Now that I’ve had a little bit more time here in Barcelona, I’m excited to share some more of the culture with you as I start to learn too. We can start with this map of Spain, which shows the 17 regions Spain is divided into. Their regions, or “autonomous communities” as they’re often called, are similar to what the 50 states are for us in America.
They are autonomous with their own government in each community, like state governors that we have. Just like the States and all over the world, people have different ideas about politics and what’s best for their home.
Barcelona is up in the top right corner of the map, and is the capital of Catalonia, not the biggest but the most populated region of the country. Many people here identify strongly with being Catalan, and there is conflict about Catalonia becoming an independent state. This would entirely alter politics, economics, and the overall sense of national loyalty for Spain.
One year ago, Catalonia held a referendum and the majority of people voted to make Catalonia separate from Spain. However, the national government saw it as illegal, and this is where the tension began to rise. There have been a couple protests since I’ve been here, filled with flags and people passionate about their culture.
For a better idea, imagine if California left the United States because they didn’t feel as though the government treated them fairly for all the economic and cultural offerings it brings. This is an over simplification and they have more reasons for wanting to leave, but hopefully that idea helps you see how big of a deal this is.
The current president of Catalonia is Quim Torra, who is a Catalan separatist, meaning he supports protests in the name of the freedom of Catalonia from Spain. He has only been the president since May, but just waking around Barcelona you can see that many people agree with his desire to separate.
The sign here says “Spanish government killed our democracy but will never shut Catalans mouth”. This flags with the white star represent those that are pro separatist, and can be found all over the city hanging from balconies.
Politics can be a sensitive topic, but I hope you guys consider how the Catalan people feel and share your ideas with me, because it is important to understand the culture of the locals and not just travelers like me. I’m taking a sociology class about Spanish and Catalan culture, so I should have more to tell you about this as time goes on.