Yes California Supports Catalan Independence

The Yes California Independence Campaign applauded the results of a historic vote held yesterday (Sunday) that represents a mandate for Catalan independence from Spain. 

“There are many parallels between Catalonia and California,” Louis Marinelli, President of Yes California said. “We stand in solidarity with our Catalan friends on our similar journey to independence.”

Both Catalonia and California are their country’s wealthiest regions and both share common problems over taxation and under-representation.

Poll results show that the two pro-independence parties are set to win at least 72 seats in the regional parliament. This result is sure to empower the Barcelona government to pursue a unilateral declaration of independence to end Spanish dominion over Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain known for lively beach resorts, the Pyrenees Mountains and the artist Salvador Dalí.

Faud Alakbarov, an internationally-known human rights advocate pointed out that, “In 2010, Catalans contributed €61.87 billion in taxes and fees to the Spanish Government, but only got back €45.33 billion.” If that argument sounds familiar it should because the Yes California Independence Campaign points to the same message: California paid $369.2 billion in taxes in 2014 and received just $248.3 billion in federal funding that year.

“If the people of Catalonia are upset about getting back 73 cents for each tax dollar paid to Madrid, Californians ought to be even more upset – we received just 67 cents for each tax dollar paid to Washington last year,” Marinelli said. “And there are more Californians than there are Catalonians.”

Catalonia has a long history of being controlled and dominated dating as far back as the 10th century when Catalonia became independent from modern-day France. In 1137 Catalonia united with neighboring Aragon. Between 1469 and 1516, the King of Aragon and the Queen of Castile (the territory where the present-day capital of Spain is located) married and ruled their kingdoms together, each retaining all their distinct institutions and culture. During the Catalan Revolt a century later, Catalonia rebelled against Castile and became a republic under French protection. In 1659 a peace treaty ended the wider Franco-Spanish war and Castile agreed to cede France the northern parts of Catalonia. Decades later the Crown of Aragon sided against Philip V of Spain in the War of Spanish Succession. Spain’s subsequent victory led to the abolition of non-Castilian institutions in all of Spain and the replacement of Latin and other languages (such as Catalan) with Spanish in legal documents.

Amidst the Napoleonic Wars, Catalonia experienced economic growth and industrialization followed by a cultural renaissance and nationalism in the 19th century. In 1913, the four Catalan provinces formed a Commonwealth, and with the advent of democracy during the Second Spanish Republic (1931–39), the province of Catalonia was restored. After the Spanish Civil War, the Spanish dictator enacted repressive measures, abolishing Catalan institutions and banning the official use of the Catalan language again. During the 1950s and 1960s, Catalonia saw significant economic growth and became an important tourist destination. Since the Spanish transition to democracy in the 1970s-80s, Catalonia has gained some political and cultural autonomy and is now one of the most economically dynamic communities of Spain.

“California was conquered in 1846 during the Mexican-American War and ruled by a military governor for four years afterwards,” Marinelli continued.

According to Marinelli, “Congress threw out the book with respect to California’s statehood. Although Congress required the people of every other territory to hold a referendum prior to being admitted into the Union as a state, the people of California were never given that chance, and were admitted into the Union in 1850 as a bargaining chip in the Great Compromise over free and slave states.”

As a result of this “compromise” that made California an American state, slavery was permitted in the New Mexico and Utah territories, and Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, forcing northerners to return escaped slaves to their owners in the south upon capture.

“The circumstances behind California’s path to statehood are not pretty, nor voluntary. Today California’s status as a state is still not pretty. California is overtaxed and underrepresented in Congress, and the federal government owns forty percent of our land.” Marinelli said.

Thus, Marinelli and the Yes California Independence Campaign are working to put an independence referendum on the ballot in 2020. “Today, Catalonia votes. Tomorrow, California.”

Although there is no mechanism in the United States Constitution to allow a state to leave the Union, Marinelli pointed to Catalonia for inspiration. “The Spanish Constitution also does not allow for a region to secede from Spain, yet that notion is not stopping them and it ought not to stop us. It is the policy of the United States to support the right of self-determination and we are going to hold them to it.” 

Yes California received support for that notion earlier this week. Prior to the Catalonia vote, U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), when asked about an independence referendum for California, stated that he believes, “All people have the right to introduce their own destiny through an honest referendum, including California.”


 CONTACT: Michael Ross (916) 923-2215

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