The people of Catalonia have voted 'yes' by a margin of 74% to the Statute of Autonomy. Catalonia is a region (or what some consider a "nation without a state") located in the northeastern part of Spain, which includes the vibrant city of Barcelona. The traditional "Catalan Countries" (Paisos Catalans) also includes Valencia, the Balearic Islands, and Northern Catalonia across the Pyrenees, which is now under French jurisdiction.

I had the honor of spending an academic year (2000-2001) studying at the University of Barcelona and have been following the progress of the Catalan people towards greater self-determination ever since.
The Catalans have their own language and culture that is quite distinct from the Castillian (AKA "Spanish") language and culture of central and southern Spain. The Catalonia have historical claims to an independent state dating back to the Middle Ages but eventually, there country was carved up and swallowed up by Spain and France. Also in more recent history, the Catalan language and culture were suppressed during the Franco dictatorship in Spain.

Despite the large margin voting in favor of the Statute of Autonomy, there was also a rather worrying rate of abstention. Slightly less than 50% of registered voters voted in the referendum. Both Spanish nationalists, who believe in maintaining the centralized, unified nature of the Spanish state, and Catalan nationalists, who want nothing less than full independence opposed the Statute. However, the statute was supported by Zapatero's Socialist government in Madrid which is also pursuing talks with Basque nationalists. In concrete terms, the new Statute would give Catalonia's government more tax revenues from the central government in Madrid as well as more say in areas such as the management of immigration, airports and language and culture.

While some may argue that "autonomy" just means an added layer of bureaucratic red-tape, I would still have to say that autonomy is a step in the right direction, with full independence through a democratic process being the most desirable end result in the long term. After all, in the last few weeks, we have seen Montenegro and Serbia become independent countries through peaceful, democratic means, putting the final nail in the coffin of the former Yugoslavia. I think the increasing number of independent, sovereign states in the world is good for democracy and good for the protection of cultural and linguistic diversity. We have other historical examples of peaceful and democratic separations of nation-states, such as the Velvet Divorce of Slovakia and the Czech Republic as well as the independence of Norway from Sweden.

It is interesting to note that while there has been a greater trend towards "national" and regional sovereignty and autonomy, there is also the parallel trend of international integration – such as the European Union. These trends work very well in tandem, even if they sound contradictory at first. The basis of international, interstatal organizations is that of national sovereignty. All parties come to the table as sovereign states. So the Catalan people, should have the right to negotiate in the context of the European Union as a sovereign state, equal in standing to Spain or France or any other E.U. member state. Only then can the system be truly democratic and ensure the protection of cultural diversity in a globalizing world.

Economically, an independent Catalan state is viable.  Along with the the Basque Country, it is one of the most economically developed regions in Spain.  On the socio-cultural level, even though Catalan is considered a "minority language," in absolute numbers, it has more speakers than European "national" languages such as Danish, Norwegian or Finnish. 

Radio-Canada has also recently done a report on Catalonia, comparing the situation there with that of Québec.  Both are regions with minority cultures and languages with nationalist aspirations.  Both have embarked on projects of linguistic and cultural revitalization as a way of countering years of colonialism, assimilation, and neglect.  Catalan leaders interviewed in the report openly admited that Québec served as a model for Catalonia in terms of linguistic and cultural policy.

In a broader context, we can apply the example of Catalonia to other regions/nations without a state.  Certainly, China can learn a lesson or two.  China is still working under outdated, imperialist notions of the Chinese "nation" when it comes to its policies towards Xinjiang (East Turkestan), Tibet, and Taiwan (even though Taiwan is already de facto independent since 1949).  Obviously, China is growing very quickly on an economic level, and it seeks to maintain its territorial integrity as a way of maintaining law and order as well as to ensure its access to natural resources.  However, a "smarter" way to progress would be to allow for state-to-state relations on the political level while maintaining increasingly integrated economic ties.  So in the case of Taiwan – let us be our own country, but let's work together economically.  Otherwise, Chinese policies amount to nothing less than imperialism, no better than the Japanese imperialism of the first half of the 20th century that the Chinese government is so quick to point out and attack Japan for.



Filed under Catalonia, Politics, Quebec, Uncategorized


  1. even if the strict definition of Països Catalans does not include L’Alguer, let’s remember this tiny but lively Catalan-speaking community on the Italian island of Sardinia 😉

    yes …. this is Kolja the Catalan from good ol’ Barcelona! long time no hear -mea culpa- but I do follow your blog to stay abreast of your life in Japan. love the trilingual blog, might qualify as Chinese learning resource.

    please send me your email address to avoid stripping naked on this blog page.

    Kolja / Còl·lia

  2. dcat

    Unfortunately, given the success of an overtly anti-Catalan party such as Ciudadanos in getting three seats in the recent parlament election in Catalunya, the need for unity within the catalan people is more important than ever. The stupidity of abstaining from voting in an election such as this is just unbelievable, especially when there is so much at stake. It isn’t just a matter of a couple of political parties with relatively similar views duking it out for seats as happens in the U.S., this is a matter of survival for a language and a culture. There is a need for a truly independent party in Catalunya that has independence and sovereignty in mind instead of the dim-witted self-serving parties that flinch and cower to the whims of the Spanish government.

  3. Great Site, we know how important links are, would really love to link with your site, thanks greg

  4. dceba

    @dcat: Why Ciudadanos is anticatalan? Are you ok? Please, let us to be stupids and to think different. There are too many stupids, there aren’t?

    Catalonia is free! I’m free! I’m catalonian! I’m spanish and I’m proud! (today to be spanish in some places it’s like being black in the USA 50’s… “I’m black and I’m proud”).


  5. Nice post – you seem to be up on your Catalan history. I’ve been living here a while now and the only thing that annoys me is that the Catalan authorities literally shove Catalan down everyone’s throats! They seem to use the same tactics as Franco did to supress the language but inversely!

  6. Nunca, yo, personalmente, apoyaré a la gente que tira piedras a mi tejado…siendo la potencia economica de españa junto con el pais vasco y siendo la ciudad(barcelona) mas cosmopolita y con mas turismo de europa, es decir, todo un ejemplo y orgullo para el resto de españa, no entiendo como el 65% de ciudadanos del resto de autonomias españolas, tienen algo que recriminar a Catalunya, o son reacios a los catalanes…por lo tanto,yo cierro ya las puertas al resto de españa y si no nos quieren, que nos faciliten la independencia y todos contentos.Aunque la incultura española,sera un duro muro que saltar(al contrario de suecia-finlandia,la ex yugoslavia actual,etc…) habria guerra seguro.Asi que,a defender siempre lo nuestro, lo primero y todos juntos!!!!SALUT COMPANYS I FORÇA!



  8. Visca Catalunya lliure!

  9. luis

    Perdona pero la ciudad que mas turismo atrae de Europa no es Barcelona, ni siquiera es la que mas turismo atrae de España

  10. Jose

    Viva Cataluña. Los españoles que odian a los catalanes están locos. Son unos estúpidos.

    La cultura catalana nadie os la va a quitar. La lengua menos. ¿Para qué separarse?


    Freedom for Catalonia. Freedom for Scotland.


  12. Valencian people are not Catalan. Don’t be nazi!!

    The Valencians have their own language and culture that is quite distinct from the Catalan or the Castillian (AKA “Spanish”) language and culture.





  14. Visca Espanya!

    Tu articulo de las votaciones es falso. Se hizo solamente en municipios en los que gobernaba ERC y CIU. Votó gente de 16 años hacia adelante, por lo tanto no se adapta a los parámetros electorales de este país (España). De 7’2 millones de habitantes que hay en Cataluña tenian derecho a voto 700.000 solamente (aprox) de las cuales votaron un promedio de 20 % y del cual dijeron “SI” un promedio de un 92 %. Las cifras son totalmente ridículas, aparte de que la votación estaba amañada.
    Ah! por cierto Jo sòc lleidatà. Bona tarda.

  15. Catalan Countries????????????

    Aragon, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencia were part of the same state-kingdom under the CROWN OF ARAGON before the Spanish unification.

    Catalan Countries????????????

  16. laydie

    I am lydia from algeria ,and i loooooooooooooooooove catalonia

  17. ian

    Amigas i amics!
    Es clar que Catalunya es viable economicament. Es clar que un bon divorci d’Espanya seria la millor solució per a tots. Falta voler-ho i fer-ho!
    Un bon divorci es molt millor que un mal matrimoni… Demana’ls Eslovenis o als Portuguesos si volen tornar a formar part de Yugoslavia o Espanya…
    Pels nostros fills: Visca Catalunya lliure! Barcelona

    • .
      Tras décadas de autonomía, del anhelado autogobierno, gestionando los recursos propios y los servicios, después de todo eso, la mayoría de los ciudadanos que viven en Cataluña no son conscientes de que, si las cosas están peor allí que en el resto de España, algo tendrán que ver las políticas que se han aplicado hasta ahora y los partidos que las representan.

    • norberto grimaldi

      Desde Argentina; Buenos Aires; Ensenada,Catalunya es un ejemplo de civilidad aunque a vos aragon te duela.Soy un Catalanofilo que divulgo la cultura y la lengua catalana, por mi flia, mi suegro,mi esposa y mis hijas.vere aCatalunya LIBRE ¡¡¡¡ y que les duela carajoooooo. VISCA CATALUNIA CATALUNYA LIBRE para siempreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

  18. Albert

    Cataluña libre un comienzo para el resto de las comunidades del norte

  19. françois de la porte Maillot

    I am françois de la porte maillot
    Vive la république de Venise, les états du Vatican, le duché de normandie de Foix et la porte Maillot indépendants.`
    Catalans!!! On attendait plus que vous.
    Les Français vous attendent les bras ouverts!!!

  20. Joan F.

    This is pathetic. Please do not speak in the name of seven million catalans. Not all of us are for independence and most of us do not share your thoughts.

  21. Hi there everyone, it’s my first visit at this web page,
    and piece of writing is actually fruitful for me, keep up posting such articles.

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