The Catalonia Conflict

Max Yang

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On Sunday, October 1st, Catalans gathered to vote for their independence from Spain. Catalonia is a semi-autonomous community of Spain, and has been fighting for complete independence since the 20th century. Catalonia is Spain’s most affluent region, with a booming tourism industry due to Barcelona. Because of the economic crisis in Spain, Catalans believe that they are supporting the Spanish economy. However, independence voters believe that are not being compensated for doing so. As a result, many are protesting for independence.

The fight for independence has been attempted multiple times. However, it has been difficult with the repression of the Spanish government. For example, when Francisco Franco came to power in 1939, he destroyed Catalan institutions and language, and there were mass murders of thousands. Additionally, during the vote on Sunday, Spain responded violently. Hundreds of people were injured during voting, and the Spanish police force used batons, rubber bullets, and broke down glass doors in order to stop people from voting. “I am distressed that the government handled it so poorly, and they should have allowed the vote to happen. By putting down their iron fist, and being dictator-like, I think they made the situation absolutely worse,” said SHS Spanish teacher, Judith Tanen.

The official results released Friday show that 90 percent of the voters were in favor of secession from Spain. However, this vote may not fully capture the ideas of Catalonia, as many of those opposed to secession did not vote. “I don’t think that the situation in Spain is the majority of the people in Catalonia wanting to be independent. I think it’s mostly a result of bad optics from the Spanish government trying to stop this [vote],” said SHS History teacher, Brendan Lee. Catalan separatists are planning on unilaterally seceding from Spain, and Spain has responded by suspending a meeting of Catalonia’s Parliament on Monday. Additionally, Spain will take full administrative power of Catalan, if it declares independence.

 

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