Behind the Headlines: Catalonia


Addy Pratt is a student at Seattle Pacific University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Granada, Spain


Without background information, diving into the current and fast-paced news updates on the situation in Catalonia, Spain seems daunting.  

So why bother, when there’s enough madness going on at home?

Besides the feeling of vague virtuosity that accompanies logging onto a news site, keeping up with politics in other nations makes us better able to understand the functions of foreign governments, their interactions with ours, and how the lives of citizens in those nations differ and align with your own.

In hopes of making your brave attempt to follow these events a bit less daunting, I asked politics professor Rafael Vázquez García of the University of Granada a few questions to provide some useful background information.  

Keep in mind that these answers come from a human being with his own methods of information gathering, and the information provided is not all encompassing, nor does it represent every Spanish or Catalan citizen.

(Questions and responses translated to from Spanish to English.)

Question:  Why is this such an issue in Catalonia, and not in other regions of Spain?

Response:  For its historical uniqueness.  Because there has been a nationalism/regionalism there for over a century.  For reasons of differentiating economic variables (economic counterweights to the politics of Madrid).

Question:  When would you say this problem started to manifest itself in public protest?

Response:  There have been demonstrations and protests for a long time, but fundamentally since June of 2010 with the ruling of the Constitutional Court on the unconstitutionality of some articles of the reformed autonomy statute and also with the preparation of the consultation on November 9, 2014.

Question:  What themes (in general) do those calling for independence proclaim as reasons for Catalonia to separate from Spain?

Response:  There are identity reasons, the feeling of being a people of your own with a differentiated political identity from the Spanish.  Linguistic and cultural reasons, having their own language and culture.  Historical reasons, linked to the capitulation of Barcelona in 1714.  Economic reasons, the idea that a Catalonia independent of Spain would be more economically prosperous, less corrupt, and more efficient for fighting against the crisis and current problems.

Question:  Who are the most important political figures to watch while following news coverage of this situation?

Response:  Carles Puigdemont and his predecessor, Artur Mas, Oriol Junqueras, the members of CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy), Ada Colau, mayor of Barcelona, and clearly the leaders of the main state parties.

Question:  What is Article 155?  What does it say with relation to the powers held by the Spanish federal government?

Response:  It is an article that empowers the Spanish government to intervene in any autonomous community of the Spanish state when it acts contrarily to the Spanish constitution.  There is talk of measures to be taken-but it is not specified which.

Question:  What do you think is the most important thing to know when one begins following coverage of this situation?

Response:  The most important thing is to listen to the Catalan anthem, “Els Segadors”.

The world awaits… it!

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