September 27th, 2015 may be known as the breaking barrier for 53% of catalan independents (Buzzfeed News, 2015) wanting to get the well desired independence from Spain; separatist parties have gained majority in the catalan parliament, meaning one step closer to become a new nation. Having lived in Barcelona for almost 10 years, I have gained a full vision of the situation. It is difficult to choose sides when there are such good arguments for both sides. Perhaps the most asked question amongst civilians “can Catalonia survive without Spain?” could be asked the other way around… Can Spain survive without Catalonia?
Catalonia is rich in culture and history, but it has also been known to be one of the regions with most separatist movements and with the oppression from Spain. Ever since the Catalan state was abolished in 1714, Catalans have been constantly suppressed by the laws implemented by the Spanish government, and the fascist sanctions imposed to the region during the Civil War and the dictatorship of General Franco. Everything, from the Catalan language, to the traditions, were under no circumstance allowed for decades. Needless to say, the Catalans starting growing this feeling of hate and a conflict of identity to such levels that we find nowadays such of a big separatist movement. Catalans feel that they are the ones truly working to fulfill Spain’s needs, and they have had enough.
Catalonia is the richest Autonomous Community in Spain, with €199.786.000 of Gross Domestic Product, followed by Madrid with €197.699.000 and Andalucía with €141.704.000. Nevertheless, due to the 2008 economic crisis, Spain fell into a deep economic turmoil. Autonomous Communities like La Rioja, Cantabria and Extremadura, who have the lowest Autonomous Communities’ GDP, have slowed Spain’s economy immensely (PIB de las Comunidades Autonomas, n.d.). Catalonia has to pay the highest taxes and gets one of the lowest refunds due to the economic situation of the other Autonomous Communities. That presents a huge discomfort for thousands of Catalans who already felt that they did not belong whatsoever to Spain’s culture. Catalonia accounts to 16% of the country’s population and 20% of its GDP, so if and when Catalonia becomes independent, Spain’s already harsh situation would just keep going downhill.
A future with Catalonia and Spain divided is truly bittersweet. No more El Clásico, Barcelona will become a capital, Catalonia’s economy will flourish, and Spain’s economy will hit rock bottom (if it hasn’t already). It is promising that there will be another rich country to balance out the worldwide economic crisis, but it is daunting to imagine one of the oldest countries to be broken apart and destroyed. With Catalonia’s independence, other separatist movements like that of the basques or the galicians will follow its way, and what will be left of Spain is definitely not what we expected.
There is still a long way so that Catalonia gains its independence. The Referendum can go both ways, and Catalonia may follow what happened in Scotland. Or, Catalonia’s separatist movement may have finally won the war and make Catalonia the 195th Sovereign State in the United Nations. For now, we only have uncertainty.
Catalonia… Is it Spain?