Brett Hetherington is an English language teacher & writer of Australian descent who has lived in Catalonia since 2006.
1. How do you feel about the fact that you have been resident here in Catalonia for many years, but, yet, are not allowed to vote in the referendum?
2. Do you believe the referendum has value even though the Spanish state will not recognise it?
3. What would be the pros and cons of an independent Catalonia?
1. Well, of course I feel sad that I can't vote in the referendum. Just like plenty of others, we've lived here for over a decade and have a son who will soon be going into the workforce, so the near future is extremely important to us. To exclude people who are not Spanish citizens but have lived here (continually) for more than 5 years is clearly a mistake because it just makes you seem unimportant and disregarded. In a genuine, fully-developed democracy everyone is included and everyone has the impression that they count.
2. Yes. The collective opinion of the people (or at least a majority of the population) is an important statement about where they want to live and who they believe they are. The current Spanish government is obviously wrong to not accept the result of the referendum because they will be denying a basic, universal democratic principle in action.
3. It's actually quite difficult to know because the debate has largely been so polarised, emotional and partisan. I do think that any referendum has greater legitimacy to it if there is an informed and balanced education campaign from both sides and that this should be publicly funded. Both campaigns have to be put under scrutiny from the media without the rabid nationalism that we have continually seen up until now. Only then will the referendum accurately mirror the population's decision.
Hashim Almadani is a writer, content creator & entrepreneur of Iraqi origin and resident in Catalonia since 2010.
1. Catalonia for me is not only my second home after having come from Iraq in 2009, but it is also the place that has given me the opportunity to live the life I was looking for and trying to find. Barcelona city, friends and the way of life have been the best I could get immigrating to a country.
2. In the case that the Spanish state will not recognise it, I think this can serve as a method of pressure. On the other hand it is a loss of social money if it does not serve its purpose.
3. The pros - to get the Catalan dream of an independent country that can have all the authority, resources and decisions on the management of this country. The cons - simply managing a country goes further than a nationalist feeling of a nation, a country is a complicated management process. It is a challenge and long and hard way to give a dignified life for everyone, even those who "have voted NO ". An independent country without that experience needs to have some well-studied steps, locally and globally, to meet the basic requirements for an active part in this world. I can say that being an independent country is a solution, but it might not be "The solution".
Henk Fonville (Dutch) is a professor of organic farming and Lucía Manassi (Italian) is an Italian teacher and live in Catalonia 33 years.
1. I feel cheated after so many years (more than 30 in my case) integrating into Catalan / Spanish society. I pay taxes, I bought a house, paid the fines etc, etc: I fulfill my duties, but I have very few rights. I can only vote in municipal elections.
2. If the people of Catalonia decide in a clear majority to go to the polls this referendum does not need the recognition of the Spanish State. It is also very clear the dirty games that politicians in Madrid play.
3. One of the pros for Catalan society will be the fact that they have the opportunity to better redistribute the taxes collected. One of the cons will be that we will probably need a long period of economic adjustment as an independent state.
Filomena Rodrigues Ferreira is a masseur and therapist Esenia, native of Angola and Portuguese nationality and has lived in catalonia for 14 years.
1. The truth is that I do not know how I feel about this subject. Since it is not allowed to vote for foreigners, I think I have resigned myself !! What I do know is that what makes Spain rich is the diversity that characterizes it. I cannot imagine Catalonia outside of Spain!
2. It will have value for some people and a level of statistics. But only that. Despite believing that we should all vote to express what we believe ... democracy! It will hardly go forward if the Spanish state does not recognize it! The never-ending story !!
3. I suppose there will be pros and cons. You will not be able to please all the people !! I understand those who want independence and also understand those who do not want it. It's a double-edged sword. Seeing is believing. No one knows what can really happen !!
Hannah Smith Hardy is a British stay at home mum and has lived in Catalonia for over ten years.
1. In one word excluded, but also as if we are about to be told we're not welcome too. It's quite unnerving to know that such a monumental decision that will affect all who live and work in Spain will be decided among so few.
2. Yes it does, and I believe it should. I believe the Spanish government owes Catalunya an opportunity to sit down and negotiate a new deal / role in the Spain. Obviously this mean that I would prefer Catalunya to stay in Spain.
3. Pros - hard to think of many but here goes: smaller government may hopefully mean more attention paid to local issues such as schools and other public services. Cons - inevitable higher taxes, a disenfranchised under class, more limited movement of the poorer classes, a smaller voice in international governance, a long tough road to try to become a member state of Europe, even longer waiting lists in hospitals etc as doctors leave for more stable jobs abroad, I could go on. Limited opportunities for our children as they grow.
Oscar Aquino (on the right) is an assistant brewer, of Argentine origin and lives almost 8 years in Catalonia.
1. I feel weird, I wish I could vote, but, despite my almost 8 years of residing here legally, I cannot participate. It seems my opinion does not matter in this important decision.
2. The only value I can give you is that the people are the ones who decide whether or not they want independence.
3. I do not know if there is a real pro....Since all opinions are biased by feelings. The cons would be to confront a Catalan economic restructuring after a separation of the Spanish State which would entail debt for the government for the infrastructure, in other words; Renfe (train network), government buildings, etc. And that debt is paid with people's money. The only ones affected would be us.