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Back in December, something strange happened with the Center-Right Catalan independence party CiU. They started to target austerity as the creation of Madrid, thereby linking the idea of Catalan independence with that of opposition to austerity. This happened at the same time as the CiU discovered it needed the support of the ERC, Left Catalan nationalists, to form a government. The ERC demanded a firm timeline for an independence referendum as a condition of making a coalition.
In the event of some sort of standoff between Barcelona and Madrid, or pronunciamiento, I don't think that Catalans in the Army are going to be a major factor. The Mossos, the Catalan regional police, probably are. And their director has stated that "in the case of conflict, the Mossos serve the Generalitat," that is the Catalan government.
When you start to gameplay the idea of a pronunciamiento it's not clear that the Spanish military have the manpower to simply lock the country down. First, since 1981, the civil guards were moved from the department of defense to Interior. This denies the adventurous general the articulation needed to put feet on the street in many places at once. Let's talk now about forces on the ground.
The Spanish military numbers about 127,000. Another 16,000 or so are in the reserves. There are no Spanish military facilities in Catalonia proper, although there is a major military presence (army/air force) in Zaragoza, and to a lesser extent Valencia and the Balearic Islands. In all reality, only the Army would be able to do the kind of work needed to occupy an urban area. In the event of a pronunciamiento you are probably looking at anywhere from 20,000-30,000 soldiers max that could be called up. Compare this to the roughly 17,000 Mossos de Esquadra, and it's not clear that a head on military action is a winner. Then again, one thing that is clear is that by the point at which the shooting has started, we aren't talking about a regular conflict. We are talking about irregular, urban warfare. In other words, Bosnia......
And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
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