‘Vivir Catalonia,’ (live Catalonia) the protesters chanted.
Boarding the packed Metro train in the centre of Barcelona; teenagers, middle aged citizens and even those considerably older, squished onto the carriage wrapped in Catalonia’s yellow and red flag. They proudly wore the emblem demonstrating their passion for their home region.
While, their patriotism was comforting, I felt a sense of concern as police littered the streets and a sense of danger was present. Barcelona is one of my favorite European cities with its wealth of culture, art and music. It was sad to feel this sense of unease.
The political situation in Spain at the moment is said to be the worst it’s been in over forty years. Catalonia is the North Eastern rejoin of Spain spanning from France’s border to slightly South of Barcelona. The region has its own dialect (Catalan), is home to 16% of the Spanish population (7.5 million people) and contributes to 19% of Spain’s GDP.
90% of Catalonia’s population want independence from the rest of Spain. The citizens work hard and contribute a lot to the Spanish economy. They believe that they should gain full autonomy because their tough grind fuels the entity of Spain.
They think: ‘Why should our well deserved salaries go on taxes for the whole of Spain? We want our taxes to be spent in Catalonia.’
However, to gain complete independence is not so simple.
The Spanish Prime minister, Mariano Rajoy has warned the Catalan government that independence would be illegal. But the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont has said they have the right to be independent.
According to article 155 of the country’s 1978 constitution if a self governing community such as Catalonia does not follow the rules of the central government they can be forced to oblige to the laws of the country.
This has meant that the Spanish government have sacked the Catalan president, raided the Spanish parliament and arrested 14 officials. The Spanish government has also sent a large police force into Barcelona to help with the protests.
Going forward, there is ambiguity about the future of Spain. Whats more, if Catalonia was to gain independence what would this mean for the Eurozone?
But firstly will Catalonia gain independence?
Only time will tell.
My recent visit to Barcelona was interesting. I felt, saw and listened to the thoughts of those in Catalonia.
In true Catalan style I enjoyed lengthy meals, relaxed on the beach and walked in the scenic mountains. While, the strain and stress of the current affairs is running in the background, people are still living life to the full and enjoying the everyday which reflects the Spanish culture.
Top Tips for visiting Barcelona:
- Enjoy Barcelona’s beaches. One that is less touristy, slightly quieter and not too far away is Nova Icària Beach. You can easily get there by bus.
- Buy a T10 card at any metro station for € 9.95 (this gives you 10 journeys on public transport).
- Have lunch at Xiringuito Escriba. The paella there is known to be the best in Barcelona. Be sure to get the dessert too. It is divine. It is worth the expensive price. If you go for drinks, main course and dessert it will come to around € 40 a head. You wont need dinner either. Defiantly, worth the investment.