The fight for independence is not new; peoples from all over the world have been having this battle for thousands of years. America gained its independence in 1776 – now, groups in the Spanish area of Catalonia are trying to become independent.
Catalan nationalists have complained for a long time that they send too much money to the poorer parts of Spain through taxes. This region of Spain has a population of about 7.5 million people who have lived there for 1,000 years; they have their own parliament, language, flag, and anthem. Separatists (people who want to separate from the mother country) have held peaceful rallies for independence, but recently the protests turned violent.
This happened after nine independence leaders had been found guilty of sedition (a crime that involves inciting people to rebel against the authority of the state or monarchy) by Spain. They were given jail sentences of up to 13 years and banned from work as government officials.
Minutes after the court ruling, the people took to the streets, protesting in anger. More than 500,000 people attended a peaceful demonstration, but several nights of rioting followed. As of October 18, 207 police officers had been hurt, 107 police vehicles damaged, and nearly 800 trash cans set on fire.
The Sagrada Familia Church, which is Barcelona’s most famous landmark, was blocked by pro-independence protesters. Fifty-seven flights were canceled at Barcelona-El Prat airport. The Spanish football federation had to postpone its Barcelona-Real Madrid game. Roads were blocked by protestors, making it hard for citizens to move and businesses to stay open. At least 96 people were hurt as the protests continued across Spain’s north-eastern region.