My Catalan identity

International headlines about Catalonia are likely to come back today. Whatever the results of the (imposed, strangely enough) elections are, these headlines are likely to depict a picture between two fronts, two flags, a #Sí and a #No. As usual, reality is more colorful and interesting. In this case, a lot more colorful and a lot more interesting.

In the past months, more and more people have asked me about my Catalan identity (not true, they ask me whether I would vote #Yes or #No in a Catalan independence referendum, but the point is really about identity). I do feel a Catalan identity inside me, but it is not driven by a flag, a territory or even a language; neither by a political structure. I do have deeply rooted opinions about flags, territories, languages and political structures, but they can be applied to any society anywhere, they have nothing Catalan specific.

In fact, what makes my Catalan identity burst into laughter or tears is not Catalan specific either, but has been present consistently across the history of this corner of the Mediterranean: the willingness to express oneself freely and respect others to do so, the willingness to decide freely and respect others to do so, and the willingness to protest and rebel against whoever wants to impose a rule by force, in Catalonia or elsewhere.

In the past 24 hours, I have watched two videos (thanks to selectah SantsTV) that have pulled this sense of identity that I am talking about:

The first one is from this week, a protest in Girona (where I lived 7 years) against the imprisonment of citizens for their political ideas. Not only Catalan independentists, these days the Spanish authorities are oppressing critics everywhere without discrimination of gender or age… accusing them for (re)tweeting, singing, reporting independent news or harassing fully equipped policemen with their bare hands. And of course for organizing massive peaceful demonstrations.


The second one is from ten years ago and is a music video from the group 08001 (Barcelona’s El Raval district number, I used to live in 08004 at the other side of Les Rambles). I bet that today’s international headlines will not depict anything featured in this video, and yet it captures what I think is some of the best impressions that this corner of the Mediterranean can offer to the World.

I’m sorry (not) that you didn’t get a #Sí or a #No out of this blog post, but I hope that now you know a bit more about me and about the little piece of Earth where I grew.

La gent del Kurdistan ens va donar tant, sense demanar res a canvi

“Avui dia a Turquia ser membre del moviment per l’alliberament del Kurdistan, ser afí a ell, o simplement ser kurd o kurda s’ha tornat motiu de persecució.”

Avui dia com fa 25 anys, quan vaig visitar la regió kurda de l’Iraq des de la regió kurda de Turquia (i la de Síria, però aquell pas estava ben tancat), primer amb en Lluís Cruset i després amb l’Òscar Maristany (a qui fa molts anys que li he perdut la pista).

No tinc idees ni paraules per a una injustícia tan gran, i agreixo que gent com Azadí faci córrer la veu i l’ajuda.

A real hero smuggling toys for children, from Finland into a war

When we lived in Helsinki, my dear partner had this group of friends in the gym. One of them was Rami, a Syrian-Finnish good man. Yesterday I learned that Rami had left his relatively comfortable and quiet middle-class life in middle-class Helsinki to fight for his cause in the Syrian civil war. Nobody recruited him, he started his own commando. In the past years and still today, Rami is risking his life to smuggle toys for children. Toys donated in Finland, transported to Turkey, and then carried through one of the most dangerous borders that humans stupidly keep nowadays.

As a father of two children who have got all the toys they wanted and more in the past holiday, I feel deeply humbled by Rami’s example and the reality he shows to us. The least I can say is Thank You.

Please watch by yourselves: