Washington Post – In Spain, separatist fever rises in time of crisis

BARCELONA — It was a soccer game of Super Bowl proportions: Madrid vs. Barcelona, Spain’s two main cities clashing in a legendary rivalry. But when the crowd of nearly 100,000 Barcelona fans erupted in cheers, what they were shouting was, “Independence! Independence!”

The noisy display of Catalan nationalism, the highlight of last weekend’s 2-2 draw, dramatized for a television audience of millions the new swelling of separatist fever in the Catalonia region of Spain. Although the historic quest for Catalonian independence stretches back for centuries, it has suddenly risen again to the top of regional concerns in a very current struggle — over tax money in a time of financial crisis.

“It is like a volcanic eruption,” said Oriol Pujol, a leader of the ruling regional party Convergencia i Unio, which has adopted “our own state” as its latest slogan. “When everybody was rich, nobody thought of how much it cost us to be part of Spain. But now everybody sees it.”

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