How to bypass online restrictions in Catalonia prior to the Referendum

Located in the north-east of the Iberian Peninsula, Catalonia has a unique history, its own language and it is one of Spain’s wealthiest regions. During the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, the autonomy that Catalonia once enjoyed, was severely diminished, to say the least. After Franco’s death, Catalan nationalism, which had been suppressed for over 30 years of dictatorship, was revived and under the 1978 constitution, the region regained its autonomy. This was increased further in 2006, giving Catalonia greater power and even referring to it as a “nation”. However, in 2010, the Spanish Constitutional Court backtracked the powers granted, to the dismay of the regional authorities.

The economic crisis resulted in cuts in public spending, which increased the anger among the regional authorities and the Catalans who saw their autonomy severely affected. This lead to an unofficial vote on independence in November 2014. Over two million people participated and according to Catalan officials, over 80% voted in favor of the region’s independence from Spain. While the results were not recognized by the national government, in the 2015 election in Catalonia, the Separatists obtained the victory and started working on a referendum, going against the Spanish constitution, which established that the country is indivisible. The actions of the regional government have been highly controversial and detractors have pointed out that the referendum is unconstitutional.

In spite of the opposition from the central government, the Catalan regional government is hoping to hold an independence referendum on Sunday October 1st, asking citizens whether or not they want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic. This is the only question in the ballot paper and the only possible answers are Yes or No. The Spanish government insists that the referendum is against the law and it has deployed additional police officers to Catalonia. In addition, as part of the Spanish authorities efforts to stop the referendum from taking place, the websites that promote the referendum and that are set to help people to vote, have been blocked. The regional government, as well as well-known figures like Julian Assange have accused the Spanish government of threatening freedom of speech.

Whether you are in favor or against the referendum, the fact that the information is not openly available to the public and that the Spanish government has decided to block access to the pro-referendum website, does raise concerns about the way civil liberties are being handled. If you are in Catalonia and wish to bypass the restrictions in order to get access to the content that refers to the independence referendum, one of the most effective solutions to try is to use a VPN. There are several options available and once you create an account with a VPN service, you will be able to connect to a server outside Spain and access all the content that is currently blocked. VPNs allow you to change your IP address and bypass restrictions. In addition, it encrypts your online traffic, meaning that third parties won’t be able to read your conversations, see what websites you visit or what content you post online.

You can find options for different budgets and needs. Although there are free solutions, we recommend paid services as they offer better speeds, higher security and reliability. Services like ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, NordVPN and PureVPN are good options and they stand out in different categories. For instance, ExpressVPN is very fast, Private Internet Access is affordable, NordVPN is highly secure and PureVPN offers excellent global coverage. That being said, they all work well and will protect your privacy, while allowing you to defeat the blocks imposed on websites in Catalonia.

Renee Biana

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