How Far Does the Disaster of 1898 Account for the Growth of Catalan and Basque Nationalism?
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How far does the disaster of 1898 account for the growth of Catalan and Basque nationalism?
The humiliating defeat of Spain to America during the Spanish-American War of 1898 dealt a catastrophic blow to the Spanish nation. In the subsequent Treaty of Paris signed on December 10th 1898, Spain relinquished its remaining colonial territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The disaster evoked heavy criticism of the Restoration government and its inherent corruption amongst many groups within Spanish society and served as a catalyst for the emergence of new political forces seeking to contest against the ruling oligarchy, most notably Catalan and Basque nationalism. This essay will argue that the disaster of 1898 was largely accountable…show more content… As such, Catalonian regionalist demands tended to assume a subordinate position in relation to the greater demands of Spain and its profitable empire. However, the crisis of 1898 engendered the breaking down of Catalan acquiescence with the Restoration system. The loss of Spain’s colonial territories brought with it the loss of colonial markets that had existed as prime export outlets for Catalan industry. In the last decade of the nineteenth century Spanish exports to its colonies had more than doubled from 146.1 million pesatas in 1891 to 365.4 million in 1897, with the value of Catalonian produce to the colonies reaching a peak of 124 million pesatas in 1895. For the region’s major textile industry, the markets of Cuba and Puerto Rico accounted for one-fifth of the entire output of its cotton mills. In surrendering control, by 1902 the territories of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines now received just 6.2% of Catalan textile produce, a decline from 22% in 1896. Within Catalonia, a feeling that defeat had been caused by years of faulty centralism by a corrupt administration ended any trust Catalan business had placed in the Restoration system to protect its interests. In the spirit of the Regeneracionismo movement, Catalan business interests represented by organisations such as the Fomento del Trabajo proposed a number of reforms designed to regenerate the region in order to compensate for the loss of its vital export outlets. Yet, the