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Catalonia’s Independence

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Catalonia’s Independence

Jacqueline Ohlrich, Staff Writer

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Catalonia is an autonomous community located in Spain on the northeastern corner of the Iberian Peninsula. It is one of Spain’s wealthiest and most productive regions by contributing 19% of Spain’s total GDP.

They have a rich culture that includes their own language separate to Spanish and French and have a history dating back 1,000 years. Catalan is one of 3 official languages in the Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia (along with Spanish and Occitan), and Catalonia has a population nearly as big as Switzerland’s (7.5 million). While Catalan has no official status within France, it has recognition at the regional level. This has led to separation not only between Catalonia and the countries they are in, but also with the people who consider themselves Catalonian. This is shown by a poll that was taken, where 90% of the voters wanted independence.

The Catalonia Independence Movement officially started when Pro-Independence Leaders went ahead with a full referendum on October 1st, 2017. Before this fight for independence, the region experienced broad autonomy that was suppressed under General Francisco Franco. Upon Franco’s death in 1975, the region was granted autonomy under the new Constitution and was then a part of the new Spain. A statute in 2006 then granted even greater powers financially and described it as a “nation”, though most of this was reversed in 2010. A financial crisis in 2008 separated the country through public spending cuts, which led to an increase in taxes. Following a symbolic referendum in November 2014 that was outlawed by Spain, separatists won the 2015 regional election. Catalonia’s pro-independence leaders then went ahead with a full referendum in 2017, which was also declared illegal by Spain’s constitutional court.

However, the Catalonia’s possible future of being independent remains up in the air. The first problem that comes with becoming independent is setting up a governmental body. The three separatist parties have struggled to form one, with their main leaders either in prison or exiled.

Earlier this month was the first year anniversary for the Referendum. Separatists took this as the time to protest being apart of Spain, blocking train tracks and roads across Catalonia. Such was an attempt of trying to break into the Catalan Parliament. Catalan Regional President Torra then issued an ultimatum to Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez, stating, “Our patience… is not endless,” Torra said. “If a proposal to exercise self-determination in an agreed, binding and an internationally recognized way is not on the table by November, the independence movement cannot guarantee for Mr. Sanchez any kind of stability in parliament.” The ultimatum was aimed directly at Sanchez’s growing dilemma over his Socialist government’s spending plans for 2019 with a threat to withdraw parliamentary support. The minority government holds just 84 of the 350 seats in the country’s lower house. That means it is relying on the expected support of other parties, including those supporting Catalan secession, to pass its state budget.

Though it is one year after the referendum, the society of Catalonia remains just as divided.

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