80,000 people defend Catalan institutions at rally against Spain’s use of the courts to halt independence
About 80,000 people gathered together on Sunday to demonstrate against Spain’s use of the courts to stop Catalonia’s pro-independence aspirations and the summonsing of several elected representatives. The rally, organised by civil society associations Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Òmnium Cultural and the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) took place on Barcelona’s Maria Cristina Avenue, which was soon overflowing with people. Under the motto “Let’s support our democratic institutions” demonstrators showed their solidarity with the elected representatives who have been prosecuted by Spain’s justice for complying with the electoral mandate that emerged from the 27-S elections, which led to a majority of 72 pro-independence MPs in the 135-seat Parliament. “Our cause is democracy and we will never let our elected representatives down”, stated Òmnium Cultural’s President, Jordi Cuixart.
Barcelona (CNA).- Barcelona’s Maria Cristina Avenue was overflowing with people this Sunday due to the 80,000 demonstrators who rallied to defend the Catalan institutions from Spain’s legal attacks. The mobilisation was organised by the main pro-independence associations responsible for the massive rallies which have taken to the streets of Catalonia for the last five National Days; the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, together with the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI). “Our cause is democracy and we will never let our elected representatives down”, stated Òmnium Cultural’s President, Jordi Cuixart. Some of those figures summonsed by Spain’s justice for allowing the pro-independence process to be put to vote and comply with the democratic mandate of the 27-S Catalan Elections include Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell, former Catalan President Artur Mas and former Catalan Ministers, Joana Ortega, Francesc Homs and Irene Rigau. However, there are more than 400 towns and villages which have cases pending with the Spanish State for different political reasons.
“Everyone has to listen to it and nobody should doubt it: we will continue until the end, we will hit the streets whenever and wherever necessary”, stated ANC’s President, Jordi Sànchez who emphasised that the people are the basis of the pro-independence process. “We are going to make it, because we believe in democracy and because we will carry out the referendum which the Catalan President and the Parliament have committed to calling”, continued Sànchez during the demonstration’s final speeches. “The time of doubt and resignation is over”, he stated.
Òmnium Cultural’s President, Jordi Cuixart addressed the citizens and asked them to be ready “for a permanent mobilisation”. “This is not about demonstrating on the 11th of September [Catalonia’s National Day] or for historic occasions; it is not only independence which is at stake, it is also democracy and our future as a nation”, he stated. Cuixart also called for the political parties and elected representatives “to be at the height of the historical moment” and have “a sense of state and generosity in order to build the Catalan Republic”.
“When one is attacked, all of us are attacked”, stated the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI)’s President, Neus Lloveras, who accused the Spanish state of being “decadent” and having “very low democratic standards”.
Wide representation of the Catalan executive
Many representatives from the Catalan executive attended the pro-independence rally in Barcelona. Amongst them, Catalan Government Spokeswoman, Neus Munté, Catalan Vice-President and Minister for Economy, Oriol Junqueras, Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva, Catalan Minister for Public Administration, Meritxell Borràs, Catalan Minister for Culture, Santi Vila, Catalan Minister for Health, Toni Comín, and the politician responsible for the Social Affairs portfolio, Dolors Bassa, as well as Meritxell Serret, Catalan Minister for Agriculture.
“Today's event gives the institutions, the Government, the Parliament and the elected representatives of Catalonia more strength”, stated Catalan Government Spokeswoman, Neus Munté. “We know that we are not alone and that we have an important shared challenge, which is taking the process towards independence forward for welfare, rights and liberties and the defence of democracy”, she added. Munté also emphasised that the demonstration was “the best contrast between the decay of a political system, the Spanish one, which persecutes democracy, and the Catalan institutions that stand up for it and will continue to do so”. According to Munté “any true democrat should feel challenged by what is happening” and by “the persecution of elected representatives, of freedom of expression, the normal functioning of our sovereign parliament and the members of the government who contributed to putting out the ballot boxes”.
Puigdemont supports the demonstration from his hometown
The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, couldn’t attend the rally in Barcelona but supported the demonstration from his home village in Girona, Amer, which named him favourite son on Sunday. “We have the opportunity to create our own future; therefore I ask you not to lose heart and keep on demonstrating”, he said. “We the politicians are not going to give up, but don’t leave us alone either”, added Puigdemont. The President also emphasised the need to “dialogue” and find “political solutions” to respond to Catalonia’s pro-independence aspirations rather than using the court to stop them.
The summonsed representatives, centre of the rally
Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell, who has been accused of ‘disobedience’ by Spain’s Public Prosecutor for allowing the pro-independence roadmap to be put to vote in July, attended the demonstration. Berga’s Mayor, Montse Venturós, who was arrested last week for refusing to take down a pro-independence flag from the Town Hall’s building on two Election Days, was also there, together with CUP’s councillor in Vic, Joan Coma, accused of ‘insurrection’ for calling for disobedience against the Spanish institutions in a plenary session. Former Catalan President, Artur Mas, former Catalan Minister for Education, former Catalan Vice President Joana Ortega and former Catalan Government Spokesman Francesc Homs, all of whom have been summonsed for allowing the 9-N symbolic consultation to take place in 2014, were also amongst the demonstrators.