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An Illegitimate Rebellion or Fight for Freedom?

The Independence Movement in Catalonia

An Illegitimate Rebellion or Fight for Freedom? The Independence Movement in Catalonia

The issue of Catalan Independence demands has led to Spain’s greatest political crisis since the restoration of democracy in 1976. What are the implications of this not just for Catalonia and Spain, but for Europe as a whole? Is there a viable way out of the crisis? Join us to find out!

The issue of Catalan Independence demands has led to Spain’s greatest political crisis since the restoration of democracy in 1976. What are the implications of this not just for Catalonia and Spain, but for Europe as a whole? Is there a viable way out of the crisis? Join us to find out!

Departure Dates

29 Sept – 5 Oct 2019
Dates for 2020 coming soon

Length

7 days/ 6 nights

Tour Route

Madrid – Barcelona –  Girona

Language

German

Included

All in-country costs*

An Illegitimate Rebellion or Fight for Freedom? The Independence Movement in Catalonia

From beaches to Picasso, from football to the Prado and from Sangria to the Sagrada Familia, it is hardly surprising that Spain is the world’s second most popular tourist destination. Despite its popularity as a destination, curiously, Spain is also a country which is barely understood even at a basic level by the vast majority of its visitors. Perhaps this is most pronounced in the political sphere, which, understandably, does not normally compete for the attention of visitors in the same way as the wealth of attractions the country has to offer. But these are not normal times in Spain.

The country is gripped by probably its greatest political crisis – the bid for independence in Catalonia – since the restoration of democracy following the death of the Dictator Franco in 1975. For many proponents of Catalonian independence, this is an existential question of national identity, social justice and freedom from a tarnished Spain which they view as having failed to respect fully their linguistic, cultural and political rights in a plurinational state. The bid for independence is equally fiercely opposed by the Spanish state, which views it as an illegitimate and unconstitutional attack on the integrity of the Spanish nation and country. The recent emergence of the far-right as a strong political force in some parts of Spain has served to polarize the national debate further.

These fundamentally different points of view are personified in the on-going trial (judgement is expected in July) of many of the leaders of the Catalan Independence Movement, who have been in pre-trial detention for more than a year. Many have been charged with rebellion (an extremely serious charge which potentially carries lengthy prison sentences) following the October 1st 2017 Independence Referendum. On the other hand, their supports view them as non-violent freedom fighters and political prisoners who are being repressed by a corrupt state which has lost its legitimacy.

The quest for independence – regardless of whether or not it is ultimately successful – raises many profound questions for the Catalan people and the Spanish state, e.g., why does Spain not allow a referendum as the UK did with Scotland? Is it all just about money and power? Why would so many people want to leave a democratic European state despite potentially facing huge economic, political and legal uncertainty? What does it actually mean to be Catalan these days? Indeed, what does it mean to be Spanish?

But the situation also has broader implications for Europe as a whole: what, if anything, does this move for national independence have in common with growing nationalism in other parts of Europe? And what, if anything, does the government response have in common with increasingly authoritarian regimes in other parts of Europe and its neighbours? Does the whole situation represent a threat to European democracy, as some claim, or, as others claim, a chance for democratic regeneration?

Our tour will look at these and many other questions during the intensive week we will spend together. We will look at the broader context from a “Madrid point of view”, before travelling to Barcelona for the anniversary of the Independence Referendum, as well as visiting the heartlands of the Independence Movement. While our focus will be on the current political situation, we will also look at the long and complex historical and cultural relationship between the Catalan region and Spain. We will look at different points of view, listening to and engaging with people across the spectrum of opinions, meeting with local and international experts, activists, politicians, journalists and ordinary people.

It is an extraordinarily complex situation and we cannot guarantee that you will return with more answers than remaining questions. However, we are certain that you will come back having met a wide-range of fascinating people, vastly more informed and having enjoyed an enthralling week! 

Daily Itinerary


Day 1

We kick off our tour by meeting for dinner in Madrid, where we will look at the week ahead.

Overnight in Madrid.

Day 2

The conflict in Catalonia cannot be understood without exploring its historical roots and the broader political environment within the country. There is no better place than Madrid to do this.

Of course, in a single day, we can never do full justice to the complexity of the issues. But by spending the day in the company of experts and commentators, we will cover a variety of critical topics which provide a background for the rest of the tour, ranging from the creation of the Spanish state and the Civil War and Franco period, as well as looking at the “Spanish Model”. As part of this, we plan a visit to the “Valle de los Caidos” (“Valley of the Fallen”), where Franco is buried outside of Madrid. However, at the time of designing the tour, there are (hotly contested) plans for his exhumation and reburial and it remains to be seen whether the inclusion of this in the itinerary will be possible or worthwhile.

In the late afternoon or early evening we will take the high speed train to Barcelona.

Overnight in Barcelona.

Day 3

October 1st marks the 2nd anniversary of the highly contested Catalan Independence Referendum and, as such, is a pivotal event in the political calendar. The political situation will almost certainly have evolved significantly by then, as judgement on the cases of Catalan Independence leaders will have been delivered. As such, it is impossible to predict at this point what will occur, beyond the fact that the day will be characterised by massive demonstrations in the city.

Just as the events in the city will be fluid on this day, so will our programme, which will be spent in the company of activists and commentators who will guide us through the events which are unfolding.

Overnight in Barcelona.

Day 4

Today, we will deliberately take a step back from the passionate activism of the previous day and look at the historical construction of the Catalan nation from the past to the present day. We will look at a wide variety of issues around culture, language, history, and the creation of a national story or narrative, all of which are seen to underpin the independence movement. We will also explore the question posed by many: Is it all ultimately just about money and power?

Our day will take us to the Museum of the History of Catalonia and to the Born Cultural Centre, where we will have special guided tours with experts. We will also visit the University, where we will have the opportunity to discuss the federal model and how it has (or has not) worked for Catalonia.

We will spend the evening in the company of Catalan artists.

Overnight in Barcelona.

Day 5

Today, we travel to the historical city of Girona in the Northern “heart-land” of the independence movement and where the highly controversial politician, Carles Puigdemont, was mayor before becoming Catalan President (2016-2018). The city is about an hour train ride from Barcelona. We will spend the day in the company of local political representatives as well as local activist groups, trying to understand what drives them and their vision for the future. It will also be an opportunity to visit the city and many of the important land marks of the independence movement.  

After an early dinner with activists, we will head back to Barcelona.

Overnight in Barcelona.

Day 6

On our last full day together, we will seek to bring the tour together at a political level.

We will start off with a question and answer session with experts around the central question as to whether Catalonia has the right to decide.

We will then have the opportunity to examine the judicial prosecution of activists (including talks with representatives of the jailed activists) and the political consequences of the independence vote.

After lunch we will have meetings with representatives of the Catalan government (including a visit to the Catalan parliament) and talk to political and activist groups who are pro-independence, pro-referendum and pro-union.

We will finish the day with an informal dinner with journalists, where we will have the opportunity to hear different views on the communication of the actions of both the Catalan and Spanish governments around the 1 October vote, the prosecution of pro-independence actors and press freedom.

Overnight in Barcelona.

Day 7

We finish our tour over breakfast where we will have the opportunity to reflect on our experiences together and say our good-byes.

We deliberately did not plan additional activities for the day, as we recognise that participants are likely to want to visit some of Barcelona’s many attractions. We are able to provide numerous recommendations.

All of our tours are dynamic and seek to take advantage of current political events. Thus, final itineraries can be subject to modification. Also, some people we plan to meet might no longer be available or still be in their positions. We also meet with many important and busy people, whose schedules change and with whom we will have to fit in. This is simply the nature of the types of tours we offer and the reality of some of the countries we visit. In all cases, we will seek replacement meetings of a similiar level. 

If you think there are relevant topics missing from the itinerary which you are interested in, please do suggest them and we might be able to include them, as our tour experts have wide-ranging and diverse networks. 

Tour Expert

We are delighted that the tour will be led by Krystyna Schreiber, an author and journalist and commentator based in Barcelona. Widely regarded as one of the German language’s leading experts on Catalonia, Krystyna has written, presented for and collaborated with numerous media publications.
Read more… 

Tailor-made Trips

Interested in exploring the political, economic or social situation in the country, but would like to organise a tailor-made trip focused on your specific interests? Tailor-made trips are available for individuals or groups, ranging from a few hours to a few days and can focus on either the general situation or be tailored to your particular interest. Please contact us using the form below to discuss your requirements and we can take it from there.  

Travel Details

Price:

€2,920 per person based on sharing double/ twin room

Single person supplement €450

*Includes:

 All  meetings, experts, specialised tours, entry fees, translation, venues, cultural events/ entertainment (see itinerary)

  Upper middle class and middle class hotels

Train and public city transport

 All Meals except on free evenings (see itinerary), non-alcoholic drinks

Please note:

Tour language is German

Price does not include flights to and from destination

Valid passport required, no visa required for EU citizens (see information for travel/health requirements German Foreign Office)

Tour is partially suitable for people with disabilities (please contact us)

If the minimum number of tour participants (6 people) is not reached, New Perspectives Travel reserves the right to cancel the tour up to 20 days before departure (see Terms and Conditions).

Please inform us of any special requirements you might have

From beaches to Picasso, from football to the Prado and from Sangria to the Sagrada Familia, it is hardly surprising that Spain is the world’s second most popular tourist destination. Despite its popularity as a destination, curiously, Spain is also a country which is barely understood even at a basic level by the vast majority of its visitors. Perhaps this is most pronounced in the political sphere, which, understandably, does not normally compete for the attention of visitors in the same way as the wealth of attractions the country has to offer. But these are not normal times in Spain.

The country is gripped by probably its greatest political crisis – the bid for independence in Catalonia – since the restoration of democracy following the death of the Dictator Franco in 1975. For many proponents of Catalonia independence, this is an existential question of national identity, social justice and freedom from a tarnished Spain which they view as having failed to respect fully their linguistic, cultural and political rights in a plurinational state. The bid for independence is equally fiercely opposed by the Spanish state, which views it as an illegitimate and unconstitutional attack on the integrity of the Spanish nation and country. The recent emergence of the far-right as a strong political force in some parts of Spain has served to polarize the national debate further.

These fundamentally different points of view are personified in the on-going trial (judgement is expected in July) of many of the leaders of the Catalan Independence Movement, who have been in pre-trial detention for more than a year. Many have been charged with rebellion (an extremely serious charge which potentially carries lengthy prison sentences) following the October 1st 2017 Independence Referendum. On the other hand, their supports view them as non-violent freedom fighters and political prisoners who are being repressed by a corrupt state which has lost its legitimacy.

The quest for independence – regardless of whether or not it is ultimately successful – raises many profound questions for the Catalan people and the Spanish state, e.g., why does Spain not allow a referendum as the UK did with Scotland? Is it all just about money and power? Why would so many people want to leave a democratic European state despite potentially facing huge economic, political and legal uncertainty? What does it actually mean to be Catalan these days? Indeed, what does it mean to be Spanish?

But the situation also has broader implications for Europe as a whole: what, if anything, does this move for national independence have in common with growing nationalism in other parts of Europe? And what, if anything, does the government response have in common with increasingly authoritarian regimes in other parts of Europe and its neighbours? Does the whole situation represent a threat to European democracy, as some claim, or, as others claim, a chance for democratic regeneration?

Our tour will look at these and many other questions during the intensive week we will spend together. We will look at the broader context from a “Madrid point of view”, before travelling to Barcelona for the anniversary of the Independence Referendum, as well as visiting the heartlands of the Independence Movement. While our focus will be on the current political situation, we will also look at the long and complex historical and cultural relationship between the Catalan region and Spain. We will look at different points of view, listening to and engaging with people across the spectrum of opinions, meeting with local and international experts, activists, politicians, journalists and ordinary people.

It is an extraordinarily complex situation and we cannot guarantee that you will return with more answers than remaining questions. However, we are certain that you will come back having met a wide-range of fascinating people, vastly more informed and having enjoyed an enthralling week! 

Tour Expert

We are delighted that the tour will be led by Krystyna Schreiber, an author and journalist and commentator based in Barcelona. Widely regarded as one of the German language’s leading experts on Catalonia, Krystyna has written, presented for and collaborated with numerous media publications.
Read more… 

Daily Itinerary


Day 1

We kick off our tour by meeting for dinner in Madrid, where we will look at the week ahead.

Overnight in Madrid.

Day 2

The conflict in Catalonia cannot be understood without exploring its historical roots and the broader political environment within the country. There is no better place than Madrid to do this.

Of course, in a single day, we can never do full justice to the complexity of the issues. But by spending the day in the company of experts and commentators, we will cover a variety of critical topics which provide a background for the rest of the tour, ranging from the creation of the Spanish state and the Civil War and Franco period, as well as looking at the “Spanish Model”. As part of this, we plan a visit to the “Valle de los Caidos” (“Valley of the Fallen”), where Franco is buried outside of Madrid. However, at the time of designing the tour, there are (hotly contested) plans for his exhumation and reburial and it remains to be seen whether the inclusion of this in the itinerary will be possible or worthwhile.

In the late afternoon or early evening we will take the high speed train to Barcelona.

Overnight in Barcelona.

Day 3

October 1st marks the 2nd anniversary of the highly contested Catalan Independence Referendum and, as such, is a pivotal event in the political calendar. The political situation will almost certainly have evolved significantly by then, as judgement on the cases of Catalan Independence leaders will have been delivered. As such, it is impossible to predict at this point what will occur, beyond the fact that the day will be characterised by massive demonstrations in the city.

Just as the events in the city will be fluid on this day, so will our programme, which will be spent in the company of activists and commentators who will guide us through the events which are unfolding.

Overnight in Barcelona.

Day 4

Today, we will deliberately take a step back from the passionate activism of the previous day and look at the historical construction of the Catalan nation from the past to the present day. We will look at a wide variety of issues around culture, language, history, and the creation of a national story or narrative, all of which are seen to underpin the independence movement. We will also explore the question posed by many: Is it all ultimately just about money and power?

Our day will take us to the Museum of the History of Catalonia and to the Born Cultural Centre, where we will have special guided tours with experts. We will also visit the University, where we will have the opportunity to discuss the federal model and how it has (or has not) worked for Catalonia.

We will spend the evening in the company of Catalan artists.

Overnight in Barcelona.

Day 5

Today, we travel to the historical city of Girona in the Northern “heart-land” of the independence movement and where the highly controversial politician, Carles Puigdemont, was mayor before becoming Catalan President (2016-2018). The city is about an hour train ride from Barcelona. We will spend the day in the company of local political representatives as well as local activist groups, trying to understand what drives them and their vision for the future. It will also be an opportunity to visit the city and many of the important land marks of the independence movement.  

After an early dinner with activists, we will head back to Barcelona.

Overnight in Barcelona.

Day 6

On our last full day together, we will seek to bring the tour together at a political level.

We will start off with a question and answer session with experts around the central question as to whether Catalonia has the right to decide.

We will then have the opportunity to examine the judicial prosecution of activists (including talks with representatives of the jailed activists) and the political consequences of the independence vote.

After lunch we will have meetings with representatives of the Catalan government (including a visit to the Catalan parliament) and talk to political and activist groups who are pro-independence, pro-referendum and pro-union.

We will finish the day with an informal dinner with journalists, where we will have the opportunity to hear different views on the communication of the actions of both the Catalan and Spanish governments around the 1 October vote, the prosecution of pro-independence actors and press freedom.

Overnight in Barcelona.

Day 7

We finish our tour over breakfast where we will have the opportunity to reflect on our experiences together and say our good-byes.

We deliberately did not plan additional activities for the day, as we recognise that participants are likely to want to visit some of Barcelona’s many attractions. We are able to provide numerous recommendations.

All of our tours are dynamic and seek to take advantage of current political events. Thus, final itineraries can be subject to modification. Also, some people we plan to meet might no longer be available or still be in their positions. We also meet with many important and busy people, whose schedules change and with whom we will have to fit in. This is simply the nature of the types of tours we offer and the reality of some of the countries we visit. In all cases, we will seek replacement meetings of a similiar level. 

If you think there are relevant topics missing from the itinerary which you are interested in, please do suggest them and we might be able to include them, as our tour experts have wide-ranging and diverse networks. 

Travel Details

Departure Dates:

29 Sept – 5 Oct 2019

Length:

7 days/ 6 nights

Tour Route:

Madrid – Barcelona – Girona – Barcelona

Price:

  €2,920 per person based on sharing double/ twin room

Single person supplement €450

Includes:

 All  meetings, experts, specialised tours, entry fees, translation, venues, cultural events/ entertainment (see itinerary)

  Upper middle class and middle class hotels

Train and public city transport

 All Meals except on free evenings (see itinerary), non-alcoholic drinks

Please note:

Tour language is German

Price does not include flights to and from destination

Valid passport required, no visa required for EU citizens (see information for travel/health requirements German Foreign Office)

Tour is partially suitable for people with disabilities (please contact us)

If the minimum number of tour participants (6 people) is not reached, New Perspectives Travel reserves the right to cancel the tour up to 20 days before departure (see Terms and Conditions).

Please inform us of any special requirements you might have

Further Information

Please visit our About Us and Frequently Asked Questions for further information on our tours or simply contact us!