Catalan independence | DW Documentary

Many Catalans have long called for an independent Catalonia. The dispute over the region’s future divides not only Spanish but also Catalan society.

In October 2017, the Catalan regional government called a referendum on an independent Catalonia. Spanish authorities deployed police in a bid to stop the vote. In the end, the result was unrepresentative, and Catalan politicians and activists were tried in court or fled abroad. Since then, many supporters of a separate state have seen other concerns overtake that dream. First the pandemic hit Catalonia and especially Barcelona, which depends on tourism, very hard. Then came inflation. All of this pushed the conflict over Catalan independence, which once nearly tore Spain apart, into the back seat. But for many people, the issue is far from resolved. The young lawmaker Marta Rosique is one of those who continues to vigorously campaign for independence. Meanwhile others like Pilar Barriendos feel patronized and pressured by independence supporters and their activities. In protest, the teacher has joined a group calling itself the ‘Cleaning Brigade.’ At night, its members remove pro-independence flags and placards from streets and squares.

Across Spain, the Catalan independence movement has helped buttress the rise of right-wing parties that feed off nationalist sentiment and invoke Spanish unity. As Spain approaches early parliamentary elections on July 23, the parties are wielding the issue to their advantage. Catalan artist Odon Ventura Ruiz is one of those who wants to see mediated solutions rather than continued divisiveness and conflict. He and many others stand between the pro- and anti- independence camps. He believes that trying to push Catalan independence through with only 50% approval among the population is a dangerous mistake. To overcome the divisions in society, he hopes for a new sense of community. ‘Whatever we want to do and achieve, we have to do it together,’ he says.

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