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July 28, 2009

There has been very little celebration here in Barcelona over Spaniard Alberto Contadors victory in the Tour De France.  This in itself is not surprising given the past five hundred years of bad blood between the two regions. (According to my tour guide/good friend/host Miguel the conflict begins when the Spanish Crown denies the Catalan Crown access to the riches of the Americas and intensifies with the Spanish invasion of Barcelona in 1714. And of course, few people  are ready to forgive Madrid’s suppression of the Catalan language and culture here during the Franco years.) But I have been impressed by just how much independence Catalans have carved out for themselves in recent years, and how distant Madrid can feel. Many if not most EU issued license plates here are marked CAT rather than E (for Espana), streets now often have competing Spanish and Catalan names (making life very difficult for this tourist), lessons in public schools are taughtly only in Catalan, and the region now collects taxes directly rather than sending them on to Madrid. During my interviews this week with older people who lived through, and sometimes fought in, the Spanish Civil War we traveled to small towns where the majority of people  spoke only Catalan! It has become very clear to me that Catalonia is simply not Spain for many people here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. jlk permalink*
    July 29, 2009 3:34 pm

    check this out –

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