For years now I have been witnessing how Catalan politics take over absolutely everything in Spain:
- evidence of systemic corruption in lead political parties, local and regional governments
- economic crisis with the loss of social services (cuts in education, health, labour rights…)
- in October a substantial proportion of Spain (Galicia, Asturias and Leon) was literally up in flames, so much so the ashes went flying to UK with the help of a hurricane and made the sun look red, of course, the fires were picked up earlier by British media than Spanish, it was not about Cataluña so not worthy of reporting. Let alone sending help; even a 1% of all the police it was sent to stop the vote on 1 October would have undoubtedly saved a few thousand hectares.
I want a referendum on Cataluña’s independence, I am tired of this topic overpowering all the problems the society is facing, of politicians using it to avoid doing their job, working on behalf of citizens and rallying people against each other. Friends, families falling out due to different points of view and how polarising the conversation and acts of each side are. People without a job, living off their family members without hope for self-independence. Youngsters without any hope of having enough years of working life to amount to a retirement pension, let alone being able to leave their family home or live on their own. People forced to emigrate, leave family, friends, culture behind for the unknown, for being treated like a second-class citizen in a time when racism and fascism are ramping up, all so that they can feel a bit of fulfilment having a job and be allowed to dream of a future.
Instead of addressing all this the central government:
- changed the law so that the justice system is enabled to stop the Catalan independentism movement. Funny enough some laws can be changed, when it is convenient, this is an example, also they didn’t waste time changing the constitution to prioritise paying back the “public debt” over funding for social services
- keep moving deadlines and making fictional lines to elongate the drama and exploit the crisis more
- refuse any dialog as if politics wasn’t the art of compromise, and they were not supposed to find a solution to a problem that is taking away too much time and resources; by the way justice is not a free service, neither is all the police involved in this, all Spanish people are paying the price in more ways than one. When are going to demand governments to be accountable and sensible about spending and the role they are paid to do, people in other countries do
- keep implementing economic and social policies that only favour corporations and foreign entities, giving arguments for those wishing another type of country to try to break apart to create something that works for them, there is certainly a portion of Catalan’s society working for independence due to the failed politics of the central government, I can’t really blame them for that particular argument
- started a popular vote process outside the law, making everyone that got involved exposed to be prosecuted and jailed, since laws are there to be obeyed, like them or not. If you don’t like them (I believe laws in Spain can be improved) work for change, for a solution that would be within the legal paradigm so that it is achievable, don’t put people in the dilemma of having to choose between expressing their opinion and being prosecuted
- it is using the independentism movement as the screen for an economic battle, they want a deal that would allow them to have more money instead of sharing it with the rest of Spain, as if they haven’t benefited from all the workers in other Spanish regions that moved there and worked to make Cataluña what is today. In a way they are just funding all the people that would actually have an education and would become producers in Cataluña, call it an investment; it is also the right thing to do if you believe in equal opportunity, plus it is not like you lose all your money anyways and Cataluña has got huge amounts of funding over the years as exchange for supporting national governments
- at the same time he blames the social cuts they are doing on central government, if they were independent those wouldn’t be necessary, without mentioning that Cataluña is the region with higher public deficit, and that is not something the rest of Spain has forced upon them
- making equivalences between the existing government framework and Franco’s dictatorship. I see many faults in the existing system, but I also see the many privileges Catalans have now that wouldn’t have should that be true. They have more financial benefits than other regions. Their own language is present in schools, universities, it is very hard getting a job in Cataluña (and almost impossible for public roles) if you don’t speak Catalan. Even the fact they are allowed to talk about independence and protest in the streets (as long as it is peaceful) are signs of a type of democracy. I don´t think we have a democracy progressive enough but we are not in a dictatorship like Franco’s was either.
There is a legal way of having a referendum on Cataluña’s independence, ask all Spanish citizens. It is a simple as that. This would allow knowing what is the real percentage of people in favour in every corner of the country. Have proper debates, analysis and make an informed decision. If the independence number in Cataluña is high surely many non Catalans would consider supporting their movement; not that many people want to be married to someone that is not into them.
The concept of nation should be more than the number of regions it has, it should be the culture, common goals, nature, history. Surely Spain can succeed and remain as a country without Cataluña, thinking otherwise feels very gloom. It would be different but if it allows us to bring focus to the very serious problems we have it may not be a bad deal for us either. If we build a strong progressive country some may want to come back and others that are thinking about living may change their minds. And who knows a proper referendum could show the real numbers and stop the independentism on its toes due to lack of support but if we don’t try we don’t know and we will remain stuck.
Let’s be bold, let’s be brave and create a country that works for all of us how many of us that would be.