Update 2: The Trend of Regional Independence Movements and its Portrayal in the Media

Once in Europe, I paid attention to what was going on around me specifically in Barcelona and Madrid. In Barcelona, I found posters and signs hung up throughout the city outside of people’s apartments crying out for justice and democracy. My preliminary research had not prepared me for discussion about the Catalan “political prisoners” which many signs also mentioned.
Not being able to speak Spanish or Catalan, it proved difficult to gain a first hand account in Barcelona; however, in Madrid I was lucky enough to have an Uber driver who happened to speak French which I also speak. As soon as I realized that he spoke French, I immediately told him about my project and asked if it would be okay if I asked him some questions about the Catalan region and its intended secession from Spain. He agreed and continued to give me some very insightful information and opinions of his own. When asked if he thinks that the Catalan region will be able to secede from Spain in the near future he vigorously shook his head and explained why this, in his opinion, is not possible. Interestingly enough, he used the example of the Fleming secession movement in Belgium, which I plan on researching more as well, to explain his reasoning. Similar to the Catalan region, the Fleming region of Belgium is wealthier than the rest of the nation thus the state is very reluctant to let them be independent since they make up such a large portion of the country’s wealth. Along with that, Belgium and Spain both want to maintain their united states. Seeing that it does not benefit them to let either region be independent, it seems very unlikely that the Fleming and Catalan regions will succeed in their secession attempts.
When I asked him about the signs and what the political prisoners were, he very kindly explained that they were protestors who were arrested. I was very surprised to hear this and asked if Spain did not have a law for free speech as we do in the United States. Allegedly they do; however, he explained that protesting for a separate state goes against the Spanish constitution which states that Spain is a single entity/state. Spanish law says that all people who are against the integrative democracy must be stopped and punished meaning they are judged and sent to jail. This was very enlightening and a very good push off point to continue my research and further delve into these independence movements.



  1. micrittenden says:

    Hey Olivia,

    I went back to read your previous posts and your project is really cool! When I read your initial post, I immediately thought of social media’s influence on the Egyptian Revolution a couple years ago and how it contributed to the Arab Spring.

    It’s also really impressive that you were able to speak with your Uber driver about your research – I speak Spanish and I still doubt I could have done the same! In Barcelona, you clearly saw examples of active protesting, like the posters and signs; did you see any protesting from the opposite perspective while you were in Madrid? It’s been about 9 months since the vote and international news coverage on the violence that erupted afterward, and I am curious about if there were still feelings of political discontent that you saw anywhere in the country aside from the apartment signs in Barcelona? In the United States, political apathy sets in pretty quickly and people continue on with life (for example, net neutrality is hardly talked about anymore) – do you think the same can be said for your research topic? Or has media portrayal influenced the movement differently?

    Looking forward to reading your final post – best of luck finishing!


  2. ofrovin says:

    Hey Matt,
    Thank you for your comment and questions! When I was in Madrid I actually did not see any evidence of the desire for secession in the Catalan region; there were no signs protesting secession, at least that I saw. Everyone seemed to be carrying on their lives just as normal similar to the political apathy that you mention is common here in the United States. Since I was only in each city for a few days it is hard to really say the overall attitude of the people there especially in Madrid who appeared to be less vocal in terms of signs than those in Barcelona. However, I believe that this issue is still very fresh in the minds of people in Spain, especially in Barcelona and other parts of the Catalan region. Based on my research, it seems that the issue remains a part of media portrayal although coverage has definitely stalled a bit since the original vote and the time leading up to it.