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'More than two million mobilized' for Catalan Republic, says govt spokeswoman

Artadi urges Spanish president to face "reality behind" today's demonstration as he asks for "coexistence, respect and dialogue" and Cs talks of "hate" for Spain


11 September 2018 10:52 AM


ACN | Barcelona

The Spanish government should face "reality" as "more than two million people" in Catalonia are "mobilized and determined to exercise their right to self-determination," said government spokeswoman Elsa Artadi on Tuesday.

In comments to the press on Catalonia's National Day, hours before a new large demonstration in favor of independence, Artadi insisted that this afternoon citizens will show they are "determined" to "demand Catalonia's independence."

"The demonstration will show, once again, that there is a reality behind the dramatic situation with the political prisoners and exiles: more than two million people mobilized and determined to exercise their right to self-determination and to demand Catalonia's independence," she said. 

Artadi urged Spanish president Pedro Sánchez to listen to what the people on the street have to say.

Spanish president tweets in Catalan

Meanwhile, Sánchez wished all Catalans a National Day of "coexistence, respect, dialogue and agreement." "May this September 11 be a day of celebration and pride for a culture, a language and a history that unites all Catalans," he said on Twitter in a comment in Catalan.

His message was similar to the one he wrote last year, when he was still leader of the opposition. Back then, in 2017, weeks before the independence referendum, he asked for "dialogue and coexistence" and insisted that a "new agreement" between Madrid and Barcelona was "possible."

Sept 11 no 'normal' day, says JxCat

The two main pro-independence parties in government, Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) and Esquerra (ERC) also made statements about the National Day. A spokesman for JxCat, the group led by former president Carles Puigdemont, continued the theme that today was no "normal" national day due to the "political prisoners and exiles."

ERC's spokesman also focused on the jailed and exiled leaders, saying that the success of the talks between the Catalan and Spanish authorities depends on their fate. "Today is a day to remember this injustice and to explain again that there is a willingness to talk, but the dialogue cannot begin with political prisoners and exiles," he said.

Parties back the Republic

Meanwhile, two other parties in favor of independence that are affiliated with ERC and JxCat threw their support behind the demonstration later today. ERC affiliate, Demòcrates de Catalunya, said that "this afternoon the people will again show that it is still alive, that the Republic is near and that it cannot be stopped."

As for centre-right pro-independence party, PDeCAT, a partner of JxCat, its spokesman condemned what he called the "very hard repression" in Catalonia and said the only solution was to implement the Republic. The PDeCAT representative went on to encourage "the whole country" to make September 11 a day of "protest, full of color and hope."

Leaders in jail "makes dialogue difficult"

While not part of the pro-independence movement, the left-wing Catalunya en Comú Podem coalition, which supports a vote on self-determination, also called today "exceptional" because of the jailed and exiled political leaders. The party spokeswoman said their situation is "unjust" and she called for the release of the prisoners, as their presence in jail "makes dialogue difficult."

Rivera: 'A day of hate'

The leader of the unionist Ciutadans party (Cs), Albert Rivera, also published a message on Twitter for Catalonia's National Day but accused the current government of "hijacking" what, in his view, should be a "regional holiday for all Catalans."

According to Rivera, recent National Day celebrations have turned September 11 into a "day of exclusion, hate and attacks against Spain." "I hope one day we will have a Catalan government for everyone," he added. 

Ciutadans, the main opposition party in Catalonia, is not taking part in any of the institutional events during today's National Day, as it considers them "sectarian" and is organizing an alternative event.

Iceta: 'Nothing should impede dialogue'

Meanwhile, the head of the Catalan Socialists (PSC), Miquel Iceta, said that anyone wanting dialogue between the Catalan and Spanish authorities must "not put conditions that make it impossible."

Talking after the traditional tribute to Catalan icon Rafael Casanova, Iceta insisted that "nothing should impede dialogue," and he spoke of "the need to overcome divisions" between Catalans.

Rejecting independence, Iceta said the solution to the political conflict lies in "making progress on self-government."

PP: "Catalan government seeks confrontation"

A spokeswoman for the People's Party, Andrea Levy, complained about the institutional events.

"The Diada [National Day] is a celebration for all Catalans, but it is worrying that the institutional events organized by the Catalan government seek confrontation and only represent pro-independence supporters."

The People's Party leader in Catalona, Xavier García Albiol, called on the Spanish president to explain what he will do to "stop" independence plans. 

CUP: "Making the regime fall"

Meanwhile, the far-left pro-independence CUP party called for "starting a new path of popular mobilization."

"Shortcuts do not exist, the Republic will stem from an irreducible collective disobedience, making the regime fall," said former CUP MP Eulàlia Reguant  in an event.

Speaker and mayor focus on jailed and exiled leaders

Also at the Casanova monument was Parliament speaker, Roger Torrent, who called for the National Day to be a "civic" day of protest.

"This is a National Day for all of us," he said, adding that everyone should be free to act how they like, "with freedom, democracy and pacifism, being able to protest and each with citizen expressing their wishes and aims."

Torrent also said that this year "is not a normal National Day, it is exceptional" due to the existence of "jailed and exiled politicians." "I am sure that the National Day will be an opportunity for us to state that we want freedom, that our civil and political rights must not be taken away, and that we want the prisoners and exiles here, at home," he said.  

Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau, also made reference to the jailed and exiled leaders. She said that "it will be very hard for Catalonia to return to "political normality" and "impossible to break the stalemate" with the State as long as the leaders remain locked up. "They might be political adversaries," she added, "but they should not be in prison."