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Catalan Region in Spain Fights to be Independent

October 23, 2017
Plain English Version

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, center, attended a protest in Barcelona. Alvarado/Reuters

Catalonia is a region in Spain. Regions are like states in the U.S. and provinces in Canada.

Catalonia wants out of Spain. So do some Texans who would like to secede from America. Or the province of Quebec that every so often wants to separate from Canada.

Earlier this month the people of Catalonia voted for independence. The central government is in Madrid. It said the vote did not mean anything. But Catalonia is set to tell the world it is no longer part of Spain. Spain said it would not allow them to do that.

The main city in Catalonia is Barcelona. It is a world-class city with great art, food, and buildings. There is no way Spain is letting Barcelona go.

Spain is now in a crisis. It is a constitutional crisis. As a democracy, Spain has to follow its laws. Those laws include Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. It is a tool to protect the “general interests” of the nation. If used, it could result in removing the leadership of Catalonia. It could bring the direct rule of the region by the central government.

Spain has a national police force. It could take over the police in Catalonia.

What is it all about? Catalonia is not a rich region. Its people have their own language and culture. It has long wanted independence. The idea of secession is not the problem. Getting it is. The European Union supports Spain, a member nation. It is against movements that could damage the Union.

Catalonia is at the upper right.

The Prime Minister of Spain,  Mariano Rajoy, said he would remove the Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, from office. The court could even order his arrest.

The Prime Minister said that his goal was for a new Catalan election within six months. He expects Catalans to support staying in Spain. He could then lift the measures taken under Article 155.

The Catalan Parliament will meet this week. It might declare independence.

Both sides are hardening their positions. It does not look like meetings will work.

Most of the political parties of Spain back the Prime Minister.

Many people do not support the move for independence. But they also do not like seeing the central government use its power in this way.

All hope there is a solution. They want an outcome that keeps democracy intact.

Source: The New York Times October 21, 2017

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