Falangists win over Republicans in the bloody civil war started the Francoist era which ended with Franco’s death in 1975. The nascent Republic was destroyed by Franco and his army with active military assistance from Nazi Germany and Italy. The Republicans were helped by USSR. Orwell’s commander famously described the situation as “This is not a war, it is a comic opera with an occasional death.”After a prolonged war, Republicans could not save Madrid and the Nationalists (Franco) captured it and formed the government with Franco at its helm. In 1931 Spain became a Republic and an autonomous Catalan regional government, the Generalitat, was created. But the long 36 years of Franco dictatorship saw Catalan being completely incorporated within Spain. Catalan and other regional provinces were dominated under the Franco regime. Autonomy, culture and even language of Catalan was suppressed. Only after the transition to democracy, limited autonomy was restored to Catalonia.
Orwell humorously stated that the Spaniards were good at many things, but not at making war! The Spanish civil war was more of a comedy where the Republicans were using forty years old German Mauser dated 1896! Machine guns at the rate of approx 1 to 50 men and where majority of rifles were mere scrap iron, also rounds were in tremendous short supply.
Catalonians argue that it is absolutely absurd to suggest that Catalan’s small size is an impediment to its independence. Comparable to that of prosperous Switzerland, it is a rich province which pays much more to the Republican than it receives from it. In terms of its population, territory, GDP and language, Catalonia has similar proportions to that of many other countries of the European Union. Though it does not have natural resources like natural gas or petroleum, yet it is of no significance as Spain also does not have any such resources. Catalonians argue that peaceful separation like ‘Velvet Revolution’ in 1993, the self-determined split of the federal state of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a bloodless affair, can be beneficial to both the economies. But a situation like Yugoslav Wars must be avoided at any cost.
Artur Mas i Gavarró is the current President of the Generalitat of Catalonia. He is the leader of the Catalan liberal nationalist party Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) and his coalition ‘Together for Yes’ alongwith other parties like Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Democrats of Catalonia (DC) had garnered the largest vote percentage of 39.54 and won the maximum 62 seats out of 135 in the elections held in September 2015. As it is six short of a majority, the alliance is currently in negotiations with another pro-independence party to try to form a coalition majority. The elections were plebiscitary in nature. Mas has set a period of approximately 18 months for a measured and progressive disconnection. In November 2014, a referendum was held, wherein about 80 percent voted in favour of breaking away from Spain. Spain’s Constitutional Court had suspended it but it was still held. Prosecutors now accuse Artur Mas of grave disobedience, abuse of public funds, usurping powers and obstructing justice which has led to mass protests.
Spain fear that if Catalonia is allowed to become independent, similar demands will be raised by the separatists of Basque province. The violent Euskadi Ta Askatasuna ETA (Basque Country and Freedom) still haunts Spain. Also Nationalists of Bavaria(German), Flanders(Belgium), Corciso(France), Scotland(UK) are already clamouring for independence. The pandemonium will only grow louder.