Sunday, February 26, 2012

Remembering Walter Benjamin

"Stairs leading down a narrow passageway to the churning ocean waves are suddenly blocked by a pane of glass. Etched in German are the words: "It is more arduous to honor the memory of anonymous beings than that of the renowned. The construction of history is consecrated to the memory of the nameless."

Taken from Walter Benjamin’s On the Concept of History, the memorial honors the German Jewish philosopher in the town where he spent the last hours of his life...

Created by Israeli artist Dani Karavanhe, the memorial to Walter Benjamin is on a clifftop by Portbou’s municipal cemetery. It was named "Passages" in remembrance of Benjamin’s final passage from France to Spain, as well as his enormous unfinished work Passagenwerk (Arcades Project) on 19th-century Paris...

Source here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Made in Catalonia" film festival: Melbourne, Australia.

Melbourne’s fourth 'Made in Catalonia' Film Festival (MiCFF) will be screened at Cinema Nova, Melbourne [an old home town of mine.] Over the first weekend in March. Organised by the Cultural Catalan Centre of Victoria, the Festival's aim is to promote the lively film culture of Catalonia.

Read more here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The man with a wooden heart

This week marked the completion of a detailed record of the oldest and most outstanding trees in Catalunya’s Alt Penedès region [our home for the last 6 years.]

Manel Córdoba from Vilafranca del Penedès has now compiled this guide of more than 800 examples of nature’s treasures, a feat that took 10 years of rambling through the area’s forests.

Córdoba discovered a significant number of extraordinary trees, many of them seemingly unknown and previously undocumented. These include several huge olive trees, four of them being dated at over 2,000 years of age and a 7 metre high great oak near Font Rubi.

In 1999 Cordoba published a complete guide to the natural spring water “fountains” of the region but his current work has yet to find a home. He has also compiled lists and photographs of the waterfalls, lakes and dry stone huts of this part of the country.

[Photo above from an article in La Fura. Text translated from Catalan by Hugo and Brett Hetherington.]

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Catalunya protests labour law "reform"

Tommorrow (this Sunday) February 19, two of Catalunya’s trade unions, the CCOO and the UGT have arranged a number of demonstrations across the region to protest against planned reform to the country’s labour laws. These changes would see a further weakening of pay and conditions for millions of working people.

Under the slogan, "No to labour reform! Injustice to workers! Inefficient for the economy…” the protests will take place in…

- Barcelona: 12 midday at Passeig de Gràcia - Avinguda Diagonal
- Tarragona: 12 midday at l'Estàtua dels Despullats (Rambla Nova)
- Lleida: 12 midday at la Plaça Ricard Viñes
- Girona: 12 midday at Plaça de la Independència
- Tortosa, 12 midday at la Plaça del Carrilet

For more details see the link to their blog here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

2nd Annual Festival/Congress of Organic and Ethical Food

Today and tomorrow in Barcelona the 2nd Annual Festival/Congress of Organic and Ethical Food is taking place.

For details [in Castillian Spanish] click here.

The Grandparents Who Protest: the "Iaioflautas"

An inspiring group of older individuals who are proving the point that legitimate social protest in this country is not just limited to youth movements.

They call themselves “the children” of 15M despite the fact that the majority of them far exceed the age of 60, they are retired, they are “iaios” (grandparents, in Catalan) and they are veterans of long-term activism.

Celestino Sánchez [pictured above], Antonia Jover, Adrián Rísquez, and Rosario Cunillera are some of the members of the the “Iaioflautas,” a collective that emerged in Barcelona last October alongside the camping grounds in Plaza Catalunya. Its objective is to support the youth in their own way. But the fight, they assert, is the same: “for a dignified democracy by name and social justice against conspiratorial bankers and politicians.”

The “iaioflautas,” whose name was invented in solidarity with the “perroflautas” (gutter punks) — a derrogatory term with which the president of Madrid used to refer to the young occupiers — combine some of the methods they used in the anti-Franco, labor union, local or leftist fights with their learning about new technologies.

To summarize, they organize a “direct action” in the street once a month, almost in secret, and do not announce it on their Twitter account, @iaioflautas, or blog until it has already begun. That way, they avoid problems with the police.

The first event took place in November, when they occupied a Santander Bank office in Barcelona. The most recent one, called “Operation #RebelionBus,” occurred on Wednesday, February 1. Some 70 “yayos” (grandparents) arranged to meet in the very center of the Catalan capital and “hijacked” a bus in protest of the abusive increase in public transportation fares

More text, pictures and video from Lali Sandiumenge’s excellent, in-depth Global Voices online article [translated by Marianna Breytman] can be read here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

UPDATE on Spain's stolen babies

A woman holds a poster displaying a picture of a young girl and reading 'We are looking for her twin' during a demonstration against baby trafficking on Jan. 27, 2012 in Madrid. (Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images)

Last October I compared Australia’s “stolen generation” with the shocking story of babies also being taken without consent from their parents here in Spain as recently as the 1990’s.

The practice is believed to have begun under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco who took power in 1939 after four years of civil war. According to the claims, newborns were originally snatched from Franco’s left-wing foes.

The campaign group SOS Bebes Robados claims up to 300,000 children may have been stolen.

Campaigners complain that prosecutors are not doing enough to investigate claims of Spaniards searching for their birth families or parents seeking children who, they were told, died at birth.

Next week, representatives of the family campaign groups are scheduled to discuss the issue with senior government officials, but many in Spain are wary of digging into the dark secrets of the Franco dictatorship.

Read more from the source here.