Friday, February 16, 2018

Let's Go!: Stopping Catalanisation

Mos Movem! En Marcha! Let's Go! is the full name given to the Facebook page of a group that started in Menorca - Mos Movem. Let's go or let's get going are probably the best ways of putting this Menorquí into English.

The Facebook group was started some three months ago. There were, as of midday yesterday, 9,337 members. The aim of the group is to "mobilise Balearic civil society". This mobilisation is directed towards Catalanisation, and a key cause has allowed the group to grow stronger - requirements for speaking Catalan in the Balearic health service.

There is to be a demonstration in Palma on Sunday morning. The Catalan requirements will be one aspect, but more broadly this is a group - a movement - which rejects what it sees as dictatorial attitudes on behalf of the current Balearic government. A Catalan "imposition" is said to be indicative of this dictatorialism. Another is the apparent support of independence in Catalonia and a drive towards the fulfillment of an officially created Catalan Lands. President Armengol is accused of wanting the latter just as much as members of the more obviously nationalist Més.

Because of all this, Franco has returned, says one of the spokespeople for Mos Movem, Manuela Cañadas. Franco's return, it might be noted, is of a rather different flavour to the original, but we get the idea. Franco is always hauled out when there is some argument about imposition of one form or another.

In an interview with El Mundo, hardly a natural political ally of the current government, Manuela suggests that attempts have been made to keep the group off the broadcaster IB3; to not give it any publicity airtime. She adds that a request for a meeting with Armengol has gone unheeded. Because there has been no response, there will be the demo. Armengol's insistence that she pursues dialogue, according to Manuela, is a "facade". This may be putting it too strongly, but the president - as I have noted enough times - can make no public statements without stressing how much she and the government seek dialogue (and consensus). As it is said so often, you know it is at least partly phoney. And if it doesn't suit to have dialogue, e.g. with Mos Movem (allegedly), then it doesn't suit, so dialogue can go hang.

Mos Movem is hardly the first group to come along which takes issue with Catalanisation. However, what may distinguish it to the likes of the Circulo Balear or the Fundació Jaume III is that it is tapping into the popular culture of social media and into an issue - Catalan in the health service - that is arousing the sort of opposition that there was under the Bauzá government to trilingual teaching (which was more a case of the Catalan issue from the opposite perspective).

There won't be anything like the numbers protesting as there once was against Bauzá, and that will partly be because the opposition to Bauzá was so coordinated. Nevertheless, the demonstration will demonstrate the divisions that exist in Mallorcan and Balearic society.

One senses, if only from what one is told by Mallorcan people, that there is a majority who sides with Mos Movem. The group advocates, as did Bauzá and as do organisations such as the Fundació Jaume III, the promotion of the islands' languages (or dialects if you prefer) over Catalan. The insistence on Catalan is representative of the desire for there to be the Catalan Lands. In Mallorca, and seemingly also in the other islands, there is not a societal desire, only a partial political one that is bolstered by organisations diametrically opposite to Mos Movem - the Obra Cultural Balear is one.

It's not as though I don't know the ins and outs of the debates and the history. It's not as though I don't have a great deal of sympathy because of the repressions of the past. But with the language, I fail to understand why Catalan is elevated to the level that it is above the islands' languages. The preference for these languages is styled as being right-wing, but left or right politics should not have anything to do with it.

The trouble is that they do, despite the fact that they cause havoc in the two most important public sectors - education and health. Manuela Cañadas accuses Armengol of not engaging in dialogue. Even were she to, there wouldn't be consensus, and it doesn't seem to matter who the president is or what political complexion a government has. Consensus is absent. As a result, the same arguments crop up constantly to the satisfaction of no one or only to those who, for a time, are in power.

What a colossal waste of energy and what an absurd obsession with generating division. And now there's a new political party joining the fray - Jorge Campos of the Circulo Balear has set up Actua Balears to confront the "separatist threat". On and on it goes.

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