The Catalan Diaries:
looking from the past into the future
A Sputnik correspondent guides you through the history of Catalonia and provides a perspective on its future after more than 90 percent of voters said 'Yes' to independence from Spain
A man holds an Estelada (Catalan separatist flag) as people gather at Plaza Catalunya after voting ended for the banned independence referendum, in Barcelona, Spain © Photo: REUTERS, Susana Vera
Key periods in the history of Catalonia
800-900 AD: The County of Barcelona was first formed, as a buffer zone between the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne and Spain. At the time, Spain was operating under Muslim rule.

1100 AD: Ruler of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer IV marries Queen Petronilla of Aragon. Their wedding marked the moment that Barcelona was united with the Kingdom of Aragon. The territory of Barcelona retained its parliament and traditions.

1400: Three hundred years later, Ferdinand II of Aragon weds Queen Isabelle of Castille, creating a dynastic union. This laid the foundations for the Spanish Kingdom.

1640: 'The Reapers War'. Catalonia revolts against Spain over the recurring economic issue of taxes. This resulted in Catalonia being declared a Republic under French protection, but was later reoccupied by Spanish troops.

1700: The War of the Spanish Succession with the Catalan's backing the eventual losing side leading to years of suppression by King Felipe V.

1714: King Felipe V suspends Catalan rights on the grounds of sedition.

1931: The Generalitat, an autonomous regional Government of Catalonia is created. It is nestled within the Republic of Spain, but Catalan nationalism increases sharply.

1939-75: General Franco's dictatorship. Thousands of Catalan activists are executed. Concentration Camps are formed. Suppression is rife.

1979: Catalan autonomy is restored. The constitution is adjusted and signed. The changes are preliminary and exist as a compromise to release Catalonia from the dark rule of Franco Catalan is now recognized as a nationality, as well as an official language alongside Spanish.

2010: Madrid removes elements of the 2006 Statute that gives greater financial autonomy to Catalonia. It is ruled that there is no legal basis for recognizing Catalonia as a nation.

Under a completely secessionist Catalan Parliament, Carles Puidgement calls for a referendum to decide whether the Catalan people would like Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic.
September: Mariano Rajoy condemns the vote as illegal, arresting 14 government officials, raiding print shops and warehouses for ballot boxes and shutting down online voting services. Catalan citizens occupy schools and council buildings ahead of the vote to ensure locals will be able to vote.

October 1: Rajoy sends National Police and Civil Guards to Catalonia with orders to seize ballot boxes with "whatever it takes." The force used by police, against women, children and the elderly is captured on film and shared. The vote goes ahead with a 42% turn out. 90% of the votes are in favor of independence.

October 3: King Felipe VI addresses Catalonia in a televised speech, accusing them of anarchy. He does not mention the police violence.

October 5: Two major banks meet to discuss whether they will retain their headquarters in Catalonia or remove them to secure financial stability.

October 6: The Chief of the Catalan Police "Mossos d'esquadra" is arrested alongside two major political activists for failing to protect the Civil Guards and National Police. They are later released.

October 10:
Carles Puidgement intends to announce Independence from Spain.
An Estelada (Catalan separatist flag) hangs on a balcony in Barcelona, Spain, September 7, 2017 © Photo: REUTERS, Albert Gea
What is in store for Catalonia come Tuesday's Announcement?
It has been confirmed that Catalonia will be preparing to enter the EFTA the day after independence is announced on Tuesday.
People attend a protest one day after the banned independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain October 2, 2017 © Photo: REUTERS, Susana Vera

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is a trade bloc created on January 4,1960 by the Stockholm Convention as an alternative to the European Economic Community (1957) with Austria, Denmark, Great Britain, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland as members. It came into being in June 1960. In 1961 Finland joined, Iceland in 1970 and Liechtenstein in 1991.

The EFTA is a group of countries that have chosen not to join the European Union.

Its objective is to promote the economic expansion and financial stability of all its members.

Great Britain and Denmark left the EFTA in 1973 choosing instead to join the CEE. Portugal followed in 1986, Austria, Sweden and Finland in 1995. Since then the EFTA has become a select group of countries. Two Alpine countries remain: Liechtenstein and Switzerland and two Nordic countries, Norway and Iceland.

With this strategy, belonging to the EFTA, Spain cannot boycott the presence of Catalonia. At the same time, EFTA belongs to the European Economic Area.

The European Economic Area (EEA) was founded on January 1, 1994, through an agreement between countries in the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Its creation allowed EFTA countries to participate in the internal market of the European Union without having to join the EU.

The members of the Association include the 27 member countries of the EU, and the following EFTA members: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

In a national referendum on December 6, 1992, Switzerland, as an EFTA member, refused to join the European Economic Area, despite the fact that the majority of votes were in favor of joining the EEA. Currently, Switzerland's relations with the EU are governed by a set of bilateral treaties as a member of the Schengen Agreement.
Madrid and Catalonia - Are the tensions beginning to thaw?

Catalonia has been in a state of crisis. The region of Catalonia has locked horns with Madrid, and they have been dueling ever since the announcement of the referendum.

In many ways, Catalonia appeared to be falling into an abyss of no return.

Careful observation, however, will reveal a number of updates that suggest that the situation is thawing.

A woman walks past a crosswalk, painted in the form of an Estelada (Catalan pro-independence flag) in Arenys de Munt, north of Barcelona, Spain, September 26, 2017 © Photo: REUTERS, Albert Gea
On Friday, Spain's senior governmental representative in Catalonia Enric Millo asked forgiveness for the brutal police violence during the referendum. A judge from Barcelona has opened an investigation into the events, and the Barcelona City Council condemned the violence of the state. They also demanded the resignation of Mariano Rajoy, who will be tried in Lleida, Mataró, Amposta, Mollet, Puigcerdà, Tremp and Tarragona.

Proceedings to investigate the actions of the Spanish police forces will also be carried out. The vast majority of police installed in Reus, Lleida and in other towns have been transferred to Huesca. After a concerning lack of European support, yesterday, an important newspaper in Germany, "Frankfurter Allgemeine", dedicated its front cover to secession, and "The Economist" printed that a referendum is essential to solve the Catalan case.
So, what has catalyzed all of these changes? Just a few days ago Carles Puigdemont asked for the immediate transfer of police from Catalonia, in order to initiate mediation. On Friday, Switzerland offered to mediate between Spain and Catalonia, hours after this announcement Puigdemont said the announcement of independence will occur on Tuesday rather than Monday, allowing more time for preparation.

On top of this, the arrested activists and police chiefs, Trapero, Sánchez and Cuixart have been allowed to leave the National Court without precautionary measures.
Students attend a demonstration in favor of the banned October 1 independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain September 28, 2017 © Photo: REUTERS, Juan Medina
This defrosting effect will hopefully continue.
Democratic dialogue and the healing of past wounds will maybe save Spain from a dirty future of political unrest, internal strife and perhaps even another civil war.
Reporting by Maud Start
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