All we want is to carry out the greatest expression of a free democracy and vote on Catalonia’s future. This is not about independence: it is about fundamental civil rights and the universal right of self-determination.” – Carles Puigdemont

Spain’s region of Catalonia is currently involved in a crisis as it calls for independence and separatism from the country. This separatist movement is rooted in a long history of Catalonian grievances.

Catalonia is considered as one of the wealthiest regions in the country, and has a very distinct and unique identity compared to the rest of the country. As a result, the region has always been identified by Catalonian nationalism. Thus, the Catalan independence movement has been in the works since 1922 when Francesc Macià founded the political party Estat Català to represent the interests of the Catalans. Because of this unique identity, before the Spanish Civil War, Catalonia enjoyed a considerable amount of autonomy. However, when General Franco came to power, he abolished this autonomy in 1938. This received considerable backlash from the Catalans, and the call for independence became even more pronounced. Soon after General Franco’s death, the region was once again granted autonomy under the 1978 Spanish constitution.

However, the world financial crisis in 2008 fueled widespread grievances in the region, as the people of Catalonia felt that they were been compensated much less by the government even though their region was the wealthiest and most productive in the country. These grievances were further aggravated as the Spanish constitutional court took away a lot of the autonomy from the region. This resulted in the Catalonian pro-independence leaders calling for a referendum in October 2017, which was later declared illegal by the constitutional court. This was followed by police violence against the pro-independence protestors and a lot of the Catalonian politicians being taken as prisoners.

This crisis remains relevant today, as the citizens of Catalonia continue to protest for the release of their political prisoners and increasingly fight for an independent Catalonia.