As we approach the vote on Scottish independence tomorrow, I can’t help but reflect on the similarities between Scotland, my home, and Spanish Catalonia, which borders the region of France which has become my second home.
Catalonia has been a fiercely independent entity in history, and was the only region of Spain to be granted full autonomy during the Spanish Republic, in the 1930s. It didn’t last long, because Franco and the Civil War put paid to it, and Franco’s rancour against Catalans, who were the last to hold out against his army in defence of freedom, ensured that their region of Spain was repressed and exploited for decades afterwards. The Catalan language was banned, its culture suppressed, and this rich region was taxed and milked for all it was worth.
No wonder then that so many Catalans now long for independence, demanding the same right to a referendum which has been granted to Scotland. The whole of Spain is watching our debate and will be almost as much on tenterhooks tomorrow as people throughout Scotland.
In November the Catalans are planning their own referendum, but the central government in Madrid has declared it illegal, and will take all possible steps to stop it happening. The passions are high on both sides.
It makes me so thankful that whatever the outcome in Scotland, we have been able to have a truly free debate on our future, and a democratic vote which will be honoured, whichever way it goes.
It also makes me feel very privileged to be writing about such a passionate and vibrant area of Europe as Catalonia. Daughter of Catalonia began to explore the tragedies which hit Spain in the last century. The sequel, which I am working on now, takes me deep into Spanish Catalonia, to Barcelona, Girona, and the wild Pyrenees, during the the turbulent years of the 1960s. It has been a fascinating journey, and one which I hope to share with my readers soon.