María Jesús Cañizares,
14 April 2022
Living from the past when the present is so hard and the future so uncertain is perverse. I am referring to the obsession of the pro-independence side with (re)interpreting history to suit itself. Spain is a nation of nations, yes, but none is better than any other. And that is precisely what Catalan nationalism tries, over and over again, to prove: that there is a superb and magnificent territory in Spain, which wants to let go of the burdens of other communities of inferior category.
This is the attitude behind the Winter Olympic Games bid, in which the Generalitat invites Aragon to join as if it were doing it a favour. President Javier Lambán’s anger at the arrogance of a government that drives companies to Aragon precisely because of excessive taxes, lack of political support and administrative obstacles is hardly surprising. A devastating report by the Chamber of Commerce of Lleida says so. But the Catalan government pays no attention.
In this line of historicist impulse, Pere Aragonès has decided to celebrate today, 14 April, the Day of the Republic. But Catalonia came a few hours before the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic, hence the differential fact that the president wants to highlight. One does not need to be very astute to read between the lines and understand that, after ten years of ‘processism’, ERC and Junts per Catalunya are trying to keep alive the wet dream of a republic that was not proclaimed in 2017. They are doing so at the institutional level and at a time of enormous uncertainty about the roadmap to follow to achieve independence. Esquerra remains committed to a dialogue with the central government, which the war in Ukraine has, unsurprisingly, relegated to second place. The ‘neo-convergentes’ are divided between the followers of Carles Puigdemont and his fake Waterloo ghovernment, which promises more confrontation, without clarifying what that means, and those who are beginning to realise that times have changed, that the future demands new leadership and strategies, including ‘socio-vergence’.
The Generalitat, as we said, commemorates today the Day of the Republic. But it is the values of this historic period in Spain that should be celebrated 365 days of the year. Values such as the fight against inequality, the defence of the rights of the working class, universal education and bilingualism. Because among the first provisions of the Government of the Republic were those referring to the improvement of education, a key element of any system against privileges and a defender of talent, effort and social advancement. And it did so in terms of quality, but without losing sight of Catalan demands.
Thus, on 30 April 1931, a decree was published regulating bilingualism in schools, which consisted of respecting teaching in the mother tongue, whether Catalan or Spanish, in kindergartens, nursery schools and primary schools, accompanied by the teaching of Spanish to Catalan pupils from the age of eight, and the organisation of seminars by the University of Barcelona for the perfection of Catalan. This is explained by Alejandro Tiana in his book Las misiones pedagógicas. Educación popular en la Segunda República (Catarata). Absolutely recommendable.
The protection that the Spanish Republic devoted to the Catalan language is an example to follow, from the pedagogical and political point of view. The same cannot be said of the nationalist governments that have governed Catalonia since the restoration of democracy, for whom there are first- and second-class languages. The Generalitat, which invests most in social policies, according to Aragonès, devotes all its educational efforts – because it is still a long way from spending 6% of GDP – to creating linguistic grievances in the classroom and problems that never existed in the universities.
A grand pact between ERC, Junts per Catalunya, En Comú Podem and PSC aimed to make a system of immersion that has nothing to do with socio-linguistic environments more flexible. It is a good agreement, but the ‘neoconvergentes’ are now threatening to get out of it in their umpteenth gesture of contempt towards Catalans whose mother tongue is Spanish.
Meanwhile, the Catalan Minister of Education, Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, is managing Catalan schools with his back to the educational community and is demonstrating alongside Aragonès – today his only supporter – against families who are demanding the enforcement of rulings that require 25% of teaching time to be taught in Castilian. And it is not that the courts are committing pedagogical interference. It is that they are applying the separation of powers, according to which governments must comply with laws and court rulings. Especially if, for decades, they have refused to deal pedagogically with the language conflict. The Republic tried to resolve it as soon as it arrived.