Thousands march in student protest throughout Catalonia

The demonstrations rejected the possibility of snap elections, denounced implementation of Article 155, and demanded the release of the imprisoned civil society leaders

Students march in the center of Barcelona holding a sign defending one of Catalonia's public media outlets, TV3 (by ACN)
Students march in the center of Barcelona holding a sign defending one of Catalonia's public media outlets, TV3 (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 26, 2017 08:08 PM

Thousands of university students went on strike on Thursday October 26 and took to the streets in protest. Indeed, while Catalan politicians met to discuss what came next, the protesters marched to demand the outcome they wanted: a unilateral declaration of independence.

Additionally, demonstrators rejected the possibility that Catalan president Carles Puigdemont call early elections as well as the proposed implementation of Article 155 by the Spanish government. Students all throughout Catalonia also demanded the immediate release of the two grassroots pro-independence leaders, incarcerated and awaiting trial for sedition.

‘The People have voted: Republic Now.’

Other Catalan towns where university strikes and protests were organized were Lleida, Girona, and Tarragona. The largest by far, though, took place in Barcelona.

In the Catalan capital, the march began in Plaça Universitat, the university district of Barcelona, ending in Plaça Sant Jaume, in front of the Catalan government. Organized by the pro-independence ‘Universities for the Republic group,’ the students marched under the rallying cry of ‘The People have voted: Republic Now.’ The movement rejected both the implementation of Article 155, the legislation which would seize Catalonia’s self-rule, and the possibility of calling early elections in Catalonia to avoid that very constitutional measure. Indeed, the protesters, many wrapped in or carrying the estelada Catalan independenceflag, often came back to the resounding chant of “Independence.”

Yellow ribbons for release

The student demonstration also demanded the immediate release of imprisoned pro-independence leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sánchez. The two are being held in custody without bail in Madrid, under investigation for sedition. In fact, release for the two civil society leaders was denied by Spain’s public prosecutor today. Students left flowers in solidarity in front of the pro-independence organizations headquarters, Òmnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), and were joined by representatives by the entity. Some protesters wore a yellow ribbon, which has come to symbolize the cause. These very same ribbons were pinned to the seats usually reserved for Cuixart and Sànchez in the Catalan Parliament, which, for the plenary on October 26, remained empty.

Indeed, the protests marched from Plaça Sant Jaume to the Catalan Parliament in the early evening, following Carles Puigdemont’s announcement that he would not call early elections in Catalonia. Early news in the day had indeed pointed to snap elections, prompting disappointment from many pro-independence supporters, their chants and banners criticizing the Catalan president and his government.

That same disappointment, though, turned into excitement when Puigdemont announced that he had not opted for an early vote, and that a declaration of independence was again on the table.