Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, September 20, 2012



It may not be an important date on your calendar, but September 11th is a very important date in Barcelona.  See, it was on this day...way back in the year 1714...when independent Catalonia was officially annexed by the Spanish crown.  Nowadays, the Diada Nacional de Catalunya has become a lightning rod for tensions between Barcelona and Madrid, with rallies being held in both cities.  However, last week's protests in Catalonia were the largest ever.  Police estimated half a million people took to the streets in mostly peaceful marches.

Just what is the anger all about?  As mentioned in an earlier blog,  four nations are causing major problems in the European Union.  The so-called P.I.G.S. (Portugal, Italy, Greece & Spain) simply cannot meet the economic requirements for participation in the single currency Euro-Zone.  Despite threats, sanctions and bailouts, the situation remains tense and the entire economic region is in peril.  Recently, the Spanish Government announced it was raising taxes nationwide to help solve the crisis. The people of Catalonia are refusing to pay.

Why won't they help out?  Well, it seems Spain faces the same problem that cripples many other nations: Industrious, wealthier areas end up subsidizing the slower, less-productive regions.  In the US, Californians receive only sixty cents back in services for every dollar of Federal taxes they pay.  However, lazy Mississippians receive $2.16 in spending from Uncle Sam for each dollar they pay.  The same cycle affects Spain.  Catalonia pays Madrid $15 billion annually, but it only gets two-thirds of it back in Federal spending.  Simply put, Catalonia wants to manage their own financial affairs and stop funding slacker farmers in far-off Galicia.

The leader of the independence movement in Barcelona is ARTUR MAS.  His coalition of political parties now holds a majority in the regional parliament.  Under the terms set down by the U.N. in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a legislative body...like the one in Barcelona...does have the right to declare independence from a larger state.  The precedent was set in Kosovo four years ago when it left Serbia and became Europe's youngest nation.  It looks like Catalonia will soon be the next.

"¡No! Not so fast!" says Spanish Prime Minister MARIANO RAJOY.  In a recent statement, he cited Article II of the Spanish Constitution.  The 'indissoluble union under the crown' can only be divided by a two-thirds vote by all states in Madrid...which is virtually impossible to achieve.  Also the Supreme Court recently overturned legal challenges to Catalan being the second national language.  Stay tuned...P.M. Rajoy and Artur Mas are meeting today to discuss matters.  First Question: If secession occurs, will F.C. Barcelona still be allowed to stay in the Spanish Soccer League?

No comments:

Post a Comment