Yesterday, on November 9, over 2 million Catalan people in Spain's Catalonia region voted on whether the region should be independent from Spain. According to the volunteer group who organized the vote, over 80% of voters said that yes, Catalonia should be independent. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and site of most of the voting. The Spanish government had previously declared the vote illegal, and currently dismisses it as propaganda. Whether or not you agree that Catalonia should be independent, it is obvious that both sides need to engage in more widespread public relations to accomplish their goals.
Having spent this last summer interning in Barcelona, I can tell you that most native Catalan people do not like the rest of Spain. I was there during the World Cup; the Spanish national team consisted of players from all parts of Spain, even Catalonia. However, people in Barcelona would refuse to watch Spain play in the World Cup, because they didn't support the country and viewed Catalan players on the team as traitors. Hearing how vehemently opposed to Spain as a whole these people were, it was obvious that something needed to be done on a national scale. After the Spanish Civil War in the 1930's, Franco took power and specifically oppressed Catalonia and its people. The Catalan language was banned, the city of Barcelona became poorer and poorer, and the people were looked down on by the rest of Spain. Since then, things have gotten better, but many Catalan people still remember this time and resent the rest of Spain for it. The problem is that outside of Spain, nobody knows any of this, so no one understands why Catalonia wants independence so badly. Looking at the news today, articles about the independence vote hardly make the headlines on news sights, but if Catalonia really were to break away from Spain, that would be a huge deal. It would impact the entire world; even in minor ways such as every map everywhere needing to be updated. There would be an entire new country in the world.
|Catalan pro-independence activists waved a cardboard ballot box at a rally in Barcelona.|
The people of Catalonia need to engage in PR aimed at the rest of the world, they need to tell their story of oppression, of how they've risen above where they were to become one of Spain's major economic regions. There is a real story to be told here, which needs to be heard 'round the world.
What do you think Catalonia needs to do, or what does Spain need to do to keep Catalonia in the fold? Comment below, we'd love to hear from you.
Read this BBC article for more information: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29982960
This post was authored by Faiz Mandviwalla, a junior at Temple University and PRowl's Director of Finance. Follow Faiz on twitter @faizmand.