Daily Maverick – Catalonia declared independence on 27 October 2017 despite harsh crackdowns by the Spanish government, creating a constitutional crisis for that country. But Catalonia is far from unique. In fact, we just had a secession declaration right here in South Africa. This raises the question, is secession good or bad? And for whom?
Spain consists of 17 autonomous regions (and two autonomous cities on the North African coast). And almost every one of these has an active separatist movement that seeks independence from Spain.
Perhaps the best known of these is the Basque Country, which straddles northern Spain and south-western France. It rose to notoriety because its nationalist movement had a paramilitary wing, known as ETA, which has carried out numerous attacks since its formation in 1959. It killed more than 800 people, many of them civilians, and was widely treated as a terrorist organisation. After several abortive ceasefires, ETA was finally disarmed in April of this year, not having achieved its goal of Basque independence.
In Europe alone nearly 100 separatist movements are active in 26 nation-states. In Asia, there are about 75 active groups. In the Americas there are over 40, 12 of which are in the USA.