Catalan independence update – week two of Spain’s national crisis

October 8, 2017

What a time to be alive!

The Catalan independence thing appears – for now – to be moving forward, but in the past week there have been some developments that are keeping things very interesting.

The promised declaration of independence didn’t happen “within 48 hours” like the Catalan government originally promised.

So here we are…

International news has picked up some fake and doctored photos of what happened during the referendum on October 1. Many viral photos of police brutality are actually completely unrelated protests years ago…

This isn’t exactly the first time the Spanish police have gotten out of hand with the use of force – it’s just not usually international news when they do.

In any case, many people (myself included) aren’t happy with the way this whole thing is being handled.

And I’m shocked and amazed by the comments I’ve received about how I’m one of the most objective “news sources” in this whole mess. About how people are waiting for my updates.

Actually, I’m kind of embarrassed.

‘Cause I’m not objective at all… (and I can barely even bring myself to write in correct English, most of the time).

But I do think that politicos all over Spain are basically a bunch of d-bags. On that point I refuse to budge. Madrileño, Catalan, whatever… they suck.

And now that I’m autónomo and paying taxes out the hoo-ha, I’m gonna say it even louder.

Y’all d-bags enjoy my money.

I’m gonna enjoy telling it like it is down here.

Anyway, here’s my big update on the Catalan independence thing and Spain’s biggest national crisis since being eliminated from the last World Cup.

First off…

Big companies are leaving Catalonia in droves

Or at least in one drove.

(What’s a drove, anyway?)

It started with Banco Sabadell.

Then La Caixa – the best or worst bank in Spain (depending on who you ask).

Most recently it’s Gas Natural. And there are some smaller companies joining in, too.

catalan declaration of independence
Two of the four towers of Cuatro Torres Business Area here in Madrid. Photo by the author.

Companies are leaving Catalonia as fast as they can – although I’m not sure if they’re actually “leaving”. They’re changing their “sede social” which as far as I can tell will have some tax repercussions – but doesn’t mean they’re actually sending thousands of employees elsewhere… yet.

(Maybe an actual economist will chime in and enlighten me.)

In any case, it seems like a vote against the whole independence thing, from people who actually have two nickels to rub together.

Banks need to leave Catalonia because they’re getting constant liquidity injections from the ECB – and if they suddenly end up outside the Eurozone, they’re outta luck.

S.O.L.

And I don’t mean “la Puerta”.

On the other hand, non-financial companies benefit from the free flow of people and products within Europe – they don’t want to be in a newly independent state spending several years in legal limbo trying to get back into the EU.

One of the problems with democracy as we know it is that almost everyone votes based (at least partially) on their opinions about the economy, but few people understand basic arithmetic. Or human nature. Or psychology. Or politics. Or anything else.

As Churchill probably didn’t say, “The strongest argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Oh well…

Massive pro-unity protests in Madrid and Barcelona

Meanwhile, here in Madrid…

The last two Saturdays the whole area around Plaza de Colón has been shut down all morning.

And yesterday, October 8th, there was an even bigger protest going on in Barcelona – with Catalan flags flying right next to Spanish ones. The pro-unity people are out in force.

And here in Spain, the thing about flags is a bit different than in other places.

Showing a Spanish flag here means you could be called a fascist.

I myself am hesitant to do it.

I love Spain.

And I don’t mind being called an ignorant asshole.

But fascist is where I draw the line. I’m actually a pretty liberal guy. The thing is, in Spain it doesn’t matter. You’re a facha if you show the flag for anything besides a football match.

When the Barcelona terrorist attacks happened, guess how many people put the Spanish flag filter over their profile pic on Facebook.

That’s right: basically nobody.

Instead, they came up with cute caricatures of the Barcelona skyline and Sagrada Familia cathedral.

I heart Barcelona, they all said.

Because if you heart Spain, you must be a closet Francoist.

Anyway, I heart Spain, and here’s the Spanish flag…

catalan independence
Pro-unity protesters in Madrid, 30 September 2017. Photo by the author.

Moving on to happier things…

What about the other protests?

I didn’t see it, but according to El País there was another big protest on October 7th, organized by a new movement called ¿Parlem? ¿Hablamos?

Let’s talk, in other words.

Protesters were encouraged to go in white t-shirts, and leave all flags out of it – to encourage understanding and dialogue between the sides without calling on nationalism.

Their tagline on the Facebook page is “Un país mejor que sus gobernantes”…

A country better than its ruling class.

That’s something I can stand behind.

The whole Catalan independence thing seems to be led by a few private school kids (now in their 50s) with bad haircuts, playing revolutionary because they know there’s a 0% chance they’ll be lined up against the cemetery wall and shot.

On the other hand, the national government here in Madrid is made up of vapid grey-skinned zombies with patchy hair and blank expressions – nobody likes them either.

And let’s not even talk about the “third” parties.

Being better than those d-bags should be easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, as the kids are saying these days.

From here, it looks like there are thousands (or millions) of people on all sides of the issue. We’ll see if enough of them want to be reasonable – and if the government listens to them in the end so we can move on, somehow.

And finally…

Is Catalonia really going to declare independence?

Originally the Declaration of Catalan Independence was planned for early last week. Then it was pushed back to Monday…

Well, today’s Monday and now they’re saying probably tomorrow.

The Catalan parliament is scheduled to meet then, and they might make a “symbolic declaration of independence” – whatever that means.

Meanwhile, the government here in Madrid is trying to figure out ways to stop them.

I hesitate to say more because it would require reading a lot of stuff I barely understand about Spanish Constitutional Law.

But in case you’re wondering, I think the eventual solution to all this is to amend the constitution and allow the Catalan people to vote in an organized, legal way.

The can of worms has been opened, and I think that’s the only way forward from here.

In any case, with all the chaos and incompetence at all levels of the Spanish government, changing the Constitution could take years…

And what happens in the meantime is anyone’s guess.

What do you think? Let me know, right here in the comments.

Yours,

Mr Chorizo.

P.S. If you want more about this Catalan Independence topic as it develops, just let me know. I’m happy to do what I can. But I just gotta say: god help us all when Mr Chorizo is being called “reasonable” and a “news source”…

P.P.S. When I call members of the Spanish government incompetent d-bags, of course I’m not suggesting that other world governments are free from such things. Y’know. I could probably come up with a few notable examples from my own country. But that’s another story.

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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  1. Me disculpo por escribirte en español pero mi inglés es bastante pésimo y me consta que no tienes problemas con el español. No soy un experto en la constitución de los Estados Unidos, pero estoy seguro que si los gobernantes, dirigentes políticos y demás lobbies en los estados de California y Texas realizasen una campaña de ingeniería social usando subvenciones estatales y medios de comunicación durante casi 40 años para inculcarles el odio a la Unión, con argumentos como que Washington D. C. nos roba porque somos los estados con el PIB más alto, somos un estado sometido y demás falacias para justificar su agenda, convertirse en mini-naciones independientes para tener su propia legalidad y poder hacer lo que quieran y mantener la red clientelar de corrupción que ellos han instaurado en sus estados sin intromisión federal. Estoy seguro que como mínimo consideraras que eso es una violación a la soberanía nacional del pueblo americano. Pues cambia los nombres de Texas, California y Estados Unidos por Cataluña, España. Aquí en España también disponemos de una constitución que reconoce la soberanía nacional del pueblo español, hay instituciones y órganos que como cualquier democracia moderna occidental representan la soberanía nacional del pueblo. Lo que ocurre en Cataluña es una oligarquía política-empresarial que alimentado un sustrato de odio hasta que han perdido el control de la estampida y se les llena la boca con “democracia” e “interés de la mayoría”, cuando en realidad están violando el INTERÉS GENERAL (no confundir con interés de la mayoría) y disfrazan actos ilegales de “democracia” cuando en realidad es una oclocracia, el poder de la muchedumbre. Que los griegos inventaron la democracia y ellos ya mismo experimentaron in situ como puede degenerar y pudrirse una democracia cuando es movida por la demagogia de los más bajos sentimientos como el odio hacia fuera y no por la solidaridad, la razón y el orgullo por la historia y tradiciones en común que hermanan a los pueblos y conforman la patria.

    P. D. Te descubrí hace poco y me e leído todo tu blog en apenas unas semanas, no soy ningún hatter, me fascina tu historia de como conociste y decidiste vivir en mi país. No quiero darte lecciones de ningún tipo, solo que reflexiones si crees apropiado que a una región territorial de un país victima de una ingeniería social cuya sociedad esta fracturada, donde impera la ley no escrita de la opinión única y el silencio a los díscolos, crees que es viable hacer un referendum. Y que esto en el fondo, no va de Cataluña independiente, si no de destruir España, si un territorio puede independizarse, que impide que toda la nación se desgaje y 2.000 años de historia desaparezcan y solo queden mini-naciones ridículas tercermundistas. No concibo algo semejante en Estados Unidos y desde luego tampoco en mi país.

    1. Hey Maslujan, thanks for your comment. I basically agree with you, I just try not to worry about things if I can’t control them at all – and the independence of California or Catalonia is one of those things. Also, I don’t think they’re going to “destroy Spain”. It’s just going to be a complicated few years (again). Thanks again!

      1. Perdon por parecer rudo al escribir. Gracias a ti por contestar! Y que no te de miedo opinar sobre politica española. Esta tierra es tu hogar ahora desde hace años y como tu dices ya pagas impuestos, asi que tienes el mismo derecho que yo a cagarte en ella. Que los xenofobos se ahoguen en su propia bilis. Si puedes visitar mi ciudad Zaragoza esta semana podras disfrutar los pilares, asi luego podre leer tu articulo sobre mi ciudad y tendre excusa para insultarte XD

        Un abrazo y suerte!

    2. Estoy completamente deacuerdo contigo Maslujan. No se trata de hablar de mas autogobierno para regiones de España, se trata de destruir la democracia y eso no solo lo esta desarrollando los partidos nacionalistas. Aquí lo preocupante es: que todo movimiento reaccionario tiene su contraparte y en gran medida estaba dormido, que las instituciones cada día están mas lejos del ciudadano y esto es aprovechado por los populismos y el ciclo económico lo tenemos en contra ( al reves que como ocurrió en el 78). Lo que esta pasando en España es extrapolable a otros países europeos, por eso ahora mas que nunca son necesarios los organismos supranacionales y empoderar las estructuras que se crearon tras la segunda guerra mundial: ONU, UNESCO. La fortaleza de los cimientos democráticos determinara si resistimos el terremoto de la cuarta revolución industrial, la globalizacion, etc..y si sabemos encauzar los movimientos de descontento y caos hacia un orden donde prevalezca el respeto por los principios democráticos, hoy tan denostados en Cataluña. El ¿como hacerlo? dejo abierta la pregunta..

      Un saludo

      1. Muchas gracias Aida! Yo he nacido en Democracia y soy un apasionado por la historia, lo que me ha convencido cada día más de la idea de que la demagogia del odio (es culpa de ellos) es totalmente anatema de un estado de derecho democrático. Es su arsénico, su cáncer terminal, ya que parece ser una de las emociones que con más facilidad enraíza y nubla todo juicio y pensamiento, ayudando a justificar todo. No puedo evitar pensar que partidos políticos que se sustentan en la demagogia del odio para alcanzar el poder cuando está claro que ni ellos mismos creen en la democracia y solo desean alcanzar el poder para poder derribarla no tienen cabida en ella. Amparándose en el derecho a la libertad de opinión y expresión se permite que el odio transforme sociedades enteras.

        Yo creo que el odio asfixia la razón. Cualquier partido que ampare su programa en el sentimiento dual de “haremos un mundo mejor” acompañado del “es culpa de ellos, vamos a odiarlos” no tienen cabida en la democracia. El primer mensaje está bien, pero el segundo no, el viejo argumento de “construiremos algo mejor y nuevo derribando, destruyendo y odiando lo viejo” no funciono en el pasado y por desgracia sigue vigente hoy día.

        A veces parece que necesitamos esa misma demagogia del “enemigo común” para que la Unión Europea de su ultimo paso de metamorfosis y sea un verdadero estado federal con constitución propia. Dicen que el amor mueve montañas, pero el amor enfermizo envenenado de odio mueve galaxias 🙁

        Un abrazo y Feliz 12 de Octubre!

    3. Maslujan, me has impresionado de tal modo, que he cambiado de opinión. Yo vivo en los EEUU desde el 28 de Diciembre del 1956, naci en España y la visito con frecuencia porque tengo familia por toda la nación, incluyendo Barcelona. Pensaba que lo mejor seria permitir un referéndum y que el resultado fuese permitido. Pero me has cambiado de opinión porque lo que escribes tiene una razon indiscutible. Muchas gracias por tu elocuencia y tu punto de vista

  2. Very interesting. However I cant stand behind the Parlem movement when it is managed by political groups (Podemos) which previously push towards broken the Constitution. I am very critic with politicians but the law is necessary to life in peace. “Un país mejor que sus gobernantes” is a populist slogan. Do we include Pablo Iglesias on it?. Nationalism is a populism way to do politic, using the lack of confidence of people to grow a new political elite which of course have magic resources to built a perfect country ( Is that familiar for US citizens, or UKip suporters?). As we see in Catalonia this is irreal, all is related with power. Parlem is related with power too, and is managed by euroesceptics parties like Podemos ( we all can check how they present themselves at the European elections). This is like Brexit, you must be with the Constitution or against it. Once the situation will be more relax, and the people who had broken the law assume responsabilities we can talk, always inside the law respect. That Constitutional law was written by all political forces,and voted in a referendum. Spain is not a dictatorship as many politics dream every night. ¿Why they wish to destroy the constitution? For personal ambitions instead to look for the general wellbeing. We need to look fowards in a global world, support I+D+I, give more resources to education but some parties just look backguards. I cant support politics which their main aim is destroy something which has gave us stability for last 20 years.

  3. Mr Chorizo, thank you for this update. Can’t believe some of the news photos that we see are actually not from the real independence protest, is the Catalan government intentionally spreading false reports to gain international sympathy?

    It seems to me that the president of Catalonia is softening his stance a little bit… starting with a hard line referendum and seeking mediation. Which category/categories of Catalanonian people are most supportive of independence? Young people? People that pay the highest rate of taxes?

    And I am also wondering, the claims by the Catalonian president regarding being mistreated in the economic crisis and prejudiced by Madrid government, how much of it is true? Does Catalan not rely on the rest of Spain in return for something eg. food supplies, water, electricity?

  4. all very interesting and thanks for putting so much info here but also the presenting things from different angles. I too agree that at this point (even it it’s technically illegal) that the only option is to allow Catalonia to legally make a vote for or against independence because it’s obvious this will never end and will only continue to escalate if they aren’t allowed to do so

    The Catalan separatists have made it clear that this isn’t going away. They will not stop until they get their way. If the govt doesn’t make sure they can vote legally (in boxes and with security and poll workers making sure each person only votes once and that there is no corruption) they’ll simply end up in a way worse kettle of fish. Every reasonable Spansih person I’ve spoken with (since I live here too) feels the same way (just give them a damn legal vote-the numbers actually show there are fewer separatists than those who want to remain but letting things escalate this far probably pushed a few more people over to the separatist side……….)

    I don’t have a stake in it either way but like you I like to look at the facts and information objectively rather than jumping to conclusions based on what I saw in 2 minutes on television or social media.

    Plus when you talk about it you bring a lot of humor into it as well as admitting you may or may not know anything at all 🙂

    keep it up!

    1. Thanks Brooke! I think the endgame here is they’ll vote legally and “remain” will win. But hey, it could take years, and I might be wrong. We’ll see 🙂

  5. Thanks for your insights. Like many foreigners I’m pretty sure I don’t understand the full complexities of this issue and have enjoyed reading your views. We are indeed living in interesting, and sometimes worrying, times. I look forward to seeing how things develop in Spain/Catalonia.

    1. Thanks Stuart! I definitely don’t understand the full complexities either, but I’ve been reading quite a bit and find the issue pretty interesting.

  6. So good to read your point of view. We see these stories splashed all over the TV and such, but you can never be sure how one-sided they are, or what part truths or darn right lies we are being sold.

  7. I would like to know your opinion on the current Madrid government (Manuela Carmena). It’s a big change after having PP for so long.

  8. Great overview! The whole situation is a mess similar to Brexit here in England where a small vocal minority foisted their opinion on a quieter majority who were not paying enough attention and thought it would all blow over. Barcelona is a financial powerhouse but only because it has access to the EU and all this uncertainty isn’t going to be good for it or the region. It reminds me of the vocal independence crowd in Scotland wanting freedom from the UK but when push came to shove, the majority said no thanks.

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