‘We have perhaps been silent too long’: Catalonia independence causes fierce division

Demonstrators hold Spanish flags during a demonstration called by “Sociedat Civil Catalana” (Cat...

Over 300,000 out of the expected 900,000 demonstrators assembled in Barcelona on Sunday amidst week-long rallies expressing views of Catalonian liberation from Spain. Flags of both regions waved high and signs expressed the crowd’s opposition to the independence vote, declaring, “Together we are stronger” and “Catalonia is Spain.”

Last week’s popular vote from the referendum concluded 90 percent of residents voted for independence from Spain. The Spanish court later ruled out the ballot votes, claiming the voting was invalid due to miscalculation and illegality. Turn-out for the vote was only 43 percent, with many opposing the liberation staying at home.

What could have been an organized polling resulted in a massive riot, with ballot boxes apprehended by the police. Clashes between demonstrators and police resulted in 900 wounded, including 33 officers.

Peruvian writer and politician Vargas Llosa reminded Catalans they needed “more than a coup plot to destroy what has been built over 500 years of history.”

Araceli Ponze, 72, told Reuters, “We feel both Catalan and Spanish. We are facing a tremendous unknown. We will see what happens this week but we have to speak out very loudly so they know what we want.”

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is expected to address Catalonia’s Parliament on Tuesday, after rescheduling it from Monday, with a statement, changing the referendum to a unilateral choice, despite most people’s vote for independence.

For some, the road to independence may be a long but sure one for the people of Catalonia. Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime minister disagreed with the Catalan vote, saying, “The government will ensure that any declaration of independence will lead to nothing.” He enforced police establishment in Catalonia until the protests seize.

With previous cases regarding independence claims, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon reminded the solution to this anarchy must be a mutual decision from both parties. “Both sides coming together to try to find a way forward…that respects the rule of law, democracy and the right to choose.”

Amid the unrest, Spanish businesses have vacated Catalonia indefinitely due to the uncertain future. On the contrary, Spanish citizens, along with the Catalan society, stand to remain united, as both territories belong to the habituated native land. Many locals disclosed nothing on the matter, as they believe politicians are willing to manipulate the public regardless.

Most are strongly opposing their rejection from free choice and demand justice on the matter. Afraid of speaking out, locals are concerned their jobs would be compromised under the designation as a foreigner or second-class citizens, consequently fearful of being treated poorly. Questions arose over whether the region would still be part of Europe, shedding light on the mass chaotic confusion among the people.

The removal of the Catalonia citizens would also mean more job prospects for the Spanish locals, thus creating further dilemmas for Catalonia’s working-class. Some feel their culture is being stripped away from their ancestral heritage.

In any manner, the entire process of the anticipated Catalonian exit should have been civil and respectful of both sides, which it had failed to accomplish. Ultimately, the people of Catalonia are unable to express their views and decisions of unification, without the backlash of the government.

Featured image via PAU BARRENA / AFP

About Aparna Nethaji

I love to create! I'm a fashion communications student, my ideas come from the sun at dawn. I'm a lefty and I believe glitter is essential for the spirit.

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