Unistas at a Barcelona pro-union street rally on October 29.
(photo credit: JON IMMANUEL)
CATALANS have a way of turning national disasters into patriotic festivities. Count Wilfred the Hairy’s severe chest wound acquired while allegedly fighting Muslims in the late ninth century gave them their flag. A crushing defeat in the war of the Spanish succession in 1714 gave them their national day. And if Islamic terrorists had not bombed 10 trains entering Madrid’s central station in 2004, there may have been no Catalonian bid for independence today.The saga has been gathering momentum for nearly seven years, igniting passions and ennui. An hour after Catalonia’s parliament declared unconditional independence and stood to sing the national hymn on October 27, a brooding man in a bookshop said, “It is a show put on by idiots.” Two days later, during a boisterous anti-independence rally in Barcelona, estimated as at least half a million, Ramon Rosso, a company economist, suggested the movement was in self-contradiction. “Perhaps what they want is virtual independence because they won’t get the real thing. They complain about Madrid taking their money but are happy to give it to Brussels instead. But they are too narrow-minded to see it.”