Catalonia’s independence standoff: How we got here
Hours before Catalan President Carles Puigdemont is due to make his next move — unilaterally declare independence and risk the wrath of Madrid, accept some form of mediation, or something in between — we take a look at the events that led up to the current situation.
Catalans have their own language, which is based on the romance Latin-based tongues of southern Europe but is quite different from Spanish, which was influenced by the Arabs who ruled huge swathes of medieval Spain. Several times during its history, Catalonia has found itself caught between the rivalries of France and Spain.
The current dispute goes back to that conflict. Franco, the victor, repressed Catalonia’s earlier limited autonomy, and in the early years of the dictatorship at least, expressions of Catalan language and culture. It wasn’t until four years after Franco’s death in 1979 that the region regained some of that autonomy.
In 2006, the Spanish government backed Catalonia’s calls for even greater powers, granting “nation” status and financial control to the region. But four years later, the Constitutional Court rescinded that status, ruling that while Catalan is a “nationality,” Catalonia itself is not a nation.