Herald EU

THE CATALONIAN AGITATION FOR INDEPENDENCE

With its fondness for social media and identity politics, the Catalan independent movement is very massive in the 21st century. But in the latest chapter of this struggle, the Spanish government presented an old-fashioned tool: exchange of letters. Carles Puigdemont, Chief Generalitat, of the Catalan government twice declined this week to clarify or abolish the ambiguous proclamation of the independence it has issued and immediately “suspended” in its October 10 speech to its parliament. In response, the Spanish government said it would progress to seek extraordinary powers to impose constitutional rule in Catalonia.
Spain is therefore entering the worst constitutional crisis in its history. This is the culmination of many years of mumbling and grumbling in Catalonia, one of the richest regions in the country, with 7.5 million people and their own language and culture. Although Catalonia enjoys great autonomy, many Catalans want to have more wealth, more decision making powers and to be recognized as a nation. Their demands increased after Spain’s 2008-12 economic crisis. Since 2015, the ruling coalition in the region has been dealing with secession, a possibility not accommodated for by the Spanish Constitution.
I’m gonna try to justify the Catalan struggle as objectively as I can, without any form of bias as you read on.
Catalonia has a different history, culture and language from the rest of Spain. The first reference in the twelfth century, a certain region of Catalonia, existed more than 250 years before coming to Spain during the formation of the country in the sixteenth century. As such, identity plays an important role in the debate about independence.
Under the military rule of Francis Franco, in the twentieth century, the Catalan culture was suppressed. Catalan identity symbols, such as castles or human towers, were banned, and parents were forced to choose Spanish names for their children. Catalan language (also spoken in Valencia) was also prohibited, said Sergi Mainer, a Catalan lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland
Despite attempts by the Spanish government to halt the referendum, 2.26 million of the 5.3 million registered voters in Catalonia participated. But while the campaign won a winning victory with a 43 percent response, many independent boycotted the poll.
In the light of all this, why it is now necessary for Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister, to consider requesting the Senate to approve Article 155 of the Constitution. It has never been used before, and it allows the government to take “all the necessary measures” to oblige the “region to respect the constitution”. His verboseness gives Mr Rajoy wide discretion. He should start by strengthening control over Catalan finances and appointing a new regional police chief. “We need to organize a parallel government,” said Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis. After making a mistake in deploying police cops to try to prevent people from having legal self-determination, it is clear that the drugs are being given to a dead patient, but all that’s needed to restore peace and normality in the Catalan region is welcome

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