If you have landed on this page today it may very well be because you want to know more about the huge demonstration that is taking place in Barcelona under the motto “Catalonia, a new European State”.
September 11th is for Catalans the anniversary of the loss of our Constitution after the Spanish invasion in 1714. We will commemorate this defeat until we recover our sovereignty.
Today’s demonstration has been organised by the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and will probably be one of the biggest in European history and will definitely be a turning point for Catalonia and hopefully the start of the last stage before independence.
With that in mind I’ll try to summarize the situation.
Catalonia is an old European country in the north eastern corner of the Iberian peninsula. With its own culture, language, traditions and history.
It used to be independent until almost 300 hundred years ago when it was invaded by Castillian and French armies and forced to become part of the Spanish state losing its centuries long Constitution and institutions.
Throughout all these centuries Spain has not exactly excelled as a democratic state and because of that until now Catalans have not had a chance to democratically express whether they want want to have their state back or not.
- The Autonomous Communities
Franco led a 40 years long fascist dictatorship regime in Spain which brutally repressed the Catalan nation and its culture. After its death, in order to dilute the self government devolution to Catalans and Basques, the only ones who wanted it, Spain granted the same status to several Spanish provinces and thus 17 Autonomous Communities were created.
However, because the Spanish state was still deeply rooted in Franco’s regime Catalonia was not able to negotiate a fair deal. The proof was the military coup from 1983 which had the immediate consequence of rolling back a great deal of Catalonia’s self government.
The Spanish Autonomous Communities have been for the last 3 decades a source of political corruption and overspending. Ruled by the same parties that have led Spain to this deep crisis.
Now with the excuse that these Autonomous Communities have overspent Spain attempts also to roll Catalan self government back.
- The Catalan Statute of Autonomy
In 2006 Catalan citizens voted in a referendum for a new Statute of Autonomy that would grant a slightly fairer relationship with Spain, including an equal status for Catalan and Spanish languages. The core aspects of this statute were declared inconstitutional and rejected by a highly politicized Spanish Constitutional Court.
As a consequence of this the Catalan education system is also threatened. An internationally praised system which guarantees that children are fluent in both Catalan and Spanish, therefore avoiding discrimination to everyone regardless of their origins, was also declared inconstitutional.
Catalan speaking TV channels have been closed down in the Valencian Country and Balearic Islands in order to erode the share of the already weakened Catalan language, which suffers under the pressure of the Spanish language without the protection of a friendly state.
- Hatred against Catalonia
Catalanophobia, or antiCatalan hatred and xenophobia is regularly used by Spanish politicians and media and is ingrained in the Spanish collective consciousness. It is also instigated regularly in the social networks with no action taken by the Spanish authorities to tackle it.
- Financial situation
Spain is not a federal country. 95% of taxes are collected by the Spanish Government and there is no control mechanism which regulates how they are redistributed. There is no transparency either.
As a result of this Catalonia suffers an unparalleled fiscal plundering by Spain, around 40% of taxes Catalans pay Madrid never come back. This amounts to approximately 8% of Catalonia’s GDP or 16 billion euros every year.
The Generalitat, the Catalan Government, only has decision power to spend, not to collect taxes. Even though it manages the most expensive services States provide (education, healthcare, police and firemen, amongst others).
The population of Catalonia has increased by about a million people in the last 10 years. Being now roughly 7.5 million. Because of this the spenditure needs have increased.
No economy is sustainable if it is drained 8% of its resources every year. This is the main cause of the current indebtment of 40 billion euros of the Catalan Government.
By starving it of its resources the Spanish government have forced Catalonia to request a bailout and are trying to use it as an excuse to roll its self government back.
This bailout would not have been necessary had Catalonia had the tools to manage its own resources, since it is a net contributor to the Spanish finances.
- Current situation
However, all the violence and repression exerted to dilute its personality and culture these last 3 centuries have not succeeded.
Catalan is today a vibrant culture and the language number 13 in Europe. However, it is not one of its 23 official european languages by decision of Spain, which blocks it.
Catalan is not official in Spain either, in the Catalan countries under Spanish rule (Valencian Country, Balearic Islands and Catalonia) it is only co-oficial and even though it is the only language native to Catalonia it enjoys a lower legal status than Spanish.
Catalans want to democratically express the right to self determination, which Spain doesn’t allow.
For the last two years all serious polls made by newspapers, universities and official institutions reveal that an overwhelming majority of Catalans would vote for Catalonia to become a new European state. The latest official poll shows the following distribution of votes: 51% yes, 21% no, 21% undecided (CA).
Catalonia has the same right as any other nation to democratically decide its future. We are not better than any other European country, but no less either.
- The Catalan Republic
Spain is a bad business for Catalonia. It denies our culture, identity and drains us from our resources. We have tried everything. It has been proven that staying in Spain is a completely non viable option to fulfill our national aspiration to be a normal country.
The only thing we haven’t been able to try in 300 years is to have our own state. And right now it seems the only reasonable choice.
The future Catalan State will be a serious and solvent country in the Southern European area with a strong, exports oriented and diversified economy. It will be a net contributor to the European Union and will contribute to Europe’s stability thus making it stronger.
We want the right to make our own mistakes, and to enjoy our successes.
To have a place next to all the other nations of the world. For our voice to be heard.