By greydogg, 99GetSmart
What follows is my response to a friend, who asked for my take on the situation in Barcelona:
As I have been living here for 5 years, the subject of independence has come up several times, especially this year. The first question I ask is, for or against? The second question is, in the EU or out of the EU? Lastly, I ask why they are for or against independence. Every person I have asked who wants independence also wants to remain in the EU, which makes no sense to me. It seems the only solid reason they want independence from Spain is financial. Personally, I don’t consider ‘dignity’ a solid reason. It’s just a slogan. On the other hand, most of the people we’ve spoken to are against independence.
The big problems I have with the alleged 90% in favor of independence as per the referendum on Sunday is that the government initially said it would take 3 days to hand count the ballots, yet they came out with the 90% figure on the same day of the referendum. How were they able to count over 2 million votes in a couple of hours? It’s a bit suspicious. What’s more, only 40% of Catalans voted, which doesn’t constitute a 90% mandate to declare anything. I read that a great majority of ‘no’ voters abstained because they didn’t want to participate in a referendum they viewed as illegal and didn’t want to give it legitimacy by voting. Therefore, the results did not express the will of the majority. Normally, I would say that, by not voting, you give up your voice, but in this case, it was a difficult choice because of the legal issues.
That said, I was very angry at Madrid for sending 16,000 rioting police to BCN to “stop a rebellion”. Rajoy was disingenuous by that remark. I can’t think of a better way to start a rebellion than by putting 16,000 boots on the ground. -_-
The police were brutal on Sunday and it was disgusting to see the way they treated peaceful people. I saw women, children and the elderly, with huge gashes on their heads and blood all over their faces from getting cracked with batons. In this case, Madrid lost the war of public opinion. It was a stupid and thuggish move. They had the EU and the law on their side and should have just let the Catalans vote and pursued legal means to stop them from actually going through with the process of seceding from Spain.
Even though I don’t have a dog in this fight, I am against independence for several reasons. First of all, I suspect this is a top down movement instead of a bottom up movement. I say this because I have yet to hear a good reason why Catalans want independence. They already have autonomy, so what would change? In my opinion, ordinary people have nothing to gain from independence and everything to lose. Going through with the referendum may cost them autonomy. The only people who will benefit are the corrupt government officials, who would gain more power and be able to steal freely from the public trough without having to share with Madrid. The Catalan government had the obligation and responsibility to present, to the people, what independence would entail, rather than to incite people with empty slogans like, “independence = dignity”. The Catalan government did not do this and Catalans didn’t ask, which is unfortunately common – that the public does not engage in critical thinking.
Being an independent nation means that Catalonia would have to apply to be in the EU – it would not be automatic and the EU has sided with Madrid regarding the legality of the referendum. Also, as an independent nation, Catalonia would need to open and staff embassies in every country – costing them billions. And, as much as I am anti-war, they would need a military – another couple of billion PLUS, there would have to be compulsory military service. That trashes the financial argument since those costs would not be even be close to the money they would save by not having to pay Madrid. To me, independence means financial crisis and soon, an IMF loan = disaster. As we have seen multiple times, IMF loans and austerity don’t affect politicians who somehow magically manage become millionaires on a 100k annual salary. It will only devastate the public.
I am increasing angry at the Catalan government, who irresponsibly put their own people at risk on Sunday (and in the future), for something that only benefits the politicians. And I’m a bit angry at Catalans for trusting their government, without question. How can anyone today have trust in government? If you are paying attention, it’s clear that every single government is corrupt and does not represent the People.
As it stands now, the military is stationed outside of Barcelona. I expect they will ‘occupy’ Barcelona next week, to prevent the parliament from meeting and declaring independence. I think that they will arrest the politicians responsible for the referendum and they will be prosecuted for sedition – a 20 year prison sentence. What will ensue, who knows? I’m thinking the Catalans will lose their autonomy and there won’t be much they can do about it except for general strikes and protests (which doesn’t work anymore). This will hurt our economy. Already, tourism is down and companies are fleeing. Many people are going to lose their jobs.
I don’t know how long the military will occupy Barcelona. I hope that doesn’t happen, but I think it will. Madrid holds all of the cards. There are a lot of punitive actions they can take and judging from their actions on Sunday, Madrid will not be kind to Catalonia.
What do you think?