Josep Asensio 11/07/2020
Cover photo: first collaboration agreement between the Cervantes Institute and the organizations that promote the Catalan, Galician and Basque languages.
“Precisely, if anything highlights this institutional tension, it is to what extent our system is far from being a federal model (…). The absence of devices, instances and federal will has led to the development in the communities of some trends whose danger we see today. The policy of comparative grievances has been a constant on which regional powers have settled, obtaining from it high electoral returns. This framework has also facilitated the radicalization of nationalisms ”. Lluís Rabell
Better forget about the past few months. And not only because of the affectation of the virus and its tragic consequences, but because they have shown an irreconcilable political fracture, with an opposition that has crossed all limits and that will not cease in its efforts to bring down a legitimate government that, in my opinion, has been hesitant, but successful, thanks to the figure of Salvador Illa and Fernando Simón. The Spanish right, but also the Catalan independence movement, have shown an unworthy lack of empathy for those crucial moments, where they should have leaned in, not just to support a government, but to be on the side of society as a whole. It seems that Bildu understood this well, but no PP nor Vox, who are getting closer to a black hole that prevents them from reasoning. Citizens and ERC have been lurching, shaking hands and pushing it away when it was needed the most, reiterating their ambiguity, straddling between I want and I cannot, between yes and no and quite the opposite.
It causes me deep sorrow and boredom that, after the thousands of deceased and infected, after those anonymous deaths, after suffering in hospitals, in residences, in private homes, after the general anguish, the queues of hunger, the fear of losing the job, the outbursts of MPs calling Pablo Iglesias a terrorist or the caceroladas of those who have nothing to lose remain in the minds of the Spanish.
A certain press and certain presenters and leaders of talk shows, supported by their directors of radio and television channels, have applauded for decades those forms that undermine coexistence between Spaniards. This is not a banality, they are perfectly devised acts to create a controversy with a specific purpose: to do harm. A damage that is infringed on Spanish society as a whole, because even wanting it to harm a part (Catalans, Basques …) ends up hurting everyone. That sectarianism gradually becomes entrenched and results in a permanent situation of tension that, as if it were a maze with no way out, is trapped forever.
That is why it is so important to highlight that in this complex and plural country that is Spain, there are also people and entities that work for reconciliation. Against those who use a Joseantonian language and against those who denigrate the spirit of transition, outbreaks arise that are located, not in the center, but on the fringes of radicalisms that lead nowhere. One of those outbreaks is the Instituto Cervantes.
The work of the Cervantes Institute throughout the world is extremely important. Its objective, as stated on its website, is “to universally promote the teaching, study and use of Spanish and to contribute to the dissemination of Hispanic cultures abroad.” Created in 1991, it has 86 branches spread all over the world and offers Spanish courses, supports the work of Hispanists, carries out cultural dissemination activities in collaboration with organizations from host countries, manages the largest network of Spanish libraries in the world and publishes numerous digital resources that it puts at the service of whoever wants to use them. For a few years now, it has also been offering courses in Catalan, Galician and Basque at venues where there is demand, finally opening the door to the plural Spain that has been talked about so much but that nobody knows how to build.
The most important news occurred on May 25. The Instituto Cervantes, the Institut Ramon Llull, the Consello da Cultura Galega and the Etxepare Euskal Institutua signed the first collaboration agreement between the four languages, with the consensus of the defense of the cultural and linguistic diversity of Spain. A handshake that goes one step further in that federal idea of Spain, in that idea of contribution to understanding, rejecting uniformity, intolerance, fanaticism and exclusion. In fact, the Spanish Constitution itself contains federalist and contribution elements, but political questions have always led to harmful mistrust.
That is why this agreement is so important. Not only because it will mean collaborating in the translation of books, in the intensification of Spanish language courses and in the participation in international fairs hand in hand and where Catalan, Galician and Euskera will sit at the same table as Spanish. The agreement signed for four years (in the four languages, which gives it a very valuable symbolism) and which is expected and desired to be forever, de facto represents the recognition of multicultural and multilingual Spain, an endorsement of languages as “communication systems that have to build bridges for dialogue between peoples, complementary and never exclusive ways of telling the world, of seeing it”, in the words of the president of the Galician Culture Council, Rosario Álvarez Blanco. No less significant are those of the director of the Ramon Llull Institute, Iolanda Batallé:
“We are companions on the road, together we go further and walking the world alone does not make sense” and that “respect for difference must imply that languages not only dialogue, but love each other.”
Far, very far from the supremacism of the Assemblea Nacional Catalana ANC and the Koiné collective, which requires the disappearance of Spanish in Catalonia. And also very far from the abominable words of the regional Minister of Culture of the Generalitat feeling real disgust for the Spanish language. A few words, those of respect, very necessary in these moments where extremes are gaining ground in a society that does not know or does not want to divest itself of that suitcase full of hatred, prejudice and suspicions that wound her to death.
Faced with fanaticism and intransigence of one and the other, it is necessary to build spaces of harmony. The Cervantes Institute understood it decades ago. Now, that signed agreement confirms a reality that many want to ignore but that also decades ago was reflected in the Congress of Deputies. The press has deliberately ignored the news. I want to think that steps are being taken so that the languages of Spain have the recognition that the Constitution gives them, a step that also supposes support for coexistence. In this sense, the proposal of “The Law of Official Languages and Linguistic Rights” goes, which “aims at a linguistic reform in Spain and supposes a paradigm shift in that it goes from considering languages as the object of regulation to the regulation of the linguistic rights of citizens, ”in the words of its promoter, Mercè Vilarrubias from Sabadell. Perhaps we should listen less to politicians deranged by the desire for revenge and power and much more to people seeking credible solutions to this tangle that hurts us all.