Yearning For Catalonian Freedom

Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.”
— Mahatma Gandhi

One of the highlights of our recent cruise took place in our brief stopover in Barcelona, Spain. For I then witnessed firsthand evidence of an ongoing political crisis facing more than 7.5 million Catalonian people in this tumultuous region. In declaring their right to be independent, Barcelonians have elected to continue their long tradition of choosing revolutionary actions to bring about change there. Reminders of enduring almost forty years of brutal Fascism under the Franco regime, for instance, tell a sad story of rampant racism, nationalistic brutality, and economic greed for Barcelona’s citizens. More recently, repeated “heavy attempts” by the mother country to delegitimize, regional elections favoring independence had further polarized these citizens to continue protesting through mass demonstrations against Spanish rule of law.

On our leisurely, four hour walk ashore in pleasantly cool weather, we saw glimpses of a modern Barcelona that maintained its image as one of the most vibrant cities of the world. Strolling along the famed promenade of La Rambla, tourist business was booming with elegant tapas cafes, luxury clothing boutiques, and colorful flower markets. Further inland, hordes of tourists flocked to the tortuously odd designs of Antonio Gaudi at the famed Park Guell and Sagrada Familia. Modern public transportation improvements to “Barcelona Metro as a result of the 1992 Summer Olympics provided more efficient travel options for us throughout the city. Billboard announcements for its renowned, soccer team provided reminders that millions of followers worldwide watch international competitions of this famed team in World Cup competitions. Returning to our cruise ship by shuttle bus through the busy, industrial hub of Barcelona Harbor, we witnessed one of Europe’s largest container ports and cruise ship entry.

Amidst such prosperity, obvious signs of unrest, however, resonated throughout downtown Barcelona. Young African men desperately hocked cheap souvenirs at the famed Playa de Catalunya in a city facing a challenging immigration crisis. A lone banner hung proudly from an “Old Town”balcony with calls for “Democracio” accompanied by free-speech images to match. A street demonstration formed spontaneously nearby a prominent, public building as pro-separatist speakers excited the Catalonian, flag-waving crowd. At the Catalonian Museum Of History, the troubled legacy to deny political freedom to the Catalonian people was impressively documented as the showcase exhibit.

To what extent does Barcelona need the Spanish crown to survive in today’s world? With its international tourist appeal, ideal coastal location, and booming economic potential, I reason that such show of city strength provides great confidence to the Catalonian populace that independence will work successfully. As the pendulum thus swings for granting self determination here in the mind of this progressive minded traveler, I applaud this long overdue, restoration of human rights for the Catalonian people.



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