More than a dozen Catalonians were arrested this morning in a surprise move by the Spanish government. The rising tensions between Spain and its autonomous region Catalonia have drawn all eyes to the conflict, especially with this morning’s arrests. The situation eerily resembles a prelude to civil war, or the acknowledgement of a dictatorship.
The question that led to this is a simple one: Do Catalonians want independence from Spain? The tension between do they/don’t they and will they/won’t they caused the situation behind this simple question to erupt.
Catalonia, a small region in northeastern Spain, is an autonomous region that contributes much to the struggling Spanish economy. Catalonia already has its own president and parliament and is the second most populated region in Spain. Its capital is Barcelona, and Catalonia is a major cultural destination that contributes 20 percent of Spain’s GDP.
Catalonians have been talking about gaining independence from Spain seriously since at least 2006. And as recently as 2015, lawmakers approved a plan to secede.
The current situation involves a vote set to take place on October 1. The Catalonian government wants the people to vote on whether to stay a part of Spain or not. However, the Spanish government says that even holding the vote is not constitutional. The prime minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, has vowed to use force if necessary and reminded Catalonians that even going out to vote on the October 1 referendum is an illegal act.
By arresting several people this morning, he seems to have made good on his threat. Spanish police raided Catalonian government offices and arrested more than a dozen people. Among the arrested is Josep Maria Jove, Catalonia’s secretary general of the economy. Mayors across Catalonia have been warned that by allowing people to vote on this referendum, they may be putting themselves at risk from backlash by the Spanish government.
It’s now a bigger question than “Do Catalonians want independence from Spain?” Now, Catalonians are accusing the Spanish government of violating their right to even vote on it. The Spanish government is accusing the Catalonians of civil disobedience. While Spain tightens its fist around the jewel that is Catalonia, Catalonians are more determined than ever to fight for independence.
[Featured Image by Alvaro Barrientos/AP Images]