Confusion in Catalonia

Catalonia, an autonomous region in Spain that contains the well-known city of Barcelona, has been seeking independence from Spain for almost 300 years. Catalonia has a population of around 7 million people, which is about 16% of Spain’s total population. It is also the richest region of Spain and controls about 20% of the country’s economy, which is rather significant. They have more financial control than any other region. In addition, Catalonia has its own language, Catalan, which is slightly different from Spanish.

           A few weeks ago, there was an independence referendum in Catalonia, allowing the Catalonian people to vote as to whether they should declare independence from Spain or not. Word of this vote reached the Prime Minister of Spain; the government in Madrid declared the vote to be illegal and sent forces to Barcelona to stop the independence protests and the voting. Through all of the danger and chaos, the secessionists still won the vote. Fewer than 50% of Catalonians participated in this referendum vote, though, so whether independence is the true wish of the people of Catalonia is not officially confirmed.

            Though the people may have voted to leave, there are many powerful critics who continue to suggest that they stay. Some major companies based in Barcelona have threatened to leave the region if Catalonia declares its independence. Other Spanish leaders have also criticized Barcelona, fearing disastrous economic and social effects on the entire country.

           On October 10, Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont made a very important announcement to his parliament in Barcelona: Catalonia had won the right to become independent from Spain. The people of Catalonia had made up their mind; they could now legally become their own country and wanted to do so. The people of Spain took this as Catalonia officially claiming their independence. A few seconds later, though, Puigdemont went on to describe how their road to independence would be suspended for a few weeks to further open dialogue with the rest of the country, especially the government in Madrid. Puigdemont believes that there is a rational way to gain independence while retaining good relations with the rest of Spain, so he wants to take the time to create that relationship.

           Puigdemont then continued to sign an official document, which some people took as the official declaration of independence, while others were puzzled as to what Puigdemont intended. Even the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was unaware of what actually happened and asked Puigdemont to clarify his position. The whole world was confused. Many people were comparing it to the Oscars this past year, when they announced La La Land had won best picture, but then a minute later, after the cast of La La Land was already celebrating, the emcees announced that it was actually Moonlight that had won. It seems like the secessionists won for a few seconds but then had their award taken away.

           So, I guess we will just have to wait for the outcome of this “dialogue” to see if Catalonia gains its independence or not.

 

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4

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