The Catalan Countries have been a social and cultural reality for centuries. Its strategic position on the west bank of the Mediterranean sea and the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula has turned this country into a place of passage of people
The Catalan Countries have been a social and cultural reality for centuries. Its strategic position on the west bank of the Mediterranean sea and the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula has turned this country into a place of passage of people like the Romans, Greeks, Phoenicians, Iberians, Celts, Franks, Arabs … creating a rich mixture, diverse culture and leaving a extensive legacy of its own heritage, visible in architecture, music etc…
However, the social realities that shape the Catalan Countries that we know today will not consolidate its bases until the kingdoms of Valencia and Mallorca and counties of the Principality of Catalonia are all united under the Crown of Aragon in the thirteenth century.
Thereafter and for 500 years of history , the political evolution of the Crown of Aragon, is strongly marked by the influence of the parliamentary system (the courts) of the Principality of Catalonia and the process of ” democratization” (shared power between Church, Nobility and Gentry) on all the Catalan-speaking territories. A system that allowed that “citizens” will enjoy certain rights and freedoms unknown in neighboring political realities. A political system that has been considered by several historians as one of the most moderns of the time.
After the battles between the French and Spaniards for the control of the Crown of Aragon and the struggles initiated by Catalan classes to defend their rights, the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659) and Decree of Nueva Planta (1716) certify the defeat of the Catalans and brought the partition of the different territories of the Catalan Countries.
Despite the resistance of the Catalan people, most of the territory came under the control of Spanish absolutism, the abolition of its own laws and courts and the deny of rights and freedoms in order to homogenize the Castilian Crown.
In this context, the oligarchy and the Catalan bourgeoisie took the Spanish side, prioritizing their class interests to the idiosyncrasies of the Catalan people.The first responses of the Catalan working class will appear with the creation of the early socialists and trade unions (libertarian syndicalism) that will star the first general strike in Spain. Is this movement that for the next 200 years pushed keep the struggle of the Catalan people alive. And this same struggle, mostly associated with local areas, who after a victory of Catalan republicanism in the local elections of 1931 , proclaimed the Catalan Republic.
A Republic that since the beginning will have the strong opposition from the Catalan bourgeoisie and upper classes.
During the 1936 uprising against the government of the 2nd Republic, leading to the famous Civil War, the Catalan Countries are shown as a country with high doses of self-organization and resistance to fascist uprising. The Valencian Country and the Principality of Catalonia were bastions of the Republic, being the last areas to fall. During the three years of war in the Catalan Countries lives a social economic and revolution, both in the farms and in the industry and the defense of the Catalan cultural and national rights are very present.
The war was lost and during the Franco dictatorship (1939-1977) freedom of press, speech and the teaching and public use of Catalan was banned and harshly repressed. To the sum of the dead that occurred during the war, it must be added the thousands executed and imprisoned by the new regime and the exile of hundreds of thousands. Among those shot we can find the president of the Generalitat of Catalunya, only democratically elected president in the Europe of the twentieth century to die in these circumstances. However, the resistance never disappeared.
In the late 70s, with the death of Franco, begins a political transition that will bring the adoption of an Spanish Constitution. A text that divides into three autonomous regions the Catalan Countries and that prevents them to become a single political actor.
During the next 30 years right hand and left parties will slowly lose the confidence of the people because of their performances in the different governments. Meanwhile, social movements of all kinds will grow in local and sectoral areas. The crisis will intensifies this process and also causes more repression among groups that promote alternatives.
The payment of the debt will bring massive cuts. Social movements will gain weight and are committed to actions of disobedience and resistance to force a change.
A process of centralization is imposed by Spain’s government with the excuse of the crisis, and the lack of future of a failed state causes a reactions in the Catalan Countries.
The social crisis has revived the class struggle. Evictions or high unemployment figures lead to the impoverishment of a majority that is being doomed to social exclusion. Over 25% of the population lives below the poverty line. Still, mutual support networks, organizations such as PAH, against evictions, or campaigns against increases in transport are bringing hope through disobedience campaigns and daily struggle.
The democratic, national and social crisis leaves an uncertain but hopeful future for the Catalan Countries.
The Parliament of the Principality of Catalonia, following the popular demand in the streets, has organized a referendum for the independence of the territory on the 9 of November of 2014.
We are working on it.