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.

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Update 1: The Trend of Regional Independence Movements and its Portrayal in the Media

As I began my preliminary research leading up to my trip to Europe, I focused on collecting a range of sources including news articles as well as scholarly articles. To start, it seemed quite important to understand the history of the Catalan region and its complicated relationship with the country of Spain. Since I am visiting Barcelona which is a part of the Catalan region, my preliminary research focuses exclusively on this region and its desire for regional independence; however, my follow up research will expand to include more examples within Europe.
Over 2,000 years ago, the Romans conquered the area of land that is now known as Spain; it split itself into various regions, and one of these that formed was the Catalan region. The Catalan region thrived and began to accumulate wealth within itself. Later, it was joined with the surrounding regions under Muslim control through marriage, but the marriage was not a very happy one, and in the 17th century, the Catalans attempted their first try for succession unsuccessfully. In the 19th century, there was a renaissance of Catalan literature further fueling the pride and desire of the Catalans to be their own state. The Spanish civil war in the 1930s led to oppression and hardship for the Catalan people, and it was not until 1975 that they established their constitution, giving them regional autonomy. All of these factors help explain and give an understanding for the Catalan region’s desire of full independence from the nation of Spain.
Currently, the Catalan region has its own regional parliament and consists of 7.5 million residents. Fueled by economic motives, the Catalans desire to be their own state as they feel that the “central state [of Spain] is sucking their wealth dry.” Barcelona, alone, accounts for 20% of the Spanish GDP.
On October 1 of 2017, a vote was held regarding Catalan independence. 90% of those that voted voted in favor of independence from Spain. A series of violence broke out that day in response, and many citizens were injured as the Central government attacked its own people. Spain itself has a very young democracy (less than 40 years old), and the rest of the nation appears to be opposed to Catalan secession.
In terms of the media’s role in all of this, Spanish television and radio were very active leading up to the election especially the Catalan media. The state media was very selective in terms of what it portrayed which led to the creation of a private news media. The Catalan media especially is very biased and creates an extremely rosy picture of independence for the Catalan people which is not necessarily the full picture of the situation. Their agenda plays a large role in the Catalan public bias towards pro secession.
I think that my preliminary research has given me a good background of the Catalan region and its current situation, and I look forward to continuing my research first hand in Barcelona and Madrid.

The Trend of Regional Independence Movements in Europe and Its Portrayal in the Media

For my research project, I will be conducting research on the trend of regional independence movements in Europe and its portrayal in the media. Recently this trend has been increasing as more movements in favor of regional independence spread throughout much of Europe in places like Catalonia, Spain and Lombardy and Veneto, Italy. In our current world, the media plays a very important role in connecting people so that these trends do not only pertain to the people in the directly affected areas. These independence movements, if successful, could have large-scale consequences for the countries of Europe along with their economies and governments.

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