spain autonomy ruling bullfighting

Catalan rallies for greater regional autonomy
nationalist animal rights regional initiative independence petition

Spain's Northeast corner bans bullfighting

If you want to improve the world, learning of peoples taking steps forward helps keep you going, too. In Catalonia, so many people acted in concert, plus chose to reduce violence in their society. The geonomic reform we espouse, such as resurrecting the commons, might require a similar popular movement; further, the notion of sharing Earth’s worth might appeal to people who find nonviolence appealing. We trim, blend, and append two 2010 articles from (1) BBC, July 10 on a rally and (2) Los Angeles Times, July 29, on bullfighting by Henry Chu.

by the BBC and by Henry Chu

More than a million people held a march in Barcelona to call for greater autonomy for the Catalan region, waving flags and red and yellow banners reading "We are a nation".

The demonstration comes a day after a constitutional court declared that there was no legal basis to recognize Catalonia as a nation.

The ruling also said the Catalan language should not take precedence over Castilian Spanish.

It followed a challenge to the region's statute by the opposition People's Party, which favors Spanish unity.

The statute of autonomy was approved by Catalan voters in a 2006 referendum. It gave greater powers to the regional parliament in taxation and judicial matters.

How much power should be devolved from Madrid is a constant process of negotiation and that the constitutional court acts as a referee.

"This demonstration is the start of independence that we want for our country (Catalonia)," one student told AFP news agency.

JJS: If you like animals, at least the desire for autonomy has positive spin-offs.

Catalonia became the first region on the Spanish mainland to outlaw bullfighting, a move some say is as much about nationalist politics -- an assertion of Catalan identity as distinct, different, and maybe a bit superior -- as about animal rights.

Lawmakers in Catalonia's regional parliament approved the controversial ban, 68-55, with nine abstentions, after emotional speeches that mixed expressions of support for preserving tradition with denunciations of bullfighting as institutionalized cruelty. The ban will take effect in the region, of which Barcelona is the capital, in 2012.

The vote culminated a public initiative to bar bullfighting that began more than 1 1/2 years ago (the organization Prou led the campaign) and has drawn international attention. Backers erupted in cheers in the parliament chamber's gallery and celebrated the legislative seal of approval as a moral victory.

The parliamentary vote came during a mood of heightened anger among residents clamoring for more autonomy, if not outright independence, after the long-awaited ruling by Spain's constitutional court that upheld most of Catalonia's charter on greater self-rule but refused to recognize a legal basis for calling the region a "nation”.

Spanish is confronted with regional tensions, and sometimes violence, in other pockets of the country as well, such as the Basque area.

Spanish traditionalists have pledged to seek protected status for bullfighting as a cultural landmark.

Advocates of the ban reject suggestions that their views or actions are a byproduct of Catalan separatism. They see bullfighting not as a sport steeped in romance but a barbaric practice steeped in blood.

Moves to abolish it here date back more than a century. That sentiment has only increased over time. When Prou (Catalan for "Enough") launched its petition drive to put the issue before lawmakers, its goal was to clear the legal hurdle of 50,000 signatures; it collected 180,000.

Still, when the parliament voted several months ago on whether to initiate legislation authorizing a ban, it switched off the chamber's electronic voting board for the first time in recent memory so that members could cast their ballots in secret.

Before Wednesday's vote, bullfighting fans and foes gathered outside the parliament building to press their case as lawmakers arrived. Aficionados cried out for "Freedom and bullfights," while one animal-rights activist stripped naked, then poured a bucket of red liquid over himself to urge legislators to "stop animal cruelty."

Bullfighting remains popular in other parts of Spain, such as Madrid and in Andalusia. In days gone by, Barcelona's main bullring, the Plaza Monumental, hosted sellout crowds eager for even a distant glimpse of a flashing red cape or a madly stamping bull. Now, the arena often struggles to fill half its seats, and of those, many these days are occupied by tourists.

JJS: In Catalonia there also used to be a thriving geonomic movement ithat the dictatorship brutally wiped out. I wonder if its remnant would fare better now?

Geographically, Catalonia is part of Iberia, yet so is Portugal and they’re a separate nation. Culturally, the Catalons straddle the Pyrenees Mountains, living in both Spain and France. Ironically, Valencia, which speaks Catalon, not Spanish, wants to break off from Catalonia. How far can disintegration be carried? Should we all be hermits?

Perhaps there should not be a frontier of a line in the sand but just let individuals choose which polities to belong to, from local to global. I bet the issue would matter much less if people were not taxed and their public revenue not misdirected, if instead people paid in land dues and got back rent dividends. In a geonomy, people would really have to hunt for disagreements then.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.

Also see:

Recession fires worldwide May Day rallies

Bolivians approve sweeping constitutional reforms

Polar bears and bison are on the brink -- can zoos help?

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