Catalonia Is Not Alone, Many States In The World Are Desperate To Break Away And Survive

SHARE:

Catalonia Is Not Alone, Many States In The World Are Desperate To Break Away And Survive
The Politics Of Ego And Emotions
Private Schools: Creating Class Within Class
Al-Qaeda And Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind Of Musa In Kashmir 

Catalonia was an independent region of the Iberian Peninsula – modern-day Spain and Portugal. It is one of the wealthiest & most productive regions of Spain. It has a discrete history dating back almost 1,000 years. It has its own language, culture and customs. It has a population of 7.5 million, nearly equal to Switzerland. It is locked since 15th Century and has been subjected to repressive movements in order to make it more ‘Spanish’.


Sumera B. Reshi
Catalan parliament unilaterally declares independence by 70 votes to 10, in a vote rejected by the opposition. The unilateral declaration of independence took place on 1st October and was backed by 90 per cent of people on a 43 per cent turnout; however, the referendum was rejected as illegal by the Spanish government.

Soon after the declaration of independence, Catalans both for and against the referendum took to streets. And in response, Spanish government suspended Catalonia’s autonomy and imposed direct rule from 28th October 2017.

The north-east region’s history of self-rule trying to split from Spain dates back to 1000 years. Many times, it declared independence but it didn’t go to an extent as it did in 2017. In the 17th century, Catalonia tried for self-rule, however, they ended up losing their northern regions to France.  Although Spain has been more successful in appending Catalonia’s independence movement for long periods at the end, the will for self-rule has always triumphed over suppression. 

Catalonia as a Nation

Catalonia was an independent region of the Iberian Peninsula – modern-day Spain and Portugal. It is one of the wealthiest & most productive regions of Spain. It has a discrete history dating back almost 1,000 years. It has its own language, culture and customs. It has a population of 7.5 million, nearly equal to Switzerland. It is locked since 15th Century and has been subjected to repressive movements in order to make it more ‘Spanish’.

Catalonia enjoyed larger autonomy before the Spanish Civil War. However, Catalonia was subjugated under the decades of Gen Francisco Franco’s dictatorship from 1939 to 1975.  After the death of Francisco Franco, the north-eastern region was granted autonomy again under the 1978 constitution which marked the beginning of the democratic period in modern Spain after Franco’s death and granted the historic regions – the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia – the right to draft statutes of autonomy in recognition of their specific particularities regarding history, language and culture. However, the constitution has a forewarning: the unity of Spain can never be compromised and the army is the guarantor of this status quo.

Years later, a 2006 statue granted more powers which boost Catalonia’s financial power and described Catalonia as a nation; nonetheless, Spain’s constitution reversed the situation in 2010. This reaction by the Spanish government in 2010 angered Catalans as their autonomy was watered down beside years of recession & cutbacks on public spending.

To this, Catalans held an unofficial vote on independence in November 2014.  From 5.4 million eligible voters, more than two million people backed the independence. In 2015, Catalonian separatist won the elections and worked on holding a binding referendum and challenged Spain’s constitution which doesn’t permit disunion of the Spain.

Furthermore, in a vote on 6th September 2017, the Catalan parliament enacted its own law but the Spanish government asked Spain court to suspend the newly enacted law by the Catalan parliament. Also, the Spanish government took the control of the region’s finances and policing.  In order to halt the referendum, Madrid authorities took a series of measures.

Catalonia’s High Court ordered the police to confiscate ballot papers & referendum leaflets and closed internet accounts which instigated the referendum. Additionally, some members of the Catalan government were arrested. As a reaction to these measures, all the Catalans took to streets, demonstrating against the curbs peacefully.

Initially, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont declared independence, but then immediately suspended it, shelved it and called for talks with Madrid. Earlier pro-independence leaders took to streets in favor of secession. On the national day which falls on 11 September, millions of people turned out in Barcelona to show their willingness to independence. 

In November 2014, 2.2 million people backed independence and the coalition of separatists parties called Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) with the support of a radical left-wing party, the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), won 48 per cent of the vote in 2015 elections.

Further, there was a feeling that the support for independence may have been declining; however, the hardliner strategy of Madrid to stop the vote going ahead may equally have rejuvenated the resolve of Catalans for independence.

Motive behind the separation

In 1992 Summer Olympics, trade fairs, football and tourism, Barcelona was the hub of activities. It was a famous destination for EU, but in 2008, Spain’s economic crisis hit Catalonia hard. The crisis left 19 per cent unemployed compared to 21 per cent nationally. 

Since Catalonia is one of the most productive and wealthiest regions in Spain, it makes up 16 per cent of the national population and has a share of 19 per cent of Spanish GDP. There is, however, a widespread feeling that the Spanish government takes more than it gives back. After 2008, economic crisis, Catalans faced shortage of funds and as a rule the central government in Madrid was supposed to rescue the Catalans from further crisis.

Unfortunately, Madrid didn’t help Catalan. Thus, the financial humiliation of Catalonia by Spain revived the belief that the funding arrangement in place with Spain was robbing Catalonia of the legitimate share which rather went to the less prosperous regions in Spain.

Besides Catalonia, many regions are going for referendums such as Brexit and Kurdistan.  21st Century witnessed many paradigm shifts. Larger countries are breaking into smaller ones and the call for independence is growing louder.  Analysts believe that such moves are a result of the nation-states opposing a rag-bag of grievances against the central governing body. 

For instance, Britain left EU, Kurdistan declared independence from Iraq and this October Catalonia seceded from Spain. The whole world witnessed three massive political changes. Either these are ongoing changes or are put on the political agenda by recent referendums. These are three diverse cultures, three different countries but tied with the common cause, a cause to be independent.

Many countries in South Asia and Africa have bled to death because they wanted to revive their own politicl culture and customs independently, but the bigger countries which control them, make their dream almost impossible. India’s fight for independence from the British took 100’s of years and led to the loss of thousands of precious lives. And now Kashmir’s struggle for independence led to chaos everywhere.

In this quest for independence Kashmir also became a battleground and nearly lost two generations. Some became victims of bullets and some were buried deeper into the chest of the mother earth. Some never saw the light of the day and they vanished into the thin haze as if they were never born. Apartheid in South Africa also made the soil in South Africa crimson in color, however, today; referendums have the answer to years of autocracy.

Do we still need to shed the blood when we can have our say through referendums? Referendums have the appearance of popular democracy and it gives an impression that significant issues or decisions are finally being made by reducing an intricate question into an oversample ‘Yes’ or ‘No’

Although, Brexit, Krexit and Crexit went for a referendum, their future, however, remains in an indeterminate state. Iraq and Spain have strongly opposed the unilateral declaration of independence and have refused to recognize Kurdish and Catalonia’s referendum outright. Even though Spain and Iraq are trying to reject the Kurdish and Catalan referendum through legal battles, on the contrary, separatist movements continue to reveal their motives before the world.

Not only is Catalan, Kurdistan and Britain trying to split away but other dozens of regions are currently calling for greater autonomy or complete independence in Europe alone. For decades, Morocco has held control of Western Sahara, a territory with over 500,000 people situated along its Atlantic Coast in North Africa. The Polisario Front, a political and military organization has been calling for Western Saharan independence since Spain withdrew from the territory in the 1970s.

The Canadian province of Quebec has secessionist sentiments rooted in its past during which French and Britain fought over much of the territory. The movement for independence gained steam following the ‘Quiet Revolution’ in the 1960s. Quebec later held two referendums, one in 1980 and another in 1995 but voters opted to remain part of Canada both times.

Scot took to polls to vote in a referendum in 2014 for independence. The referendum failed but the hope for an independent Scotland remains alive. There are few other regions which want to go a la Brexit, Krexit and Crexit and Kashmir is no exception.  

The author is Associate editor with The Legitimate

                                                                                           

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 0
DISQUS: 0
Close
Please support the site
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better