Five thousand march in Barcelona in support of Spanish unity
The People’s Party (PP) – running the Spanish Government, the anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciutadans (C’s) and the Spanish-nationalist party UPyD – with no MPs in Catalonia – participated in a march to support the current Constitution and the unity of Spain. The demonstration was organised by the alliance ‘Som Catalunya, Somos España’ (We are Catalonia [in Catalan], we are Spain [in Spanish]), chaired by the former C’s MP José Domingo. It aimed to be a massive march, as an answer to the demonstrations in favour of Catalan independence that gathered around 1.5 million people each. It was also the second part of the demonstration organised for Spain’s National Day, almost two months ago. Back then, 30,000 people demonstrated for Spanish unity while this Friday there were 5,000 demonstrators according to Barcelona Local Police.
Barcelona (ACN).- The People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government, the anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciutadans (C’s) and the Spanish-nationalist party UPyD – which has no MPs in Catalonia – participated in a march to support the current Constitution and the unity of Spain. It took place on the Constitution Day, celebrating the 35th anniversary of its approval. The demonstration was organised by the alliance ‘Som Catalunya, Somos España’ (We are Catalonia [in Catalan], we are Spain [in Spanish]), chaired by the formed C’s MP José Domingo. It aimed to be a massive march in order to answer the demonstrations in favour of Catalan independence that gathered around 1.5 million people each in September 2012 and 2013. This Friday’s march was also the second part of the demonstration organised by the same alliance for Spain’s National Day, almost two months ago, in which the PP and C’s also participated. Back then, 30,000 people demonstrated for Spanish unity according to Barcelona Local Police, while this Friday there were 5,000 demonstrators according to the same source.
Demonstrators gathered at noon in Urquinaona Square, at the centre of the Catalan capital carrying many Spanish flags as well as banners and flags from the People’s Party. Following the slogan ‘Juntos. Por un futuro democrático y plural’ (‘Together. For a democratic and plural future’, written only in Spanish), they marched along Via Laietana and reached Sant Jaume Square, where the Catalan Government’s Palace and Barcelona City Hall are located. Once there, they shouted demanding the resignation of the Catalan President, Artur Mas, who is leading Catalonia’s self-determination process. The PP’s President in Catalonia, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, as well as many distinguished members of the party were heading the march, together with members of C’s and their President, Albert Rivera. Earlier in the morning, the PP gathered around 500 members and supporters for breakfast and a political speech in a Gothic Quarter square, near the demonstration. Both the PP and C’s criticised the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) for not having attended the demonstration. The PSC had explained that they would not go in order to avoid fuelling division among Catalan society and the creation of two separate camps.
The march started on time at 12 noon in downtown Barcelona. Many attenders were people older than 50, although there were also many families with small children and people in their 20s and 30s. Most of them were carrying Spanish flags or the turquoise flag of the People’s Party. They were also carrying banners with words such as ‘together’, ‘unity’ or ‘sensitivity’, written in Spanish and Catalan, or slogans such as ‘Divorce, bad business’ (‘Divorci, mal negoci’, in Catalan). They were also demanding “respect” for the law and the Spanish Constitution, which according to their interpretation does not allow Catalan citizens to cast their ballots in a self-determination vote.
Chanting for Spanish unity and against Catalan independence
Demonstrators were chanting many slogans, although the most repeated was “Make no mistake, Catalonia is Spain” (‘No nos engañan, Cataluña es España’). Those same exact words were the ones chanted by the neo-fascists who attacked the Catalan Government’s Delegation in Madrid on Spain’s National Day. Demonstrators were also shouting slogans such as “We are Catalan, we are Spanish” (Somos catalanes, somos españoles), cheering Spain and feelings of Spanish identity or chanting against Catalonia’s independence.
They marched along Via Laietana and when they passed in front of the headquarters of the Spanish Police Corps at the Catalan capital they shouted “This is our police!”, while the Catalan Police (managed by the Catalan Government) is the main force in charge of security in Catalonia. Once at Sant Jaume Square, the organisers read a manifesto underlining the validity of the Constitution and demanding full compliance with it. They also declared their support for Spanish unity and insisted that sovereignty is shared by the Spanish people as a whole and cannot be split. The manifesto ended with the Spanish anthem and the Square was full of people waving Spanish flags.
“Respecting” the current Constitution
The former C’s MP and Chairman of the organising alliance, José Domingo, said he was “satisfied” with the organisation and the attendance. Before starting the march, he said that “filling up Sant Jaume Square” with people is “proof that there are a lot of people in Catalonia attached to the Constitution”. Furthermore he added that “it is not strange since this is where it received the greatest vote” in 1978. Domingo explained that they are demanding “respect for the current text and respect for the many Catalans who feel Spanish and attached to the Spanish Constitution”. “This is what we want to request, and we are doing so in a normal and sensitive way”, he added.
In addition, Domingo said that “this sensitivity” is sometimes lacking “among the Catalan institutions, which sometimes put themselves outside the Constitution and this is what we criticise and ask to be changed”. “We want Catalan institutions to accept the Constitution, which in addition is what has made them exist”, he added. “We defend the rule of law”, he stated. “Democracy and legality come together, and the way to link the two is through the Spanish Parliament and the referendum in which we voted [referring to the Constitution voted through a binding referendum in 1978]”, he concluded.
5,000 attenders according to the Local Police
The demonstration took place in an atmosphere of normality with no violence registered. At the end of it, the organisers refused to give an attendance figure, as they did last time on October 12th. Almost two months ago, they claimed that 160,000 people had attended the demonstration in Plaça Catalunya. The figure was lowered to 30,000 attenders by the Barcelona Local Police. This time, Local Police calculated that 5,000 individuals had participated in the demonstration.
The PP organised an earlier get-together
Previously, mid-morning, the PP had gathered around 500 members and supporters in a small Square near Urquinaona as a warm-up for the demonstration that was scheduled to start at noon. They distributed hot chocolate, churros and soup, and party youth members read articles of the Spanish Constitution. However, the main moment was the speech given by the party leader in Catalonia, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho. She said that the Constitution is “the best guarantee of freedom” for Catalans, “particularly for those who also feel Spanish”. In addition, the legal text is “the most useful tool for avoiding the break-up of Spain by a few”.
Sánchez-Camacho stated that “2014 will be a difficult year”, since independence supporters aim to organise a self-determination vote. However, she added that they “are ready to face” the challenge. The PP leader accused the Catalan Government of “not caring about the division and the social fracture that the self-determination process is provoking”. “They should learn from Mandela”, “who fought for the truth, equality, dignity and the unity of a country”, she stressed a few hours after the South-African leader passed away. Finally, she also criticised the PSC for not attending the march and said that the Socialists “are not proud of the Constitution”.