Summary of The Struggle for Catalonia

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As Catalonia’s independence fight burst into the headlines in 2017, even sophisticated observers of international politics scratched their heads about why residents of Barcelona and the surrounding region were keen to secede. Swiss journalist Raphael Minder’s well-timed study provides background and context for this question. Catalans resent Spain’s continual financial and economic mismanagement. Local feelings still fester from Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s decades-long repression of Catalan culture and language. Catalans bristle at corrupt politicians in Madrid extracting more tax dollars from Catalonia than they return. Unfortunately, this nuanced debate so lacks drama that Minder struggles to convey the dispute in a compelling way. This isn’t Bosnia, Rwanda or Syria: Race and religion don’t apply, bloodshed is rare, and the line between heroes and villains is unclear. getAbstract finds that Minder does an admirable job of laying out a thorough history for readers who want to make sense of Catalonia’s past and present political fights.

About the Author

Swiss journalist Raphael Minder covers Spain for The New York Times. Before joining The Times in 2010, he covered Paris, Brussels, Sydney and Hong Kong for the Financial Times.

 

Summary

Waving the Flag for a New Nation

Catalans, or at least a significant percentage of Catalans, have long seen themselves as a people apart from the rest of Spain. Catalonia’s hard-core nationalists have sought independence for centuries. The Catalan secessionism movement gained new momentum in 2011, amid a European financial crisis that hit especially hard in Spain – as well as in Greece, Italy and Portugal.

Catalans’ annual demonstration, the Diada, or National Day, began to draw huge crowds. The 2012 event attracted perhaps two million protesters, organizers said, though the police figure is 1.5 million and skeptics pegged it at 600,000. Whoever is right, many of Catalonia’s 7.5 million people came out for a show of state pride. The Diada demonstrations started as a communal expression of pathos as the economy collapsed. But, the notion of secession took root as Catalans saw the appeal of leaving the moribund Spanish state and forming a vibrant new Catalonian nation. Young people especially responded to the appeal of seceding since they bore the brunt of the financial crash. Catalans across generations began to call for independence...


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