festival organisers have not apologised. Their Facebook [ca] page has received some negative comments, but for now, the only statements [ca] in response are repetitions of what the director, David Sanchéz, said: “The security personnel came from a company in Jaén and therefore didn't understand Catalan”.

He also insisted that the festival does not discriminate against anyone “because of their language or origin” and that he had spoken to the security company so as to prevent this from happening in the future. However, news that Francisco José López Perea, a well-known neo-Nazi [ca], is the founder of Opcón Security which was the company responsible for the security at the festival, has caused many people to doubt this statement.

Valencian is a dialect of Catalan which is spoken in the Valencian Community, an autonomous community in Spain located south of Catalonia and to the West of the Balearic Islands. These three autonomous regions share a history together based on a common language and culture. Catalan is one of the four official languages in Spain, each corresponding to one region, and the Valencian Statute of Autonomy grants it “native language” status in the region.

Nevertheless, centuries of marginalisation and language shift has caused the situation regarding the lack of protection for the language to be worse than it is in neighbouring Catalonia, subjecting those that speak it to more severe attacks on their rights. Protests in support of the assaulted and against any of this type of discriminatory behaviour were not expected on the Internet like had happened previously with other cases of anti-Catalan prejudice. For example, the singer from Xàtiva, Feliu Ventura (@feliuventura) [ca] tweeted:

This has to stop. This apartheid is terrorism against the Valencian way of seeing the world. — Feliu Ventura (@feliuventura) August 6, 2013

Comedian and television presenter Eugeni Alemany (@EugeniAlemany)[ca] questioned the quality of democracy in a country that still today has to deal with situations like those experienced at the Arenal Sound festival:

It says a lot about the foundations of a country if 99% of their “security guards” support the extreme right. Violent, intolerant, controlling people? Deal with it! Eugeni Alemany (@EugeniAlemany) August 4, 2013

Musician and journalist Miquel Ramos (@Miquel_R) [ca] defended the right to speak Catalan:

Stop fascist attacks on those who speak Valencian. Stop impunity. #stopvalencianofobia — MiquelRamos (@Miquel_R) August 7, 2013

And in the same vein, philologist Bàrbera M. (@barberamaria) tweeted:

#stopvalencianofòbia We will not tire of saying that speaking Catalan is not a crime. Why does it bother them so much that we have our own language? — Bàrbera M. (@barberamaria) August 6, 2013

In addition to this, a mass tweet [ca] was organised via social networks on 10 August, with the tags #stopvalencianofòbia and @arenalsound in order to raise awareness regarding this linguistic discrimination and to force the festival organisers to apologise. Here you can read some of the most notable tweets from the mass tweet organised on Saturday evening, such as the tweet by journalist Amàlia Garrigós (@AmaliaGarrigos) [ca]:

Our language will only stay alive if we appreciate it. We can only show our appreciation by speaking it.#StopValencianofòbia @arenalsound — Amàlia Garrigós (@AmaliaGarrigos) August 10, 2013

Or the tweet from Miquel Gironés (@miquelgirones)[ca], member of the most international Valencian band, Obrint Pas, who has also been a victim of a police attack [ca] for speaking Catalan:

I would like @ArenalSound not to contract this security company again. Please apologise.

August 06 2013

Spain: Catalan Water Polo Player Quits Twitter After Harassment

Roser Tarragó, one of the nine Catalan players of the Spain women's water polo team that won the gold medal at the 2013 FINA World Aquatics Championships, closed her Twitter account (@rutarrago) on August 5, 2013 after being bullied for showing a Catalan separatist flag on her Twitter profile.

On Sunday, after winning the gold medal with the Spanish team in Barcelona, Tarragó received the corresponding congratulations. But soon some websites, such as [es], noticed she was showing a Catalan separatist flag made with typographical characters ||*|| on her Twitter handle and a picture wearing the Catalan team suit instead of the Spanish one. She then became the target of a barrage of disparaging comments through the social network.

The region of Catalonia has long had a movement for independence from Spain, but in recent years it has seen a surge of support. Netizens supported Tarragó with hashtags #totssomrosertarrago (we all are Roser Tarragó) and #totsambrosertarrago (everybody with Roser Tarragó).

Among the comments written below the article [es], some called her names, such as ”son of the b****”, “stupid”, “scum” or “mercenary”. Other comments, like one signed by a reader identified as “Spanish” which was marked by other readers with 186 negative votes, claim that she shouldn't have been admitted into the Spanish team because she feels Catalan:

Lo que no entiendo es porque antes de selecionarlas por ser buenos o buenas en su deporte , antes no se les pregunta por su condicion como español o española, cualquier español sentimos los triunfos de los nuestros se se sienten españoles, sino prefiero que no jueguen aunque no ganemos nada.
El orgullo no es solo la victoria sino las personas que nos representen al margen del puesto que ocupen.
Yo no selecionaria a ningun catalan o vasco que antes no se identifique con la selección con la que juega en este caso españa.
Hay algunos que solo lo hacen por dinero.
Y esto me dirigo tambien al Real Madrid con el vasco que ha fichado.

I don't get why [the national teams] don't ask [the athletes] if they feel Spanish before selecting them for being good at certain sports, we the Spanish feel the victories of our teams if they feel Spanish, if not I prefer that they don't play even if we don't win anything at all.
Pride is not only victory, but those people who represent us, doesn't matter which position they achieve. I wouldn't select any Catalan or Basque person if they cannot identify with the team they play with, in this case, Spain.
Some of them only do that for money.
And I am also addressing Real Madrid for the Basque player that has been signed.

On Twitter, some users including some Catalan users insulted or criticized Tarragó for advocating for Catalan independence and playing with the Spanish team at the same time.

Isabel María (@Isabelbmisa) [es], a journalist at Diario de Sevilla, and José M. CM (@35metros) [es] tweeted:

I'm only saying that if Roser Tarragó is a separatist, what is she doing representing Spain?

RT so Roser Tarragó won't be playing again with the Spanish team with the separatist cloth

On the other side, users like Manel (@srmanel) critized [ca] the athlete for playing with Spain:

Roser Tarragó must not be such a big separatist if she plays with the Spanish team, putting money and prestige ahead of her ideology, isn't it?

However, support messages have been published using the hashtags #totssomrosertarrago [ca] (we all are Roser Tarragó) and #totsambrosertarrago [ca] (everybody with Roser Tarragó). Supporting tweets and reasonable comments defending Tarragós’ rights to choose the best options for her professional career while freely expressing her identity and political opinions have flooded the net. Sara Díaz (@SaritaDiaz_93), editor on synchronized swimming at, Ariadna Bassols [ca] (@aribassols), artistic gymnastics coach, and Cl.J.León (@tirant_el_blanc) [ca] tweeted as follows:

@SaritaDiaz_93 @RuTarrago comments like this one are worth reading, not those that insult. She quitted [Twitter] after being insulted

@AleixUrzay @RuTarrago As I was saying, I don't share her opinions, but do respect them. As far as they give it all for the Spanih team, I don't care if she feels Chinese

@aribassols Insults are out of place, but I find her attitude very reproachable

@delmoralo For me it'd be reproachable if she wouldn't be productive to the max. If she is, outside the swimmingpool she can think whatever she wants. My humble opinion

My support for @RuTarrago for the insults she's getting and respect for her if she wants to keep on playing with the Spanish team!!

Though the Madrid 2020 committee (@Madrid2010ES), which supports the Spanish capital's bid for the 2020 Olympic & Paralympic Games, uses an image of Tarragó for promotion purposes, nobody has stood up for the player.

Tarragó has never hidden her Catalan identity. In April, after playing with the Catalan team, which is not allowed to compete at the Olympic Games, she declared [ca] that “it was a very special game, I could finally defend my colours”.

This is not the only case of anti-Catalan attitudes in Spain against athletes. Another relevant case is that of Àlex Fàbregas, a Catalan Olympian who mentioned in July 2012 that he felt more Catalan than Spanish and only played for Spain because “he has no other option” (there is a Spanish law penalizing athletes who refuse to join the Olympic team). A storm of violent comments towards Fàbregas — including death threats — led the athlete to delete his Twitter account. Sympathetic users created the hashtag #TotsSomÀlexFàbregas  (We're all Àlex Fàbregas) [ca] in response.

July 09 2013

«E-Christians» Reject the New US Ambassador to Spain for Being Gay

The name of the new American ambassador to Spain has been announced: James Costos. The new ambassador, who holds a degree in Political Science, has three traits that stand out: he is a top executive of the television production company HBO, a strong defender of animals -a member of the HSUS organization, dedicated to the condemnation of animal cruelty-, and is openly gay.

He is also a relentless persecutor of piracy, opposes bullfighting, and is a prominent activist of the LGBT cause.

According to the online newspaper 20 minutos [es], during Obama's presidential campaign, Costos-whose designation was announced on June 15-, and his renowned decorator spouse Michael Smith:

James Costos, US ambassador to Spain, and his spouse, Michael Smith. Photo from the blog Anotaciones de Pensamiento y Crítica.

James Costos (left), US ambassador to Spain, and his spouse, Michael Smith. Photo from the blog Anotaciones de Pensamiento y Crítica.

(…) recaudaron más de 3,5 millones de dólares para la campaña de Obama entre 2011 y 2012, cuando prestaron el lujoso ático que poseen en Manhattan (Nueva York) y la gigantesca mansión que comparten en Los Ángeles (California) para varios actos de recaudación de fondos.

raised more than 3.5 million dollars for Obama's campaign between 2011 and 2012, when they loaned the luxurious penthouse that they own in Manhattan (New York) and the large mansion that they share in Los Angeles (California) for several fundraising events.

Some are of the opinion that his nomination could be a reward for his donated favors during the presidential campaign, but others allege that his nomination is due to pressure from the Hollywood lobby, which views with concern the –frequently discussed [es]– amount of piracy in Spain.

What does seem clear is that Costos has been entrusted with a country in which being homosexual should not be a serious problem. In fact, the gay community is well-integrated in Spain, and according to a report from the Pew Research organization, 88% of the population considers that it must be a fact accepted by society. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2005, being the third country in the world that approved it, after the Netherlands and Belgium.

However, even though the nomination of Costos has been announced without fanfare in the Spanish political scene, there is an organization that is completely against his appointment: E-Christians, an ultra-catholic website of Catalan origin, has been especially critical of the American government for sending Costos to Spain.  They have gone so far as to start up a petition [es] to urge the Spanish ministry of Foreign Affairs, José M. García-Margallo, «to not grant the “placet” to the new US ambassador to Spain», which is to say, to reject Costos as ambassador. According to the text shown when signing the petition:

El Sr. Costos y su pareja son promotores del homosexualismo político en aquel país [EE.UU.] y ha sido nombrado por esta razón. Su presencia significa la voluntad de intromisión en la política interior española para promover el homosexualismo político, un hecho inaceptable desde el punto de vista de la neutralidad formal que debe poseer toda representación diplomática.

Mr. Costos and his spouse are promotors of political homosexuality in their country [USA] and he has been nominated for this reason. His presence suggests an intrusion into domestic Spanish politics in order to promote political homosexuality, an unacceptable fact from the point of view of the formal neutrality that all diplomatic representation must possess.

E-Christians is a website founded in 2001 by Josep Miró i Ardèvol [es], member of the Convergència i Unió party, former agricultural advisor of the autonomous Catalan government, and former city councilman for Barcelona. According to the newspaper El Plural [es],

Josep Miró y Ardèvol, president of E-Christians. Photo from the blog «El Trastevere»

Josep Miró y Ardèvol, president of E-Christians. Photo from the blog «El Trastevere».

[E-Cristians] defiende los valores de la Iglesia y se opone al matrimonio homosexual o al aborto. Defiende que la crisis actual está causada por la pérdida de los valores cristianos y de la aceptación por la sociedad de la homosexualidad y la interrupción del embarazo.

[E-Christians] defends the values of the church and is opposed to homosexual matrimony or abortion. It upholds that the current crisis is caused by the loss of Christian values and the acceptance by society of homosexuality and the termination of pregnancy.

Carlos Gil Fernández [es] commented on this article.

Nunca pensé que en mi vida iba a decir esto: me empieza a caer bien el Embajador de los EE.UU. Quién me ha visto y quién me ve, todo por culpa de los fachas ultracatólicos.

I never in my life thought I was going to say this: I'm starting to like the embassy of the US. Whoever has seen me and whoever sees me now, it's all because of the ultracatholic fascists.

Rafael90 [es] mentioned on the website «menéame»

Ultracatólicos en puestos de gran poder político–>¡Bien!
Homosexuales en puestos menos importantes (embajador)–>¡Abominación suprema!

Ultracatholics in positions of great political power–>¡Super!
Homosexuals in less important positions (ambassador)–>¡Supreme Abomination!

On the internet, the majority of the comments went against the claims of the E-Christians. On Twitter, some users succinctly expressed their anger and clear rejection of this initiative and its promotors: «Can this be more silly?» (marian/@marianMasoto54 [es]); «Disgust for radical catholics» (Sergio – 3ªRepública/@sergiofdezp [es]); «You can never cure stupidity» (AGP/@agonzalezpac [es]); «Moron coming to attack!!» (Moisés Prieto/@MoissPrieto [es]); «Well, well, well. This is respect» (Ernesto S. Pombo/@espombo [es]).

Other twitter users were more explicit, like Carlos Saenz Eíriz [es] y jm renye [ca]:


@cseiriz:… [es]

@JmRenye: Que es dediquin a netejar la merda que tenen a casa seva i deixin als demes en pau.

@JmRenye [ca]: I hope they work to clean the shit they have in their own house and leave everyone else in peace.

June 07 2013

Catalan Wikipedia Receives Official Recognition

Amical Wikimedia, the association that promotes Viquipedia, the Catalan Wikipedia, has got a chapter of its own within the international structure of the Wikimedia Foundation. This recognition comes after a five-year-long discussion to be recognized as representative of a unique language and culture, as previous criteria required chapters to represent states. Now they will have the right to share experiences with other countries and access the funds raised through readers’ donations. This announcement arrives at a time when Catalonia is involved in a debate about becoming independent from Spain.

May 17 2013

Catalonia: Caution about Spain's Hostile Ways

A civic statement on Col·lectiu Emma (@CollectiuEmma)'s blog criticizes the way the Spanish government is dealing with the political situation in the region of Catalonia, where 55 % of the population favors independence [ca] from Spain, according to an official poll. The statement explains the “strategy of fear” and other “hostile” arguments, and claims for “a friendly separation, preferably under international supervision and with external support for both parties.” The post is available in English, Spanish, German, French, Arabic, Russian, PortugueseItalian and Dutch.

April 19 2013

Catalan Wikipedia Reaches 400,000 Article Milestone

The Catalan edition of Wikipedia Viquipèdia, a fundamental support to a language and culture historically discriminated against because it belongs to a stateless nation, has registered a record number of active users, with its article count reaching 400,000.

Viquipèdia contains half as many articles as the Spanish Wikipedia, even though 420 million people speak Spanish in the world, and there are under 10 million Catalan speakers.

At a time when Catalonia is involved in a debate about becoming independent from Spain, Viquipèdia‘s role in raising global awareness about the region and its people has increased massively. This is one of the main motivations that compels 1600 active Catalan Wikipedists to edit.

Viquipèdia's first article [ca] was the first non-English article to go live on Wikipedia. It was published only two months after the original version of the Wikipedia in English went live. Out of the free encyclopedia's 285 language editions, Catalan Wikipedia now ranks at number 15 in terms of article count. It occupies first place in an index compiled by the Wikimedia Foundation, which measures the quality of the thousand most important articles.

On the evening of 12 April 2013, the Viquipèdia article counter reached 400,000 [ca]. Everyone had been preparing to celebrate the milestone for a while, and it finally arrived with article Heli-4 [ca]. This is how David Parreño (@dapamont), 17 year-old active Wikipedist and Wikimediacat (@Wikimediacat) communications coordinator, announced it [ca]:

@dapamont: URGENT | Nota: La Viquipèdia en català assoleix els 400.000 articles i marca el rècord d'usuaris actius  #viquipèdia

@dapamont: URGENT | Notice: Wikipedia in Catalan reaches 400,000 articles and registers a record number of active users  #Wikipedia.

Tool for Defending Catalan Culture

The Catalan version of Wikipedia is unique, because it has become central to the activism around the language.

According to a study by Amical Viquipèdia (@Wikimediacat), the association that promotes the free encyclopedia among the Catalan community, this is one of the main motivations that compel Catalan Wikipedists to edit. Àlex Hinojo (@Kippelboy), project manager at Wikimediacat [ca] and creator of@CatalanMuseums, says [ca]:

Molta gent diu que edita perquè és divertit, per aprofundir en un tema…i per fer país. Com en altres temes, la societat civil catalanoparlant sempre manté un cert activisme en favor de la seva llengua.

Many people say they edit because it's fun, they can provide more information about a topic…and they are building a country. Catalan-speaking civil society always maintains a certain activism in favour of its language, just as it does with other topics.

WikiMarathon at Drassanes Reials (Barcelona), on Wikipedia's 12th anniversary. March 2013. Photo by @Kippelboy.

Tension with the Spanish Version

A study by Mark Graham (@geoplace), researcher at Oxford University, based on figures obtained by combining geolocated data from WikiLocation and Georeferenzierung, shows that 35,000 articles have been created in Spanish territory with coordinates in Catalan, and nineteen thousand in Spanish. According to Graham, “nowhere else in the world enjoys such a high visibility for a language that is relatively little spoken.”

Viquipèdia is viewed by Catalan-speaking users as a tool for defending their culture, which can occasionally create friction with the Spanish edition due to the issue of identity. Wikipedists not only translate; they often bring their own cultural perspective, which can clash with other cultural perspectives. Despite the desire to understand, conflicts are not always easily resolved. A news item that appeared in the digital newspaper Vilaweb [ca] in December 2012, told how blogger Joan Inglada [ca] (@jinglada) translated the entry about writer Anna Rosselló [es] into Spanish, but another Wikipedist changed ‘Catalan writer’ to ‘Spanish writer in Catalan language’, even against Rosselló's will. In the end, Inglada requested the article be removed. Because of this, Inglada investigated other articles, such as the one about Valencian author and reference in Catalan culture, Joan Fuster, and found identical corrections, as detailed in an entry in his blog [ca].

largest languages per country europe

M. Graham's map showing largest languages by country. Image used with permission.

The Fight for their own Chapter

For years, Catalan Wikipedists have been negotiating with the Wikimedia Foundation, the international Foundation that promotes Wikipedia and its sister projects, to obtain official recognition for the Catalan version, since the organisational structure of the free encyclopaedia is based on border criteria and Catalonia is a stateless nation. Hinojo says [ca]:

Existeixen diverses associacions locals arreu del món anomenades “chapters”. El que passa és que aquestes associacions es basen en delimitacions frontereres i nosaltres ens basem en interessos temàtics (la cultura catalana), i no fronterers. En ser un país sense Estat, vam proposar a la Wikimedia Foundation que ens donés un “reconeixement oficial” com a “chapter” i portem més de 4 anys de negociacions. Encara no tenim l'aprovació oficial.

There are different local associations around the world called “chapters”. These associations are based on border boundaries and we are based on topical interests (Catalan culture), not borders. Since we are a stateless nation, we suggested that the Wikimedia Foundation give us “official recognition” as a “chapter” and we've been in negotiation for over 4 years. We still don't have official approval.

As a temporary solution to this situation, the Amical Viquipèdia (@WikimediaCat) was created in 2008 to pave the way. This association, which currently has around 60 members, promotes the online encyclopaedia in Catalan through activities such as WikiMarathons, competitions in schools, and collaborations with institutions such as universities, museums and libraries.

April 06 2013

Spain: The Eternal Fight to Dismantle a Fascist Symbol and Mass Grave

The esplanade at the Valley of the Fallen, Madrid. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Madrid's Valley of the Fallen, the ostentatious memorial monument built for the fascist dictator Francisco Franco, is perhaps the biggest symbol of Francoism and the biggest mass grave in Spain. Almost 40 years after the death of the dictator, marking the start of democracy in Spain, the exact figure regarding the number of victims from the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) is still unknown.  Many of them have been laid to rest alongside their executioner. In 2010, the Spanish government had identified 33,833 [es] but there could be many more. On 19th March 2013, the national Catalan television channel aired the documentary “Avi, et trauré d'aquí!” [ca] ["Grandfather, I will get you out of here!"], which set off comments on the social networking sites about the mausoleum. According to what was published on the webpage [ca] about the programme, it generated more than 2,600 tweets and the hashtag #ettrauré [ca] [#Iwillgetyouout] was ‘trending topic’ on Twitter throughout the programme and well into the night.

Built between 1940 and 1958 with the help of political prisoners, the Valley of the Fallen is still today a symbol of the victory for the fascist troops over the forces that were defending the Second Spanish Republic, proclaimed in 1931. The death of Franco in 1975 and the end of his forty year dictatorship gave way to the Spanish democratic state. It was a smooth transition from dictatorship to democracy which took care to not reopen old wounds between the opposing sides from the Civil War. Despite the Historical Memory Law, passed in 2007, the relatives of the victims from the losing side in the war and Franco's dictatorship fought via civil society organisations, often passively criticising successive governments, so that the bodies of the buried relatives could be recuperated from the mass graves and so that justice could be done.

The historian Queralt Solé (@qbru), who also appeared in the documentary, explains, in her article [ca] on the Centre for International History Studies‘ blog [ca], published by the Catalan history magazine Sàpiens [ca], the process that the regime used in order to stuff the human remains in Franco’s mausoleum:

El procés es va realitzar amb absoluta transparència, es van publicar als principals diaris estatals i en els butlletins oficials de totes les províncies anuncis oferint la possibilitat de la inhumació al Valle de los Caídos. Però la resposta per part de familiars de víctimes franquistes de la guerra no va ser ni molt menys la que el règim esperava. Les sol·licituds individuals dels familiars dels “màrtirs” van distar tant de les previsions, que es va decidir incrementar les exhumacions de fosses de soldats franquistes morts al front, així com afegir-hi l’exhumació i trasllat de fosses de soldats republicans sense, en aquest cas, informar els familiars.

The process was carried out with absolute transparency; announcements were published in all the main state newspapers and official bulletins within all the provinces offering the possibility of burial in the Valley of the Fallen.  But the response from the relatives of the pro-Franco victims in the war was similar to what the regime was expecting.  The individual requests from the relatives of the “martyrs” was so far from what was predicted that it was decided to increase the grave exhumations of Franco soldiers who died on the front as well as exhuming and transferring the graves of Republican soldiers without, in this case, informing their relatives.

Within a few hours, Twitter was filled with critical comments driven by the political motive of historical memory under the hashtag #ettrauré.

The Independent's collaborative Twitter account (@LaIndepe) criticised [ca] the lack of resoluteness from the successive governments led by the Spanish majority parties; the People's Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE); in relation to the crimes committed during Franco’s dictatorship. The similar positioning of both the parties has given way, in recent years, to the ironic and informal use of the acronym PPSOE, which reffers to the two parties at the same time.

El Valle de los Caídos és un parc temàtic del feixisme emparat pel PPSOE #ettrauré

The Valley of the Fallen is a fascist themed park protected by the PPSOE #ettrauré

Many other Tweeters cast doubt on the democratic spirit of Spain, like the editor and bachelor of Law Quim Torra (@QuimTorra) [ca] or the journalist Jordi Finestres (@jordifinestres) [ca]:

Fins que Espanya no es posi davant del mirall i es jutgi a ella mateixa no serà mai una democràcia #ettrauré

Until Spain stands in front of a mirror and judges itself, it will never be a democracy  #ettrauré

Mentre manin els néts dels que van fer construir el #valledeloscaidos Espanya no serà mai una democràcia #ettrauré

While the grandchildren of those that constructed the #valledeloscaidos [#valleyofthefallen] are in charge, Spain will never be a democracy #ettrauré

Comparisons with the social and legal treatment in Germany and all that can be considered to justify Nazism were recurrent. David Martí (@davidmarti) [ca], a university professor; Èric Fornós (@fornoseric) [ca], a law student, and Lluís González (@focfollet) [ca], a philologist and linguist, commented:

#ettraure Us imagineu Hitler enterrat en un mausoleu públic a 60 km de Berlín envoltat de jueus i gitanos gasejats pel règim? Doncs això.

#ettraure Can you imagine Hitler being buried in a public mausoleum, 60km outside of Berlin, surrounded by jews and gypsies that were gassed during the regime? Exactly.

Exaltació del nazisme a Alemanya, 40 anys de presó. Exaltació del franquisme a Espanya, total llibertat #ettraure

Praising Nazism in Germany: 40 years in prison. Praising Francoism in Spain: complete freedom #ettraure

Alemanya va fer la neteja que Espanya no ha fet mai. Certs partits, entitats, associacions o webs hi estarien prohibides. #ettrauré

Germany did the cleansing that Spain has never done. Certain parties, entities, associations or websites would be forbidden there #ettrauré

Others relate to the Catalan independence movement. Moisès Trullàs (@CalDirHo), who expresses his desire for Catalonia to be independent from Spain on his profile, said [ca]:

Hem de treure els cossos dels nostres morts de El Valle de los Caídos i els dels nostres vius d'Espanya. #TenimPressa #ettrauré

We have to take the bodies of our dead out of the Valley of the Fallen and those of our living out of Spain #TenimPressa [#WeAreInaHurry] #ettrauré

On the same topic, the sociologist Marta Rovira expressed herself in her opinion column [ca] for the online newspaper [ca]:

“Cal recordar també que l'Estat espanyol és l'únic estat de la UE que no ha dut a terme una política de persecució i reparació dels crims contra la humanitat comesos durant el segle XX. I no només això, sinó que les víctimes i els seus familiars continuen patint la indiferència, la negació i sovint la incomprensió de les institucions públiques espanyoles.

Avui encara, el franquisme és una dictadura sense condemna pública (amb símbols, monuments i un dels mausoleus més gran del món —el Valle de los Caídos— intactes), un sistema criminal sense judici, una font de patiment sense reparació, i un persistent fonament antidemocràtic del sistema polític espanyol. Per això, el dolor del passat és la vergonya del present.”

We must also remember that Spain is the only state in the EU that has not carried out a policy to persecute those responsible and to repair itself following the crimes against humanity committed during the 20th Century. And not only that, but the victims and their relatives continue to suffer from the indifference, denial, and often lack of understanding from the Spanish public institutions.

Still today, the Franco era is a dictatorship that hasn't been publicly condemned (with symbols; monuments; and one of the biggest mausoleums in the world, the Valley of the Fallen; still intact), a criminal system without justice, a source of suffering without repair, and a persistent antidemocratic foundation for the Spanish political system. Because of this, the pain of the past is the shame of the present.


March 15 2013

@CatalanVoices, a project to let the world know about Catalonia

Every week, a different Catalan citizen or any person who lives or has lived in Catalonia (regardless of her/his nationality or citizenship) will tweet from the account @CatalanVoices to talk about what she or he likes, feels and thinks about Catalonia. What they share will also be published on the project's blog. This is a project launched by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT) and inspired in existing initiatives like @ScotVoices.The project's goal is to “raise awareness about Catalonia” and boost discussion about “the current democratic political process concerning Catalonia’s political status in Europe and Spain”.

March 14 2013

Barcelona's Best Writers, Translators Celebrate Literary Journal Asymptote's Anniversary

AsBar-Peter Bush-AC

English translator Peter Bush. Photo by Alba Calle.

Asymptote, an international digital literature and translation magazine, celebrated its second anniversary with a series of events held around the globe with participation from some of the world's best contemporary writers and translators. Among the cities chosen was Barcelona [es], where a recital [es] from some translators and authors from the city took place in Spanish, Catalan, and English on 25 January to present the first edition of the magazine in 2013.


Audience at the Inusual Project room. Photo by Alba Calle.

The project came about thanks to a group of entrepreneurs from different parts of the world who shared a love for literature and the art of translation. With this in mind, Asymptote provides readers with excerpts from works in their original language and the corresponding translation. Some even include audio recordings of the translator so that readers can have access to the phonetics of the language.

And that's not all. Apart from literary works, the magazine also has a section dedicated to visual art.

Asymptote was named 2012 Magazine of The Year by 3:am magazine alongside publications including The Times Literary Supplement and London Review of Books. The project's success is owed largely to a long list of volunteer collaborators including authors, translators, photographers, and illustrators.

Yew Leong Lee, the magazine's editor-in-chief, spoke with Global Voices about the project and the event in Barcelona.

After two years, how does it feel to be part of such a successful project?

Celebrating our second anniversary in cities like New York, Berlin, Taipei, and Barcelona has been extremely satisfying, particularly because we met up with readers from all over the place for the first time and we saw the difference between their cultural environments, even though we are a completely digital magazine. This proves that there is a huge demand for literature to be treated as a global phenomenon and not within the individual framework of a single language. Asymptote aims to be the focal point for literary communities, which are always minorities. I'd like to thank my team and also the readers, especially those who helped us to broadcast our initiative and have collected for us in our current Indiegogo fundraising campaign.

AsBar-Adrià Targe-JMC

Writer Adrià Targa with Rafael Mammos and Najat El Hachmi. Photo by Joaquim Moreno Càceres.

Since we've collaborated with so many great Spanish writers (not only from Spain, but also from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, etc.) over these two years, we wanted to hold an event to reinforce our link with Spain. Barcelona seemed like an obvious choice because many translations are done there, not only for tourists but also between Catalan and Spanish. We'd like to introduce even more Catalan and Spanish writers to our English readers in 2013.

How was the event in Barcelona received?

It was a great success. There were definitely more than 100 people attending. The programme included both established translators and writers and young promising faces in the world of translation and literature. Some of the writers even tried their hand at one or two translations and shared them with the audience. There was also live music from a swing band who added a relaxed vibe to the event. Many of the guests stayed behind to talk to the authors and thank us for the initiative, as they'd never been to an event like it.

Following the huge success of all the events, do you have plans to do it again in the near future?

It's a possibility, because the public not only gave us a warm welcome in Barcelona but in all the cities where we organised events. It all depends if we have enough support, because we'd also like to go to other areas and bring world literature to local communities and vice versa. The next places on our list are London, Paris, and Tokyo. However, if we get another chance to organise a similar event in Barcelona, we'd be delighted!

Photos of the worldwide event are available on the magazine's Facebook page. You can also keep up to date with the latest Asymptote news on Twitter and Tumblr.

March 04 2013

‘Global Voices can help explain Catalonia to the world’



Violeta Camarasa, editor of Global Voices Català.

This article was originally published [ca] by the independent online  journal Vilaweb [ca]. We republish it with permission.

Interview with Violeta Camarasa, Global Voices Online‘s Catalan-language editor (Twitter) [ca]. Although Global Voices published their first Catalan-language article [ca], the project took a year to gain momentum. Today, Global Voices Català publishes regularly, with all the rights and responsibilities as Global Voices’ other language editions. On Wednesday, February 27th, Barcelona's Pompeu Fabra University [ca] hosted a panel discussion between Saül Gordillo [ca], Sílvia Cobo [ca], Cristina Vaquer (Twitter) [ca] of the collaborative reporting network People's Witness [ca], and Violeta Camarasa, editor of Global Voices Català.

Two Examples: Al Jazeera and The Washington Post

Global Voices Català has demonstrated over the past several months that it has the capacity to explain Catalonia to the world, supplementing the mainstream media's historical neglect of the region. For instance:

1) Al Jazeera highlighted their coverage of Catalan politics in a The Stream show video about September 11th's million-person protest in the context of the growing rift between Catalonia and the Spanish Government. In the video, The Stream's host thanks  Global Voices Català for calling the team's attention to the issue with an article published [ca] days before and also through Twitter (see minutes 11.33 and 28.19).

2. In a blog post about the Cafè amb Llet affair, The Washington Post cited Global Voices articles. The blog post was later revised after Ms Camarasa critiqued the piece.

What is Global Voices Català's ultimate purpose?

Global Voices Català is one piece of Global Voices Online's international puzzle. We function like a network, and within this network, every language edition has a double-mission. First, translating into that language (in our case, Catalan) to explain to its audience all of the ideas and polemics that charge worldwide online debate. It's also our duty to explain to the world the topics of debate on the Catalan-speaking web.

You often discuss the concept of online debates

Sure, and they're complex. These debates can circle around questions that arise directly online; they can also be online conversations about current, offline events. In this way, we are able to offer the world a unique vision of what's going on in Catalonia, supplementing what is usually presented by the mainstream media.

Can Global Voices therefore help explain Catalonia's secessionist movement to the world?

Of course! Just consider that last year, the world's vision of Catalonia was constructed exclusively by media outlets based in or heavily influenced by Madrid. Global Voices is a fresh, direct window into Catalan current events. And we can explain a lot more than the sovereignty process as well: for instance, the drama of evictions as a result of the economic crisis, corruption, and all other issues relevant to contemporary Catalan society. One issue doesn't negate the other and they are all related to the country we long for.

So what will we find online at Global Voices Català?

We often publish analyses that transcend conventional editorial agendas. We work exhaustively to produce a large volume of content, perhaps larger than any one person can consume. We write a lot about Catalan society so that other language versions may translate it, and we translate what other editions of Global Voices have produced, which results in diverse stories from around the world. It's important to provide thorough filters so that readers can find articles about the languages, regions, and countries that interest them.

Has building the Catalan edition been tolling?

Well, Global Voices was founded in 2005 and was initially an (exclusively) English-language publication that focused on stories emanating from the developing world. Global Voices linguistic domain eventually expanded to Spanish and French and today includes thirty languages. The Catalan edition was founded in 2010 but took a while to gain momentum. By 2011 we were publishing regularly, but it wasn't until 2012 that Global Voices Català was producing a large enough body of content to leave ‘BETA’ phase and be considered a full-fledged edition of Global Voices.

Engaging with Global Voices is also a way to get connected with the world...

Indeed. All of the content we produce for Catalan readers about worldwide conversations is extremely valuable. Moreover, we — that is, the GV team — are present in that content. Historically, international news has been disseminated by larger media outlets and to a lesser extent, diplomacy. Global Voices is one of the networks that has helped to break that down. Also, Global Voices allows readers to engage with the journalists and bloggers who produce the content. The communication is direct.

And how does the Catalan team work?

Right now, we're about twenty volunteers, but in recent weeks we've received more applications than usual. Hopefully, the presentation at Pompeu Fabra University will help us grow even more. We do the double work that I talked about earlier. We translate from other language editions, often adding a little extra context for our readers, and we report on the conversations that define the Catalan blogosphere. It's important to note that we're not talking about blogs and tweets by politicians, journalists and celebrities. In fact, it's quite the contrary. We want to give visibility to the voices of people outside the mainstream media's spotlight. In this regard we want volunteers with “journalistic” backgrounds, but that's not to say that you need to be a professional journalist to collaborate.

February 27 2013

#Wikimodernism: Catalan Modernism, from the Classroom to the Web


Upper exterior of la Casa Batlló in Barcelona, designed by Antoni Gaudí between 1904 and 1906. Photograph by Bernard Gagnon via the Wikimedia Commons.

Art history students in Barcelona are trading in traditional homework to share their learning about Catalan Modernism or modernisme in Catalan, with the world.

If you have ever visited Barcelona, you will remember the colorful and curvilinear architecture of Antoni Gaudí’s fantastical buildings. Gaudí is essentially the crown jewel of the region's art. And the foundation of this organic and dreamy aesthetic is the political and cultural revolutionary movement that sought to transform the Catalan society at the turn of the twentieth century. Artistically, modernisme was an eclectic movement inspired by similar currents from other European countries, such as French Art Nouveau, but was nevertheless charged with a nationalist sensibility that has given it a unique personality.

After assessing a relatively low level of quality of Wikipedia's content on the subject, a group of Catalan wikimedians [ca] launched a thrilling new wikiprojectViquimodernisme [ca], which has three aims: “improving the presence of Catalan Modernism on Wikipedia”, “making the knowledge generated at the University level accessible on the Internet” and “put into practice new paradigms of open education”.

Façade of la Casa Macaya, designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch in 1901. Photograph by Mutari [public domain] via the Wikimedia Commons.

During the first semester of the academic year 2012-2013, more than one hundred art history students [ca] from the University of Barcelona produced quality Wikipedia articles instead of completing traditional course work, under the supervision of six teachers and researchers belonging to the GRACMON [ca], the group of research for contemporary art and design at the University of Barcelona. They have created and edited more than a hundred articles pertaining to Catalan Modernism so far.

The perfect alliance

The proposal came from Àlex Hinojo (@Kippelboy), active #glamwiki [ca] member, an international group of wikimedians who work in order to strengthen bounds between cultural institutions and the free knowledge network. Besides being one of the most active wikipedians, Hinojo is the person behind the project @CatalanMuseums, offering information in English about the museums of Barcelona and Catalonia.

Esther Solé (@EstherSole), Art historian, wikipedian and coordinator of the Viquimodernisme project, wrote in an article [ca] published by Wikimedia, how this unprecedented proposal quickly defeated all the suspicions that academics usually have of Wikipedia:

Suspicions soon gave way to curiosity and this was also replaced by the enthusiasm inspired by an unprecedented proposal. […] Considering that Wikipedia usually occupies the top positions on Internet search engines and that it is often the first, and usually the only resource consulted by most of the population to satisfy their doubts or curiosity, it makes sense to propose that the information and data available in this online encyclopedia be correct and adequate.

We asked Hinojo what he thinks about the suspicions shown by the academic field:

Suspicion is often the result of ignoring a specific subject. That’s why we develop these type of projects, so we can approach different spheres. One thing that teachers repeat the most is: “I wasn’t aware either of the level of control enforced by volunteers or the level of quality filter processes that Wikipedia has. Wikipedians are even more “pernickety” than teachers”.

Towards an open education

GLAM wikiprojects try to involve professionals from cultural institutions so they can coalesce to share their knowledge freely. In the case of Viquimodernisme, Solé and Hinojo were responsible for bringing that collaborative working culture which characterizes Wikipedia community to the GRACMON professors, world authorities on Catalan Modernism.

Solé says in her article [ca]:

Instead of performing traditional course work in the form of stapled sheets of paper that probably ended up in the trash bin, students had to edit Wikipedia articles. […] Thus participants were immersed in a world of encyclopedic language, where the syntax –code-wiki– seemed weird, where the community of Wikipedia editors was actively involved and intervened in a work that didn’t belong to the student anymore for it had become free and available to anyone thanks to creative commons licenses.


The survey conducted in January 2013 by the project's coordinators demonstrates the participating students’ enthusiasm. Graph courtesy of ESM, via the Wikimedia Commons.

Articles have been improved, especially in Catalan, but they have also edited articles in Spanish, French and English. Project managers made an inquiry to evaluate its development by the end of the first semester, on January 2013. You can check the results here [ca]. After these first months of the project, Hinojo points out the positive fact that “students find it really useful that their work has been ‘published’ in Wikipedia and is available to everybody”.

GLAM Wikiprojects, getting art online

Viquimodernisme belongs to a type of wikiprojects known as GLAM [ca] (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums), an international initiative that was born after the people in charge of the British Museum realized many articles talked about their institution on Wikipedia and decided to hire a wikipedian to correct and widen the existing content. Since then, this initiative has been exported to other countries and institutions.

Viquimodernisme has raised interest among some academic institutions, and the coordinators hope the project will become a model for others in the future. They will present their final results at the CoupdeFouet International Art Noveau Congress [ca] to be held in Barcelona on June 2013, which coincides with the project's end.

Violeta Camarasa co-authored this article. Cristina Simón collaborated in its translation into English.

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