The people of Catalan expressed their desire for independence from Spain on October 1, the day the province held a referendum vote. The formation of this new nation is necessary in a world that views liberty and independence to be the most important values.
However, although the vote was key to the province’s independence, the initial referendum was deemed illegal by the Spanish government. According to the Independent, “The European Commission has confirmed that the Catalan independence referendum was not legal under Spanish law.” In their constitutional court in 1978, Spain decreed that the country “cannot be broken up.”
The government of Spain needs to adapt. It is important to allow the exit of a state if the state deems that the country is no longer serving its needs. The people of Catalan are already divided from Spain in language and politics, so a political separation is more of a formality.
Instead, Catalonia remains trapped between the law and their desired freedom, when they should have the right to cast a vote to secede peacefully. This decree inhibits moral values – like liberty and freedom.
But if the Spanish government continues to ignore their wishes, the Catalonians may eventually resort to violence. Again, all it would take to avoid this is an amendment to the Spanish constitution to allow provinces to leave if they so chose, a much better alternative.
In fact, through Spain’s careless actions, violence has already gripped the region. Despite their initial desire to peacefully withdraw from the nation, Spanish authorities violently prevented the democratic process. Police fired rubber bullets into a group of protesters in Barcelona to prevent them from voting, hurting dozens of Spanish police officers, according to Spain’s interior ministry. That included more than 750 civilians and law enforcement officers.
As of last week, in an attempt to defuse the situation, Spain said “it will trigger Article 155 of the Constitution to suspend Catalan autonomy,” according to Al Jazeera. To suspend a region’s autonomy, especially when that region has exercised their own practical sovereignty for decades, is too extreme. But according to United Press International, Spain officially dissolved the Parliament in Catalonia, and said it was “threatening to send tensions spilling into the streets.”
According to Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, “Madrid will schedule new elections for Dec. 21.” This could mean a new form of government in Catalan, chosen and imposed by the Spain, giving citizens even less of a say.
The people of Catalan need to be supported and not thrashed by the oppressive government. The government needs to control their police, and police should not resort to brutality.
Of course, the Spanish were not the only ones to perpetuate the violence. Catalonians should not have fought with the police either. Instead, they must seek a peaceful response, but a response all the same to recognize their independence.
Withdrawing from Spain has to be done peacefully because violence simply incites resistance.
Catalonia must strive for a non-violent approach, and we should support them in their cause. Sometimes, we may take our independence for granted. By giving the Catalonians our support we can remind ourselves that while the price of liberty is high, it is worth it.