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My name is Roger Montañola. I was born 31 years ago in Barcelona, the 29th of March.
Nowadays, I work in consultancy with a company that creates political and regulatory scenarios through Big Data and mathematical algorithms. That is, what we basically do is try to foresee which scenarios may occur 2 or 3 years from now on
in different countries, and in any place of the world. Moreover, we also have another business that is based on supporting technological companies that land in Europe, and that have certain difficulties from a regulatory point of view
in order to commercialize its products.
I think that about 10 or 15 years ago through good policies that had been made with certain government programs, etc. Barcelona was, it became, a space for attracting talent, that is true. We can not say that this has always been the same, that it
has been regular. In fact, my point of view of what happens nowadays is certainly critical. You can deny that the city offers opportunities
such as its geostrategic position.
By being politically attractive, many people are willing to come to live in Barcelona, and to go ahead with their business.
Over the past 15 years, Barcelona has certainly undergone a change, a fundamental change, not only from a technological point of view. It has become a global city.
All of this begins with the Olympic Games of 1992. This, is the key moment, the turning point of Barcelona. Without that, everything that came later would not have been possible. But it is true that in the last 10 or 15 years,
thanks to a series of good policies made by the Catalan government, and the Government of Barcelona’s City Council, Barcelona became also a hub for attraction of business and technology.
In this sense, all these elements made that many people from these areas, moved to the city. They found not only a city where to work, and hang out, but a city they could really live in. This attractive element is in part thanks to
its geographic situation, its weather, and its opportunities. Moreover, I believe that Barcelona is human-sized, that is, you can walk everywhere. It may take a while, but you can travel around it by foot. This doesn’t happen in most metropolis.
All this factors combined, the beach, a series of very different places to visit at a shot distance, made that many people came. From here, the we’d have to analyze whether the atmosphere to do business is the best.
I am more critical here. It could be improved.
Especially by civil society. Private sectors are making a very important push to attract all this knowledge, all this foreign talent.
The institutions aren’t putting as much effort into this. I have the feeling that institutions have other battles at this time. However, I believe that this is the main one because this allows us to turn Barcelona into a global capital.
But we must recognize that the great achievement of all this comes from the private sector. From the companies that want to settle here, from proposals and projects that have been made. To name a few ones: Barcelona Tech City and business schools.
However, there are a lot more than do the function that belongs to the public sector. In the absence of it, these sectors have done a great job, and the proof is that every day there are more foreigners living in Barcelona.
And let me repeat myself. They don’t come here for a while, they wish to stay. It believe this is what differentiates Barcelona from other cities.
Well, the Mobile World Congress at the end is something we, the Catalans have discovered in the last years. Even if now we are experts, a few years ago nobody knew what it was. We were lucky that a few years ago at the Fira de Barcelona, the 3GSM was set up. If I’m not mistaken, that was the name of
the previous fair. It was a space in which producers and people linked to the world of mobile phones, met.
What has happened in parallel, is that the explosion of the mobile phone, has come with the fact that
we were able to hold this congress. And so, everything happened in parallel. It was a sheer coincidence. They made a good job. The institutions have made a good job here.
But let me repeat myself, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. What is it? It is the largest meeting point in the world for everything related to mobile telephony, mobile technology, etc. Therefore, a privilege for Catalans that we should not lose.
This will depend on its political representatives. If they want to, Barcelona can become a world capital. It has all the features to be so. The problem is that Catalan politicians, both from the City Council and the Generalitat, as well as from the central government, have to understand
that this is the main point on which we must fight and work. And not others like its happening, right? We are lucky to have a treasure. Catalunya is lucky enough to be a point of reference. Barcelona has the capacity to become a world capital.
Instead, people want to be the capital of something way smaller. In a world that looks forward a globalization, Barcelona has a great opportunity. I just don’t get how political representatives
don’t see the value of the city and how easily it can be lost. So, answering the question: it will depend on the capacity of future vision that the political representatives of this country have.
Yes, that is. We have a huge structural unemployment in this country, especially on the youngest layers of society due to different factors, but one of them basically
is the fact that it has always been criminalized that companies and universities are connected in this country. In many cases, the training programs are not linked to the job market.
Therefore, there are great asymmetries. People have gotten a degree, they have completed higher education, and there’s no work in their field. However, in many other areas,
there’s an excess of work. This, of course, must be added and there would be no point in not answering to it from an analysis of the economic crisis in Catalunya, Spain and Europe, but especially in Catalunya.
We need to remind that during the Spanish property bubble, thousands of students left their studies to work. And they did work, with a high salary.
Any day now, they found themselves that that was gone. We are talking about people without studies, and with a job market that doesn’t give them any answers. All these elements united
are not good. But let me repeat myself, I think that one of the elements that we should get firmly into one’s head, is to understand that in Catalunya, just like in any other region, the regulated studies, have to be linked with the future job market.
We can not take for granted that the degrees that have always existed, with the number of students that have always existed, with the graus mitjans (FP), the graus superiors, the professional training etc.
They have to adapt to this market. Sadly, in our universities there are people saying: “Companies don’t belong here!.” Well, it’s the opposite for me. Let the company come to the university. This is what this country needs in order to fight unemployment
of young people who find themselves jobless once they finish their degree.
I think it’s a great opportunity. It is a great opportunity for young people to find jobs, to get started in the job market, not to find definitive jobs but to enter it.
It is a great opportunity to meet new people and to speak new languages, Therefore seeing this as a problem… I don’t agree. I think that this vision is very closed, and provincial. If I can say that. We should welcome it,
and take advantage. Does it has bad things too? Obviously. Lets fight them, and let’s talk about it. A priori, I’m a huge defensor of what truisms implies, of what the arrival of foreigners to the city implies.
This is a treasure. The world is more connected as each day goes by. What do we want? To disconnect? I think people from Barcelona should interact with these people.
They should know them, negotiate with them, and do whatever they want to. But they shouldn’t frame them as something odd. This would be a terrible and illogical mistake.
Unfortunately, it happens.
It is not a law, because the city council does not make laws. In any case, it is a municipal regulation. It is evident that the phenomenon of new technological platforms
has implied that many citizens find in these a different way of rent than what could be considered traditional rent. However, it’s true that this implies that in certain parts of the city
the rents have raised above average. It’s good idea that the city council takes measures to prevent people from leaving their neighborhoods,. At the same time, one cannot try to stem the tide.
I think we have to assume the advantages of all this. We need to see what touristic apartments we can offer, etc. In fact there are already restrictions on this subject that are more or less fulfilled.
We should encourage the hotel’s offer, because the hotel’s offer really does not go against rent. People would obviously use a hotel instead of a home. So hotels are forbidden, which seems to me to be absolutely surreal.
Let me repeat myself, I’m critical, I love my country, I love my city. I’m specially critical with the few capacity of vision that politicians of Barcelona’s city council, and of the Generalitat de Catalunya, have.
The city council would be the local administration of a town or city. If we locate ourselves in the state of California, the Sacramento Town Hall, is the administration that manages the city of Sacramento.
And on the contrary, the Senate, well, the government of the State of California, is the one that has power over the entire state, whether LA, San Francisco, San Diego, or Sacramento,or Napa Valley. Therefore we are talking about local, town to region, to put it in some way.
Although we Catalans don’t like to name ourselves a region.
Well, there are multiple factors. From a financial perspective, the toxic financial products, that is, this space where nobody knew exactly where they were putting its money. There was a lot of subterfuge, and
from a financial perspective, there were few guarantees of what was being done. In the case of this country, we should obviously add that the economy was focused on a sector that, first of all, didn’t provide
any kind of innovation, and that, moreover, it was fake and didn’t answer to the market’s criteria. This sector was the real estate one. These two facts contributed to the vehement crisis’ explosion in Spain and Europe.
Spain and Catalunya, sorry. Moreover, this, along with erratic public policies, where the public debt is very high, where it was permanently believed that the public money would continue to be the same
Obviously, at a time when the collection is down, this is not the case, right? Therefore, it is due to a lack of forecast, it is due to taking a mile when they give you an inch, as Catalans say. It’s because the economy was sustained on
clay pillars such as the construction sector, etc. It is also because the financial system collapses globally. I believe that these 4 factors added together lead us to understand why the crisis in Catalunya and Barcelona was so bad.
Posa’t Guapa is a successful campaign from the city council that intends to provide a point of self-confidence, to say so, to the citizenship. It also encourages the people from Barcelona to feel proud about their city,
and about what it offers. We, Catalans, tend to be critical towards ourselves. We tend to contemplate one’s navel. As my great-grandmother said,
we are pretentious. But let’s pretend we are not pretentious because it doesn’t look good, right? And I think this campaign at the end changes this mentality in the sense of saying: listen, we are lucky enough to live in a wonderful place. Aren’t Catalunya and Barcelona great?
Let’s take care of it. It is a campaign that has a double slope. The first one is emotional, and the second one has to do with the citizen behavior and the capacity each Catalan has to behave correctly in relation to the rest.
It’s a successful campaign. I believe we still profit from it.
Nowadays, I don’t believe people are worried about a military coup. However, we must remember that in this country the dictator died in bed. 40 years of dictatorship, and he died peacefully in bed. So,
it would be, let’s say, naive, to think that Franco’s regime dies at the same time that Franco. And that all the people, the millions of people who supported him, from one day to the next happened to not be in favor of Franco’s regime.
There is therefore a reminiscence that existed during the transition period, especially in different spheres, such as political, military, etc., which made that in the election of the constitution
there were certain fears. We must also say that it was a successful process. To put together politicians as distanced as communist, as Catalan nationalists, as the Basques,
people who were part of the regime itself, and to write a text…This should be valued. So, is it out of date? Yes, the constitutions must be movable, obviously. And so today, 40 years later, new things are demanded.
Things that were not recognize at that time, should be without a doubt. But I’m not one of those who thinks we should shoot ourselves in the foot. Can it be modified? Yes. Should it be modified? Yes, of course.
The one made in the 78’, keeping in mind the context, wasn’t a bad one. And the quantity of people that voted in favor is proof.
We’re talking about the 90%.
if the Statute had not been cut down, there is no doubt that the independence movement would be much weaker, because the reasons that justify it today wouldn’t exist.
The independence movement is basically an answer to a situation that many Catalans understand as unacceptable: that the autonomy statute of Catalunya, which let’s remember,
was voted in the Parlament de Catalunya, in the Corts Generals Espanyoles, that is, the Congress and the Senate. And it was redone in Catalunya. However, the TC cuts it down.
In the end the Statute was voted in the Congress of the Deputies, and was approved. Therefore what comes next is nothing but a campaign for political purposes in favor, in this case of a specific party
which uses Catalunya to gain the vote of Spanish people. In my opinion, it was something miserable. But it’s the reality. As Spanish goes: If you dance, you must pay the piper.
This is where everything was born. Why? Well, because this statute at the end was a step forward. We could discuss whether the moment was the right one or not; if it had to be done, if it had not been done. But in any case , it was done. It was approved and most of the parties of the Catalan parliamentary arch supported it.
I supported it. The big issue is: why a part of Spanish society, but above all, of its political class, was not prepared to accept issues such as what is Catalunya?
Catalunya, and let’s keep it clear for whoever watches this documentary, is a nation, and there can be no argument about it. It’s a nation. I recommend people to read the definition of the word ‘nation’ in the Oxford dictionary. They don’t have to use the Spanish or the Catalan one.
Any language works. They must read what the definition of nation is, and they’ll see that that is Catalunya. Therefore, I don’t accept any argument about it. I studied Political Science, which can be useless for a lot of things, but not for this.
I don’t accept any argument about it. Catalunya is a nation. At the moment that Catalunya is not given the chance to be what it is, many citizens legitimately feel that their distance with what the Spanish policy represents,
grows, right? I am one of those who believes that independence as such, as it stands, is not the solution. Really. Because we are, I repeat, as I said before, in a global era, and so the debate is not to look to Madrid, but look to Brussels, and to the world.
I mean, this is the essence of the future country that I imagine. I do not want to be the capital of a small state. I want to be the global capital. And we can be it without asking anyone permission, doing good policies, right?
But it is true that everything that happens with the Statute is the generator of everything that is happening today, or the last years.
Basically, there are several issues. Those who appeal to a more emotional question, that is to say, the definition of what Catalunya is, what it is considered to be Catalunya, what I said before about the nation.
Everything that has to do with the competences that the statute defines as being of the Generalitat de Catalunya. Those actions, or those elements on which the Generalitat can regulate, and can execute.
This is the second issue. The third one is the economical one, the same as always. The one that says that Catalunya is the third providing resources to the State, and the 10th in receiving these resources.
This asymmetry for Catalans, but not for Catalans because they are Catalans, for any citizen should be unacceptable. I mean, no-one is questioning whether there is solidarity, no one is questioning anything, but when
one is the third one to pay and the tenth to receive… Maybe there is a problem, right? And therefore, this sum of factors, but specially the emotional one. No one likes to being questioned about what it is. And Catalunya, when drafts the statute, what is saying after all,
despite after 30 years of democracy in this case, now 40 but at that time 30. We believe that we are already mature enough to tell us things to each other’s faces. We want to explain the world, and the rest os Spanish citizens, without any problem whatsoever,
that we are a nation. That doesn’t mean we have something against them. But we are a nation. This element is still debated in a less mature way than what we could believe a priori.
Yes, absolutely. Barcelona is a gray city because, for example, today one of its main attractions, as everyone knows, is the marine façade, from the forum to the port area of Barcelona. We have an open, multicultural façade, full of activities, with wonderful beaches, with very clean water.
With a huge entertainment leisure offer. Barcelona has turned its back on everything for centuries. Barcelona was a city facing the sea that turned its back to the sea. We have to think that if we look at images of Barcelona a few years ago, from a century ago until the ‘80s,
the maritime façade, was one of the most impoverished areas of Barcelona. It was not developed urbanistically, there was a lot of industry, etc. Until this great project, the Olympics. It changed people’s minds. Joan Antoni Samaranch, a man that has to be vindicated,
even though Barcelona’s city council pretends he never existed. I believe he has to be vindicated. He said that about Barcelona’s April. Things changed drastically. That moment of 1986 in Barcelona, that’s the moment. It’s the great point of inflection for Barcelona, which stops being a gray and regional city,
and becomes a global city full of light. It’s something that neither Catalans and citizens of Barcelona, can’t forget. And the legacy of all that is what we have to preserve. There’s nothing more important than that.
And this, and I repeat myself, as I said at the beginning, should be what makes us get up every day and fight. Catalunya and Barcelona especially, because Catalunya is a small nation but its capital is large.
They should work together to become a global city. Anyone that has come here, will have seen that it can be so. On the side of Catalans and of Barcelona’s citizens, or at least on my part, because I’m an individual,
they should know that we’ll fight so it becomes a global city.
Life in Barcelona was… Barcelona was gray, as we said. It was a life with difficulties because the economic situation, especially in the years after the war, was very complicated. Then, with industrial development
which Catalunya led in the state, changed things. The person who didn’t enter politics, had a normal life. On the contrary, those who had political convictions,
like I do, had a very difficult life because they lived under a regime that cut down freedom of speech. Dissidence was punished with all kinds of repression, even with death.
Therefore living in a city, or in a country, where this was a de facto reality… It was a absolutely sad and unfortunate situation. Moreover, you compared it with the rest of Europe, where 30 years ago, the democracies generally consolidated.
It made us lose potential, right? This was the Barcelona of that time, as we said, a gray Barcelona, a country where people looked forward. It was not an underdeveloped country, but it
didn’t have the same opportunities as today’s citizens have. We also have to appreciate this things. Sometimes we lack perspective.
The second republic was a chaos. The second republic had positive factors, it was a time when social rights and citizens were at the forefront comparatively with the rest of the world, in this sense, we were proud.
Politically speaking, a chaos. Politically, a chaos that unfortunately led to what happened later, and what happened later is absolutely unjustifiable, and a shame. But in any case… Obviously the second republic was better than
Franco’s regime. But we need to be objective when we talk about it. It was a chaotic time, with a lot of problems, with a lot of far-left groups that influenced Catalan politicians.
It was a privilege in the sense that we acquired social and democratic rights. As I said, we were at the forefront. But it wasn’t the wonder sold in today’s history books.
We can talk about this revolutionary city when the second republic and responding, and we can update it to today. Barcelona has always had a tradition, although it’s not something I particularly like,
but it’s undeniable, a revolutionary tradition, of far-left. A powerful and organized left-wing, Political groups, be carful. This background has always existed, and it answers two criteria that define Spanish politics.
The debate between left and right, ideological or not ideological. Let’s not forget that Catalunya is an industrial city, and so there is a large number of workers, and workers can organize themselves much better than people in rural areas.
Workers organize themselves to demand its rights. On the other hand, there’s a really powerful debate on identity that has existed for centuries. It adds causes
to this revolutionary position. All those factors, already during the second republic, are consolidated. They are very powerful. The standard of living in the second republic is not the same as today’s, and so they can’t be compared. But it is true that there is a certain reminiscence of all this.
Why? Because the Spanish state hasn’t been able to leave the ghost of the past behind with dignity. We live in a country where it’s still difficult to talk about some things, and we need to value these things.
Let bygones be bygones. We need to look towards the future, but we need to close these wounds. Do we need an entire generation to do so? Maybe we do, but we need to stay put.
But answering the question about left and protest movements in Catalunya. Well, they have a huge tradition based on two issues.
In the ideological debate, the workers’ struggle; and in the identity debate, the national fight to free Catalunya from Spain.
Well, let me start at the second part. The reason they didn’t do anything is because the political and socia situation didn’t allow them to do so. Let’s not forget that some days later the Civil War started. As we said, it’s important to remember that life previous to the civil war wasn’t a luxury.
It was a revolutionary period full of protests with a lot of powerful situations by the worker’s struggle. All these didn’t allow that to happen. It was a huge proposal that could’t be done. At the end, what it pretended, was to bring the citizens close to issues that are, apparently, very normal nowadays.
But sport as it’s understood in modern societies, wasn’t such a developed issue a century ago. People didn’t run on the street. This culture didn’t exist. And sport brings a lot of advantages to a society.
From a healthy perspective, from a perspective of relationships between its citizens, a cultural perspective, an association perspective etc. This was a step forward.
As I said, from a social perspective the second republic was a referent on modernity. It was a chaos in many others, but a referent in this sense. This was an example. Why wasn’t it done? Because of the ongoing situation.
The technocrats represent the second part of Franco’s regime. We could divide Franco’s regime from the end of the civil war to approximately 1959, and from 1959 to 1970, the transition, until the death of the dictator, as I said, in bed.
Basically, it answers to the need the dictador had that his country moved forward. Spain was a very impoverished country, besides the war wounds and its implications, it had a very weak economic position
and therefore what the dictatorship does is to try to attract specialists in their fields of work and put them in the government so that they develop plans to raise the country again, especially from an economic and employment perspective.
Those were the so called technocrats. Some of them belonged to the Opus Dei, and they contribute with the technic expertise, both at a private and at a public level.
And so not letting the military manage the public affairs. Putting this responsibility on hands of experts, people with studies, with experience. This is obvious when you look the economical indicators of Spain during Franco’s regime. The second part is absolutely different from the first one.
It’s nothing more but an answer to the need that the dictator had in order to maintain the power. If Spain had continued being as poor as it was, governed by the military in all areas, another revolution would have taken place, and so, another civil war.
The need for survival the dictatorship had, made them take these decisions. At the end they were good for the society, but of course, they were based on a system where people couldn’t decide who governed them.
The Opus Dei is a religious movement created by José Maria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder. It’s a fraternity of people that understand catholicism in a very concrete way.
It’s a version of the church obviously more conservative. They establish very important links between them and the power.
And the results are present in today’s society, and not in a negative way. Opus Dei has contributed to the society with good things through his members. I don’t defend them nor I’m a part of them. I don’t feel close to them, either. But I don’t think it’s necessary to criminalize them.
The Exhibition of the 1888 is nothing but the first try of the city to become something more, to stop being a gray city. We’re talking about a century ago. Catalunya in 1988 was still a gray city, although it was trying to stop being so. It’s the first referent to explain that we were here.
It’s the same in 1929. They are important moments for Barcelona to make it visible. Barcelona wasn’t visible. In the 18th and the 19th century, people didn’t travel. And, moreover, the cities that were known where the capitals of the counties.
Barcelona wasn’t the capital, and so it has always had the need to make up new things so people could know it. That was the first example. The Universal Exposition, the Olympics, that’s the big deal.
The thing is that nowadays, because of technology, cities don’t have the need to make themselves known. Barcelona has always been limited by many factors, for instance not being a capital, and being the second most populated city in a country.
Whereas nowadays, people come here [to Barcelona], and they don’t care about the capital. The first thing that comes to foreigner’s mind when they think about Spain, is Barceona. People know more Barcelona than Spain.
So, Madrid can do whichever policies they want to, and I wish them the best. But they will always go behind in the competition of Madrid-Barcelona. And yes, this comes from a citizen of Barcelona that respects Madrid. But yes, they have no chance.
And the technology, and the capacity to decide of the people without political influence which city is more at the forefront… The answer is clear: Barcelona wins 10-0.