Video: Matthew Tree explains Catalonia to a group of North American students

Matthew Tree, an english writer who has lived in Catalonia for 26 years explained what is Catalonia to a group of North American students who study in Barcelona. If you want to better understand what is Catalonia and learn about it’s struggle for independence I don’t think many people would be able to explain it better (and in english) than Matthew Tree.

The initiative took place in Universitat Pompeu Fabra as part of the Emma Dialogues a collaboration with Col·lectiu Emma, a group of Catalan professionals who reply to articles written about Catalonia by the international press.

The video has been published by catalan newspaper Vilaweb and it can’t be embedded so you’ll have to click on the link to watch it. The video is fully in english.

Link to Matthew’s Tree conference “Catalonia: The future is another country”.

9 thoughts on “Video: Matthew Tree explains Catalonia to a group of North American students

  1. Not clear to me – how many people want complete independence from Spain, and how many want to stay in Spain but with more autonomy and respect?

    Becoming a separate nation and maintaining an army and navy and diplomatic corps would be quite expensive – not that money should be the determiner of all political questions.

    1. Hi Jack, thanks for your comment. We don’t have the answer to that question because Spain will never allow Catalonia to do a referendum of independence. However, polls show that a majority of Catalans would vote for independence.

      With regards to money, it costs Catalonia every year 10% of its GDP to belong to Spain. Meaning that of all the money Spain collects 22000 million euros never come back (and that’s after subtracting the proportional amounts to pay for the Spanish army, etc., answering your question). Which amounts to about 3000 euros per Catalan or about 12000 euros for an average family of 4 members. So only with regards to money alone it would already be highly beneficial to be independent. Not to speak of the social, cultural, tax and business advantages of having your own state. You can find many more examples through these pages.

  2. See, Catalonia is like Kosovo, oppressed and so on. And in Kosovo, when still under Serb rule, they conducted a referendum for independence; turnout was huge, the majority in favour was around 90%.

    The same thing happens in Catalonia, the same kind of majority is obtained. Only the participation is a little lower, around 20%.

  3. That’s a fallacy, there has been no Catalan government backed referendum for independence in Catalonia.

    On the other hand, the popular referendums for independence have been indeed a big success, as Matthew Tree mentions in the conference.

  4. There is no fallacy because we both referred either to opinion polls (you) or to the Kosovo referendum (me), which was all but officially sponsored. You cannot compare the Kosovo parliament of 1992 to that of Catalonia today. If anything, we have to conclude that, contrary to the claims of Catalan nationalists, there is no point of comparision between Kosovo and Catalonia. I was just being ironic, however I did want to bring in an example of what order of magnitude we talk about when people are really motivated.

    If you want to call a 20% turnout “a big success”, then be my guest. Although the Catalan parliament did not back it, and could never have done so because that would have been illegal, it was widely advertised in the local media and received enough backing from parties, associations and personalities to attract the participation of the independentist minded. That those turned out to be just a minority, even though the public debate about collective identity was at its heights, must lead to the conclusion that the issue is not really important to a majority of citizens.

    Which answers Jack’s question.

  5. If you believed what you say you wouldn’t spend so much time posting on blogs about Catalan independence.

    These popular referendums with no direct political impact have got people talking about independence and organising themselves. So far 513 villages and towns have organised one creating a network of more than 60000 volunteers.

    More than half a million people have voted in spite of the media blackout and lack of budget. It’s got people talking about the independence as a real possibility and questioning why can we vote about how many lanes we want in some avenue in Barcelona but we can’t vote about independence (and the answer is, because Spain is not a real democracy). And this is a big success of democracy and the Catalan people.

    Never, anywhere in the world anything like the Catalan popular referendums had happened before. This will be studied (if it’s not already) in the political science faculties all over the world. People without any official support have organised themselves as a state.

    However, on the other hand, there’s no comparing them to a binding, official, referendum of independence that will rather sooner than later be organised.

  6. Hi Jack

    Regarding sustaining a navy etc.

    Catalans are already paying for this through their own taxes. As one of the major industrialised regions of the peninsula they are actually subsidising Spain.

    But I don’t think this is really the issue.

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