SANTIAGO MORENO 29-1-2021
In Barcelona, it is once again common to find people who at night rummage through garbage containers in search of a piece of bread to distract hunger. And not in hidden places on the periphery. This happens in the heart of the affluent Sant Gervasi neighborhood.
Those who know say that 30% of Barcelona workers are in ERTE or ERE, and that in the most vulnerable districts, as is the case of Ciutat Vella, unemployment has grown by a disturbing 70%. And the blame is not just on the pandemic. If it were, the Catalan economy would not have been overtaken for the first time in history by Madrid, and the drama is that instead of looking ahead, we have to look askance behind us, lest Valencia also overtake us.
Catalonia has had to face the Covid crisis when it was just beginning to recover from the ravages generated by those protests in October 2019 that the Catalan Government itself so happily promoted. The marches against the capital that collapsed Barcelona, – some of them led by a president of the Generalitat in power, and the glorious nights of the battle of Urquinaona, those where, instead of punishing the thugs who destroyed the city, files were opened against the Police who tried to contain them -, had a dramatic effect on the economy that no one has ever talked about, despite the fact that some sectors, such as real estate, saw their activity stopped dry for months.
It produces a deep feeling of bitterness to know that today Barcelona could be the headquarters of the first Spanish bank, a privileged position from which to try to build this financial sector that has always been one of the weak points of Catalonia, but la Caixa and the Bank Sabadell fled long ago from this extravagant place that allowed itself the luxury of promoting campaigns aimed at decapitalizing them. With them went the Planeta group. The fourth multinational in the world culture sector, easier said than done, and to which Edicions 62, the main publisher of books in Catalan, belongs. It fled faced with the indifference of a Department of Culture obsessed in denying the Catalan status of writers like Marsé or Mendoza, while dedicating a good part of its budget to feeding the bottomless pit that is today TV3.
By ignoring losses of this caliber, even taking pride in the disaster, denying like young children any reality that we don’t like, this is how Catalonia has been, also for the first time in history, below the average of the European GDP. In the last 10 years, the same ones that the procés has been running, we have gone from being one of the engines of Europe to being one of its obstacles. And the fault is not Madrid, nor Brussels, but our own stupidity, which leads us to vote election after election to parties with delusional candidates and proposals.
We have known for a long time that one of the main engines of our industry, such as the automotive industry, faces an uncertain future due to the de-carbonization policies of the economy, without anyone having seriously considered strategies to transform it so that the jobs do not suffer. The departure of Nissan from Catalonia was only a first warning of the urgency of this endeavor. Nor does it seem that much is being done to lead the process the EU wants to promote to make an ecological transition on the continent; and the few ideas that are launched, such as the Catalan NASA, with the consequent reinvention of this wasteland that is today the Alguaire airport to create a business park around the aeronautical industry, generate widespread skepticism, and not because they are bad, but because of the internal and external discredit of the Government that promotes them.
The procés has not led us towards independence, but towards decadence. We contemplate how, in the face of the emergency we are experiencing, Catalonia continues to be engulfed in sterile debates about the supposed totalitarian influence of Spain and of some prisoners who go out daily on TV to lie to us saying that they are locked up for their ideas, when they are locked up for their actions.
Catalonia increasingly remembers that Constantinople that passionately argued about the sex of angels while the Ottomans besieged its walls. And in the meantime, time passes. We have thrown ten years in the trash, and the unanswered question is whether we can afford to lose just one more.