Spain must not split, thousands rally for unity

12 October, 2017, 00:59 | Author: Laura Christensen
  • Gloria Vinolas

Large crowds protested in Barcelona on Sunday to demand that their regional Catalan leaders hold fire on declaring independence from Spain, as they have threatened to do in a matter of days.

The organisers of the march, the pro-unity association, the Societat Civil Catalana (SCC), later claimed almost a million pro-unity supporters had turned out.

Today's massive pro-unity demonstration and Mr Rajoy's uncompromising stance are not the only external pressures Mr Puigdemont faces in the countdown to a possible declaration of independence.

"It seems that the one who yells the most wins the argument. It is evident that we will take whatever decision that we are permitted to by law, in view of how things are unfolding", he said in quotes translated by CNN.

Mario Vargas Llosa, a victor of the Nobel Prize for Literature who lived in Barcelona as a young writer, blamed "the ravages of nationalism" for the current impasse. That figure was disputed by the local police force, who estimated the demonstrators at the still very significant total of 350,000.

"The unity of Spain can not be voted on or negotiated - it must be defended", read one sign in the crowd.

Mr Domingo's comments echoed Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy's words on Sunday, when he hinted strongly in an interview he was considering using Article 155 of the constitution, which allows for direct intervention from Madrid, should an independence bid happen.

"Rajoy, you asshole, defend the nation!" chanted one group of demonstrators as they marched into Colon Square waving Spanish flags as well as one bearing the Franco-era black eagle. "What they are doing is destroying it".

When asked what other countries could follow Catalonia's example, Dr. Steinnes mentioned Scotland which had a similar referendum in 2014, the Basque Country, Flanders in Belgium, Northern Ireland which could potentially break away, but said that none of them was likely to do so in the foreseeable future.

The police violence drew widespread condemnation and forced the government to issue an apology on Friday, although tensions continued to rise after reports of plans for the Catalan parliament to vote on a unilateral declaration of independence on Tuesday.

Juan Gil-Casares, who works in Madrid but had travelled to Barcelona with his family, said he had felt compelled to make the journey.

She said she felt no reason to have to decide whether she was Catalan or Spanish. "We chose to come and support our compatriots and show them that they are not alone". "We are facing a tremendous unknown", shesaid.

However, the rest of Spain strongly opposes any separation.

Borrell added that: "Catalonia is not a state like Kosovo where rights were systematically violated".

Vargas Llosa, who accused the Catalan government of trying to execute a coup d'├ętat, told the crowd that nationalism "has filled European history - and that of Spain and the world - with war, bloody and corpses". "The Spanish state would have no alternative but to intervene with all its might", said Josep Borrell, a Catalan socialist and former president of the European Parliament. "It's not an occupied or militarised territory".

The march was organized by the Societat Civil Catalana, which is supported by political parties in Madrid and which called on people from all over the country to attend the march. There we see the economic consequences in the tourism sectors, in the business sectors.

"It's been very moving, but I think it's just the start of something, of people saying: "We're never going to be left out of building our own future".



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