A few days ago, on September 11, 2012, a peaceful march of one million and a half people (2 million, according to organizers) was held in the city of Barcelona. Everybody was calling for the independence of Catalonia from Spain. Why? Because Catalans are absolutely fed up with Spain. It is not a new feeling, by the way. The sentiment of frustration has stayed with the Catalans since Barcelona fell to the Bourbon army on September 11, 1714, when Spain invented itself as the State we know today.
For three centuries Catalonia has endured opression, bombardements, Spanish fascist dictators, ridicule, hostility and endless attacks to its language, Catalan. Let’s not forget that Catalonia was an independent Nation-State dating back to the 13th century, as international historian Pierre Vilar has clearly explained. Why, then, this cry for independence when Spain is now (in theory, at least) a democratic country? Because Spanish lack of respect towards Catalonia and its language has never ceased to exist and, on top of it all, Spain is strangling Catalonia’s economy. Catalonia is the largest contributer to the Spanish economy, an excessive fiscal contribution without precedents in any other European country, and yet now Catalonia cannot pay for basic services. This constitutes outrageously unfair treatement by Spain considering that, after fiscal redistribution, Catalonia has worse public services than subsidised regions.
Therefore, the reasons for this march are historical, cultural and economical. Catalonia has no more patience. Independence from Spain is the only answer. To make this message clear, a million and a half Catalans joined together on the streets of Barcelona on Tuesday. It was a demonstration not only astonishing due to the number of people gathered but also for the civility showed by all —there was not a single incident of violence or uncivilized behaviour. People sang, danced and, hoisting thousands of independence flags, expressed in happiness their determination that Catalonia once again, centuries later, be a free country, a European state, an independent nation.