Spain never existed until 300 years ago. Yes there was a shared king by diferent kingdoms and counties but anyone had their rules and laws and interests and by any means they were independent countries such like Australia and UK are independent countries right now even if they share a Queen.
Now, some 500 years ago, Madrid was born in a middle of a desert as the capital of Castilla and the place were Castillian King rested for the most of its time. The location of Madrid does not respond to any natural placement. It is not in a middle of a historical road, or close to a river or the sea. The only reason for someone to live in Madrid was to be close to the Court and manage to have some living from the empire organization.
Same that happens in Brazilia right now, Madrid grow up with a big amount of people trying to scalate in the empire power structures. Some of them managed to do it. Lawers, politicians, army, huge fortunes and so, all of them fighting of a slide of power and king royalites.
That birth made Madrid a huge canibal of resources that needed to sustract resources from the territories it controlled. I don’t mind this is an exception. All big capitals do it. But the big difference between Madrid and other Capitals was that Madrid never atracted comerciants or fabrics or economic growth, because they were in the middle of nowhere.
Liberals and people with initiative used to go to Catalonia and other places, close to the sea and Europe and therefore a good place to make business.
That is how Castilla finished starting a war on Catalonia and incorporating it by force to what became Spain, a bigger Castilla but with the cultural heritage of Madrid’s Court.
Now, during centuries Madrid has tried to overcome its beginnings “terraforming” the Iberican peninsula in a way that made Madrid a “natural” place to do business. Everytime they tried their economy has collapsed because of excesive effort. Spain is the country in Europe that has got more state bankrupcies. Around 20 in 500 years.
They tried to create king roads that went from any corner of the peninsula to Madrid. Then railways, then higways, now fast velocity trains.
Not only the effort ruined spain once and again. Their worse mightmare is that everytime they made the problem of Madrid bigger. If you connect two near traditional selfsustained cities between them by any new transportation paradigm both of them rise. But when you connect places so distant and with an unpopulated near desert between them, what happens is that people that used to live in the towns do not go back and forth, they happen to go to live in the big Capital/Madrid, letting the towns without economic ecosystem and increasing the problem of sustaing a ever bigger city in the middle of nowhere.
Yet big fortunes arise when such mastodontic constructions are made, mostly between the people that is around the King’s court, so it is like a ball of snow.
Now, the only way to feed the growing monster is to have an army and substract huge amounts of richness form other places. Yet those places use to react and become independent when they have the opportunity. That is what happened during XVIII and XIX centuries with all latno-america.
Once you lose a place to substract richness from, you jump into the others left more fiercifull, yet you become a smaller weaker monster also.
Now, Catalonia has been military ocupied and boombed and arrassed every 50 years or so by spanish troups in orther to make us remain in Spain by force.
Our language has been forbidden and our freedom removed. Yet we stand up again and again.
It is a necessity. For example, half of our hard payed taxes go to Madrid and they never come back. Most regions of Spain receive much more money that we do even when we put most of that money.
And Madrid behaves the same that always. With this big recession, fast train railroads to no place has continued to be built, huge army contracts has been signed every year, all kind of connected people have obtained billions of Euros from failed projects. Madrid continues to esencially be the King Court with tens of thousands of people around the government trying to get their slide of the cake. Democracy is just a aesthetic face in Madrid. All judges and government lawers and powers and families are the same that when dictator Franco was in power. Nothing changed but a government that has never been stronger that “the system” and that “the system” has put them in.
I know that this seems like an exageration and that there is a lot of industries in Madrid right now and there is plenty of good people there and that they rise against fascism on Franco Coup d’Etat. I am not trying to fool yourself or myself. There are lots of nicer layers over the kernel and they have their strenghs. Most of them should never agree with my opinion and surely most catalans neither.
But in my opinion the kernel, their cultural heritage, is still there. And that is ultimatelly what makes them not wanting to negotiate at all, even if they, surely, are going to loose a lot. They simply never understood they had to negotiate anything with their colonies.