Spain keeps persecuting Catalan language
DIPLOCAT – 45 examples from the last 10 years in Catalonia
The recent case of a university professor warned and fined by a Spanish policeman for speaking Catalan at Barcelona’s airport is not a one-off case – it is, in fact, one more example of the lengthy tradition of language discrimination carried out by Spanish public servants in Catalonia against Catalan citizens.
Language incidents such as these with public workers originate in specific situations of unequal positions of power in the framework of an asymmetric legal system of rights and obligations: a citizen exercises their legally recognized right to use Catalan (a co-official language in Catalonia) to address the public administration, and they come up against an authoritarian posture demanding they change language, under the excuse of the constitutional obligation of all citizens to know the Spanish language.
Historically, in any process of state-nation construction, public servants play an important role in the dissemination of the official language. This was particularly relevant in the Kingdom of Spain where the state – Spanish, or Castilian, speaking in its roots – had to impose itself on a multilingual territorial reality.
It is no coincidence that the term Catalanophobia was first coined over a century ago to describe the hostile attitudes of state public servants from other parts of the Spanish state towards the Catalan language and culture.
As a small example of this institutional language discrimination, we will offer a list of forty-five varied cases which have all had a public impact. All these examples are featured in the DataBase of Catalanophobia (B.D.C), a web page project (in Catalan) developed using MediaWiki technology, which aims to contribute to conserving the historical memory of just what this wide-spread phenomenon has meant over the years.
- Fined 601 euros for speaking in Catalan to a Spanish policeman in Barcelona airport. (March 2017) 
- A professor from the Rovira i Virgili University was threatened in a police station in Reus for speaking in Catalan. (March 2017) 
- A citizen files a complaint for not being able to be attended to in Catalan in the Spanish police station in Trafalgar street in Barcelona. (January 2017) 
- A policeman responds disrespectfully when a citizen speaks to him in Catalan when renewing their ID documents in Lleida. (November 2016) 
- Detained by Guardia Civil officers at the Andorra border post for speaking Catalan and having a CAT sticker on their car. CAT is the abbreviation of Catalonia. These car stickers are popular in Catalonia to claim the right to have this national abbreviation on EU vehicle registration plates just like other EU countries do. (August 2016) 
- A Catalan woman cannot obtain her passport at the Spanish national police station in Vic because she wanted to speak in Catalan to the officials dealing with the application. (July 2016) 
- A Spanish policeman assaults a young man for speaking in Catalan at the Catalonia-France border post (La Jonquera). (September 2015) 
- Spanish police detain (causing him to miss his plane) an Argentine citizen at Barcelona airport for speaking in Catalan and disobeying their order to speak in Spanish. (August 2015) 
- Spanish police refuse to process two applications for identity documents in Mollerussa as the applicants had attached official documents written in Catalan. (March 2015) 
- A lawyer is harassed by Spanish police in an Immigration Detention Centre (CIE) for speaking in Catalan. (March 2015) 
- A Catalan from Caldes de Malavella was threatened, insulted and detained for speaking in Catalan to two police officers at Figueres train station. (June 2014) 
- A father and his son were insulted by two Spanish National Police officers on a local train (Barcelona-Girona) for speaking in Catalan. (April 2013) 
- A passenger detained by Spanish National Police at Barcelona airport for giving their ID number in Catalan. (September 2012) 
- A public servant working at the Spanish National Police station in Vic refuses to deal with a citizen, and insults them, as they had spoken in Catalan. (August 2012) 
- A Catalan citizen from l’Ametlla del Vallès, illegally detained at Barcelona airport for speaking in Catalan and English. (June 2012) 
- A Catalan from Vilajuïga, verbally abused and physically assaulted by Guardia Civil officers – and later taken to court for refusing to speak in Spanish. The judge absolved both the citizen and the police officers as she considered that their two versions were contradictory and no one presented any other evidence. (May 2012) 
- A Guardia Civil officer assaulted a lawyer at Barcelona airport for refusing to speak in Spanish. (January 2012) 
- A driver was detained and threatened for having the CAT sticker on their car and for speaking in Catalan to Guardia Civil officers at La Jonquera border post. CAT is the abbreviation of Catalonia. These car stickers are popular in Catalonia to claim the right to have this national abbreviation on EU vehicle registration plates just like other EU countries do. (January 2012) 
- A court case is brought against an architecture degree student for speaking in Catalan to a Guardia Civil officer at Barcelona airport. (November 2011) 
- A Catalan citizen from Cambrils, ridiculed and humiliated at the public office for ID document processing in Tarragona for wanting to speak in Catalan. (May 2011) 
- A driver, insulted and harassed by Guardia Civil officers at the Andorra border post for speaking in Catalan to her companion. (October 2010) 
- A Cuban person, resident in Catalonia, harassed by two Spanish National Police officers in Barcelona airport for speaking in Catalan and holding a Catalan national identity card. (January 2010) 
- A Catalan woman detained for speaking in Catalan on her mobile phone while she was being attended to in a Barcelona police station processing the ID documents of her son. The police officer was charged, judged and sentenced – but later a Barcelona court revoked the sentence and absolved him. (September 2009) 
- A French journalist detained at a Guardia Civil checkpoint at the La Jonquera border post for speaking Catalan and not knowing Spanish. (September 2009) 
- A family miss their flight after speaking in Catalan to a Guardia Civil officer at Girona airport. The mother was sentenced for public disorder and fined €180. (September 2009) 
- Detained, pushed and insulted for speaking in Catalan at a Spanish National Police checkpoint at Cadí tunnel. (February 2009) 
- Guardia Civil denies the Mayor of Montblanc his right to speak in Catalan and reports him. (August 2008) 
- Police officer harasses and silences a citizen who spoke in Catalan at the Sant Feliu de Llobregat police station. (December 2007) 
Catalanophobia in the judicial system
- A judge forces two lawyers to change language, from speaking in Catalan to Spanish during a court case in Olot. The TSJC court sanctioned the judge for treating the lawyers with “a lack of consideration or respect”. But following an appeal, the CGPJ court overruled this sentence. TSJC is the Catalan Superior Court of Justice, the highest judicial body in the autonomous community of Catalonia. CGPJ is the General Council of Judicial Power, the governmental body of judicial power for all Spain. (March 2016) 
- A court lawyer in Badalona rejected an appeal filed by a lawyer as it was written “in a strange language”. (February 2016) 
- The Civil Registry officials in Vic refused to process the nationality application of a foreign resident as they had presented part of the documents in Catalan. (June 2015) 
- A judge in Figueres threatens to suspend a court case if the witness speaks in Catalan. (March 2015) 
- A Barcelona court orders a lawyer to translate an appeal, arguing that one of the lawyers present was from Madrid. (October 2014) 
- A magistrate from Granollers courts considers the use of Catalan to be a nuisance in judicial proceedings even though she used the ability to speak Catalan as part of her merits to gain her post as a magistrate. (April 2014) 
- A Barcelona court denies a lawyer the right to carry out a judicial procedure in Catalan. (November 2013) 
- A couple from Reus have to pay 180€ to the town hall to be able to hold their wedding in Catalan after the Civil Registry offices only offered the possibility of doing it in Spanish. (February 2012) 
- A judge from Lleida is charged after presenting several resolutions where he criticized and mocked the use of Catalan in court cases. The TSJC court opened proceedings against the judge for serious errors after considering these resolutions to be illegal. Following an appeal, the CGPJ court fined the judge €10,500. TSJC is the Catalan Superior Court of Justice, the highest judicial body in the autonomous community of Catalonia. CGPJ is the General Council of Judicial Power, the governmental body of judicial power for all Spain. (April 2011) 
- A judge in Badalona forces a couple to hold their civil wedding ceremony in Spanish even though they had asked expressly for the ceremony to be in Catalan. (March 2007) 
Catalanophobia in other areas of Spanish public administration
- The Spanish Tax Agency withdraws VAT declaration forms in the Catalan language from all around the Spanish state “for economic and opportunity reasons”. (March 2017) 
- A citizen is sent out of a post office in Barcelona for suggesting they sell cards in Catalan. (June 2016) 
- A Brazilian citizen residing in Catalonia is denied his application for Spanish citizenship after answering the nationality exam questions in Catalan. (April 2016) 
- An inspector on the Barcelona-Girona Talgo train ejected a person and his grandson from the train for speaking to her in Catalan. (December 2013) 
- The Spanish Tax Agency refuses to process the pension of a widow because she had presented the death certificate of her deceased partner in Catalan. (October 2012) 
- A writer and his wife are harassed and discriminated against for speaking Catalan in the RENFE train station in Plaça Catalunya, Barcelona. (November 2007) 
- An ex-socialist-senator is mocked and forced to speak Spanish by security guards in the high-speed AVE train station in Lleida. (April 2007) 
 VILAWEB in English (23/03/2017). Fined 601 euros for speaking in Catalan to Spanish police at Barcelona El Prat airport http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticies/fined-601-euros-for-speaking-in-catalan-to-spanish-police-at-barcelona-el-prat-airport/?platform=hootsuite
 VILAWEB (24/03/2017). Rovira i Virgili University professor threatened in a police station for speaking in Catalan http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticies/un-professor-de-la-rovira-i-virgili-amenacat-en-una-comissaria-per-haver-parlat-en-catala/
 EL NACIONAL.CAT (31/03/2017).Generalitat complains to Millo about the mistreatment of Catalan language in Spanish public administration http://www.elnacional.cat/ca/politica/queixa-generalitat-millo-maltractament-catala_148278_102.html
 RACÓ CATALÀ (21/11/20169). New case of language discrimination when renewing ID papers http://www.racocatala.cat/noticia/40423/nou-cas-discriminacio-linguistica-cua-renovar-dni
 NACIÓ DIGITAL (11/08/2016). Businessman who refused to shake the King’s hand, detained by the Guardia Civil for speaking Catalan http://www.naciodigital.cat/noticia/113838/empresari/es/va/negar/donar/ma/felip/vi/retingut/guardia/civil/parlar/catala
 NACIÓ DIGITAL (19/07/2016). A new case of Catalanophobia, this time in Vic police station http://www.naciodigital.cat/osona/noticia/51183/denuncien/nou/cas/catalanofobia/ara/comissaria/vic
 VILAWEB (14/09/2015). Spanish police assault a youngster for speaking Catalan http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticies/la-policia-espanyola-agredeix-un-jove-per-parlar-catala/
 NACIÓ DIGITAL (05/08/2015). Detained at Barcelona airport for refusing to speak in Spanish http://www.naciodigital.cat/noticia/92129/detingut/aeroport/prat/negar-se/parlar/castella
 PLATAFORMA PER LA LLENGUA (11/03/2016). «If you speak to me in Catalan, I’ll suspend the court case» Language rights at a dead end https://www.plataforma-llengua.cat/que-fem/estudis-i-publicacions/170/%c2%absi-me-hablas-en-catalan-se-suspende-el-juicio%c2%bb-els-drets-linguistics-en-via-morta(Note: Case brought by the Plataforma per la Llengua).
 NACIÓ DIGITAL (09/03/2015). A lawyer harassed by Spanish police for speaking Catalan http://www.naciodigital.cat/noticia/83723/advocada/vexada/policia/espanyola/parlar/catala
 EL PUNT.AVUI (06/06/2014). A citizen from Caldes accuses two police officers of threatening and insulting him for speaking in Catalan http://www.elpuntavui.cat/article/3-politica/17-politica/749322-un-vei-de-caldes-acusa-dos-policies-damenaces-i-insults-per-haver-parlat-en-catala.html?dema=1&tmpl=component&print=1&page
 EL PUNT.AVUI (27/04/2013). Police officers reported for demanding a citizen speak in Spanish http://www.elpuntavui.cat/article/2-societat/5-societat/640659-denuncia-uns-policies-que-li-exigien-de-parlar-en-castella.html
 VANGUARDIA, LA (13/09/2012). Police detain a person at Barcelona airport “for speaking Catalan” http://www.lavanguardia.com/participacion/20120913/54350369037/policia-retiene-hombre-prat-hablar-catalan.html
 NACIÓ DIGITAL (09/11/2012). A citizen from Vic reports a case of “language discrimination” http://www.naciodigital.cat/noticia/48648/vei/vic/denuncia/cas/discriminacio/linguist
 ARA.CAT (27/06/2012). Detained by the National Police at Barcelona airport for only speaking in Catalan or English http://www.ara.cat/societat/Retingut-Policia-Nacional-aeroport-Prat-catala_0_726527425.html
 VILAWEB (04/07/2012). Two Guardia Civil officers in court for harassment of a person from Vilajuïga who refused to speak in Spanish http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticia/4025869/20120704/dos-guardies-civils-judici-vexar-vei-vilajuiga-negava-parlar-espanyol.html
LLIBERTAT.CAT (11/10/12). The citizen from Vilajuïga harassed by the Guardia Civil has their case absolved http://www.llibertat.cat/2012/10/absolen-el-vei-de-vilajuiga-vexat-per-la-guardia-civil-19585
 ARA.CAT (27/01/2012). A young lawyer reports Guardia Civil officers for assault for speaking in Catalan at Barcelona airporthttp://www.ara.cat/societat/Guardia_civil-catala-El_Prat-agressio-Mossos-llengua_0_635336654.html
 EL PUNT.AVUI (21/01/2012). Guardia Civil investigates coercions for speaking Catalan http://www.elpuntavui.cat/article/24-puntdivers/4-divers/497809-la-guardia-
 NACIÓ DIGITAL (24/11/2011). Clara Casas: Abuse of authority over language questions http://www.naciodigital.cat/manresainfo/noticia/23000/abus/linguistic/autoritat
 PLATAFORMA PER LA LLENGUA (11/06/2013). “Either you speak in Spanish, or nothing” 40 serious cases of language discrimination in public administration offices http://www.plataforma-llengua.cat/que-fem/estudis-i-publicacions/116/en-espanyol-o-nada-40-casos-greus-de-discriminacio-linguistica-a-les-administracions-publiques(Note: Case brought by the Plataforma per la Llengua).
 PLATAFORMAPER LA LLENGUA (11/06/2013). “Either you speak in Spanish, or nothing” 40 serious cases of language discrimination in public administration offices http://www.plataforma-llengua.cat/que-fem/estudis-i-publicacions/116/en-espanyol-o-nada-40-casos-greus-de-discriminacio-linguistica-a-les-administracions-publiques(Note: Case brought by the Plataforma per la Llengua).
 EL PUNT.AVUI (02/02/2010). “Cojones, how well you speak Catalan!” http://www.elpuntavui.cat/article/2-societat/5-societat/273412–cojones-que-bien-hablas-el-catalan-.html
 EL PUNT.AVUI (11/09/2009). A woman applying for identity documents for her son was detained for speaking Catalan on her mobile phone http://www.elpuntavui.cat/article/24-puntdivers/4-divers/79897-una-dona-que-feia-el-dni-al-seu-fill-es-detinguda-perque-parlava-pel-mobil-en-catala.html
LLIBERTAT.CAT (07/05/2010). Police officer who harassed a woman for speaking Catalan on the phone was absolved http://www.llibertat.cat/2010/05/absolen-el-policia-espanyol-que-va-vexar-una-dona-per-parlar-en-catala-per-telefon-10266
 VILAWEB (08/09/2009). A citizen from north Catalonia has problems at the France-Catalonia border for speaking in Catalan http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticia/3628567/20090908/noticia.html
 LLIBERTAT.CAT (22/02/2010). A woman who spoke in Catalan to a Guardia Civil agent is to be judged for “public disorder” http://www.llibertat.cat/2010/02/jutgen-per-desordres-publics-la-dona-que-es-va-adrecar-en-catala-a-la-guardia-civil-9194
LLIBERTAT.CAT (06/04/2010). Article d’opinió de Carme Forcadell: 180 Euros fine for speaking Catalan http://www.llibertat.cat/2010/04/180-euros-per-parlar-catala-9748
 DES DE LA PLAÇA DEL GALL (Blog of Roger Bujons) (16/02/2009). CAT on registration plates. A colonial story at the Cadí Tunnel http://rogerbujons.blog.cat/2009/2/16/el-cat-a-les-matr-cules-una-cr-nica-colonial-al-tunel-del-cad/
 VILAWEB (09/09/2008). Guardia Civil officers demand the mayor identifies himself and speak to them in Spanish http://www.vilaweb.cat/www/elpunt/noticia?p_idcmp=2990136
 E-NOTÍCIES (04/01/2008). “I don’t want to speak in Catalan, we’re in Spain” http://hemeroteca.e-noticies.com/edicio-2033/actualitat/no-me-da-la-gana-hablar-en-catal%e1n-estamos-en-espa%f1a-33423.html
 CCMA/324 (07/10/2016).TSJC court reprimands a judge from Olot for treating two Catalan-speaking lawyers with “a lack of consideration and respect” http://www.ccma.cat/324/EL-TSJC-amonesta-una-jutge-dOlot-per-tractar-amb-poc-respecte-i-desconsideracio-dues-advocades-que-parlaven-catala/noticia/2752478/
VILAWEB (30/03/2017). The CGPJ anuls the sanction for the judge who disrespected two lawyers who spoke in Catalan http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticies/el-cgpj-anulla-la-sancio-a-la-jutgessa-que-va-faltar-al-respecte-a-dues-advocades-que-parlaven-catala/
 CCMA/324 (28/02/2016). A lawyer reports that their written appeal was rejected because it was “written in a strange language” http://www.ccma.cat/324/Un-advocat-denuncia-que-li-han-rebutjat-un-recurs-en-catala-perque-estava-escrit-en-llengua-estranya/noticia/2715892/
 PLATAFORMA PER LA LLENGUA (11/03/2016).«If you speak to me in Catalan, I’ll suspend the court case» Language rights at a dead end https://www.plataforma-llengua.cat/que-fem/estudis-i-publicacions/170/%c2%absi-me-hablas-en-catalan-se-suspende-el-juicio%c2%bb-els-drets-linguistics-en-via-morta (Case explained by the Dept of Social and Family Welfare of the Catalan government to the Plataforma per la Llengua).
 PLATAFORMA PER LA LLENGUA (11/03/2016).«If you speak to me in Catalan, I’ll suspend the court case» Language rights at a dead end https://www.plataforma-llengua.cat/que-fem/estudis-i-publicacions/170/%c2%absi-me-hablas-en-catalan-se-suspende-el-juicio%c2%bb-els-drets-linguistics-en-via-morta (Note: Case brought by the Plataforma per la Llengua).
 PLATAFORMA PER LA LLENGUA (11/03/2016).«If you speak to me in Catalan, I’ll suspend the court case» Language rights at a dead end https://www.plataforma-llengua.cat/que-fem/estudis-i-publicacions/170/%c2%absi-me-hablas-en-catalan-se-suspende-el-juicio%c2%bb-els-drets-linguistics-en-via-morta(Note: Case brought by the Plataforma per la Llengua).
 EL PUNT.AVUI (10/04/2014). A magistrate considers the use of Catalan in judicial proceedings to be a nuisance http://www.elpuntavui.cat/article/2-societat/5-societat/731980-una-magistrada-considera-una-nosa-lus-del-catala-en-un-procediment-judicial.html?cca=1
 EL PUNT.AVUI (18/11/2013). Lawyer denied the right to ask for use of Catalan in a judicial case http://www.elpuntavui.cat/article/2-societat/5-societat/694408-deneguen-a-un-advocat-el-dret-a-demanar-el-catala-en-un-procediment-judicial.html?cca=1
 REUS DIGITAL (07/02/2012). It will cost you 180€ if you want to get married in Catalan in Reus http://reusdigital.cat/noticies/reus-si-et-vols-casar-en-catal-et-fan-pagar-180-euros
 VILAWEB (21/03/2017). José María Magán, the history of a judge with an obsession against the Catalan language http://www.vilaweb.cat/noticies/jose-maria-magan-la-historia-del-jutge-amb-una-obsessio-contra-el-catala/
 VILAWEB (16/03/2007). A couple bring a court case at the TSJC against a Badalona judge who forced them to hold their wedding ceremony in Spanish http://www.vilaweb.cat/ep/ultima-hora/2316923/20070316/parella-denuncia-davant-tsjc-jutge-badalona-forcar-casament-castella.html+
 DBALEARS (16/03/2017). Tax Agency will not allow you to pay in Catalan “for economic reasons” http://dbalears.cat/estat/2017/03/16/299696/agencia-tributaria-permet-pagar-catala-per-raons-economiques.html?platform=hootsuite
 PLATAFORMA PER LA LLENGUA (30/06/2016). The Post Office and table tennis discriminate against Catalan https://www.plataforma-llengua.cat/que-fem/noticies/3220/correus-i-el-tennis-taula-discriminen-el-catala(Note: Case brought by the Plataforma per la Llengua).
 PLATAFORMA PER LA LLENGUA (14/04/2016). Denied Spanish nationality for answering the exam in Catalan https://www.plataforma-llengua.cat/que-fem/noticies/3124/denegada-la-nacionalitat-espanyola-per-fer-lexamen-en-catala(Note: Case brought by the Plataforma per la Llengua).
 EL PUNT.AVUI (10/12/2013). Train inspector forces grandfather and grandson to leave the train because they are “Catalans” http://www.elpuntavui.cat/article/1-territori/-/700188-la-revisora-dun-talgo-fa-baixar-un-avi-i-un-net-per-ser-catalans.html
 PLATAFORMA PER LA LLENGUA (30/10/2012). The Plataforma per la Llengua reports that the tax office will not process a widow’s pension application after she presented a death certificate in Catalan http://www.plataforma-llengua.cat/que-fem/noticies/1967/la-plataforma-per-la-llengua-denuncia-que-hisenda-no-tramita-la-pensio-a-una-vidua-per-presentar-el-certificat-de-defuncio-en-catala(Note: Case brought by the Plataforma per la Llengua).
 E-NOTÍCIES (03/12/2007). Renfe demands López Bofill speak “in Spanish” http://hemeroteca.e-noticies.com/edicio-2006/actualitat/renfe-exigeix-parlar-en-castellano-a-l%F3pez-bofill-32317.html
 E-NOTÍCIES (17/04/2007). AVE security guards demand an ex-PSC-senator speak in Spanish in Lleida http://hemeroteca.e-noticies.com/edicio-1812/actualitat/vigilants-de-lave-de-lleida-obliguen-a-parlar-en-castell%e0-21976.html