2016 06/10

A Network of Liberated Spaces: Visiting Barcelona’s Squats

I shared this article on the Facebook page but thought it would be good to reproduce it here for those that missed it. The author visits some of the squats in and around Barcelona and asks what’s happened to the 15M movement since 2011.

Catalan National Flags in Barcelona

Catalan National Flags in Barcelona

In 2011 a storm of protest swept Spain. In cities like Madrid and Barcelona squares were occupied by the 15M movement in protest against the austerity mandated by the EU in response to the grinding economic crisis. This movement inspired Occupy Wall Street, and gave birth to Podemos, the radical left party that controls city councils across Spain and Catalonia.

Before coming to Barcelona to document the remains of this revolution, and to visit the network of squats and occupations that form the principal sites of resistance here, I got in touch with a squat just outside the city. I’m sitting in their library as I write. Read the rest of this article…

2015 23/05

Cataluña, A Region Apart (A 1979 BBC Documentary)

This forgotten BBC documentary from 1979 was the final part of a 5-part series entitled ‘Realidades de España’ – Spanish Realities. It was uncovered by writer and chemical engineer Josep Grau-Bové who obtained it on VHS video from a friend in Glasgow. He digitised and uploaded it to YouTube in the hope that more people would see it. In the last two years 41,548 people have (at the time of writing).

I find it fascinating that this documentary from 35 years ago, made only 4 years after Franco’s death, should end up on the internet for a new 21st century audience. Even more fascinating that the story it tells has not moved on very much at all in the following 35 years. Read the rest of this article…

2015 15/03

What Constitutes Freedom?

A dear friend of mine asked if I’d like to publish this article. I answered in the affirmative.

Freedom definition

Whether you live in Catalonia or Scotland, the USA or Russia, most people are interested in “freedom”. The question is “What constitutes freedom?”

Freedom for a Russian could mean actions to prevent invasion and perhaps the people are easily misled to think that invasion is likely. An American considers freedom as lack of government interference. The French are an enigma! A significant majority are happy with a country with more government control and involvement than most other European countries.

Democracy does not guarantee freedom. Consider Egypt, not a straightforward place to contemplate freedom but one thing is sure: A democratic election voted in a majority government which then thought that it had won the right to remove freedoms from a large proportion of the population. Nineteenth century Great Britain was not a democracy but its population had a significant degree of personal freedom.

“Freedom from a foreign yolk”. Are the people of Zimbabwe freer to express their opinions or develop their lives with education, health-care and job opportunities available, under Robert Mugabe rather than Ian Smith? Will the people of the Donbas ever rebuild their lives and have freedom, if they achieve union with Russia, compared with their potential future if a less corrupt and better-run Ukraine emerges from the changes taking place? I make these points, not as political judgements but, as evidence of the complexity of the concept of “freedom”. Read the rest of this article…

2015 29/01

The Catalan Question: Europe and the Right to Choose

I came across this video from the Euranet Plus news agency. Presented by Brian Maguire it discusses Europe’s failure to address the right to self-determination of separatist regions. Read the rest of this article…

2013 11/11

What currency would an independent Catalonia use?

A contribution from Peter Lavelle, an economist at foreign exchange broker Pure FX, on the currency situation for an independent Catalonia.

Euro notes

What currency would an independent Catalonia use?

Catalonia continues to press for its independence. This past September 11th (the 299th anniversary of the fall of Barcelona, which led to Catalonia’s accession as part of Spain), 1.6 million Catalans linked hands around the region, to draw attention to their cause. Moreover, next year, Catalan president Artur Mas plans a referendum, to see just how much of the Catalan populous favours ceding from Spain.

However, aside from Catalonia’s ongoing struggle, the possibility of its independence raises certain questions. Like, for example, what currency would an independent Catalonia use? Well, that’s what I want to look at here. Read the rest of this article…

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