Catalonia formally declares independence from Spain

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Catalonia formally declares independence from Spain

John Bozick, Web Editor

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The crisis in Spain finally reached its boiling point last Friday after the Catalan Parliament voted in favor of officially declaring independence from the rest of Spain, choosing to instead become an independent republic.

The vote, which saw Catalonia Socialist party completely walk out, passed with 70 votes in favor for independence and 10 votes against. While the walk out of the socialist party raises issues about the validity of the vote, the separatist party still has a clear majority in the votes that were counted.

The Spanish government reacted to this gesture by firing the regional government and the head of the local police force to attempt seizing control of the region. The regional government was formally stripped of its powers and responsibilities Saturday after Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his cabinet were formally removed from power.

In a statement to his people after Spanish authorities moved to assert control of the region Puigdemont stated, “We must do so resisting repression and threats, without ever abandoning, at any time, civic and peaceful conduct.”

Some 200,000 Catalonian civil servants have already said they will not accept any orders from Madrid and activists have already called on human chains to be formed to protect these officials. Yet, despite this, there are many in Barcelona that do not agree with the regional government’s decision to declare independence.   

Barcelona saw close to 300,000 people gather for a pro-spain rally, showing how divided the catalan population is on the issue of independence. Organized by the pro-unity group Societat Civil Catalana, the group said that turnout was close to over 1 million people, but local authorities said the turnout was much lower.

The crisis in Catalonia puts considerable strain on the European Union. While Catalonia seeks entry into the EU, Spain would still hold veto over its membership, as every nation in the Union must vote to allow Catalonia to join. However, in order to be eligible for EU membership Catalonia would need some backing by some of the world’s powers, a move that seems unlikely to happen.

“Maybe some countries like North Korea or Venezuela will recognize this independence, but no EU state will,” said French legal expert Jean-Claude Piris, a former advisor to the EU council.

While the EU has remained mostly quiet on the issue, President of the EU council, Donald Tusk, said nothing will change after Catalonia’s declaration of independence. 

Tusk says that the EU will continue to only talk through Spain, he also urged both sides to talk instead of resorting to violence.

On the other side of the pond, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert stated, “Catalonia is an integral part of Spain, and the United States supports the Spanish government’s constitutional measures to keep Spain strong and united.”

As Spain moves to exert more control over the region, the coming weeks will be the deciding factor of whether or not the crisis devolves into something far worse. Not only does Catalonia scare the already fractured EU, but it raises the possibility of a crisis far worse forming in the the region that has already seen financial ruin and a refugee crisis.