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The Facts —
- On 3 October, thousands of people gathered outside of the Barcelona police department headquarters in protest of Spanish police violence and the Spanish government’s rejection of the independence referendum.
- On 2 October, union leaders had urged Catalonians to go on strike in response to the Spanish government’s rejection of the referendum. Javier Pacheco, the secretary general in Catalonia of the Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) union, said:
“An attack on democracy without precedent in recent times calls for a united response. We have called on all sectors to take part.”
- On the same day, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont tweeted:
“Peace, civility and dignity have led us here. The ultimate success depends on keeping us engaged as never before. We continue!”
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) October 4, 2017
- Catalonians have been fighting for independence for centuries. The region officially became part of Spain in the 15th century. Catalonia has its own language and culture, which are separate from the Spanish language and culture. Spain, however, is against Catalan independence. Catalonia is one of the richest and most highly industrialized regions in Spain. The region makes up for roughly 20% of the national economy, and the population accounts for 16% of the Spanish population.
— Aldin (@aldin_ww) October 4, 2017
— Galicia Bilingüe (@GaliciaBilingue) October 4, 2017
The Referendum —
- On 1 October, Catalonia held an independence referendum.
- The referendum occurred despite opposition from the Spanish government.
- Before the vote, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said:
“There will be no referendum on self-determination. Democracy will respond with firmness, poise, serenity and dignity.”
- On the day of the referendum, Spanish police allegedly raided poll stations and beat back voters as they attempted to vote.
— Maxine Kingston (@missmaxineutd) October 1, 2017
Violence by Spanish police at polling stations pic.twitter.com/v0uwmO9uTZ
— Help Catalonia (@CataloniaHelp2) October 1, 2017
- Later in the day, Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy gave a speech in which he said that the referendum was illegal and that Catalonians had been tricked into voting in a referendum by the regional government, according to Reuters.
- On the morning of 2 October, Jordi Turull, a Catalan regional government spokesman, said 90% of Catalonian voters who voted in the referendum voted for independence.
- Catalan has 5.3 million voters. Turnout was 42.7%.
- On 2 October, Catalan President Puigdemont said in a speech:
“The Spanish State has today written a shameful page in the history of its relationship with Catalonia, sadly it is not the first time…
Today, Catalonia has won many referendums. We have the right to freedom, to live in peace…
Today, in this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won an independent State in the form of a Republic.”
— Llibertat.cat (@Llibertatcat) October 4, 2017
— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 3, 2017
Brief History of Catalonia and Its Efforts for Independence —
- 11th century: Catalonia is an independent region
- 12th century: Catalonia is joined to Aragon, another neighboring region, by royal rule.
- 15th century: King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile married and united their kingdoms to form what we now know as Spain.
- Between the 15th and 18th centuries, Catalonia increasingly comes under the control of the Spanish state.
- 18th century: During the War of Spanish Succession, England, the Netherlands, and Prussia went to war against France over who the new ruler of Spain would be after the childless King Charles II died. England, the Netherlands, and Prussia backed the Austrian Archduke Charles, while France backed Philippe d’Anjou.
- During the war, Archduke Charles had seized Barcelona, the major city in Catalonia. Catalonia then backed Archduke Charles to preserve its independence from Spain.
- 1714: Philippe, who would be known as King Philip V of Spain, captured Barcelona, ending the War of Spanish Succession. Catalonia was integrated back into Spain, and has been fighting for their autonomy ever since. Today, pro-independence Catalonians still call Spaniards who are against Catalonian independence “botiflers,” or allies of Philip V.
- 1931: Spain becomes a republic and Catalonia is granted greater autonomy.
- 1939: General Francisco Franco captures Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and once he has control of the Spanish government, he revokes Catalonian autonomy and represses the Catalan language.
- 1975: Franco died and Catalonian nationalism efforts reignited.
- 2006: Spain granted Catalonia status as a ‘nation,’ and gave them taxation rights. Catalan has its own regional government.
- 2010: The Spanish Constitutional Court struck down this ruling, arguing that Catalan was not a “nation” although Catalonian was a “nationality.”
Supporters of Catalonian Independence —
- Sinn Féin, Ireland’s pro-independence party, has shown its support for Catalonian independence:
— Mairéad O’Donnell (@cllrmairead) October 2, 2017
- Liz Castro tweeted:
It doesn’t seem that Spain is capable of responding without threats. But they can’t put us all in jail. 3 million baby. 56.75% https://t.co/VaJr8TZwsE
— Liz Castro (@lizcastro) October 4, 2017
- Aleix Sarri Camargo tweeted:
— Aleix Sarri Camargo (@aleixsarri) October 4, 2017
Critics of Catalonian Independence —
- Spanish King Felipe says Catalonian people have put themselves “outside the rule of law and democracy.”
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) October 3, 2017
- On October 1, Prime Minister Rajoy said, “There has been no referendum on self-determination, but rather a staging against legality. The rule of law remains valid.”
No ha habido un referéndum de autodeterminación, sino una escenificación más contra la legalidad. El Estado de Derecho mantiene su vigencia pic.twitter.com/ynYGk0v4D7
— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) October 1, 2017
Megan Evershed contributed to this report.