November 6, 2017. Rome, Italy.
I held my tongue for the duration of my time in Spain because free speech is not a thing everywhere and I wasn’t trying to end my travels as a Spanish political prisoner, or bastardo desafortunado.
Having been to both Barcelona and Madrid in the span of a week and seeing both with fresh eyes, right as the pressure is about to burst the pipes, I can say I have a fair degree of unbiased understanding as to why Catalonia wants its independence.
The Spanish economy is a Charbydis-caliber whirling shitstorm. The beggars are omnipresent and aggressive, the grifters on every major street in Madrid matched only by the ones right outside the Roman coliseum (and those drop off after a block), and the prostitutes will literally chase you down the street like dogs after garbage trucks. The desperation is palpable. The youth unemployment rate is around 40%, exceeded only by Greece, and I know you remember their economic tanking being national news.
To keep this brief, Catalonia is propping up the Spanish state like a life support system made of filthy lucre. The geographically tiny region is responsible for 20% of Spain’s economy, and if they were to attain their independence, little-ass Catalonia would be the 34th biggest economy in the world, more powerful than the entirety of Italy.
The entirety. Of Italy.
Catalonia is an abused mule involuntarily dragging Spain into the 21st century. It’s like you going to work every day with an 1.5 ton albatross chained around your neck. They want their independence because, in addition to the nationalistic buzzwords and their history of grim antifascist war, it’s the only way to escape the bloating carcass of Spain dragging Catalonia down into bankruptcy.
Barcelona was absolutely beautiful. I could spend months there. Hell, I might be able to live there. Madrid was a slum that didn’t know when to stop. The damage done by Spanish big-government policies is self-evident.
What’s worse is the (by now iconic) desperation Spain demonstrated in trying to halt the Catalonian bid for independence. They’ve shut down elections by claiming everything from unconstitutional conduct to treason, and more recently they’ve sent assault rifle-toting police to seize ballot boxes in response to a referendum that scared them.
Catalonia responded with a massive general strike, grabbing the big hijo de puta by the windpipe and choking off the heavily taxed income that’s keeping Spain treading water.
An old buck at a protest was holding up a sign in Spanish that said, “Si uses tacticos fascistes, lo eres”.
If you use fascist tactics, you are one.
Viva Catalonia, chicos. I hope you win it without much bloodshed.