Hundreds of thousands march in Barcelona against Catalan independence
The demonstrators support Spanish unity and include representation from various political parties
The demonstrators support Spanish unity and include representation from various political parties
Representatives from several pro-independence civil society organisations joined Parliament President, Carme Forcadell, on her way to the Court. Forcadell testified this Friday for having allowed a democratic debate on Catalonia’s independence in the Catalan Chamber on the 27th of July. Pro-independence grass-roots organisations the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Òmnium Cultural, the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) and the Catalan Association of Municipalities (ACM) highlighted the wide support for the representative. Indeed, the President of AMI, Neus Lloveras, said that the backing for Forcadell was a “demonstration of the unity and strength” of the pro-independence movement in Catalonia. The president of the ANC, Jordi Sànchez, deemed Forcadell’s prosecution “absolutely unjustified” and the president of Òmnium, Jordi Cuixart, said Catalonia is facing “a critical hour” and has to show “unity and firmness”.
The Catalan government has decided to recognise Muriel Casals, one of the Catalan pro-independence movement’s central figures, who died last Sunday, with the Gold Medal of the Generalitat. The award is the highest prize given to those individuals or institutions whose work in the political, social, economic, cultural or scientific field has been outstanding. President of the civil society association Òmnium Cultural between 2010 and 2015, Casals was responsible for the massive pro-independence rallies which have taken to the streets of Barcelona for the past six years. In 2015, she joined pro-independence cross-party list 'Junts Pel Sí' and ran for the 27-S Catalan Elections. Recently, she was named president of the Study Committee for the Constitutive Process, responsible for setting the basis for Catalonia's roadmap towards independence.
Pro-independence cross-party list 'Junts Pel Sí' MP Muriel Casals died this Sunday at the age of 70. Former president of civil society association Òmnium Cultural, Muriel was one of the greatest exponents of the pro-independence movement in Catalonia. Recently, she was named president of the Study Committee for the Constitutive Process, responsible for setting the basis for Catalonia's roadmap towards independence. Together with Carme Forcadell, Parliament's President and former president of pro-independence grassroots organisation Catalan National Assembly, Muriel was responsible for the massive pro-independence rallies which have taken to the streets of Barcelona for the past six years. Casals had been in hospital since the 30th of January, after being hit by a bicycle in Barcelona. She failed to recover from a traumatic brain injury.
A record figure of 14,000 visitors attended the fifth edition of the 'Smart City Expo World Congress' the summit of smart cities organised by Fira de Barcelona. 465 exhibitors, more than 400 international speakers and 500 cities from the five continents presented their experiences regarding urban solutions and innovative technology. "This confirms the consolidation of the congress" stated Smart City's director, Ugo Valenti. He also highlighted urban transformation as one of the greatest challenges of the future and the congress as "a really valid platform for knowledge and experience exchange". The Catalan government presented three projects from the 'SmartCAT' framework to promote intelligent cities. Telecommunications and Information Society general director Jordi Puigneró recapped the 50 initiatives that have been launched in Catalonia during the 'SmartCAT' project’s first year of implementation.
The Catalan project 'Guifi.net', based on an open Internet, was amongst the five winners at the first edition of the European Broadband Awards. It was awarded best project in the category on innovative model of financing, business and investment. 'Guifi.net' was founded in 2004 and aimed to connect those rural areas in Catalonia and in the rest of the Iberian Peninsula which had difficulties getting a good Internet service. Now, it is present in more than 30,000 homes. Its president, Ramon Roca, regarded the prize as “a recognition of more than 12 years of hard work”. A total of 48 projects from 17 Member States took part in the European Broadband Award’s competition, an initiative aiming to identify the five best projects of high-speed broadband networks – the so-called Next Generation Networks (NGN) delivering at least 30 Mbps in urban, suburban and rural areas.
The Catalan National Assembly (ANC), the civil society association responsible for the last years’ massive pro-independence rallies in Catalonia, urged cross-party list 'Junts Pel Sí' and radical left CUP to reach an agreement by the 27th of November. As stated in the ANC's document entitled "Let's do the Catalan Republic" such an agreement has to be "without exclusions, with the conviction that nobody is extra in this process of national transition, on the contrary; we must add new adhesions". The ANC's president, Jordi Sànchez, called for a "strong government" and urged the pro-independence forces to "show responsibility". Sànchez admitted that none of the agents involved aim to call new elections but reach a "good and quick" agreement, otherwise the "risk of erosion of the 72 pro-independence MPs" will be higher.
The main pro-independences civil associations, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Òmnium Cultural and the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) handed over 1.5 million signatures supporting Catalonia’s independence to the Council of Europe. The signatures were gathered during the non-binding referendum that took place on the 9th of November 2014. The pro-independence civil associations’representatives travelled to Strasbourg to denounce “the lack of democratic will of the Spanish State”and they reported on Catalonia’s situation to a delegation of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly. The delivery of these signatures is the first international diplomatic action promoted by the ANC, Òmnium and the AMI. “The Catalan case is present in the European agenda”stated the ANC’s president, Jordi Sànchez, and added that “giving first-hand information from civil society is very important”.
Many MEPs and different entities urged the European Parliament to withdraw the European Citizen 2014 award from 'Societat Civil Catalana', a Spanish unity association which has been repeatedly linked with extreme right organisations. Recent investigations also connected SCC's president, Josep Ramon Bosch, with Francoist Fascism and Nazism and Bosch himself has been called to Court accused of threatening pro-independence Catalan figures via a fake Facebook profile. The associations, organisations and public figures signing the 'Manifesto: Catalan civil society, for dignity' accuse SCC of "appropriating themselves of the common term ['Societat Civil Catalana'] which refers to the host of civic, cultural and social entities in Catalonia characterised not only by their diversity but also by their defence of democratic principles, Catalan culture and society as a whole".
Citizens all across Catalonia expressed their opposition to Catalonia's Supreme Court's decision to summons President Artur Mas, Catalan Minister for Education Irene Rigau and former vice-president Joana Ortega for organising the 9-N symbolic vote. This Tuesday, after Rigau and Ortega appeared before the court, thousands of people gathered together in front of their respective town halls, showing their support for the summonsed and declaring themselves guilty for participating in the 9-N consultation. The protests were organised by Alliance for the Right to Self-Determination of Catalonia ('Pacte Nacional pel Dret a Decidir'), a group of 1,500 institutions, political parties, trade unions, business organisations, professional associations, NGOs, cultural organisations and political pressure groups that support the celebration of a referendum in Catalonia.
The pro-independence cross-party list for the forthcoming 27 September Catalan elections, which will be transformed into a ‘de facto’ plebiscite on independence, will be symbolically closed by the last 3 Presidents of the Catalan Parliament and by the current Bayern Munich coach, Pep Guardiola. They will occupy the symbolic last 4 positions on the 85-name list for the Province of Barcelona, with one name for each of the 85 MPs aiming to be elected in this constituency, the main one of the 4 Catalan provinces. None of them stand a chance of being elected, as in order for one of them to earn a parliamentary seat citizens would have to vote almost exclusively for that particular list, which is very far from likely. However, their presence in the Junts pel Sí list (‘Together for the Yes’) is likely to be a magnet for attracting the support of a greater number voters. The candidature brings together the main civil society organisations supporting independence, Catalonia’s two largest parties right now and some other smaller political forces.
In the last few years, tourism has boomed in Barcelona. In 2014, the Catalan capital was the 4th most visited city in Europe and 16th in the world, with almost 8 million foreign visitors that year. Especially during high season, visitors literally invade some parts of the city such as Les Rambles, Antoni Gaudí's main creations and the urban beaches. However, there is much more to Barcelona than just this. Indeed, the city has 73 different neighbourhoods, divided up into 10 districts, each one with its own particular soul and history. For example, inside the district of Sant Martí – just outside Barcelona's historical centre – the neighbourhood of Poblenou is located. Historically known as the 'Catalan Manchester' for its role as the city's industrial centre in the 19th and early 20th century, nowadays it is becoming a very attractive place to live for many young people. Strongly revitalised after the 1992 Olympic Games and currently characterised by a rich architectural landscape and vibrant artistic scene, it represents the city's new business and technology district, being also very interesting for tourists willing to step outside of the usual routes.
Lluís Llach, one of the most famous Catalan musicians and one of the main voices against Franco's dictatorship, will top the pro-independence unitary list running in the Girona Province in the forthcoming Catalan elections, which should become a 'de facto' referendum on independence. In the Tarragona Province, the 'Junts pel Sí' pro-independence list ('Together for the Yes') will be topped by economics professor Germà Bel, an expert on infrastructure. The list groups together Liberal, Social-Democrat, Green, and Christian-Democrat politicians, as well as many independents and representatives from civil society. It will officially start the independence process if they win the elections and pro-independence parties obtain an absolute majority in the Catalan Parliament. The list is topped by former Eco-Socialist Member of the European Parliament, Raül Romeva, who is running in Barcelona Province.
The pro-independence unitary list for the next Catalan elections and the road map towards independence were officially presented on Monday evening at Catalonia's National History Museum. Liberals, Social-Democrats, Greens, Christian-Democrats, Socialists and civil society organisations are running together and transforming the 27 September elections into a 'de facto' plebiscite on independence. "What we are doing here is very strange but we are going through a very strange moment, extraordinary", stated former Member of the European Parliament, Raül Romeva, who is topping the unitary list. "We have tried everything" to hold a self-determination vote, but using the parliamentary elections is the only option left "to exercise our right to vote", stressed Romeva. The former Eco-Socialist MEP disclosed the main steps of the road map towards independence and also highlighted the main government priorities, particularly focusing on the people most in need. "This is the reason" why "we are doing this" and uniting under the name 'Together for the Yes'.
The current manager of FC Bayern Munich, Catalonia-born Pep Guardiola, will occupy the symbolic last position on the unitary pro-independence list running in the next Catalan Parliament elections, which groups together Liberals, Social-Democrats, Christian-Democrats, Socialists, Greens and civil society organisations, according to news released on Monday morning by the ‘El País’ and ‘El Periódico’ newspapers. The elections are scheduled for 27 September and many parties are planning to transform them into a ‘de facto’ plebiscite on independence after the Spanish Government’s unilateral blocking attitude for the last 3 years. For many people, this is the only way left to hold a legal vote on independence, after the Spanish Government has totally rejected even talking about the self-determination claims democratically expressed by a majority of Catalan citizens through the last Catalan elections in 2012 and many peaceful mass demonstrations.