Why does Catalonia want independence from Spain?
Spain is a beautiful and diverse country home to spectacular landscapes and cities. To call it diverse would be an understatement and to truly understand the country you must do some research on the country’s rich history. Home to 17 autonomous regions and two autonomous cities, each are characterized by their own traditions, festivities, and local cuisines.
Spain can be compared to the Unites States where each region has a right to self-government as long as the laws are created with accordance to the Spanish constitution of 1978. Each region also has their own laws and abide by their own customs. While most of the regions work hand in hand with one another the region of Catalonia has been fighting for their independence for several years. The heart of the movement is in Barcelona and is displayed by the thousands of citizens protesting on National Day. Each year on September 11 all those in favor of independence take to the streets in peaceful demonstration towards Madrid carrying flags and chanting in the local language. After living among Catalans I believe there are 3 major reasons of why every year 80% of the region vote for independence.
History (a condensed version):
In the year of 1150 the marriage between Petronilia, Queen of Aragon and Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona created a kingdom that would leave their inheritors the combined territories from Aragon to Catalonia. The kingdom lived in peace (for the most part) for centuries to come until King Philip the V defeated the regions of Valencia in 1707 then Catalonia in 1714 resulting in the Spain we know today. Since then, the Spanish kingdom tried multiple times to impose the language, laws, and traditions with little success until Dictator General Francisco Franco made it his mission to assimilate the Catalans by imposing harsh laws and forcing many into exile. This rule lasted until 1977 when Catalonia was again granted a level of autonomy when democracy returned to the country. Since then the region has since been calling for their own complete independence since. Each year the movement attracts more popularity among the locals and has received a significant global awareness with over 80,000 people marching the streets of Barcelona in 2016.
The Catalan region has always been an industrial powerhouse due to its large ports, tourism, and business relocating to the booming city of Barcelona. Being one of the wealthiest regions accounting for 18.8% of the total Spanish GDP. Many Catalans believe that much of their tax money is being stolen from the region and dispersed to other regions. Many pro-independence politicians rally in this point claiming independence would maintain that money within the region helping them develop their own. On the other hand, Spain would take a major blow to their economy if Catalan were to secede. Furthermore, it would deeply divide the Nation by redrawing borders and redistribution of taxes as well as a problem about how to distribute the country’s 836 billion euros of debt.
Language and Culture:
Contrary to popular belief not all of Spain speaks Spanish. Although Spanish, or Castellano, is the official language of Spain, 5 other languages are also spoken throughout the nation. Catalan is no exception with most of the region speaking both Castellano and Catalan. This difference has always created tension between both identities and has been predominate in the Catalan culture. The region also celebrates unique festivities including the Festival de Sant de Medir de Garcia, Sant Jordi, Festa Major de Gracia, and the world famous La Merce. These celebrations make the region unique each identity proud of their heritage.
Catalans have a strong sense of pride that will unite the people in the right direction. Whether it means independence for the region or a reconstruction of laws the region will continue to grow and prosper. We also get El Classico which is always a world event.