15-12-2013

The question of “YesYes” a century after the approval of the Mancomunitat de Catalunya

The Mancomunitat de Catalunya was officially constituted on 6 April 1914, as a result of the application of the Ley de Mancomunidades Provinciales (Provincial Federations Law), approved by the Spanish Cortes and the Eduardo Dato’s government in December 1913, one century ago. The Mancomunitat was a federation of the four provincial Catalan councils and, although it was a strictly administrative institution, it was a recognition by the Spanish state of the character and unity of Catalonia. It was the first self-governing body since 1714. With it, the Catalan language returned to an official sphere of influence. Its first President was Enric Prat de la Riba and afterwards the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch, both of the Lliga Regionalista. The Mancomunitat was disbanded and outlawed during Miguel Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship.

The Institution established the bases of modern Catalonia. It carried out the important task of creating an efficient infrastructure of telephones, extending the charities and health provision. The Mancomunitat also undertook initiatives to increase agricultural and forest yields, introducing technological improvements, the improvement of services and education, and promoting education in technologies necessary for Catalan industry. The Mancomunitat worked hard in the Catalan countryside to provide a solution to the crisis in farming and to promote co-operatives. The School of Agriculture and similar initiatives gave farmers and their laborers a solid training. Various departments of the Mancomunitat (Highways, Ports, Hydraulic and Railway Works, Agriculture and Forestry) improved the infrastructure of the countryside.

Another important milestone of the Mancomunitat was the promotion of the work of Pompeu Fabra, who was chiefly responsible for the current Catalan writing system and linguistic standard. The Mancomunitat de Catalunya carried out valuable work in the fields of culture, public education and social action. It set up a network of libraries around the country and promoted museums and archaeological research. It built and improved schools for primary education and vocational and professional training.

In a framework of the monografics course of High Studies and Exchange (organized by the Mancomunitat de Catalunya in order to promote and modernize the scientific renewal in our country), Albert Einstein visits the city, invited by the scientist Esteban Terradas, from 22 to 28 February 1923. Albert Einstein’s visit to Barcelona expected creating a modern scientific community in Catalonia.

2014 will be a century since the creation of one of the most important institutions that have taken place in Catalonia. But even taking our appreciation, we must ensure that 2014 goes down in history as the moment the Catalans said YesYes.

Elena Escubedo (Universitat de Barcelona)

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