FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT examines Barcelona and its 2017 independence vote

Foreign Correspondent
Source: ABC


Reporter Eric Campbell was living in Barcelona when the Spanish state cracked down on its 2017 independence vote, clubbing voters & firing rubber bullets. Eric explores how this cultural capital suddenly became a war zone.

When Foreign Correspondent’s roving reporter Eric Campbell made Barcelona his base in 2016, he saw it as a place from which to cover stories, not a story in itself.

That all changed in 2017 when the Spanish government cracked down hard on an illegal independence referendum held by the regional Catalan government.

Thousands of national riot police descended on the Catalan capital of Barcelona, dragging voters away from polling stations, firing rubber bullets and locking up the movement’s leaders.

“They hurt us not only in our skin, they hurt us in our souls,” says one independence supporter. “This was a deep injury. I think it will never heal.”

The brutal repression of the vote provoked months of political turmoiI and divided the city between those in favour of independence and those against.

To understand the push for independence, Eric traces today’s political passions back to the centuries-old tensions between centrist Spain and Catalonia, when Madrid first repressed the region’s distinct language and culture. Then to more recent history, when dictator Francisco Franco tried to kill off the Catalan language and traditions.

Today in Barcelona those traditions are very much alive.

Eric takes us behind the tourist traps to reveal a city still celebrating its culture, from the neighbourhood ‘castell’ – or human castle – competitions, to football games where independence chants are a feature of every match, to riotous medieval festivals with devils, giant puppets and fireworks.

As he farewells Barcelona after three years, Eric leaves a community divided politically but united in its passion for its capital and culture.

This is an affectionate portrait of an incredible city at an incredible time.

Homage to Barcelona airs on ABC TV at 8pm AEST Tuesday 27th August & Friday 30th August 1.30pm. Also on ABC News Channel on Wed Aug 28th 5.30am, Saturday 31st at 9.30pm & Sun 1st September at 5.30pm & iview.


Foreign Correspondent: Tuesday, August 27, 2019 at 8pm AEST on ABC