With all the focus on the Basque Country over the last week it has been easy to forget that other separatist struggle on the Iberian Peninsula, in Catalonia. The Guardian carries a timely reminder of the progressive nationalist forces that have captured public imagination in the autonomous region:
“It is an unlikely age to step into the political fray, but 103-year-old Moisès Broggi believes the state of the world, and of his beloved Catalonia, merits a final burst of activism – which is why he is standing for a seat in Spain’s senate.
Should the retired doctor, who is standing for a coalition led by the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) party, win a seat on 20 November, he will be striking a blow for Catalan separatism while also setting a new age record for a Spanish senator.
The retired doctor’s interest in politics dates back to the start of the Spanish civil war in 1936, when he served as a field surgeon for the international brigades – the volunteer fighters from around the world who helped defend the Spanish republic against a rightwing uprising led by General Francisco Franco.
“I met people who were important to me and were idealists opposed to tyranny,” said Broggi, whose work during the conflict, and that of his fellow volunteer doctors, set many of the rules for field surgery in the second world war.
He survived Franco’s Spain thanks to the protection accorded by friends, but he had to practise medicine privately.”
The Spanish general election is expected to see big gains for Catalan nationalist parties who have increasingly come to dominate local government in the region as it faces a worsening economic climate.