Many years ago my father, then a young idealist, fought to defend Catalonia against Franco’s forces in the last battles of the Spanish Civil War. He ended up exiled in a concentration camp in France where he endured inhuman, unspeakable living conditions.
When eventually he was allowed to return to Spain, he managed to lock away those experiences and resume his life as a jovial, friendly, hard-working individual and a loving family man.
Instead of displaying rancor against the ruling dictatorship that had forced him into exile, he chose to honor his love for all things Catalonia: its centuries-old traditions, culture and language.
He donned the barretina in special occasions with his fellow Catalan artist friends. (There he is, above, sporting the barretina in front of some of the beautiful ceramics he created in his spare time.)
He got around Franco’s ban on the use of Catalan in official matters and in schools by teaching me himself to read and write in Catalan. A whole generation of Catalans grew up speaking Catalan but not being able to write it. I was not one of them, thanks to my dad.
“My” Catalan Conflict
So, with that Catalan blood running through my veins, how do I feel about the so-called Catalan Conflict and the desire by a dominant minority of Catalans to declare independence from Spain?
Or, as someone I highly respect asked me, “Where’s your moral compass on this?”
Finding my moral compass on this has been a gut-wrenching test of my Catalan spirit.
Had I remained in Catalonia throughout…