Two of the world’s best soccer teams played last weekend in what they call “El Clasico,” the Classic. Real Madrid was visiting Barcelona and the crowd of nearly 100,000 fans erupted into cheers. However, they were not cheering for their hometown Barcelona team, but rather for “Independence!”
The display of nationalism in Catalonia highlights the new separatist fever taking over Spain’s Catalonia region. The quest for independence in Catalonia stretches back for centuries. However, the fever for separatism has swelled because of tax increases and austerity measures put in place by the central government.
The regional party, Convergencia i Unio, has adopted a new slogan of “Our own State.” Members of the party are saying that no one considered the cost of being a part of Spain while the economy was booming, but now with the recent economic crisis everyone sees how costly it is.
Spain has one of the longest Democratic states in Europe that dates back to the fall of Franco over 30 years ago. However, some are worried that the new separatist fever will bring back the terror that emanated from the Basque Country.
Even though most Spaniards believe the tradition of a nonviolent struggle for independence will prevail in the region of Catalonia, the fever has returned at a time, when it is welcomed the least.
At present, Spain is trying to overcome a huge debt crisis that pushed unemployment over 22% and contracted the economy for all Spaniards in what just five years ago was one of Europe’s booming economies.
Of the 17 regions in the country, six have asked the central government of the country for a bailout, including Catalonia. Those requests have forced the government of Mariano Rajoy, the Prime Minister to set aside over $23 billion to keep the regions from going bankrupt. Catalonia has issued a request for $6.5 billion.