Spain’s National Day celebrations in Barcelona smaller than in the last years
Nearly 4,000 Spanish unity supporters and extreme-right forces gathered this Monday in Barcelona’s ‘Plaça de Catalunya’to celebrate Spain’s National Day. Although this time neither the Spanish People’s Party (PP) nor anti-Catalan nationalism Ciutadans confirmed their attendance, the PP’s leader in Catalonia, Xavier Garcia Albiol, in the end took part in the rally, together with other PP members. With the slogan ‘Barcelona, capital city of Spanishness’, members of Falange –the fascist party of Franco, which is still legal in today’s Spain, groups opposing Catalonia’s independence and retired soldiers displayed Spanish flags, shouted ‘Catalonia is Spain’ and burnt pro-independence flags in the centre of the square. Spain’s National Day commemorates the day Columbus landed in America, in 1492. In Madrid there is a big army exhibition but in the last years the day has been regarded as opposition to Catalonia’s push for independence and other regions of Spain’s exaltation of Spanish nationalism and the denial of other regions autonomy, especially Catalonia and Basque Country.
Barcelona (CNA).- This year the events to commemorate Spain’s National Day in Catalonia have gathered less people than in the last 5 years. Around 4,000 Spanish unity supporters and extreme-right forces gathered together in Barcelona’s ‘Plaça de Catalunya’, far from the 38,000 of last year’s demonstration. With the slogan ‘Barcelona, capital city of Spanishness’, members of Falange –the fascist party of Franco, which is still legal in today’s Spain, groups opposing Catalonia’s independence and retired soldiers, displayed Spanish flags, shouted ‘Catalonia is Spain’ and burnt pro-independence flags in the centre of the square. Although this time neither the Spanish People’s Party (PP) nor anti-Catalan nationalism ‘Ciutadans’ confirmed their attendance, the PP’s leader in Catalonia, Xavier Garcia Albiol, in the end took part in the rally, together with other PP members.
‘Barcelona, capital city of Spanishness’ was this year’s slogan for Spain’s National Day commemoration in Catalonia, organised by Spanish Nationalist platform ‘Convivencia Cívica Catalana’. This Monday, nearly 4,000 people marched in the centre of Barcelona to defend Spain’s unity and shouted slogans against Catalonia’s independence. This time around the demonstration was smaller than on other occasions and a far cry from the massive pro-independence rallies of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, which gathered nearly 2 million people each. “President Mas is planning a coupe d’état in convenient instalments” warned Convivencia Cívica Catalana’s President, Francisco Caja, whose references to President Mas were accompanied by shouts of “to the prison!”.
Different to other years, the Spanish People’s Party (PP) didn’t hire any bus to facilitate the demonstrators’ trip to Barcelona nor officially supported the rally. However, even though neither PP nor Ciutadans confirmed their attendance, PP’s leader in Catalonia, Xavier García Albiol, in the end took part in the rally, together with other PP members. “This is where I have to stay and where I want to stay” stated García Albiol and added that being in the institutional celebrations in Madrid this Monday was “much easier” than attending Barcelona’s rally. He also criticised Ciutadans’ absence “if this would have been before the Catalan elections, they would have attended”.
The demonstration finished with the playing of Spain’s national anthem and with several pro-independence flags being burnt in the centre of ‘Plaça de Catalunya’.
Military parade in Madrid
Spain’s capital city hosted the traditional military march, presided over by King Philip VI and attended by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, to celebrate the National Day. 3,400 soldiers, 48 vehicles and 53 aircrafts paraded through the centre of Madrid and different to other years, there weren’t any tanks, as a cost-saving measure in a parade that, according to the Spanish Ministry of Defence, cost 800,000 euros. Current Catalan President Artur Mas has never attended the parade and did not attend again this year. Other Autonomous Community presidents, such as Basque Iñigo Urkullu and Navarrese Uxue Barkos, were also absent.
The judicial sphere was also represented in the commemorative military march. President of the Spanish Constitutional Court, Francisco Pérez de los Cobos, and President of the Supreme Court, Carlos Lesmes, attended the parade and had a long conversation with Spanish Minister for Justice Rafael Catalá, just three days before President Mas’ appearance in court for organising the 9-N symbolic vote.
A marginal extreme-right demonstration in another part of Barcelona
As happens every year, fascist, Nazi and extreme-right supporters demonstrated in another part of Barcelona, in Montjuic. Nearly 150 people related to the Falange and ‘Democracia Nacional’ fascist parties, gathered together in ‘Plaça d’Espanya’ and walked to Montjuic hill, flying Franco regime and Nazi flags, and shouting violent slogans against Catalonia’s independence and also against the reception of refugees. Franco’s Falange party’s leader, Manuel Adrino, stated that Catalan President Artur Mas was “committing a crime against the homeland” and accused Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy because he “hasn’t stopped” the pro-independence push in Catalonia. “If Mas and his traitors continue with this dare, we’ll have to use everything we have to stop them” warned Democracia Nacional’s vice-president, Pedro Chaparro, “including the army” he concluded. Chaparro lauded the fascist and Spanish nationalist group’s interruption of the institutional celebration of Catalonia’s National Day at the Catalan Government delegation in Madrid in 2013 and called to fight with violence Catalonia’s push for independence and the institutions which promote it.