Hundreds of thousands march in Barcelona against Catalan independence
The demonstrators support Spanish unity and include representation from various political parties
Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched today in Barcelona - yet, the demands are distinctly different than those heard in the streets recently. Demonstrators today call for unity of Spain and protest against the independence of Catalonia.
The march was organized by the Catalan Civil Society (SCC) organization under the slogan ‘Enough! Let’s get our reason back.’
The protest consisted of 350,000 people according to Barcelona police, and of 950,000 people according to the march organizers SCC. After moving through Barcelona, the march ended with speeches from Nobel Literature Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa and former European Parliament president Josep Borrell.
The Senyera, the Spanish flag, and the EU flag
Many of the demonstrators have come from outside Catalonia to show their opposition to independence. The march is a sea of yellow and red – this time, the flags being waved are those of Spain, the Catalan Senyera, with some of Europe, as well. As well as protesting against independence, those who march are doing so also in opposition to actions by the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, as chants such as “Puigdemont to prison” were heard. Additionally, the crowd showed their support of the Spanish police with applause – while criticizing the Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra.
Various political parties were represented at the march, among which the Spanish majority conservative People’s Party (PP) and Citizens Party (Ciutadans, Cs).
“Let’s regain reason”
Catalan Civil Society organization
Ciutadans in Spain
The head of the unionist Ciutadans party (Cs) in Spain, Albert Rivera, made an ironic statement “thanking” the Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont and Vice President, Oriol Junqueras, and the far-left CUP party, for “uniting all Spaniards.” In a statement to the press during the march, Rivera assured that the government will not be remembered for breaking Spain, something which the politician says they will not succeed in doing. Meanwhile, leader of Cs in Catalonia Inés Arrimadas, stated that this Sunday is for the “silent majority” that she feels is being scorned by the Government.
People’s Party in Catalonia
The leader of the PP in Catalonia, Xavier García Albiol, said that if Puigdemont declared independence next Tuesday, the response of the Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, will be “at the same level.”
The Catalan Civil Society
The vice president of SCC José Domingo asked the Catalan Government to “backtrack,” speaking of a lack of protection once independence is declared. Domingo criticized the rallying cry “The streets will always be ours,” heard during pro-independence demonstrations. According to the SCC vice president, the sentence is “totalitarian and incompatible with democracy” because the streets belong to all citizens. He asserted that this pro-Spanish union demonstration which has drawn hundreds of thousands will be a “turning point.”
Independence is a “mistake”
The president of the region of Madrid (People’s Party) Cristina Cifuentes called what is happening currently in Catalonia a “coup d'état,” and called for the Catalan Government to change course and go back. People’s Party MP Andrea Levy stated that today “hope is starting to be regained” in Catalonia. The former Spanish labor minister (Socialists) Celestino Corbacho, also made a statement in which he urged Puigdemont not to make the “mistake” of declaring independence, also calling for a "desire for dialogue" within the legality and constitution of Spain.
Far right groups
The day also left images of violence and political extremism: The demonstration was joined by several far-right groups, and their supporters were not ashamed of performing the Nazi salute or walking around displaying fascist symbols from the Franco dictatorship. Some Catalan journalists were attacked by demonstrators while doing their job, including a brutal aggression against a photographer.