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Spanish National Day sees rivaling rallies at Barcelona’s Columbus monument

Far-right groups take to the streets to celebrate holiday, while anti-racist activists condemn colonialism and demand reparations

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12 October 2020 07:59 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

In a year when Barcelona’s monument to Cristopher Columbus faced renewed criticism from Black Lives Matter-inspired movements, the city’s most iconic statue has become the stage for rivaling demonstrations on Spain’s National Day on October 12—a holiday marking the conquistador’s arrival in the American continent in 1492. 

In the morning, demonstrations called by far-right groups such as the Vox party converged at the foot of the monument, where a priest officiated and called Virgin Mary the "founder of Spain".

400 people attended the protest, according to Barcelona’s local police.

  • "For 40 years, they let separatists single us out, attack us and tell us we can’t walk around proudly with our flags"

    Ignacio Garriga · Vox MP in the Spanish congress

Catalonia’s only Vox MP in the Spanish congress, Ignacio Garriga, said it was "especially important" to celebrate the National Day because the independence movement tried to alienate “the Spanish Catalonia".

"For 40 years, they let separatists single us out, attack us and tell us we can’t walk around proudly with our flags," said Garriga.

'Nothing to celebrate, a lot to repair'  

Later in the afternoon, 600 people gathered around Columbus’ monument to protest against colonialism and its legacy, calling the Genovese conquistador "genocidal" and "murderer". 

A march called by Catalonia’s Black, African, and Afrodescendant Community (CNAA) saw a hundred people protesting behind a banner reading ‘Nothing to celebrate, a lot to repair’. 

There was music, dances and performances denouncing the conquest of the American continent by the European empires.

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  • An anti-colonialist protester in Barcelona on Spain's National Day (by Gerard Artigas)

  • An anti-colonialist protester in Barcelona on Spain's National Day (by Gerard Artigas)

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