EUROPE

Catalan Independence

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Catalonia, a region in Spain touching the southwest border of France, is a vibrant district that has always had its own sense of pride and culture.  Students who study abroad in this region of Spain quickly find out that Catalonians consider themselves Catalan before they label themselves Spanish and my experience was no exception.  During the course of one short summer students in my education abroad program learned that Catalonians feel that they are separate from their home nation of Spain, and they even fly flags of red and yellow stripes to demonstrate their desire for independence.

Catalan independence has been fought for and sought out by Catalonians for many years.  They argue that they have their own language, their own foods, their own businesses, and their own traditions that make them worthy of having their own nation.  Within the upcoming year there is planned to be a vote on the issue of Catalan independence.

Catalonians want independence for dozens of reasons; one reason being the opposition of several of Spain’s most traditional customs, such as bull-fighting and the running of the bulls.  In Catalonia, any type of bull-fighting or animal violence relating to human entertainment is illegal.  Barcelona even turned one of its former bull-fighting arenas into a shopping mall.  Changes in laws like this show that Catalonia has never been tied sentimentally to Spain; they don’t really care to break traditions that hold them together.  When a Catalonian is asked what nationality they are, they frequently respond that they are Catalan, and when asked about their Spanish heritage they say that they are Catalan first and Spanish second.  Catalonians also take pride in the products that come from their region that are distinctly different from Spain.  While I was in Barcelona we referred to cava, the Catalonian version of champagne, as a Spanish drink and were quickly corrected that it was from Catalonia and the rest of Spain had no hand in its production.

Catalonians also seems to be more progressive and contemporary while Spain tends to hold onto its traditional roots.  The younger generation of Catalonians is even more pro-independence than that of the past generations with polls for independence soaring over the past years.  Catalonia has a sense of pride, in all generations, that resembles a nation and Catalans are proud of the fact that they can make their own way without depending on Spain.

Madeline Mudd is a junior at the University of Kentucky majoring in International Studies. She participated in an Education Abroad program in Barcelona in the Summer of 2014 with International Studies Abroad (ISA). 

This article’s cover photo is from the Catalan News Agency. The original article can be seen here.