Why Catalonia Should Stay…

The demonstrations for independence going on today in Catalonia are good–even beautiful. But an actual separation from Spain would be bad. A separate Catalonia would create an European state the size of the US State of Maryland. In a world in which territorial vastness and population size have implications for national stature and significance, separation is not the way to go. It would generate unnecessary bureaucracy and would cause even more stress in the Spanish economy, which has suffered greatly under the current economic downturn.

Catalonia

Catalonia (Photo credit: scotbot)

It is true that Catalonia’s wealth is enormous. Catalonia is blessed with plenty of olives, irrigated-land cereals, dry-land cereals, vineyards, fruits, and vegetables. Besides, it is well developed industrially and does not suffer from industrial decline, like other areas of Spain. Also, with its Mediterranean seaboard and magnificent beaches, Catalonia is a magnet for European and international tourism. Plus, it has some of the best soccer in the world. All this would seem to suggest Catalonia would be better off to go its own separate way. However, for the reasons discussed here, I believe complete separation would be a mistake.

Yet, I started out by stating that Catalonia’s demonstrations for independence are good, although actual independence is bad. Here’s why: Spain suffers from excessive centralization and control. Ever since its defeat in the Spanish-American War of 1812, Spain has shown more and more its antiquated and unworkable economic system. This malfunction has brought the country to its current crisis. Spain, which in former times had been one of the richest countries in the world, has become today a symbol of economic failure and helplessness.

The solutions for Spain are not very different from the solutions for the United States and many other countries. It consists in encouraging a new optimism for productivity and economic activity. Here are four things that could make a difference for Spain:

1. Place greater emphasis on productivity in agriculture and industry.

2. Develop a thriving infrastructure of roads, communications, and ports.

3. Facilitate business transactions and import/export with simplified red tape.

4. Encourage technology education.

Thus, for my friends from Catalonia–the homeland of Salvador Dalí, Futbol Club Barcelona, and the magnificent Montserrat Mountain–I express my solidarity with the movement toward independence, but I caution that a better result for Catalonia would be economic reform for Spain as a whole rather than the dismemberment of independent communities.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
September 12, 2013

 

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