Catalonia nearing independence

Luke Whitaker

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1916 was a significant year in Irish history, the first steps to a six year journey to gaining independence for Ireland from British rule after centuries. 1922 was the year that Ireland gained independence, it was also the year that the Catalan political movement began.

Catalan flag/Credit: Keith Roper on Flickr
Catalan flag/Credit: Keith Roper on Flickr

The first 16 years, saw negotiations between Barcelona and Madrid but in 1938, General Francisco Franco took power. He was quick to abolish any Catalan movement.

Franco died in 1975, this saw new Catalan parties push for change. This time it was more to become an autonomy rather than independent.

2006 saw a revamp of the call for independence. Every 11 September – the Catalan National Day – since there have been mass protests in Barcelona, Espanyol and other cities in the region. Growing year on year. Reaching well over 1.2m people protesting in Barcelona alone in the last three or four years. Each year.

I identify Catalonia as a separate nation than Spain, I have always. Spain suffered more bad than most in western EU for five years (2008-2013) during the economic crisis. The last three years, like Ireland has seen a massive overturn in the economic power of Spain, however, Catalonia didn’t really suffer at all over the last eight years. Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia registers up to 20% of Spain’s GDP, making it the richest autonomy in Spain by quite some distance, it has a higher GDP than Portugal and most countries in Eastern Europe. Because of this, many Catalans believe Spain has held Catalonia back economically for decades. Catalonia also has its own culture and language. Catalan children, by the age of five when they start school are as fluent in both Catalan and Spanish. They are fluent in the two languages as children in English are fluent here in Ireland.

In 2014, a vote saw that 80% of Catalans would vote for independence if indeed there was a real, legal vote. There is set to be a vote in September 2017 which will hopefully finally see independence for Catalonia.

In their recent 4-0 win over Manchester City, 90,000+ fans waved Catalan separatist flags to show their stance for independence.

The two videos below will explain this movement in more detail.

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Luke Whitaker