Soaring, Flying: Catalonia is Breaking Free

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A unique culture, a separate language and a supposedly illegal independence poll: all things Catalonia has. Who called their independence poll illegal? The country Catalonia is trying to break free from, Spain. That is where it begins.

On Sunday, October 1, the region of Catalonia voted to secede from Spain.

Catalonia is one of the semi-autonomous communities of Spain in the northeastern corner. This means in the Spanish Constitution of 1978, each community was guaranteed limited autonomy in the form of first-level political and administrative division.

Basically, the communities rule themselves, but Spain rules them.

Catalonia encompasses the provinces Lérida, Tarragona, Gerona and, of course, Barcelona. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia a well as the second most populated city in Spain. Historically, Barcelona has done some heavy lifting in Spain’s economy with about 4.7 million people in its urban area. The region of Catalonia is responsible for 19 percent of Spain’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) when it only hosts 16 percent of Spain’s population.

Therefore, Catalonia is home to a good amount of wealth in Spain. Tourism is also a comfortable guest of Catalonia with 18 million out of the 75 million tourists who come to Spain spending the most time in Catalonia.

Catalonia has a series of foreign business pursuits called “missions” to promote investment in the region. It has its own flag, its own broadcast regulator, its own parliament and its own police force called the Mossos d’Esquadra. Those who favor Catalonia seceding use the slogan “Madrid nos roba,” or “Madrid is robbing us.”

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They believe their region gives more than it takes.

Succession was supported by a 42.3 percent turnout. Over 2.2 million people are reported to have voted of the 5.3 million registered voters in Catalonia. Just under 90 percent of those who voted supported secession. Those who supported Spain remaining as one protested in Madrid with chants of “Spain united, never divided” along with “Viva España” (long live Spain).

Spanish officials deny the legality of the vote as well as the validity for a vote to even occur. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy claimed that Catalans were tricked into voting.

Regardless if they were, nothing justifies the shocking images of Spanish police officers striking Catalans and pulling women by their hair out of voting stations. Nothing justifies firing rubber bullets at civilians. Nothing justifies the injury of over 800 people.

One other protest took place in Madrid that same day. It was not a protest of Catalonia seceding, nor was it a protest of the protest. It was instead one filled with people who believed Catalonia has the right to vote.

At the very least, they should be allowed to vote.

What people hope for now is a peaceful resolution. Whatever the outcome may be, if peaceful measures are taken, there will be success in some respect.

Cover image via New York Times