(No) news from Catalonia

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Nicht neues aus Katalonien @ Col·lectiu Emma

Sin notícias de Catalunya @ Col·lectiu Emma

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News reports coming from Spain in the recent months have tended to focus on the continuing effects of the crisis there – mounting debt, sky-high unemployment and few or no signs of economic recovery. Serious corruption scandals, involving most notably the royal family and the upper echelons of the ruling party, have also made the headlines. To top it all off, we’ve even seen a latter-day comeback of the old chestnut – Gibraltar – which every Spanish government will fall back on whenever it needs to distract its subjects’ attention from their problems and from its inability to solve them.

The political situation in Catalonia, on the other hand, has been generally absent from those accounts. Only a year ago, all major international media carried the story of one and a half million people demonstrating in Barcelona, and many editorialized on the apparently unstoppable Catalan bid for independence – of which little has been heard since. One could be tempted to conclude that the momentum has been lost and that, after that initial burst of enthusiasm, the dream of national freedom has simply faded away.

There are many reasons why the Catalan political project shouldn’t be written off. For one thing, the people have been signaling their resolve at every possible turn. All opinion polls, including the presumably biased ones conducted by official Spanish institutions or at the request of normally unsympathetic media, show that support for the Catalans’ right to decide their own future remains at around 80 per cent. This tendency is confirmed on the ground by the proliferation of grassroots activities – every day of every week somewhere in Catalonia a book presentation, a public rally, a town hall meeting or a social gathering of some kind become an occasion to discuss the pros and cons of independence.

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