BY PAUL MANTELLA
Spain is facing its worst crisis in over 40 years.
The Spanish region of Catalonia held a vote Oct. 1 to secede from the country.
The region includes the city of Barcelona, and it makes up about one-fifth of the Spanish GDP and 13 per cent of the population.
Spain calls the referendum illegal and unconstitutional and deployed large numbers of police to stop the vote.
The Spanish Constitutional Court suspended a referendum motion approved by the Catalan parliament while they decide whether or not a vote is constitutional.
In response to the Spanish government’s opposition to the vote, Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia, says he intends to unilaterally declare independence.
In the referendum, 90 per cent of a turnout of 43 per cent voted for independence.
“There is a constant oppression of the Spanish state on Catalonia. Economic, political, and cultural – wanting to ban Catalan from schools,” says Carles Muntaner, a Catalonia advocate and U of T professor.
Widespread conflict with police during and after the vote has also been widely condemned in Catalonia – among supporters of both sides.
“In 2014, in a mock referendum I did vote for unity. But, after seeing what happened I voted for separation because… I can’t accept violence,” says Josep Lluís Pérez de Arce, president of the Catalan Centre of Toronto.
Above is the full audio clip of de Arce’s interview
Economics is also a major reason for most independence supporters. “Spain takes the 22 per cent of our gross domestic product. What we get in return – 15 to 17 per cent,” says de Arce. “That’s not enough money to administer our own affairs.”
A non-binding vote was held in 2014, that was also condemned by the Spanish government.
Catalonia faced extreme repression under dictator Francisco Franco from 1939 to 1975 – to the point where Spanish flags are considered taboo in the region.
Catalonia has declared independence twice in its history – in 1714 and 1934.