I have decided that the book will be called Understanding Catalan Independence and I will publishing new material here on BCN Blog as it is written.
The basic format is an Introduction, the original Blog Post and Comments. The idea being to explain the events of September to December 2012 from both a personal and a historical point of view.
This post is the Introduction to Chapter One: La Diada – An Atmosphere of Tension.
You can read and comment on the original blog post here
La Diada 2012 – An Atmosphere Of Tension
On September 6 just a few days before La Diada on September 11, I decided to start BCN Blog as a compliment to my Barcelona Travel Guide website, which provides tourism information for visitors to Barcelona.
I’d previously had a few minor disagreements with a couple of members of WABAS (Writers And Bloggers About Spain) Facebook Group, of which I am an active and enthusiastic participant. If I remember rightly, the arguments centred around the bad deal Catalonia gets in terms of attitudes towards the language particularly when people claim that Valencian, which is a dialect of Catalan, is a separate language in its own right.
I was also a little unhappy about the economic situation and the general bad press that Catalonia gets in the Spanish media, but the arguments blew over and we all got on with celebrating Spanish culture in its diverse forms, and trying to put out a positive message in the light of poorly informed reports in the British media about what was happening in Spain.
Although some WABAS members were willing to accept that the Catalans were a distinct nation within the Spanish state, most saw the Principality as just another region on a par with any of the other Autonomous Communities, such as Murcia, La Rioja or Cantabria. The fact that I begged to differ was sometimes regarded as an insult to those other smaller regions.
About ten days prior to La Diada, I first expressed my fears that the differences between Spain and Catalonia were about to come to a head, but the general reaction was that I was exaggerating the atmosphere of tension. Catalan complaints were put down to the economic crisis and I was confidently informed that it would all blow over after the demonstration.
The economic crisis was obviously an important factor but as far as I was concerned it was the aggressive tone of the Partido Popular, who had only been in government since November 2011, that was the final straw. However, few of my fellow bloggers seemed to realise that a combination of cuts and rising unemployment with attacks on the crucial Catalan identity issues of language, history and education made a recipe for confrontation.
Although I had no idea at the time of how massive the Diada demonstration would be, conversations with friends here in Barcelona and the general tone of the Catalan press and television reports made me think that this year would be special. It was interesting that the Spanish TV channels and press also seemed to underestimate the importance of the demonstration. The rest of Spain, both native and expat, appeared unaware of what was about to happen.
The first blog post, though, certainly wasn’t inspired by a rabid desire for Catalan independence. In many respects, despite being a little irritated about the general lack of understanding of the Catalan situation, I felt I should warn that something was coming and that the resentments ran much deeper than anyone outside Catalonia might have guessed.