Thousands of people are taking part this Saturday in the demonstration for the independence of Catalonia, in Barcelona, which marks the return of street demonstrations interrupted in 2020 by the pandemic, although with less turnout than in previous years.
The demonstration started shortly after 17.00 (local, 16.00 in Lisbon), under the motto “Let’s fight and conquer independence”, in Urquinaona square, to commemorate Catalonia Day, known as “Diada”.
As reported by EFE, the independence movements have chartered more than 200 buses to take protesters to Barcelona, capital of Catalonia, where the Catalan regional president, the moderate separatist, Pere Aragonès, is also present.
Among the protesters, most wearing face masks, due to the covid-19 pandemic, you can see posters with slogans like “We want independence now” or “Government, fulfill your commitment: total independence”.
At around 6:30 pm (local, 5:30 pm in Lisbon) speeches by the presidents of the three pro-independence entities begin: Jordi Gaseni (Association of Municipalities for Independence), Jordi Cuixart (Òmnium Cultural) and Elisenda Paluzie (ANC).
Tensions between independence and the central government rose again this week with Madrid’s surprise announcement on Wednesday that it was suspending a controversial Barcelona airport expansion project due to “loss of confidence” in the separatist regional government .
The project, denounced by environmentalists and involving an investment of 1.7 billion euros, had been the subject of an agreement in early August between the two parties.
“The government has shown that it has no desire for dialogue,” said Pere Aragonès, who was elected to the office in May, on Thursday.
This new front in the Madrid-Barcelona conflict started two days before the “Diada”, which became the scene of large pro-independence demonstrations over the last decade, and, above all, a week before the expected resumption of negotiations to find a solution for the Catalan crisis.
Catalonia Day (“Diada”) marks the conquest of Barcelona by King Philip V of Spain in 1714, after a 14-month siege, but the day has been used in recent years to defend the cause of independence, with images, that are shown on televisions all over the world, with an orderly and large-scale concentration.
The last concentration, in 2020, was not as important as in previous years, due to the measures in force to fight covid-19.
The “Day” of 2020 was also marked by various acts of vandalism, which mainly affected railway circulation in Catalonia.
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who is fleeing from Spanish justice, defended on Thursday, at the “Diada” celebrations in Brussels, organized by the regional government delegation to the European Union, the right of Catalans to “be independent and in order to preserve the [sua] nation”.
However, the context has changed radically since the failed attempt at independence made in October 2017.
The main demand of the pro-independence movement is the holding of a referendum on self-determination in Catalonia, which has a population of 7.8 million inhabitants out of a total of around 47.4 million in Spain.