Three weeks ahead of the planned October 1st referendum, which threatens to throw the country into chaos, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across Catalonia on Monday to support a break from Spain.
The FT reports that organisers said that about half a million people signed up to attend the main march in Barcelona, an indication of the strength and commitment of the pro-independence forces.
Reuters reports around one million people rallied for Catalan independence from Spain...
City police said on Twitter that around one million people took part, one of the highest turn-outs in recent years. Protesters said they hoped the vote would go ahead as planned on Oct. 1.
“We hope that we will be able to hold the referendum with total normality, because in a democracy it is normal to be able to vote,” said German Freixas, a 42-year-old engineer accompanying his family to the rally.
“If the people want it to happen, it will go ahead.”
But the desperate Spanish government representative in Barcelona said about 350,000 attended pro-independence rally Monday to mark Catalan national day, vs about 370,000 last year and 520,000 in 2015.
As a reminder, Mike Shedlock recently explained what the push for independence was all about...
- Tax Collection – Catalonia is the industrial superstate of Spain. Catalonia sends far more to Madrid than it gets back. Secession would cost Spain approximately 20% of tax revenue.
- Language – Catalan is not a dialect of Spanish, but a language that developed independently out of the vulgar Latin spoken by the Romans who colonized the Tarragona area. It is spoken by 9 million people in Catalonia, Valencia, the Balearic Isles, Andorra and the town of Alghero in Sardinia. Since the early 1980s, the imposition of a system known as “immersion,” with Catalan as the only vehicular language in state schools, has guaranteed everyone educated in the past 30 years has a command of it. However, thanks to the presence of Spanish in daily life and the media, virtually all Catalans are perfectly bilingual.
- History – Dating back to 1150 and 1707 Catalonia was not part of Spain. Numerous kings tried with no success to end the Catalan language. Those attempts ended in 1931. The Telegraph has a nice historical perspective on Why Catalonia wants independence from Spain.
The head of Catalonia’s regional government, Carles Puigdemont, told journalists on Monday:
“It’s not an option that the referendum won’t go ahead. It’s 20 days away and we’ve already overcome many hurdles.”
The FT notes that Spain’s state prosecutor has already launched legal action against members of the Catalan parliament for their involvement in the vote, asking judges to look into abuse of power and embezzlement charges. Spain’s central government has written to Catalonia’s 947 mayors warning them that their legal duty is to impede the vote.
However, a majority of Catalonia’s mayors have so far said they will allow the use of municipal facilities for the vote.
The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, said on Monday she would do everything possible to allow people to vote but would not put civil servants’ jobs at risk.
On the streets of Barcelona on Monday, 57-year-old singer Miquel Pujadó said independence was the best way to protect Catalan culture and improve the lives of its citizens.
“For me and most people here, independence is the only way for our economy, culture and language to thrive,” he said. “Spain has repeatedly showed it is not interested in these things.”
Carmen Rodríguez, a 41-year-old teacher, said:
“Spain has been mistreating us for years and years. This is the moment for us to show our support for independence, for us to shake free from Spain.”