The morning ceremonies of Catalonia’s National Day honour culture with the absence of the People’s Party
11th September is Catalonia’s National Day and two main ceremonies traditionally take place in the morning. The first one is the flower offering at the Rafael Casanova monument, honouring the leader of Barcelona’s defence against the Bourbon invasion of 1714. The second one is an institutional ceremony near the Catalan Parliament honouring Catalan culture, language and identity, including: poetry, music and flamenco dancing brought by Andalusian immigrants. The People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government – has not been participating in the flower offering for the last few years, but this year it also decided not to attend the institutional ceremony. Instead, the PP held its own get-together with party banners.
Barcelona (ACN).- 11th September is Catalonia’s National Day and two main ceremonies traditionally take place in the morning. The first one is the flower offering at the Rafael Casanova monument. It honours the leader of Barcelona’s defence against the 14-month siege made by the Bourbon army and the final attack on the 11th September of 1714. The second one is an institutional ceremony at the Ciutadella Park, near the Catalan Parliament, celebrating Catalan culture, language and identity. This year’s ceremony honoured Salvador Espriu’s poetry, Bernat Metge’s medieval texts and the flamenco dancing of Carmen Amaya - a dance that was brought to Catalonia by Andalusian immigrants. The People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government – has not been participating in the flower offering for the last few years, but this year it also decided not to attend the institutional ceremony. It argued that it is a platform for Catalonia’s independence from Spain, even though the programme and format were similar to previous years. Instead, the PP held its own get-together, with a large banner of its own party and numerous Catalan and Spanish flags. The PP event was attended by some 200 people. Furthermore, the anti-Catalan nationalism and populist party Ciutadans (C’s), as it has done in previous years, also rejected to participate in the two ceremonies. The rest of the political parties in Catalonia, which represent 80% of the Catalan Parliament, from left-wing to right-wing and rejecting or supporting independence, participated in both ceremonies.
The Spanish Government: Politicians should not “divide” people
Meanwhile, when she was asked about the ‘Catalan Way towards independence’ ,the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, stated from Madrid that “the worse thing that a politician can do is to oblige the people for whom he or she governs to divide and separate themselves”. She also insisted that the Spanish Government is “where it has always been: in the dialogue within the Constitution”. The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, refused to talk about this issue.
The Spanish Government insists on keeping to its interpretation of the Constitution
In addition, Spain’s Justice Minister, Alberto Ruíz Gallardón, said that this 11th September “is a good day” to “remind” people that the Spanish Constitution “was democratically approved by Spaniards” and “in Catalonia with a higher participation and support than the average”. The Spanish Constitution was approved in 1978, three years after Franco’s death and one year after the end of the Fascist military dictatorship. Article 2 stated that “Spain is formed by nationalities and regions”, in a clear way to recognise the pluri-national nature of Spain. However, many pro-independence supporters believe this aspect has been ignored by the Spanish establishment over the last 35 years, and consequently Catalan political parties have repeatedly appealed against the Spanish Government to recognise this part of the Constitution.
The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, stated that Catalonia and Spain “are the same thing, the same identity”. Montoro added that “from this identity we have to solve the economic crisis and unemployment problems of Catalans and of all Spanish citizens”. He added that “Spain in its entirety needs Catalonia to recover from the crisis”.
The PP event was attended by 200 people
Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, the leader of the PP in Catalonia, accused the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, of using the ceremonies as a “window display for the world” to see. In front of the 200 people who gathered at the PP event in the Barcelona city centre. Sánchez-Camacho stated in front of her supporters that “the true patriots are not those attending the Catalan Way but those who are here defending Catalonia and Spain”.
The institutional ceremony focused on poetry, music and flamenco
The institutional ceremony that took held at noon at the Ciutadella Park paid tribute to the Catalan language, culture and identity in front of some 6,000 people. The event was delayed by 30 minutes due to rain. It was chaired by the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, and the President of the Catalan Parliament, Núria de Gispert. The ceremonial unit of the Catalan Police raised the Catalan flag, which came from the coastal town of Arenys de Mar, the home of the poet Salvador Espriu. The event was also paying tribute to Espriu, who this year would have been 100 years old. Additionally, other tributes were paid during the ceremony. Firstly, the Occitan language, which was spoken in the Val d’Aran County, was celebrated. In addition, 600 years ago, Bernat Metge – one of the main Catalan authors from the Middle Ages – died and a text of his was also read. As well as other tributes, there was a flamenco performance in honour of Carmen Amaya, who died 50 years ago on the Costa Brava village of Begur. Flamenco is not a Catalan traditional dance, but it was brought by the people of southern Spain who settled in Catalonia many decades ago looking for employment.