Photo by Hudin

Despite a ragingly horrid economy, one of the good things about being Catalonia right now is that you can quite literally watch history being made. Europe, in addition to being where white people come from, has been quite good at producing history throughout the years and doesn’t show any sign of letting up, although Asia has been showing massive gains in history generation as of late. But, for Catalonia specifically, a great deal of this history making centers around the drive for an independent nation from Spain.

While around for literally centuries, this movement has been making headlines starting last year and it continues to garner large articles in major publications such as the New York Times and countless others. Of course they tend to get the story a little wrong and say that Catalan President (more like a US Governor) Artur Mas’s party lost seats in the last election due to implementing tough austerity measures and that in turn this showed a weakening of the independence movement as the populace didn’t want to get behind his new “pro-independence” stance. The opposite is actually true and most people saw Mas as someone who was trying to talk-the-independence-talk while doing the keep-Spain-happy-walk and they voted in more representatives to keep him in check, moving towards independence.

To show that the movement is indeed alive, the Catalans organized the Catalan Way or Via Catalana this past September 11th. Based upon the Baltic Way from 1989, it was a human chain stretching 400km from the top of Catalonia at France down to the bottom at Valencia. They needed 400,000 people to make it happen. More than 1.5 million showed up.

I was one of them with myself and Editor in Chief joining in on the link of Tram #739 by Catalan Parliament as we were horribly unorganized and didn’t join in until the last moment and at the part of the chain that passed by our apartment. It was the fact that being so sloppily organized about this as an American that made me fear that, given it was taking place in Southern Europe, it would be a disaster. That or the fact that no one would join hands given that they would be too busy posting photos to social media would doom it to failure. Amazingly, despite the overcrowding of the chain here in the center of Barcelona, when 17:14 clicked on the clock, people did join hands and the feat was accomplished.

Sure, there were those that missed out like my father in-law who was too busy taking a nap despite the chain passing right in front of his house or my eternally out of work and pale, shirt-averse neighbor showing up at 17:15. Despite that, I have to say I’m impressed and it’s incredible to witness such events when coming from San Francisco wherein no one getting shot or stabbed at the now closed “Halloween in the Castro” was considered “historical”.

#Croquetes

But with this being the 21st century, there’s been the digital fallout in the form of croquetes. If you’re unfamiliar with this dish or as it’s apparently known in English “Croquette“, it’s insanely delicious and with the spelling “croquetes” is very much Catalan. By no means are croquetes a national dish, so what do they have to do with Catalan independence? As Liz Castro wrote, the hastag for “#viacatalana” was not showing up as a trending topic on Twitter. The powers that be behind the service claim that for something to show up as a trending topic, it needs to be unique and have say, 1,000 people talking about it at once. The first half of this would seem to not be true given that Justin Bieber is a trending topic every damned day in the US and while there are countless gullible teenage girls tweeting about him, there is nothing unique to this.

So, to try and counteract this strangeness, everyone switched the hashtag to “#croquetes” for the Via Catalana which, for a food loving people such as the Catalans, seemed more appropriate to me anyways. And, it worked, but it left many puzzled. It’s quite easy to put on the tinfoil conspiracy hat, look at Twitter’s recent announcement of their stock market listing and their VP Katie Jacobs Stanton moving to Paris and see that they would want to keep the Spanish government happy by blocking this trending topic from coming up. This theory is further confirmed given that when I searched for “#viacatalana” it wouldn’t show up and only “#viacatalanaTV3” would which is bizarre given that even the most miniscule of hashtag searches generally appear.

It’s all supposition, but given that the Spanish government’s reaction to the Via Catalana has basically been to say nothing (which is their reaction to most important issues under the corrupt Rajoy regime) it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising that they ask Twitter to suppress the hashtag and Twitter quite easily complied given that they want to make large inroads in to EU business. It’s also not surprising that people would come up with a workaround to the issue and thus show that old governments kingdoms don’t really understand this newish century of ours.

* I think this is the most ridiculously inadvertently keyword loaded article I’ve ever written