Hundreds of thousands of Catalans, perhaps more than a million according to some accounts, linked arms in a dramatic human chain across their small nation on September 11th to notify the world that they crave independence from the Kingdom of Spain. But the stunt proved to be less of a momentum-building event to carry the message through to a referendum next year on secession and more of an awkward backdrop to the newest statement by Catalonia’s president and the ruling separatist party’s leader, Artur Mas i Govarró, who seems suddenly to be climbing down from his previous confrontational stance toward Madrid.
|Artur Mas, greeting a separatist rally last year. He might not get such a warm reception today.|
The human chain stretched over 400 kilometers, from the French border in the north to the internal border with Spain’s autonomous Valencia region to the south. It ran mostly along the coast, including some of Catalonia’s nude beaches (see photo above). It took place on la Diada, Catalonia’s national holiday, which commemorates this year the 299th anniversary of the reabsorption of Catalonia into Spain after Spain’s defeat by the United Kingdom (whom the Catalans backed) in the Wars of Spanish Succession.
|The route of last week’s human chain|
as reported recently in this blog) and calling for unification with the much smaller Catalan region just over the border in southeastern France. The E.R.C. has always been more committed to a referendum than C.D.C., so now the ruling coalition may collapse. That would put secession even farther out of reach.
The human chain across Catalonia might simply mark the end of the line for the small nation’s dream of independence.
[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas. Look for it some time in 2013. I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]