The Catalans are upset and, depending on whom you speak with, have been upset since being defeated by the Spanish monarchy in 1714. Now, almost three hundred years later, they are doing what many other ethnic groups throughout Europe aspire – holding a vote to become independent. Or at least show support to be independent because next month’s planned referendum is non-binding. It is not clear it is legal under Spanish law. Yet forward we go.
As violence rocks other parts of the world, the issue of independence for many ethnic groups in Europe is once again on resurgence and in most cases is peaceful. The new wave of efforts is fueled in part by a globalized economy, which breaks down national barriers and helps some regions like Catalonia that are economically strong. The world comes and goes much more easily, especially when the shackles of dictatorship are gone and a country is freer than in the past.
Most reasons for the current breakaway fever center on ethnic identify. Having reported and written about Quebec’s unsuccessful votes for independence from the rest of Canada has been a good starting point. Add to that the war in Corsica, the breakup of Yugoslavia, the velvet divorce between the Czechs and Slovaks and a whole examination of groups in Europe yearning to be free and, indeed, it is clear the idea of “independence” has appeal. The list is endless, given the wonderful cultural richness of Europe.
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