Large demonstration in Barcelona organised by Spain’s unity supporters, but smaller than the independence march
On Saturday, Spain’s National Day, those opposing Catalan independence and defending Spain’s unity organised a large-scale demonstration in Barcelona. In absolute terms, the demonstration was far from gathering as many people as the Catalan independence demonstration a month ago or that of 2012. However, it was still a massive concentration of people, gathering around 30,000 people according to the local police, 105,000 according to the Spanish Government and 160,000 according to the organisers. The People’s Party and the anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciutadans (C’s) attended the demonstration. The organisers had been received on Thursday by the Presidents of the Catalan Government and Parliament.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Saturday, to coincide with Spain’s National Day, those opposing Catalan independence and defending Spain’s unity organised a large-scale demonstration in the centre of Barcelona, in Catalunya Square. In absolute terms, the demonstration was far from gathering as many people as the Catalan independence demonstration a month ago or that of 2012, with more than a million participants each (1.6 million according to Catalan Police). However, this Saturday’s was still a massive concentration of people, occupying the entire Catalunya Square. It gathered around 30,000 people according to Barcelona Police, 105,000 according to the Spanish Government and 160,000 according to the organisers, the civil society platform ‘Som Catalunya, Somos España’ (‘We are Catalunya, We are Spain’). Last year, a similar demonstration had been organised, also on October 12th, and attenders barely filled up the central space of Catalunya Square, totalling no more than 6,000 people according to local police.
The Conservative People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government – and the anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciutadans (C’s) attended the demonstration. In fact, the PP had hired some 70 buses to bring people from throughout Catalonia to the Barcelona demonstration. As with the pro-independence demonstrations, the organisers met with the Presidents of the Catalan Government and Parliament, but they did it on Thursday, a couple of days before the event. Catalan institutions, Spanish Government and political parties had all asked for “respect” and a civil-minded attitude, totally excluding violence. In addition, they put measures in place to prevent extreme-right Spanish nationalists from joining the demonstration. A very small minority of them made its presence noticeable at the very end of the event.
This year’s demonstration was organised by the platform ‘Som Catalunya, Somos España’ and received the explicit support of the Conservative People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government – and the left-wing anti-Catalan nationalism and populist party Ciutadans (C’s). In addition, the populist and Spanish nationalist party Unión Progreso y Democracia (UPyD), which is marginal in Catalonia, was also present. The demonstration was larger than last year’s, but far smaller than the pro-independence marches. Last September’s pro-independence 400 kilometre-long human chain gathered 1.6 million according to the Catalan Police. This Saturday’s demonstration gathered 30,000 supporters according to Barcelona Police and 160,000 according to the organisers.
The PP had hired buses
For today’s demonstration, the PP had hired 70 buses to bring participants from throughout Catalonia. In addition, the party running the Spanish Government launched a campaign with the slogan “We are 47 million”, referring to Spain’s population, and some attendees were in fact wearing blue t-shirts with this slogan.
“The silent majority has started to talk”, stated the PP leader
The PP leader in Catalonia, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, and the President of C’s, Albert Rivera, both stated that “the time of silence in Catalonia has come to an end”. Sánchez-Camacho said that “the silent majority has started to talk”. Rivera announced that they will call for another demonstration on the Spanish Constitution Day, in early December. The PP leader criticised the absence of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) and the Christian-Democrat party Unió (UDC) within the two-`party Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), However, the PSC and UDC support the right to self-determination and propose a multi-national Spain, with much greater powers for Catalonia.
The organisers issued a manifesto, which was read by the Olympic sportsman Jesús Ángel García Bragado and the skeleton rider Ander Mirambell. “United we are stronger and we have a better future ahead of us”, they stated. “We call on political parties, business entities, trade unions and citizens to talk, [to strengthen] the living-together and [to carry on with] solidarity”, they added. In addition, they asked “the rest of Spain” to “listen to and love Catalonia, as from Catalonia, Spain’s plurality and richness has also to be appreciated”, they emphasised. Then, in Catalan, Spanish and English they shouted “Today is our national day!”. “Let’s say it in a clear way: we feel Catalan and Spanish” they concluded. The event ended with the Spanish national anthem, which was cheered loudly by participants. The Catalan anthem was not played. After the event, when many attenders had started to leave, a marginal group of extreme-right supporters sang Franco’s Fascist party anthem, called ‘Cara al Sol’.
A marginal extreme-right demonstration in another spot of Barcelona
However, as happens every year, extreme-right supporters demonstrated in another spot of Barcelona, in Montjuic, showing Franco regime and Nazi flags and shouting slogans against Catalan culture. Extreme-right organisations are strongly Spanish nationalist, nostalgic about Franco’s Fascist Military Dictatorship. According to Barcelona Police, there were around 350 people. The Catalan and Spanish Governments agreed not to allow buses transporting ultras from several parts of Spain to arrive to Barcelona, in order to avoid violence, and Spanish and Catalan Police stopped those buses.