U.S. needs to lead, show support for Catalonia

Photo credit: Rewon Shimray

When thinking of countries that need help and support from a major, developed country like the United States, Spain isn’t normally the first country to come to mind. However, with Catalonia’s recent declaration for independence, Spain should be in the forefront of our minds. Just because it isn’t a developing country doesn’t mean it doesn’t need our support.

The Catalonia region is split in the push for independence. Some citizens are calling for sovereignty while others are calling for the continued unity with Spain. About a week ago, Catalan leaders held an independence referendum, claiming that 90 percent of voters were in favor of seceding from Spain. Protests have since followed, with crowds rallying both for and against independence. Many Catalan citizens refused to even cast a vote, claiming the referendum was illegal, like the national courts said.

It is so easy to get caught up in the major headlines of world hunger and natural disasters tearing developing countries apart. When we think of sending prayers and support, we think of the growing countries that tug at our heartstrings. However, we have neighbors and partners that may be just as developed as we are that still need our support. Just because a country doesn’t lack development doesn’t mean we should ignore its needs.

We, as the United States of America, fight for the free world. We fight for our democratic neighbors, whether they have the monetary means to support themselves or not. The Catalan region is deeply split over whether or not to secede. A Barcelona rally on Sunday proved that, as thousands gathered to show the referendum did not represent the opinion of the masses.

One of the most beautiful things that all countries of the free world have in common is the power of voice, the power of opinion and the power of democracy. All countries in the free world have a commitment to democratic values, and as a common leader of the free world, we should support those democratic values.

Liberty, equality and justice constitute the core values of democratic societies. The power to voice an opinion is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. America is constantly seen as the voice of the free world, so we should be fighting for these values. We should be expressing our support for the people of Spain and Catalonia by supporting those protesting and those fighting for a fair vote. If we don’t support the freedom of speech and expression, what does that say about us as a leader?

Maybe its not our place to get directly involved. However, if we see a friend struggling, we reach out a hand and extend compassion. We send donations to Puerto Rico and we offer support to those subject to ISIS attacks, and expressing support for Catalonia is no different. Leaders lead by setting an example, and the U.S. should set the example of support by standing for the Catalan people.

So when you say your prayers at night, be sure to include Catalonia. Be sure to include the people of Spain that are out in the streets protesting the decisions of their government and fighting to hold on to their identity. This country needs just as much saving as any growing country. Don’t overlook Spain, don’t overlook the Catalan people and don’t overlook all the countries of the free world that lean on each other for support. It’s OK to ask for, and, in return offer help, to a country that is or is not developed.