VOICES: What Catalans really think about the vote for independence

VOICES: What Catalans really think about the vote for independence
Young women draped in Estelladas in Barcelona. Photo: AFP
As Catalonia prepares to go to the polls on Sunday in a referendum blocked by Spain, The Local spoke to some young people in Barcelona about what it means to be Catalan, whether they support independence from Spain and how they view the vote on October 1st.

Benoît Garcia, 24, Musician

I support the vote, but I don’t know what I will vote. I don’t know if we will have the opportunity. Instead I think there will be a social revolution against a state that oppresses all Spanish citizens.

My whole family feels the same oppression as me, but I don’t think the sentiment we feel is related to independence but to free ourselves from the politics of the central government. Rajoy’s reaction, arresting people, ordering raids, is what makes all of us want to go out and vote, that is what makes us gather all the power we need to go out there and have no fear of the policemen and violent raids. If they’re trying to convince us not to vote, it is just making it worse. 

The independence movement has gained momentum in the past few years. In fact now, what back then was predominantly a fight for the lefty parties has become an independence feeling. But in my opinion what’s gaining much power nowadays is the dissatisfaction with the central government.

The relationship between Spain and Catalonia is as weak as can be, even tense. What scares me the most is the fascism I perceive in most of the Spaniards, that is, whatever has created this idea that Catalans hate Spaniards; that is not true, there has always been hatred from Spaniards towards Catalans since the 18th century. To me it seems the deepest feelings of the population have come to light: the feelings of love but especially the feelings of hate.

Andrea Ponce, 30, office worker.

Banners calling for a No vote for independence. Photo: AFP (Ponce preferred to only give her name and age, not her picture or job title as she feels that being anti the referendum will cause her trouble)

I do not support a referendum under current conditions. If a legal referendum had been negotiated long ago or if it is negotiated in the future, I would vote and vote no.

I am Catalan and therefore Spanish. It is the same.

My mother was born in Madrid, but she grew up here and feels the same as me. As Catalan as Spanish. She thinks independence is absurd, it seems pathetic that the independence movement wants to make Catalonia something 'smaller' at a time of globization.

My father has never had a feeling for independence but for years he has been very disappointed with how the PP leads the country and that has made him think about independence.

I believe that the Catalan government, together with a well-designed media campaign, have succeeded in gaining an independence spirit under constant manipulation. Public television has been talking about 'l'estad espanyol' for a decade and the country referring to Catalonia. That is to say that a TV that we all pay for, not of one party or another, but all, has been lying systematically for a decade.

In the previous vote for independence, they lost with 47.74 percent. Independence does not have the popular majority. But for two years I have not ceased to hear 'la volunta del poble' and 'procès'. And now 'volem be lliures'. I also want to be free but without this pantomime of democracy and their dirty games.

The remaining 50.62 percent are not free to carry flags of their country(Spain) – if they wanted to – because they are called a fascist, or if they take a Spanish flag to the Barça stadium that is ‘provoking'.

I think there are revolutions that drive change. I followed and supported with enthusiasm the movement of the indignados but this is neither democracy nor oppression. It is a separatist movement going for yes at all costs and disguising it with words like oppression and fascism.

The relationship between Spain and Catalonia is broken forever. When I think of Catalonia I think of Marx's phrase 'Nationalism is an invention of the bourgeoisie to divide the proletariat'. 

Carla Comadran Casas, 27, Student.

I think of the Spanish State as an Imperialist State, therefore I will vote, and I believe in the right to decide. Catalonia has for centuries been systematically imposed with a culture that isn't its own and it has been forced to be represented by homogeneous and centralist laws that can not include the differences between different cultures inside the Spanish peninsula. The independence movement has grown, I would say since 2006, when the Estatut that had been voted for by 73 percent of the Catalan people was taken down by the Constitutional Court.

Obviously the actions of the Spanish government recently have had an effect on the people’s attitude towards the vote – a nation that isn’t oppressed and is autonomous doesn’t have reasons to rebel. Sadly, the Spanish State has always exerted a commanding role towards Catalonia and the other Peninsular nations. Catalonia and Spain are siblings, nations that have common roots and historical bonds that nobody can deny, but there’s no way that that means one can rule above the other. I believe in Catalonia there is a mixed attitude towards Independence. Everyone wants to vote, though.

Bernat Tresserras, 27, Political Scientist.

I would want a Referendum that is agreed upon by both parts, nevertheless I’m happy about this Referendum and will vote on Sunday. I want Catalonia to be an independent country. I think the way the Spanish parties are acting is to protect their own votes, but not in the general interest. The Catalan parties, they’re trying to implement, first in an agreed fashion but if they can’t, unilaterally, the duties that the voters have asked of them, namely that 80 percet of the Catalan people want to be asked and to vote. This means that they are using any means necessary to do so. 

The independence movement has been growing because, although Catalonia has always felt that they have their own identity and are a sovereign nation, traditionally they used that feeling to try to improve the Spanish State. 

However since the 2007 abolishment of the Catalan Estatut this changed. The Estatut has to be approved by the Spanish Parliament and then by Referendum by the Catalan people, so all the parts have a say and they both have to agree upon it. But after having agreed upon it, the Constitutional Court made that invalid and applied an Estatut that nobody had voted for, so this will to transform Spain was delegitimised.

This Sunday, the Spanish State will do anything for the people not to vote, including the use of the force. The Catalan people will be in the streets, either voting or demonstrating. And afterwards, there will be a political crisis. In the case that we can vote and the result is a Yes, the Catalan Government will declare Catalonia as an Independent country, but there will be no legitimacy for us by the Spanish government. We will have to negotiate.

If we don’t vote, the State will begin to collapse, since it would mean that a Coup d’Etat has happened, and a new era of demonstrations and rebellion will begin.

I think the only way that the two parts can understand each other is if a third part is there to mediate. Someone from the outside, from the EU or the UN.

By Daisy Bata and Dan Setien in Barcelona

Bata writes for VICE on politics, workers rights and sex. Follow her here. Setien is a writer and student of Psychology.