By Zachary Gilbert
“We are Catalan” they say, “but, we are also Spanish.” As the poles for Catalonia independence have reached a record four year low, anti-independence protesters are taking to the streets to ask for Barcelona and Tarragona to leave Catalonia. Catalonia has been in a political unease with Spain since 1640 but a spark has relit the fire as the Nationalist party won the election. Catalonia is making another bid for freedom but, it is being smothered right now by Madrid and other people in Catalonia.
Madrid has arrested political prisoners under the crimes of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds. A while ago this probably would not be such a big deal but, now that there is social media and television it has kind of blown up because of the international focus.
Many people, both supporters of independence and anti-independence, agree that there should be a vote on the question of a separate Catalonia. A legal bid would probably be voted down since Madrid can have busses take people in to Catalonia to vote and the the most recent poll showed that 40 percent of Catalans want independence, which is a four year low and a symbol of how close they are to the end of this fire.
Catalans separatists want independence because Spain take a part of every region’s income and splits it up between the other regions so the rich have to give more than the poor and get less. Catalonia is one of the richer regions so from an economical standpoint they would technically make more money because they make the fourth highest GDP per Capita and hold seven percent of Spain’s population.
Most Catalans however do not want independence because they feel both “Catalan and Spanish,” as someone said to The Guardian, and are proud of their roots. This is saying a lot because recently nationalism is harder to come by lately than it use to be. Catalans could also be worried about what happens in the future.
“In the long run they should be fine if they join the EU or not,” according to Ibai Urruchua, a Basque product manager that works for Hearsay in San Francisco, but they are most likely not going to be able to join the EU because it requires a vote from every EU country which includes Spain. Furthermore the EU is against splitting countries.
Last year on October first Catalonia had a vote for independence that was utterly chaotic for a number of reasons. First, practically the only people showing up to vote were Catalan independence supporters, although a lot of other people showed up too, the Spanish police. Second was that the Spanish government viewed it as illegal hence no anti-independence people showed up and police were called in to stop people from voting. Third police arrested almost every Catalan pro-independence government official, Madrid shut down the Catalan government and took direct control over Catalonia. Yet pretty much every Catalan wants a vote either to try to get independence or to prove Catalonia does not need independence.
According to Ibai Urruchua, Basque people are still “healing scars” and “are archiving the independence movement for a while.” Basque independence is called the Nationalism group, a political party. The Basque people need to heal scars because last time they made a bid for independence but, supporting independence in the Basque Country is tightly related to the terrorist group E.T.A, who have killed 829 people since 1968, according to The Guardian.
Urruchua also says that if Catalonia did gain independence “Definitely, it would reignite the movements for Basque independence.” But the real question for both of these regions is do they want independence?