Count Ramon Berenguer of Barcelona, with wife Petronilla, Queen of Aragon.
(Artist unknown. Photo source: Museo del Prado via Wikimedia Commons). PD
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I came to Spain to live when I was 20 but I had been visiting the country as a student since age 16… That is well over 40 years ago. I have seen the changes… the country grow, in many ways for better, and sometimes for worse, as all things do.
I was born in a great country, the USA, where I grew up to appreciate and value our racial, religious, ethnic, regional, ideological, etc., differences. And we Americans all feel that this vast diversity is what has made our country truly great. Growing up in New York City, probably enhanced my feeling of wanting to be a “citizen of the world” and my passion for traveling.I am happy to have lived in Spain during the Franco regime because these past decades have afforded me a greater understanding of Spanish history, culture and politics. Spain is my country of adoption although I am still very much an American at heart as well. As the Spanish song says: ENTRE DOS AMORES. I would add “DOS GRANDES AMORES”, which is why the situation of Catalonia disturbs me no end.
Having said all this, I find it so absurd that Catalonia can even think of seeking its independence.
I think one of the many, many charms of Spain is the fact that the country also enjoys this great diversity: in its history, its culture, its customs and traditions, its cuisine, its scenery, landscape, its glorious fiestas…
And the amazing thing about Spain is that it is a country which is even smaller than our state of Texas. Why in God’s name would one region want to demand independence, rescind its ties with the rest of the country, in a world in which globalization and unity are the keynotes? In Unity Lies The Strength, as the saying goes.
I can recall when I first came to Spain so many years ago as a graduate student and tried to decide whether to “set up house” in Madrid or Barcelona. Barcelona had so many things going for it: a beautiful, cosmopolitan and grandiose city, filled with art and culture, so very European, and on the sea!!! I thought it was light years ahead of Madrid in intellectual, artistic and cultural options.
However, I was not planning on spending the rest of my life here in Spain, so I thought Madrid, being in the center of the country, offered easier options to travel all over the country, in that “pre-AVE” era, when a train trip to Valencia took 8 hours and to Galicia, at least 14.
I never regretted the decision.
I have just returned from the wonderful and colorful fiestas of the Virgen del Pilar in
Zaragoza, a province bordering Catalonia, and there the people laugh at the Catalan pretensions of independence when, historically speaking, the Catalans were in fact united under the Crown of Aragon by Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona, in the 12th century.
I feel that this Catalonian secession movement headed up by Artur Mas is just a political maneuver, a smokescreen to negotiate with the central government. Catalonia was one of the first Spanish regions to suffer major financial problems as a result of the crisis. So to me it seems that they cannot operate satisfactorily as an autonomous region, so if they think that they can function as an independent nation (when the E.U. has already made it clear that they would not be admitted as such), who are they trying to fool?
To me the independence of Catalonia from Spain would be as absurd as Texas’s secession from the “Union” at this stage of our history. A step backwards. Together we stand, divided we fall.
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