Michael Keating, Director of the Edinburgh-based Centre on Constitutional Change, said in an interview with CNA that “Catalans need Scotland more than Scotland needs Catalonia”, because the Scots “have in recent years been doing much better than the Catalan independence people: they got a referendum, they got the right to self-determination and they got more powers”. The President of the SNP-Friends of Catalonia group, David McDonald, said that he sees similarities between Catalonia and Scotland but warned that the Scottish people “wouldn’t have accepted the kind of censorship or approach” from the UK that Spain takes with Catalonia.
On the 3rd of May, the President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, and the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, spoke at the inauguration of the International Forum on the Reception and Integration of Refugees in the EU. The forum centred on what was described as “the biggest humanitarian crisis since WWII”, focusing on its long-term and short-term solutions as well as its “challenges and opportunities”, according to DIPLOCAT, the organising entity. Barcelona’s “willingness” to accept 4,500 asylum seekers, 1,800 of which could be helped immediately, was spoken of by both Colau and Puigdemont. Puigdemont accused the Spanish Government of “ineffectiveness”, having not yet carried out its compromise of accepting 17,000 refugees, while Ada Colau stated that it “isn’t right” that Barcelona doesn’t have more power in deciding its own immigration policies.
The NGO ‘Plataforma per la Llengua’, which aims to promote the use of Catalan as a tool for social cohesion, warned on Tuesday that the language is “going backwards” in the field of Justice. Only 3% of trials in Catalonia are in Catalan and up to 75% of lawyers that use it have been asked to use Spanish instead on at least one occasion, regretted the president of the NGO, Òscar Escuder. A new report from the organisation, however, also includes some positive figures: Catalan is now spoken by more than 10 million people, and up to 13.4 million understand it. Outside Catalonia, it is in the Balearic Islands where Catalan is most widely spoken: up to 80.5% of citizens there know the language. In French-Catalonia, however, only 35.5% of inhabitants speak the language.
The Catalan President Carles Puigdemont announced that the Government will prepare new legislation to protect the core policies of the social emergency law suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC). The new law will include “practical tools with legal security” that will “reformulate” the suspended articles of the legislation but “keep its spirit”. Drafting a new law was the main compromise of the social emergency summit organised on Tuesday by the Catalan Government, the local authorities and the main political parties in Catalonia following the Spanish Government’s legal challenge against the social emergency law. Puigdemont described the negotiations as “long, intense and very useful” and said that the new law is needed “to restore everything the Constitutional Court has suspended”. The meeting, he said, “wasn’t about political discrepancies but about showing that this issue concerns us all”.
The Spanish King has signed this Tuesday the decree calling an early election in Spain. The main political parties have been unable to reach an agreement to form a stable government and so for the first time since the restoration of democracy, the Spanish Congress will be dissolved only five months after a general election. The calling of early elections has been an open secret since last week, when the King already said that he was not going to offer the leader of any political party the task of trying to form a government. Neither conservative Mariano Rajoy nor socialist Pedro Sánchez have the necessary support to win an investiture debate. Sánchez tried to achieve the support of Congress for a government led by him and C’s but was defeated. Rajoy, the current president, did not even try.
Tourists spent 2.467 billion euros in Catalonia in the first quarter of 2016. This sum is equal to 6.7% more than the same period last year, according to the Tourist Expenditure Survey (Egatur) published by the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE). In March alone, the amount that foreigners spent in Catalonia was 922 million euros, a decrease of 5.6% compared with March of last year. On a country-wide scale, foreigners spent 12.255 billion euros in all of Spain in the first quarter of 2016, 7.4% more than last year. These figures indicate that Catalonia absorbed 20.1% of foreigners’ expenditure in Spain in the first three months of the year.
Centering on the artist’s iconic image, the Dalí Theatre-Museum hosts a temporary exhibition of 23 portraits of Salvador Dalí by photographer Philippe Halsman. Showing a less known selection of Dalí’s moustache editorial project, Halsman’s photography can be seen from April 18th to December 31st in the Loggias Room of the museum. The exhibition titled Variants from Dalí’s moustache shows how the artist´s moustache is a key part of the unmistakable image of the genius of surrealism. Presented by Monste Aguer, the Museum’s director, it is the first time that Dalí becomes part of the museum through its own portrait. Now the Dalí Theatre-Museum's collection allows the visitors to capture the artistic journey of Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) through a spectrum of works and at the end of the tour see Dalí himself with different pictures. Latvian photographer Philippe Halsman, did not hesitate to immortalize Dali’s presence in the cultural center by this selection of 23 photographs, included in the book ‘Dalí´s Moustache’ released in 1954 with the help of New York publisher Simon and Shuster.
The students at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya have designed and built a low cost wheelchair for people in developing countries. The chair is made from bicycle wheels, a supermarket trolley and PVC pipes and can be made in fifteen minutes. The cost is approximately 70 euros, half the conventional cost. The two students made the wheelchair as an NGO in project and they also made a video of how to make it. The NGO is going to spread the tutorial to people in developing countries who need a wheelchair and are not able to afford one.