I’m incredible tired of this topic. Really. I know is stupid to write about it but I feel the need. Some people has been asking me lately, outsiders to my country, who didn’t have enough information to understand what the hell is going on. It’s difficult to be unbiased when talking about anything, even worse at something like this. So I’m gonna give my opinion first, and if you don’t like it… bye and thanks for coming.
I’m not in favor of the independence of Catalonia. I don’t have anything in special against it (at the end I’m Catalan), I just don’t think that’s the way to go. I believe we should get together as the human race, not split our current countries into smaller ones. That being said, I’m in favor of doing the referendum. People is asking for it. A huge amount of people. And all parts, those in favor and those against it, should be able to go to vote and decide.
Now that we got my opinion out of the way let’s talk about how we got here. But before I start, I want to clarify that I’m not an expert on the topic or the history of our region.
(Very brief) History of Catalonia
Spain hasn’t always been united. Through history, different kingdoms have been part of the Iberian peninsula. After being part of different kingdoms and empires, the region became independent in the 10th century as the County of Barcelona. The County expanded on the next few years, remaining independent until the union with the Crown of Aragon in the 12th century. After the union, Catalonia kept a high degree of autonomy, having their own laws and developing its own culture inside the bigger crown.
Jumping forward to the 19th century, we find the birth of the catalan political nationalism. One of the main focus of this movement was to promote the use of the Catalan language and the empowerment of the catalan culture.
Want to read more about Catalan history? Click here
The 20th Century
This movement found big troubles during the 20th century. Spain went through two different dictatorships during this period. The second one, after the Spanish civil war, was a long dictatorship that lasted for forty years. The level of repression in the whole country was huge. In Catalonia, the government of Franco took away the region´s autonomy and prohibited the use of catalan. They went after the language and the culture, and on those years, it was a risk to even speak the language. I can´t even come close to imagine how horrible it has to be to have your own language forbidden.
After the death of Franco at the end of the 70’s, a democratic system was set up in Spain. Catalonia went back to have a certain degree of autonomy and self government. The autonomy of the region became bigger with the pass of the last few decades of the 20th century, seeing the creation of the catalan police (Mossos d’Escuadra), the High Court of Justice of Catalonia, etc.
Want to read more about what happened during the 20th century? Click here
So how do we get from a situation that was looking good to what we have now? There are lots of reasons for it, but self-government and money are the main things.
Probably, all started with the fight for “L’estatut”. The Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia was being changed on mid-2010’s. The president of Spain at the moment said that whatever was approved in the Catalan parliament would be accepted by the central government. That never happened and it led to an early regional election. That was what started the flame. After that a new Statue was created and voted in referendum by the people of Catalonia, but it had lots of changes, with less autonomy for the Catalan government to operate.
Another important issue is money. The new Statute was supposed to let the Catalan government manage the money paid by their tax payers. Again, that never happened, and the money is managed by the central government. This is seen as a great issue in Catalonia. As one of the most important and economically powerful regions in the country, Catalonia generates a lot of money, and people thinks that we don’t get enough return.
Diada at Barcelona 2012. For this year’s National Day see this
The fact that the government didn’t approve the Statute of Autonomy that the Catalan people wanted, plus the crisis and other social factors, led the people of Catalonia to take the streets on national day and ask for a referendum of independence. The Catalan government asks to do a referendum, as people is asking for it and the same government is formed mainly for pro-independence people. Spain refuses to do it, simply saying that the Spanish constitution doesn’t allow for something like that. The two governments have been fighting since then, and the scene on Catalan National Day repeats every year, adding new people to the protest.
For the last election in Catalonia, all but one pro-independence party went together to the election. They won, and they promised a referendum, no matter what. Therefore, today 1st of October of 2017, that is actually happening. The referendum is illegal by Spanish law, but Catalan authorities are determined to do it.
If you want to know more about what’s going, just open your preferred newspaper and see for yourself. I’m sure they’ll explain it better than me.
As for me, I just hope we can solve this once and for all soon, so we can focus and what makes people lives better.
Main pic by Kayla Velasquez