Catalonia’s Attempt at Independence

Patrick Kissel, Reporter

Throughout the past month, a conflict between Catalonia and Spain, over whether Catalonia should become independent because of a referendum in favor of independence, climaxed.

On October 1, Catalonia held a referendum, ordered by their parliament, to decide whether they should make a bid for independence.

I think the Catalan government was rash in holding a referendum,” social studies teacher Peter Hult said.

The referendum was declared illegal by the Spanish government and the centralized police force was ordered to densely populated areas of Catalonia. Over 900 people were injured by the police during their raids on polling booths.

“I see it both ways. I can see Catalonia independence, but I can also see Spain wanting to keep them,” history teacher Brad Schellert said.

According to CNN, 90 percent of those who voted wanted to leave Spain, but only 42 percent of the Catalan population voted or had their votes tallied. The results may have been botched, because many ballots were taken by the police.

“It’s unlike anything here in America… Catalonia really is a separate ethnicity from Spain. I think Spain in principle, has the right idea, but politically they are doing almost every mistake you could imagine in how they treat Catalonia,” social studies teacher Mike Kaiman said.

After the referendum, multiple countries stated that they would back Spain, including the United States.

“I think Spain is a great country, and it should remain united,” President Trump said during a news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on September 26.

The European Union also announced that they would stay neutral.

“I think the EU is so nervous about, rightfully, about everything going on in Europe that this is so far down the radar,” Kaiman said.

On October 10, Catalan President Puigdemont gave a speech to the regional parliament. It was expected that the speech would include his announcement that Catalonia would declare independence from Spain, but instead during the speech he announced that the Catalan government would temporarily withhold any declaration of independence.

“This has been a calculated process by the Catalan leaders, but I would still say it is a very rash decision,” social studies teacher Jason Theodorakas said.

In response to the illegal referendum, the Spanish government released multiple threats to enact an article in their constitution. Article 155 would allow the central government to abolish any regional government and take temporary control over any regional parliament within the country.

“I think the leaders of Spain did the right thing in trying to stop the actions of [Catalonia],” Theodorakas said.

On October 27, the Catalan parliament declared independence from Spain, and in response Spain quickly enacted Article 155, and charged all former members of the dissolved parliament with treason and sedition.

“I think this is an issue for the Spanish government and should be handled by Spain,” Hult said

At current, members of the Catalan parliament have been arrested by the Spanish government, and President Puigdemont is currently in exile in Belgium.

“I think the Catalan government was rash,” Hult said.

There have been multiple pro and anti-independence rallies in Catalonia and Spain since October 27.

“I do not agree with Madrid] but I understand why they did,” social studies teacher Matthew Smith said.