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The Propaganda Army Fighting to Wrest Catalonia Away From Spain

  • Telephone volunteers say independence worth $18 billion a year
  • Catalan officials estimate benefits at just a fraction of that
Catalan Pro Independence Rally

Catalan Pro Independence Rally

Juanjo Perez Monclus/Bloomberg

In a warehouse in Barcelona, more than a thousand volunteers worked shifts through the summer bombarding Catalan voters with phone calls to persuade them to abandon Spain.

From the 100-seat call center, the volunteer army made more than 300,000 calls and had conversations with more than 56,000 people leading up to Sunday’s regional election. Working with advisers who helped on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential run, they asked potential voters how they would spend a 16 billion-euro ($18 billion) annual windfall from independence. Did they want to help the poor? Upgrade the region’s infrastructure? Raise pensions?