One of the upshots of last Friday’s anti-Independence demonstration in Barcelona is that the right-wing Spanish parties have started using the expression the ‘Silent Majority’ to refer to the Spanish-speaking Catalans who would prefer that Catalonia remained part of Spain.
As far as I’m concerned, whether they’re silent or not is up to them but I do take issue with the word ‘Majority’. In comparison with the pro-Independence Diada, the Dia de la Hispanidad demo was very poorly attended however you look at it.
I wrote a blog on the morning of Friday 12 October suggesting there were only around 3,000 there, because the area surrounding Plaça Catalunya was so empty. However, the Guardia Urbana suggested 6,000 so as everyone seemed to crammed into the centre of the square just in front of the stage, I’m prepared to go along with that.
What worries me, though, is the images I’ve seen on TV and in the right-wing press because they are designed to support the organisers’ ridiculous claim that 100,000 pro-Spanish demonstrators were present. All the photos and TV camera angles are horizonal and taken from the stage area. It really looks like there’s a sea of people and flags
but if you look very closely, the crowd finishes at the fountain which is less than 50 metres away. This makes me think that a couple of thousand well-organised demonstrators were brought in and the whole event was stage-managed in order to give the impression to the rest of Spain that this Silent Majority really exists.
The whole reason for calling on this supposed Silent Majority is to provide reasons for the Partido Popular and Central Government’s desire to 1. put a stop to the propsed referendum on Catalan Independence and 2. impose Spanish language and values on the Catalan Education system.
However, a recent survey published in La Vanguardia suggests that around 80% of Catalans are both in favour of being given the opportunity to decide whether they want independence or not and are also extremely happy with Catalan being used as the main language in Catalan schools.
Unfortunately, though, however often I quote the statistics on expat blogs and forums, it seems that a large group of people have difficulty believing me.
For this reason, I was extremely pleased to see interviewed last night on the chat show 8aldia, a viewer who’d left the letter I’ve translated below on the programme’s Facebook page. The letter had been read over half a million times and had received over 50,000 LIKEs so it seems to me it represents the real Silent Majority.
It was written by Rafa Navarro and he wrote the letter in response to Education Minister José Ignacio Wert’s statement about wanting to ‘españolizar’ (impose Spanish on) Catalan schoolchildren. I think it speaks for itself.
AN OPEN LETTER TO SEÑOR WERT
I am Catalan, born in a town close to Barcelona. My father is Andalusian. My mother from Murcia. Nobody in my home has indoctrinated me, neither one way or the other. At school neither, even though you might think that’s a lie. I have have close friends who are Spanish-speakers and I make a living thinking and writing in Catalan. I feel Catalan because it is where I was born, where I grew up and where I have fulfilled myself as a person. To be more specific, my wife is French and my two daughters happily mix three languages without any more difficulty than the occasional misunderstanding every now and again. In our house we don’t indoctrinate our daughters either, nor do they at school (by the way, Señor Wert, one goes to a state school and the other to an independent one) nor do they have problems speaking in Spanish, thinking in Catalan or watching television in French. It’s a piece of luck and richness to be able to have not one but two even three cultures, and above all to feel capable of alternating, combining and enjoying them. What’s happening, Señor Wert, is that every time someone like you opens their mouth the quota of intolerance rises. What you and others like you say treads a fine line between the absurd and fascism. So, Señor Wert, although I’d like to laugh, in the end what you achieve is to make me frightened. You create the situation that every time I cross Catalonia’s borders there are more strange looks. You achieve that even me, who is apolitical, charnego* and happily tricultural, wants to have you and all those that think like you out of my
sight. What’s more, Señor Wert, I’m telling you this without bitterness. You are invited to spend a few days in my home. I’m even willing to retune Intereconomía* if this would make you feel more comfortable. In a few days you will see that you hold ideas that can only be described as unfortunate. And while you’re here, I’ll ask you how someone like you managed to become a minister. I get the feeling that behind this question there’s a fascinating story.”
* charnego – a despective term for Spanish immigrant, which I hadn’t heard for many years
** Intereconomia – right-wing Spanish TV channel
Here’s the original letter in Spanish as published on the 8AlDia Facebook page.
CARTA ABIERTA AL SEÑOR WERT
Soy catalán, nacido en un pueblo cerca de Barcelona. Mi padre es andaluz. Mi madre, murciana. Nadie en mi casa me ha adoctrinado, ni en un sentido ni en otro. Tampoco en el colegio, aunque le parezca mentira. Tengo amigos íntimos castellanoparlantes y me gano la vida pensando y escribiendo en catalán. Me siento catalán porque es donde he nacido, donde he crecido y donde me he realizado como persona. Para más señas, mi esposa es francesa y mis dos hijas mezclan alegremente tres idiomas sin más problemas que algún malentendido de vez en cuando.En mi casa tampoco adoctrinamos a nuestras hijas, tampoco en el colegio (por cierto, Señor Wert, una va a una escuela pública y, la otra, a una concertada) ni tienen problemas para hablar en castellano, pensar…en catalán o
ver la televisión en francés. Es una suerte y una riqueza poder tener no una, sino dos y hasta tres culturas, y sobretodo sentirnos propietarios de la capacidad de alternarlas, combinarlas y disfrutarlas. Lo que pasa, Sr. Wert, es cada vez que alguien como usted abre la boca, suben las acciones de la intolerancia. Lo que usted y los que son como usted dicen se mueve en la fina línea que separa a lo absurdo de lo fascista. O sea, Sr. Wert, que aunque me da por reir, al final lo que consigue es darme miedo. Consigue que cada vez que cruzo la frontera de Catalunya haya más miradas extrañas. Consigue que gente que nunca ha pisado esta tierra la odie ateniéndose a sus argumentos, y no a las pruebas. Consigue que hasta yo, apolítico, charnego y felizmente tricultural, tenga infinitas ganas de perderle a usted y a todos los que piensan como usted de vista. Por cierto, Sr. Wert, se lo digo sin acritud. Está invitado a pasar unos días en casa. Incluso estoy dispuesto a volver a sintonizar Intereconomía, si ello le hace sentirse más confortable. Verá en pocos días que sustenta ideas, cuanto menos, poco afortunadas. Y de paso, en confianza, le preguntaré cómo alguien como usted puede llegar a ser ministro. Se me antoja que detrás de esta pregunta hay una historia fascinante.”