Explainer: Catalan independence from Spain

by Ian Keating and Trent Dunn

Catalonia, a province of Spain, voted October 1st to declare its independence on , with 90.18 percent of voters voting for independence, according to the government of Catalonia.

During this process, however, the Spanish government seized ballots, cell phones, threatened to fine voters up to €300,000, shut down websites, and even demanded that Google remove a voting location app from their Android phone. The Spanish government also raided the Catalan government headquarters on the day of the vote. They had 7,000 extra Guardia Civil officers, in Barcelona the provincial capital, on October 1st.

The Guardia Civil were also attacking voters by dragging them out of voting booths, hitting them with batons, and even shooting them with rubber bullets. Over 800 people from Catalonia were injured. seventy percent of the voting booths stayed open on October 1st. Twelve Catalan government officials were arrested.

Catalonia is a region in northeast Spain. Catalonia’s largest city is Barcelona, which has a total of 1.6 million people, which is about one-seventh of the entire population of the region. They have their own culture and speak Catalan, their own language, which is not a dialect of Spanish, but developed independently out of vulgar Latin spoken by the Romans who colonized the area. A lot of Catalonians believe they should be a free and independent country because of their separate language and culture.

The Catalan people’s desire to secede from Spain goes back, not years, but decades. The first attempt at secession came about eighty years ago, when Spanish dictator Francisco Franco tried to put an end to the Catalan culture and language, according to Vox.

After Franco’s death in 1975, the Catalans focused on autonomy rather than independence.

The modern movement for independence in Catalonia began in 2006, when the Statue of Autonomy was challenged by the Supreme High Court of Justice, which ruled that some of the articles were unconstitutional. However, when the Statue of Autonomy was signed, it was agreed upon by the Spanish government and passed by a referendum in Catalonia.

(Photo: Google)

The Spanish government said that Catalonia leaving Spain would be unconstitutional.  The Spanish constitution of 1978 allowed regions to self-govern, but affirmed the “indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation,” according to the Economist. Only the Spanish Parliament can change the constitution.

Catalonia is one of the richest regions in Spain, mostly because of Barcelona, which drew 32 million visitors last year, according to the Guardian.

Spain is worried that if Catalonia leaves it will also open the door for other regions to start leaving, according to Debating Europe, many other countries are worried about regional secession, which would lead to Europe being divided into a bunch of small, diminishing, micro-states.

Since the stock market crashed in 2008, Catalonia has been pushing more for independence. One complaint parties have is that the region has been paying more in taxes and not earning anything from it. “Catalonia was simply asking for a reduction of participation in a Spanish tax system that transferred money from the richest regions to the poorest. It was clearly targeting and exploiting the Catalonia region,” said Marc Garfort, a political analyst for Barcelona Center for International Affairs, according to ABC News.

The Spanish government has been threatening the Catalonia government by suspending their regional autonomy. This would get rid of the Catalina government and also would give the Spanish government direct rule. They have given the President of Catalonia until Thursday October 19 to return stop the secession campaign, according to The Guardian.

Update: Madird got rid of Catalonia instatutions, and all the people that hold office. Carles Puigdemont the President had fled Catalonia and went to Belgium and went to discuss to with the EU to help Catalonia get independence.

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