National Geographic : 1984 Jan
SPAIN'S COUNTRY WITHIN A COUNTRY By RANDALL PEFFER Photographs by STEPHANIE MAZE tt APA, don't tell me the world knows anything about Catalonia and our strug gles," shouted the shaggy-haired Barcelona teenager across the table from me. "Then the world has its head in the sand," spat his father. "People should know we're having the sweetest liberation in Spain!" Strong dinner conversation, but not unusual for Catalans today. Mariano and his son Jordi were ar guing about the rebirth of their country, Catalonia, as an autonomous region within the Spanish de mocracy that began under King Juan Carlos in 1979. Ever since Catalans were deprived of their centuries-long autonomy by Philip V of Spain in 1714, they have fought to regain it, cherishing the Catalan language as a unifying force. Today a vigor ous flowering characterizes the changes coming to the six million people who live in this Maryland-size border territory, where Mediterranean Spain grafts to France (map, page 101). During rounds of olives, mussels, squid, and wine in my friends' apartment, I learned that Catalonia had begun to reassert its identity after nearly 40 years of repression under the (Continued on page 100) Explosive cheer of "Barra"urges the Barcelona soccer team to victory over a Madrid rivaland voices all the pent-up pride of Catalonia,an autonomous region of Spain. Under the dictatorshipof Franco, Catalanswere forbiddento fly theirred-and-yellow flag, but soccer was encouraged,and the red-and blue flag of Bargacame to standfor defiance.