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Hundreds of thousands of Catalans rallied on Monday September 11 to demand their region’s secession from Spain, in a show of strength three weeks ahead of an independence referendum which has been banned by Madrid.
Vanguard reports that people wave ‘Esteladas’ (pro-independence Catalan flags) during a pro-independence demonstration, on September 11, 2017 in Barcelona during the National Day of Catalonia, the “Diada.”
NAIJ.com gathered that hundreds of thousands of Catalans were expected to rally to demand their region break away from Spain, in a show of strength three weeks ahead of a secession referendum banned by Madrid.
The protest coincides with Catalonia’s national day, the “Diada,” which commemorates the fall of Barcelona in the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714 and the region’s subsequent loss of institutions and freedoms.
Draped in red, yellow and blue separatist flags — with one banner reading “Goodbye Spain” — they marched through central Barcelona in what many hope will be the last protest before independence. “If there is huge mobilisation, they can’t do anything in Madrid,” said Jordi Calatayud, a 21-year-old economics student, referring to the October 1 vote.
“Catalan people will make independence possible; if there are a lot of us, they can’t stop us.” Around one million people took part in the event, Barcelona’s municipal police said in a Twitter post.
A spokeswoman for the central government’s representative in the wealthy northeastern region put the turnout lower, at around 350,000 people.
The protest coincides with Catalonia’s national day, the “Diada”, which marks the fall of Barcelona in the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714 and the region’s subsequent loss of institutions and freedoms. Since 2012 the holiday has been used by separatists to press for an independent state.
“What more do we have to do to make it understood that the people of Catalonia want to vote?” Catalonia’s pro-independence president Carles Puigdemont told reporters at the rally. – ‘Put me in prison’ – Those against independence complained that a day meant for all Catalans had been hijacked by separatists — and even more so this year, ahead of the referendum.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose conservative government is fiercely against the vote, wished Catalonia “a good day”, calling “for a Diada of freedom, cohabitation and respect for all Catalans”.
Demonstrators took the shape of a giant “X” by gathering on the Paseo de Gracia and Aragon avenues in central Barcelona, to represent the mark Catalans will make on their ballots during the referendum.
If the “Yes” side wins, Catalonia’s regional government has vowed to declare independence within 48 hours and set about building a sovereign state.
With Spain’s central government promising to block the referendum, the pro-independence camp was keen to show that it can rally its troops — especially after participation in the “Diada” declined last year.
“I am too old to be told what I can or can’t do, I am counting on voting and I will do so, even if they have to put me in prison,” said Mari Carmen Pla, a 70-year-old pensioner surrounded by a sea of red and