A Week Catalonia Can’t Forget

Spain has given a deadline to the Catalan government to clarify what they plan to do regarding the fate of Catalan independence; Puigdemont will have until the 16th of October to state his intentions before the central Spanish government will force action, possibly to strip the region of what autonomy it has.

After a statement from Puigdemont saying that he had accepted the mandate for “Catalonia to become an independent state”. Rajoy has said he was giving Puigdemont until Monday to decide if he really wanted to take the path of independence.

“It is very important that Puigdemont clarify for the rest of Spain if he declared independence yesterday or not,” he said. He added that if Puigdemont did go ahead with secession, the central government would give him until October 19th to reconsider, before suspending Catalonia’s regional autonomy.

The deadline sets the clock ticking on Spain’s most serious political emergency since its return to democracy four decades ago.

Rajoy has said he will not negotiate on anything until the separatists abandon their independence drive, and rejected calls for mediation in the crisis. This comes after intense scenes of violence in the streets of Barcelona during the referendum last Sunday, with over 900 Catalan voters injured by Spanish police trying to stop the vote from going ahead. The police violence against voters during the referendum vote sparked international concern and turned many more Catalans against the central government.

Crowds of thousands gathered outside the parliament building in Barcelona on Tuesday ahead of Puigdemont’s speech, waving Catalan flags and banners and screaming “democracy” in the hope of witnessing history in the making. But reaction among separatists in Catalonia was mixed. With the ultimate decision of whether Catalonia will break away from Spain still unclear, residents can only wait to see what will become of their home region over the next few days, in what must surely be a historic time for the state no matter what the outcome.

The End of the World As We Know It!

The problem of sovereignty in Catalonia has been a tough talking point for a lot of its residents, since the region was absorbed by Spain around 300 years ago. In recent years there has been a crescendo of angry voices from Catalan inhabitants, to raise the issue of reclaiming their autonomy. This evening could see the results of hundreds of years of bitter resentment and political shoving come to a head. On the 1st of October, Catalonia held a referendum to see whether it’s people want to split from the rest of Spain or stay together – the Spanish government physically intervened, declared the vote illegal and launched scenes of violence across the city of Barcelona in an attempt to claim ballot papers before they could be counted.

Following an already-terse relationship with the central government in Madrid, the Catalan government have rejected the Spanish President Mariano Rajoy’s order to stand down and accept the union, as to split the country is banned by the Spanish constitution. Many are up in arms, and have claimed that this goes against the very nature of democracy itself.

 

Carles Puigdemont, the President of Catalonia, today will make an announcement about the future of the region; to stay with Spain or to disembark and try to make it as an independent country. Whether the region will be able to enjoy ‘semi-autonomy’ like the Basque country is unknown, but it is unlikely that negotiations will be able to take place with tempers flying so high right now.

One of the biggest questions is whether or not Catalonia would be able to survive as an independent country or not – without support from the EU, it will be a struggle to thrive. Does Puigdemont really aim to drive the region off a potential cliff? Or is this just a way to open the negotiation process to ensure better conditions for the Catalan people?

 

At 1800 this evening, Puigdemont will make an official statement from the Ayudamento in Placa St Jaume. Near the building in Passeig Lluis Companys there will be huge screens erected, so that the public can [see into the building and hear the statement] and hear history as it’s being made. The air is tense with anticipation as to what will happen – the Spanish police are manning the streets, some 12,000 strong. Whatever comes from Puigdemont tonight will ultimately decide the future of Catalonia for generations to come.

So no matter what your opinion on what the fate of the region, stay safe out there!

Meet Our DJs

Meet Matthew Murtha, the presenter of Technically Funny and find out about his experience of Barcelona and working for our radio station

I had visited Barcelona twice before for the Primavera Sound Festival and fell in love with its rich history and culture. When the time came to relocate and continue my research in neural epigenetics, Barcelona was naturally on the top of my list. I was able to quickly find a renown lab that would accommodate me and won funding from the European Research Council to investigate how the genome becomes misregulated in autism spectrum disorders.

Since being here I have fallen in with the arts scene and taken up performing stand up comedy. Blending my passion for science with comedy has given me new purpose and a focus on scientific communications and outreach. Barcelona City FM provides the perfect environment to practice this craft with its reach of tens of thousands of people. In this respect, Barcelona has allowed me to achieve dreams I had not even been aware of!

It’s a propaganda game.

How many pro Spanish unity protestors were there on Sunday on Via Laietana, 350,000 or 950,000? Depends on who you speak to and which newspaper you read. Whatever your point of view there were a lot and enough to remind us that Catalonia is fundamentally divided on independence.

Spanish national broadcasters continue to report on the list of Catalan based companies that are leaving, most notably La Caixa, Sabadell and Fenosa is this a real economic problem or fearmongering by scared anti-independence campaigners? The economic impact of transferring your headquarters is limited to taxation on profit.  Services don’t move, employees mainly don’t move and many of the shareholders receiving dividends were not here anyway.  That being said the symbolism of Catalonia’s largest companies leaving should be a wake-up call that leaving Spain and therefore the EU, UN and WTO is a big deal and one which should and would take years to fully negotiate and implement.

If Puigdement on Tuesday formally announces the results of the referendum, for which the local press indicate 90% voted “si”, and remains true to his campaign promise, this would give him 48 hours to make a formal declaration of independence. The ball would be in Rajoy’s court to impede this, either by carrot, with an offer of dialogue or by stick by arresting, or threatening to arrest,  members of the Catalan parliament.

We will all know by Thursday.

Are we on a pathway to economic meltdown?

The Newspapers today are full of the economic ramifications of the uncertainty created by the moves towards independence. The two largest banks have grabbed the headlines with Sabadell announcing a move to Alicante and the board of directors of La Caixa will meet today to discuss a move to Palma. We should not be surprised by this, financial services value the ability to sell their services to the widest possible audience without barriers and will  move to the largest centralised market available.

Meanwhile, the chief of Mossos, Josep Lluís Trapero heralded by many Catalans as a hero for not ordering police to violently remove voters last weekend is now being prosecuted for sedition by Madrid for failing in his duties. A reminder that despite many locals considering the Mossos d’esquadra as being a “local” police force they still fall under Spanish law and therefore accountable to the Spanish public prosecutor.

Whats next?

Expect to see a big pro-unity protest on Sunday, this time organised by the SCC, but Monday will be the real show-down, we know that the Constitutional court has ruled that Monday’s parliamentary session where Pugidemont was expected to make a unilateral declaration of independence has been ruled illegal. So if it goes ahead we may see Policia Nacional intervene and arrest members of the Catalan Parliament which in turn will provoke many pro-nationalist Catalans to take to the streets.

For sure there is no end in sight.

Meet our Djs

Who is the real Alex LeBron?

“For me, relocating to Barcelona was about being able to stay true to who I am and who I want to be as a person. In my younger years, I always felt this natural pull towards BCN/Spain largely due to the fact that I was raised in Sweden by a Swedish mother and a Catalan father so I have always had close ties to Catalunya. I spent many summers as a kid in a town called Blanes.

Ever since moving back here in the fall of 2014 (was living in BCN for one year during 2010), my life has been kind of a roller coaster with many ups and downs. Mostly ups, that I feel have elevated me as a person and which has also helped me realize a lot about myself. 

Since then I have managed to become part of a Supertramp tribute band who has been playing consistently during the summer of 2017. Currently, we have scheduled a big concert here in Barcelona Oct 24th in l´auditori BCN. We will be backed by a symphony orchestra, something that has been a lifelong dream of mine. 

Life in Barcelona really caught me off guard in the best way possible, when I got signed up as a model by pure happenstance, fantastic randomness and  spirit. This lead to me shooting campaigns for companies like Playboy, Citroen, Gucci, Smartcar, Hostelworld, Estrella DAMM, Nestle, Uniqlo, Volkswagen etc.

Since I am a musician and music fanatic, I have always had this dream of running my own radio show now during my third year that dream has also realized itself. At the moment I feel really blessed to have been given the opportunity to produce and host my very own weekly show called SHAMELESS EXPOSURE. I sit down with the most interesting and inspiring people of Barcelona and converse with heart and soul. This is something that has proven to be as amazingly fantastic that I was fantasising about as a kid.

All of this has come into my life because of Barcelona’s diversity and acceptance. Something that has helped me to come closer to my inner self thereby attracting all these beautiful things into my life.

So from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you, Barcelona for everything beautiful you give us everyday!!!”

The Benefits of Theatre for Children

“All the world’s a stage”. Shakespeare knew it, Beckett knew it, we know it and you should know it too! The performing arts have been proven to be one of the best ways to grow as a person in many different ways. So, why not get children to experience the art of theatre?

As we all know, there are 3 major modes of learning – visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. Often, children who are more kinaesthetic need to be physically active to experience the world, and to exhaust all of their pent up energy. Most of the time at school and at home, children are taught to sit still and be quiet, and to speak only when they are allowed to. Through singing, dancing, speaking, story-telling and performing, the theatre can provide a massive outlook for children to express themselves in a healthy and independent environment.
To perform in a theatre production takes a handful of people working in a tight-knit group; both on the stage and behind the scenes, everybody is working together towards one single objective. So, this is an excellent way to show children (and adults) how to work together in a team and to help each other to achieve a common goal. Another plus of working in a group is learn to empathise with other people – to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to better understand their perspective.
In a world where we are taught that objectively things can only be right or wrong, theatre is a great way to show children that there is more than one way to answer a question. In a black and white world, theatre can provide a splash of colour to a child’s imagination. Plus, they get to have a ton of fun!

If you are convinced that the performing arts may be beneficial to your children, don’t look further than The Drama Factory located in El Born. The director, Sophie Heydel, has been teaching drama to children for more than a decade and a half, and really sees the benefit that children feel from being on the stage.

Sign up to The Drama Factory for your children to explore their creative abilities, develop self-confidence, communication skills, meet new people, and above all, have a bucket full of fun. For more information about how to enrol, visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/The-Drama-Factory-167939241209, or drop in at Carrer de Portal Nou 30.

Tension grows as we approach the 1st of October

The scream​ of “independence, independence” won’t stop on the streets of Barcelona. The protest that took place yesterday involved thousands of people shouting for independence and justice. Civil guards arrested 14 people yesterday, a few of them involved important members of the Catalan government. Carme Forcadell (Catalan politician) gave a speech declaring that Spain has attacked the institution and the dignity of Catalonia. She emphasised that it was anti-democratic and the Catalans are free to decide what they want to do with their future.

Today, Catalan’s protest continued in front of “la guarda civil”, where some protestors were previously arrested, with banners proclaiming that “Catalonia is not Spain”, “we are Catalans not Spanish”. As the tension grows, the primer minister Rajoy insists that the referendum is illegal as it is not part of Spain’s constitution, thus they cannot decide for themselves. However, the Catalan government wants to go forward with the referendum.

Even though the referendum was suspended by the constitutional court, Catatonia’s government is doing everything within their reach to go forward with the plan, telling the population to trust them and vote.

The treasury department ruled by Cristobal Montoro has blocked this morning, all bank accounts of the generalitat (the institution under which the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain is politically organised) and from now on, they can only pay bills and use the money if it’s proved that they are not destined for the referendum and it also affects the administration and the companies.

Fábio Whitaker

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The most illegal referendum in the world : Updates

The YES campaign is firmly underway after a major rally in Tarragona last night. Held in the traditional bull ring, police had threatened to prevent the event taking place but did not follow through. The Yes campaign will be dependent on such events in the context of not being allowed any advertisements in the National press apart from state backed Barcelona TV.

Meanwhile 700 Catalan Mayors who are supporting the illegal referendum, have been summoned by the Public Prosecutor, however, it is considered to be sabre rattling by Madrid and unlikely to result in any real action.

Where are the ballot boxes? Is a question many are asking as police had also been given instructions to seize them, but for the moment they are safely hidden in Galicia and not likely to be shipped to Cataluna until the day before the vote.

Will the vote go ahead? It’s likely the police will be given instructions to prevent polling from occurring but its also likely they will not prevent people from actually voting.

The latest polls? In recent years polls had indicated a 50/50 split amongst voters for independence and just two months ago the Yes camp had seen a fall in support. However, the tough approach by Madrid has fuelled support and if a legal referendum occurred today the final result would be too close to call.