Over 300,000 take to the streets against ‘attack on history’
HUNDREDS of thousands of people took to the streets yesterday to demand that Catalonia remain a part of Spain, rejecting Friday’s independence declaration.
Organisers Catalan Civil Society said more than a million thronged the streets of Barcelona; police put the figure at 300,000.
The same group called a similar rally three weeks ago that it claimed approached a million participants.
Civil Society president Alex Ramos called Friday’s unilateral declaration by the now-suspended regional parliament — after anti-secessionist MPs had walked out — “an unprecedented attack in the history of democracy.”
“We have organised ourselves late but we are here to show that there is a majority of Catalans that are no longer silent and that no longer want to be silenced,” he said.
On Saturday Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government in Madrid dismissed the Catalan government and called a snap regional election for December 21. It followed the Spanish senate’s vote on Friday to invoke Article 155 of the constitution and take direct
control of the government of Catalonia.
Sacked Catalan president Carles Puigdemont responded with a call for “democratic opposition” to administration of regional institutions from Madrid.
Speaking for the government, Education Minister Inigo Mendez de Vigo told the Reuters news agency: “I’m quite sure that if Puigdemont takes part in these elections, he can exercise this democratic opposition,” he said.
On Saturday Spanish United Left (IU) federal co-ordinator Alberto Garzon called for a “constitutional process to formulate a federal constitution” to confront grave problems such as the crisis in “the disappearance on the political agenda of the social question in a battle of flags.”
Mr Garzon was moving a resolution to delegates at the communist-led alliance’s socio-political assembly in Madrid, which he said had the backing of “our sister force in Catalonia” the United Left and Alternative (EUiA).
He said: “In the IU we don’t defend independence, but a republican and federal model of the state.”
Mr Garzon said snap regional elections would not solve the “basic problem,” adding: “It will only be resolved when there is dialogue, negotiation and proposals that articulate a social and territorial response to what is unfolding.”
The crisis appears to created a split between the new-left Podemos party and its Catalan regional wing Podem.
Podem general secretary Albano Dante said participation in the December 21 election would be an “enormous contradiction.”
But Podemos organisational secretary Pablo Echenique said that was just a “personal opinion.”
On Friday party general secretary Pablo Iglesias ordered Mr Dante to boycott the independence vote or be “politically outside Podemos.”