The region of Catalunya and its capital city Barcelona is one of the most beautiful places in Spain. As a matter of fact, Barcelona is the most visited city in Spain. Their proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, historic, and cultural venues, and its wonderful people, make of this region a must see place in any visit to Spain. Catalunya is also the industrial heart of Spain. While in the south most of the economic development is agricultural, the center part is mostly cattle, and the Basque Country and the Cantabric region is known for its banking industry, Catalunya is the home to most of the technology, textile, pharmaceutical, and communications industries of Spain. However, when we analyze the Catalunya region and its desire for independence, we must learn to separate the fact from the fiction in order to understand the desire of 48 percent of its population to become an independent republic.
The Greeks and the Carthaginian people were the first conquerors of the region known as Catalunya today during the VI century b. C. Eventually, the Romans conquered the region around the year III b.C. calling it “Hispania Citerior.” Eventually, the Visigoths conquered the region from the Romans controlling the region from the V to VII centuries a.C. However, at the beginning of the VIII century the Muslim armies conquered the Iberian Peninsula and moving into part of the French territory. It is in front of this existencial challenge that Charlemagne decided to create a buffer zone between France and the Al-Andaluz region dominated by the Moors. That buffer zone was Catalunya. Eventually during the reign of Charles the Bald the Count of Barcelona was created with the purpose of defend France from the Muslim incursions. Wilfred the Hairy became its first Count around the year 878 a.C.
By the X century, the Count of Barcelona was a quite independent person. He was almost a King, but it never became a monarch. Eventually, by the XII century Ramon Berenguer III, Count of Barcelona begin to refer to the people under his dominion as “Catalans.” But in the year 1137 The Count of Barcelona married the Queen of Aragón and from that moment on, Catalunya became part of what it is Spain today. It was through this marriage between Ramon Berenguer IV and Petronilla of Aragón that the territory of Catalunya as we know it today became. Catalunya became a prosper region under the Aragonese Crown. The region was so important that the current Catalan flag comes from Kingdom of Aragón and city of Zaragoza had to share its status as Capital of the Kingdom with Barcelona. Nonetheless, Catalunya was part of the Aragonese Crown; not the other way around. In 1469 King Ferdinand of Aragón married Queen Isabella of Castille. The unification of the crowns of Aragón and Castille is what it has become today as Spain. Under Ferdinand and Isabella the kingdoms of Galicia and Valencia became part of this new kingdom known until this day as “Reino de Castilla y Aragón.”
The very first intent of Catalunya’s independence from Spain came in 1641 during the Franco-Spaniard War. Catalunya became a republic for a week until the French took control over Catalunya and then in 1652 became part of Spain again after the Spaniard Army was able to expel Louis XIII and the French Army. Nonetheless, at the end of King Charles II reign a dispute over who would be inheriting the throne rose up to the point they had the famous War of Succession. The battle was between Philip V of the House of Bourbon and the Archduke Charles VI of Austria. The Catalans chose to fight on the side of Philip V who lost the battle and resulting in major problem for the Catalan people. As a result of this issue, Catalunya lost all its privileges. But eventually, Catalunya rose again. During the Napoleonic Wars, France controlled the region. But eventually in 1814, the French abandons the area after the Armistice.
The Catalunya Region as beautiful as it is, it is also the heart of great problems. Their desire for independence has placed them in the middle of many conflicts, to the point that many historian suggests that Catalunya has been bombarded at least once every 50 years. In 1874 a military coup brought into power the Bourbon family once again having Alfonso XII as King. But it was also a period in which the separatist movement flourished under the leadership of Valentí Almirall, Enric Prat de la Riba, and Francesc Cambó, among many others. And eventually the anarchists, communists, and republicans found a home in Barcelona. In 1926 a small army of anarchists and communists tried to take over Barcelona and declare a Republic, but it was discovered and it failed. Nonetheless, Francesc Masiá and his movement “Estat Catalá” gain momentum and eventually founded the Party “Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya” or the “Republican Left of Catalonia.” Consequently, in the midst of the great revolt that brought into power the the First Spanish Republic, Masiá declared the Catalan Republic. But two days later, they had to come down to the reality that Catalunya could not be able to be a independent country. However, the Republican government gave to Catalunya a status of autonomy, giving the opportunity to the Catalans to establish their own Generalitat or local Parliament.
In 1936 Spain became a Republic for the second time. The major supporter of this effort was the Catalans. During the days of this second republic thousands of Roman Catholic churches were burned down and thousands of priests murdered. Hence, when General Francisco Franco raised in arms against the Republic, the Roman Catholic Church went behind him 100 percent. General Franco’s Army surrounded Madrid and the Republican government escape to the heart of all the republicans, anarchists, and communists; Catalunya. Barcelona, became the de facto capital of the Republic until Franco wins the Battle of the Ebro in which he gains control over Catalunya. Lluís Companys who was the President of the Generalitat at the moment was executed by Franco’s Army and from 1939 to 1975 Catalunya live in a state of siege.
Upon the death of General Franco in 1975 and the coming into power of King Juan Carlos, things begin to change for the Catalan people. His Majesty King Juan Carlos with the help from Adolfo Suarez brought democracy to Spain in its current form of government; a Parliamentary Monarchy. Under this form of government Spain have a monarch that is the Head of State, Commander of the Armed Forces, and symbol of unity of the nation. They have a central government led by a President of the Government (its a fancy name for Prime Minister), and a Parliament divided into the Senate and the Congress of Deputies and the nation is divided into 17 Autonomous Regions; among them Catalunya.
On the last 40 years Catalunya has become from been one of the most punished places to the most important Autonomous Region in Spain. The central government had allow them to have their own local government, language, culture, and the result has been prosperity. At the same time, the Catalan government has been taking this opportunity to spread their separatist message through an indoctrination system in the school system and the local radio and television. Today, there is a new generation of Catalans that truly believe that Christopher Columbus, Teresa de Avila, and Jesus Christ were Catalans. The Central government left the local government to do their own thing and today we have in Catalunya the most corrupted political class in all Spain.
As a foreigner living in Spain I talk about Spanish politics with my close friends. I am not going to tell you 20 reasons why Catalunya should remain or secede from Spain. But I must tell you this. It will be a miracle for the Catalans to achieve independence. An example of this has been what we have been witnessing this week. Out of the 35 most powerful companies (35 Index Companies) 34 have relocated their main offices outside Catalunya. Why? Because the European Union, United Nations, the United States, and the American States Organization countries (except Venezuela) would never recognize Catalunya as a nation. Why? Because recognizing Catalunya will open a Padora’s Box in which Scotland, Quebec, Bavaria, Lombardy, Kurdistán, and many other regions in the world that are seeking independence right now will be doing the same. Moreover, from the economical standpoint, no major corporation would be doing business in a place that is fiscally and judiciary unstable. Hence, an independent Catalunya would become fiscally like Greece or Puerto Rico. The third reason is the fact that when it comes to independence only 48 percent of the Catalan population will love to see that happening and the other half wants to remain part of Spain. So, what would you do with 52 percent of the people that wants to remain part of Spain?
There is no question that a lot of tension has been raised on the last two weeks. It is remarkable that in the midst of a society that is very emotional as all Southern Europeans are, there has been for the most part a controlled environment. No one has been killed yet and contrary to what the world media might want to portray the Central government, there has not been much action from the police over the people in Catalunya considering the fact thousands of people are in the streets every day marching, interrupting the livelihood of other citizens, and blocking a normal life. There is only one instance; on Sunday October 1st when the police beat the daylight out of people. But this story have two sides. Yes, the police beat people and close to 900 people were injured. At the same time these people were actively in violation to a court order. Certainly, we can argue in favor or against such action. My point is not to argue in favor or against, but rather to make the point that if a court makes a prohibition to go and vote because such vote is unconstitutional and you go against that court order; there is a pretty good chance, you will be stopped or beat by the police.
Certainly, Catalunya is at a crossroad. Please, join us in prayer over Catalunya. There is a possibility that today the local government will declare once again, independence. That will force the central government to take actions that will clash with the people that would love to see their beloved land independent from Spain. Pray for the believers living in this part of Spain that have to endure all of this disruption and for our missionaries who feel trapped as foreigners witnesses of Christ into a fragmented society by separatism from or unity with Spain.