More than 100 species in Catalonia in danger of extinction, study says
Arthropods are most threatened group, followed by sharks and rays
Arthropods are most threatened group, followed by sharks and rays
Dune vegetation key to "unexpected" discovery of 17 species
Storm Gloria caused widespread devastation but a surprising positive consequence for biodiversity is found in its wake
'The State of Nature and Biodiversity in Catalonia 2020' notes 54% wildlife loss in rivers, lakes and wetlands
Pyrenees and Ebre delta are areas most vulnerable to changing weather in what is one of coming decades' biggest challenges
The new Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, former MEP Raül Romeva, defended Catalonia’s potential contribution to the EU, especially due to its diverse nature. According to Romeva plurality is a core value of the EU despite “the voices which try to impose certain ideologies which deny diversity and plurality”. During his first public event at the head of the new Ministry, Romeva assured that there is “no news” regarding the Spanish government’s decision to take the new Ministry before the court (they claim that it violates some of the Spanish executive’s competences). He went on to highlight the importance of legality in the EU “but also democracy”. “When it is against its people, the State has a problem” stated Romeva.
60.2% of families with one parent born outside Catalonia use Catalan with their children and 27.5% of natives with both parents born outside use Catalan with their children, according to data from 2013 coming from the Language Policy Report 2014 released this week. Ferran Mascarell, the Catalan Minister for Culture, said that "Catalan health remains" and said that "Catalan has passed a phase that was complicated because there have been significant demographic changes," along with technological changes and negative Spanish Government's policies. In Catalonia, the majority of the population 15 years and older claimed to understand, speak, read and write in Catalan: 94.3% understood, 80.4% could speak, 82.4% could read and 60.4% could write. Besides, while 48.1% of the population above 15 has a high level of Catalan in all language abilities, 26.6% reported important deficits in using or understanding the language.
Catalonia's Supreme Court (TSJC) has ruled against the petition filed by the Spanish Ministry of Education that asked to reopen the enrolment process for the next school year in order to use registration forms in which parents could explicitly choose whether they wanted their children to be taught in Spanish as an instruction language. In the last few years, the Spanish Government has been undertaking a judicial battle to change Catalonia's school model, which has been developed with an extremely wide consensus over the last 35 years and completely guarantees the knowledge of both Spanish and Catalan, as results show. The model is based on the linguistic immersion principle, through which children are mostly taught in Catalan, although many flexible measures are included. However, the Spanish Government would like to have Spanish as an instruction language as well, despite most of the pedagogic experts considering that if this were the case, many children from Spanish-speaking environments would not have a proficient knowledge of Catalan and would not be bilingual.
The Spanish Minister for Education, José Ignacio Wert, has been recorded stating that "the situation of Spanish in the education system of Catalonia, limited to being used as a non-tuition language, like any foreign language, is comparable to the situation of Catalan in the times they like so much to remember", referring to Franco's dictatorship. Wert made the statement on Wednesday with a group of journalists and one of them recorded it. His words were immediately replied to by many Catalan parties, and Wert had to clarify a few hours later that he had expressed himself in a wrong way. He then said that Catalan was persecuted during Francoism "in a ruthless way" and that such persecution was "abominable". However, his previous statement is to be added to a long list, such as when in October 2012 he said that "Catalan pupils must be Hispanicised", defending the cultural homogenisation promoted by Spanish nationalism for the last centuries.
The Spanish Ministry of Education has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Catalonia (TSJC) to cancel the already-sent enrolment applications for the next school year in order to include the option of choosing Spanish as the language of tuition. Five parties representing 80% of the Catalan Parliament have strongly protested against this "new attack" on a school model that guarantees that pupils master both Spanish and Catalan and has many flexibility measures for newcomers. The model is also backed by an extremely broad majority of Catalan society and only a few dozen families, out of the 1.55 million pupils in Catalonia, had requested education in Spanish. Linguistic immersion in Catalan ensures knowledge of the language by children who are not regularly exposed to it, while the model also ensures knowledge of Spanish. Therefore, equal opportunities and complete bilingualism are ensured. However, the model has been the target of Spanish nationalists for a long time.
The governments of Catalonia, the Basque Country, Andalusia, the Canary Islands and Asturias, which are the only Autonomous Communities that are not run by the governing People's Party (PP), have protested once again against yet another recentralising measure of the Spanish Executive that violates their exclusive powers on Education. The representatives of these 5 Autonomous Communities, which together represent almost 50% of Spain's population, left a meeting organised by the Spanish Minister for Education, José Ignacio Wert, held to present a new centralist and imposed measure in this field: from now on, the final exams of the obligatory education cycle and the baccalaureate (A-levels) will be drafted by the Spanish Government, which will make sure they are "homogenous" for the whole of Spain, as Wert said. Far from being anecdotal, the measure means subjects such as History of Catalonia, Catalan Geography and Catalan Language and Literature will not be included in the exams or will be treated as second-class subjects.
The People's Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government and holds an absolute majority in the regional parliament of the Valencian Community (also called Valencian Country), has approved the Law on Identity Signs with votes from party members only. The Law entered into force this Friday. The new regional rule sets what are Valencia's identity symbols and traditions, and also insists on defining Valencian as a totally different language from Catalan, going against all scientific studies and experts. It also foresees sanctions for any organisation which states that Valencian is a dialect of Catalan. During the last few decades, Valencian regionalist politicians – most of whom have a strong Spanish nationalist ideology – have been working on differentiating the Valencian dialect from Catalan spoken in the rest of the territories that have Catalan as their native language. The PP has strongly contributed to this split, politicising the unity of Catalan language and also splitting Valencian society over identity issues.
The Chinese community welcomed the 'Year of the Goat' last week. The biggest New Year festivity took place this Saturday, when a parade of a thousand people filled the Barcelona streets with a trail of red dancing dragons and lions. This is the second year that Chinese organisations and Catalan folklore groups, such as Catalonia's traditional human tower builders (‘castellers’) and the traditional giant figures representing kings, knights and princesses called ‘gegants’, joined together to celebrate Chinese New Year. Almost 10,000 spectators lined the parade route through the streets of the Eixample district in the centre of the city. Barcelona has 17,400 Chinese inhabitants, the third largest foreign population, after the Pakistani and the Italian communities; however a great number of Chinese people live in the surrounding towns of Greater Barcelona.