Sunday, October 14, 2012


Ok, the previous post got too long and got cut off. I'll have the rest of it here so read the previous post first S.V.P. as this is a continuation of it. Thanks :)

Catalunya's case for independence is based off of history and current events. I'm not as familiar, I'll admit, with their history as I am with their current situation. It's pretty common knowledge that Spain has been hit hard by the recent global economic downturn. Spain's regions, however, are not affected by the country's struggles in the same way. Catalunya has traditionaly been an economically successful region. Catalunya, like most provinces of Spain, doesn't have power over its own tax revenue. Taxes go to Madrid and Madrid decides how to use them. Taxes aren't equal for all the provinces either. And the taxes from a province aren't necessarily used for the province the taxes came from. The largest issue for the Catalonians is that if they had control of their own taxes, they could have put away savings for times like these where there is less money. The revenues the Catalonians refer to was instead spent on other regions who were not prospering economically. As a result, more Catalonians favor independence than ever before.

The economic situation in the Basque Country is a bit different from Catalunya. The Basque Country was the first part to industrialize, and with its major ports and financial centers, as well as industry and natural resources, have made the Basque Country the wealthiest region of Spain. Additionally, as an autonomous community, they have power over taxation, and only pay Madrid a certain amount. Unemployment as well is significantly lower than the rest of Spain (6-8% as opposed to the 30% nationally). Even visibly, the Basque Country has fewer homeless on its streets than other parts of Spain. That's not to say they don't exist here but in my personal experience, Madrid was the worst, and there were many in Segovia and Toledo as well, I saw one in Bilbao and I see the same 3 in Donostia all the time.

(A side note, but perhaps of interest. The three homeless here are a ragged looking man who sits in the tunnel between the beaches and says hola to everyone that passes. No one gives him money because he looks like a junkie. The other two are Romani women who don't look ragged but they sit on the sidewalk with a cup out. One sits by the park in Amara and the other by the Cathedral. Romani aren't very common here in the north, but it seems like people still are very untrusting of Romani here. I've only ever seen foreign tourists give the one by Buen Pastor money. Most of the homeless and beggars I've seen in other parts of Spain were either also Romani or just people who looke like they've fallen on hard times. Madrid also has the bonus of having refuges camped out on its streets.)

Due to its relative economic prosperity and its control over its own taxes, the Basque Country is far more willing to accept the status quo than Catalunya. They are always more radical people, but the general feeling is that things aren't quite that bad. People aren't happy, but it's not extreme enough to make independence seem like the only option. The Basque Country has autonomy. Not the same as independence, but it still puts them in a better position than Catalunya for dealing with the economic situation. The simple fact is that the majority of Basques more or less accept the status quo and believe they can work within the existing system to get the changes they do want.

Additionally, the demographics of the Basque Country have shifted dramatically. Many Spanish families came to the Basque Country because of their advanced industry so there are many, many people in the Basque Country that are not Basque. Also, Franco's ban on Basque expression cause euskara to lose some of its ground, in terms of territory it is spoken in. And without Franco now and autonomy and expression restored, the Basque no longer have an extreme unifying factor. Franco was the reason the terrorist group ETA formed and even for a time had the support of the majority. Those days are gone and the ETA has called what seems to be a difinitive ceasefire to their armed struggle.

Couple those factors with the difficulty of fully uniting the seven provinces, and you have the reason why it's far more likely Catalunya will become a separate country than the Badque Country,

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