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Catalonia continues turbulent struggle for freedom

by Breonnah Colon - Lifestyles Editor
Tue, Oct 31st 2017 10:00 pm
Spain and the autonomous state within it, Catalonia, have been making headlines of late. Catalonia has been trying to become completely independent from Spain for some time now. Recently the struggle has become more violent as questionable political moves have been made in the back and forth between Spain and Catalonia.
Spain and the autonomous state within it, Catalonia, have been making headlines of late. Catalonia has been trying to become completely independent from Spain for some time now. Recently the struggle has become more violent as questionable political moves have been made in the back and forth between Spain and Catalonia.

Spain has been one of several countries making headlines quite frequently this past week. The country is experiencing a sort of social breakdown that causes people to whisper about civil war, or in this specific case, a coup. So first off, what’s even going on and what the heck is a coup?

According to BBC, Catalonia is a part of Spain that has some of its own official power, but is not completely independent, resulting in what is considered an “autonomous region of Spain.” There was an unofficial vote about a month ago regarding whether or not Catalonia should branch off on its own. While the entire populace didn’t participate in the vote, 43 percent did. Of those who made up the vote, the majority ruled in favor of Catalonia becoming separate from Spain with 93 percent of voters pushing for the separation.

Seems like just typical politics, nothing out of the ordinary right? Well, things got a little gray in regard to the vote itself, which was never held officially by the Spanish government. Because of this, the Spanish parliament considered the referendum to be illegal and sent police officers to put an end to it. Things didn’t exactly go as planned.

According to an article by The Guardian, police forces clashed violently with Spanish locals. Reports and videos swirled across media outlets of police attacking locals and locals marching together, chanting “out occupation forces” and  calling police forces “fascist.” 

Tensions became so violent, several locals were hospitalized by police authorities.The huge number of protests both for and against separation from Spain has put immense pressure on both the Spanish government as well as leaders of the Catalonia region to reach some sort of resolution as quickly and simply as possible, something which Carles Puigdemont, the leader of Catalonia, has expressed interest in doing.

The Spanish government has been a little more strict in its response to the situation, recently pushing a bill that would remove the power from leaders in Catalonia, respectively taking away the voice and leadership of the opposition. The government has also pushed to persecute Puigdemont for rebelling, explains an article by The New York Times. 

As a result, Puigdemont has fled the country, traveling to Belgium where he seeks refuge from the charges against him. 

With lots of political aspects to the story, it's easy to forget the true story — the fact that people are actually struggling. 

As a Puerto Rican, I understand wholeheartedly what it’s like to be part of a territory that is not part of an actual country, but not necessarily independent either. I know the strife that comes with being practically invisible and being caught in exactly what’s taking place right now: a political war.

Very similarly to Catalonia, my own island recently participated in a poll regarding pushing for independence from the United States. A voting outcome of over 90 percent favored statehood in that vote, which is the only difference between the two situations; however, the voter outcome was only about half of the island’s population, just like that of Catalonia. Regardless of all the numbers and political bills and correctness, the fact remains it’s the Spanish locals, those living in Catalonia, who must deal with the situation at hand. It is the locals who experience the police brutality and, despite their being a push to persecute Puigdemont himself for his role in everything, forcing the Catalonian leaders out of their positions ultimately serves as a means to silence the people who are being represented by those individuals.

Spain, like the U.S., might not like it, but that doesn’t change the fact of the matter that very near to half of the region's population is against Spain’s ultimate rule.

Personally, I cannot say I have a clear view of how things will work out. Despite the very close similarities between Catalonia and Puerto Rico, the leaders of the island were targeted and killed for their role in pushing for a revolution for independence, much like Puigdemont currently is. So, unfortunately, I don't have any inkling of how things may end for Catalonia.

Both territories are on the brink of political development that could heavily impact the discourse not only of the country’s futures, but of their locals. We need to stop playing these political games and think of the people who are impacted by these decisions. Even if these mother-lord countries can’t stomach not ruling one piece of land, perhaps they could put their need for power to the side and consider how to best assist people who are actually impacted.

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