Half a million already signed up for Catalonia's massive independence rally, more than in 2013
Two days before the massive pro-independence demonstration will take place in Barcelona on Catalonia's National Day, more than 500,000 citizens have already signed up for participating in it. This year's pro-independence rally is likely to break all records, even though in last year's event demonstrators managed to form a 400km-long human chain spanning from north to south along all of Catalonia, attracting the world's attention. In 2013, more than 1.6 million people participated in the demonstration that was imitating the 1989 Baltic Way, according to the Catalan Police. Back then, 455,000 people had previously registered to participate in one of the human chain's 788 stretches. Now, as for last year's event, registration is not obligatory but recommended in order to guarantee that all the rally stretches will be full and a gigantic Catalan flag will be formed along the 11km itinerary. The demonstration will take place along Barcelona's two main avenues, forming a colossal V-shape to symbolise 'Vote', 'Victory' and 'Will', all three which start with a 'V' in Catalan.
Barcelona (ACN).- Two days before the massive pro-independence demonstration will take place in Barcelona on Catalonia's National Day (on the 11th of September), 500,720 citizens have already signed up for participating in it, according to a press release sent on Tuesday morning by the organisers. The demonstration is considered by independence supporters as an essential step to pave the way towards making the self-determination vote scheduled for the 9th of November possible, which is totally banned by the Spanish authorities using a restrictive interpretation of the Constitution. This year's pro-independence rally is likely to break all records, since it has already overtaken the 455,000 people registered for the 2013 event. Last year's demonstrators in the peaceful and festive event managed to form a 400km-long human chain spanning from north to south along all of Catalonia, gathering 1.6 million people together, according to the Catalan Police. The so-called 'Catalan Way towards Independence' got the world's attention and it is likely that it will happen again, particularly as an independence referendum is taking place in Scotland a week later. As for last year, registration for the Catalan rally is also not obligatory but recommended in order to guarantee that all the demonstration stretches will be full and a Catalan flag mosaic can be adequately formed. This time the registration process is more rigorous since ID numbers are required in order to avoid fake registrations from Spanish nationalists trying to boycott the event, which happened last year. In August, registration was going slower than last year's signing up process in the same period, but in the last few days, pro-independence supporters have caught up and now they are ready to form "Europe's largest demonstration ever", as Carme Forcadell, President of the organising grass-roots association Catalan National Assembly, stated last week.
In this Thursday's demonstration, participants will form a gigantic mosaic along the 11km route going along Barcelona's two main avenues: Gran Via and Diagonal. They will form a colossal V-shaped Catalan flag which will occupy more than 200,000 square metres to symbolise 'Vote', 'Victory' and 'Will', all three which start with a 'V' in Catalan. In the registration process, which is open until the 11th of September, participants have to split up among one of the 73 stretches into which the itinerary has been divided and chose whether they would wear a yellow or red t-shirt, in order to form the flag's 5 yellow and 4 red stripes.
Columns of ballot boxes will be formed at the V-shaped demonstration's vertex
In the intersection of the two avenues, at the Glòries Square, a stage will be set up, on which columns of ballot boxes will be risen up, symbolising the will to vote, shared by between 75% and 80% of the entire Catalan society, according to all the opinion polls published in the last two years and the last Catalan elections (regardless whether people would vote for independence or not). There will be one ballot box for each of the 900 Catalan municipalities.
The demonstration will block up Barcelona, since 11km of its two main avenues will be totally blocked between 3pm and 8pm. The demonstration's climax will be at 17:14pm, symbolising the year 1714, when Catalonia lost its sovereignty, its own Constitution and its self-government institutions. On the 11th September 1714, Barcelona fell after a 14-month military siege, and a few days later Catalonia was totally defeated, losing the war on which Spain was built as a Unitarian state. That year, a harsh political, economic, social and cultural repression started, which came with severe recentralisation policies that lasted until the 20th century.
After Franco's Fascist and military dictatorship, Catalan language was taught again in schools and Catalonia got part of its autonomy back. However, in the last few years, Spanish nationalism is rising up again and a gradual recentralisation is going on. Furthermore, Catalonia's autonomy is constantly not respected by Spanish authorities, which are also maintaining an unfair inter-territorial fiscal scheme that slows down Catalonia's economy and under-budgets its public services. On top of this, Catalan language is threatened in several Catalan-speaking territories throughout Spain, following a marginalisation objective.
At 17:14 of the 11th September 2014, 300 years after Barcelona's military defeat, a boy who will turn 16 on the next 9th of November – the day of the self-determination consultation vote – will cast a vote into one of the ballot boxes put on the stage, surrounded by hundreds of thousands calling for Catalans' right to decide on their own collective future. After this symbolic action, political speeches will follow in the vertex stage and also in two other stages located at the two ends of the V-shaped demonstration. Furthermore, Catalan human towers, known as 'castells', will be built in many spots throughout the 11km-long demonstration.
In 2013, 455,000 had registered for the independence demonstration
In the 2013 event, the 400km-long human chain was also formed at 17:14. Back then, more than 1.6 million people (according to the Catalan Police) participated in the demonstration that was imitating the 1989 Baltic Way, which preceded the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from the USSR. In 2013, 455,000 people had previously registered in one of the human chain's 788 stretches, even though in the end four times more people participated in it.
The registration process for the 2014 rally was going slower this past August. The main reason stressed by the organisers was that the registration had started 3 weeks later this time. In addition, people were not as aware as last year that they needed to register this time, since many people thought it was not necessary for a one-spot rally. Furthermore, communication campaigns had not been launched yet. Finally, the shock produced by the fiscal fraud confession made by Jordi Pujol, who chaired the Catalan Government during 23 years between 1980 and 2003, might have demobilised a few people. However, in the last few weeks there have been increasing news and rumours that the Spanish authorities knew about the fraud for decades and were covering Pujol up in exchange for his opposition to independence when he was in power. When Pujol openly backed independence for the first time in 2012, the news against him started.
Spanish nationalists linked August's low registration with a hypothetical decrease of independence support
Coinciding with the lowest registration period, a few voices from Madrid-based media outlets and Spanish nationalist parties started to emphasise in August that registration for the pro-independence demonstration was going slower than last year. Back then, the 'number 2' of the conservative People's Party (PP) in Catalonia, Enric Millo, concluded that if attendance to the demonstration was smaller than in 2013, it would mean that the support for independence was decreasing. However, in the last few days, when registration figures were higher than last year's event, the same voices have not been heard and news about registration figures have not been published in those media outlets.