12.09.2012 - 01:03
A huge mass of people, that according to the first organisers’ estimates reached about two million people, brought Barcelona to a standstill during a march for Catalan independence on September 11, Catalan National Day. ‘Catalonia: New European State’ was the slogan devised by the organisers, Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC – Catalan National Convention), who summoned all Catalan citizens to request a process towards independence to be immediately started.
It was, by all means, a historical demonstration. The Catalan and the City police assessed the attendance at one million and a half (lowered by the Spanish Government to 600,000).
The crowd filled the main streets of Barcelona, from Diagonal Avenue down to the harbour.
Barcelona’s principal boulevard, the Passeig de Gràcia, was full to the brim, all the way to Diagonal Avenue, completely full of Catalan independentist flags (“estelades” typical Catalan red and yellow stripes with a blue triangle and a white star or a red star). Actually, almost everyone wore or carried something, a flag, a pin, a t-shirt, making it clear that the demand was for independence.
At the head of the march, there were various celebrities, like Lluís Llach, Miquel Calçada, Sílvia Bel, the ex-presidents of the Catalan Parliament, Ernest Benach and Joan Rigol, the president of the ANC, Carme Forcadell, Salvador Cardús, Montserrat Carulla, Vicenç Villatoro, Martxelo Otamendi…
The march began at 6pm in the evening at the intersection of Passeig de Gràcia and Gran Via. Everything was at a complete standstill, all the way to Jardinets de Gracia (at Diagonal). No one could move, nor could they access Passeig de Gracia from Diagonal.
A delegation from the ANC finally decided to exit the march via an adjacent street, since it was impossible to move forward, so that they could proceed to their meeting at the Catalan Parliament building where they were received by the Parliament president, Núria de Gispert, and a representation of deputies.
The president of Catalonia, Artur Mas, did not attend the march, but most of the government ministers as well as the vice-president, did. The major leaders of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia), Iniciativa per Catalunya-Verds (Initiative for Catalonia Greens), Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (Democratic Convergence of Catalonia), Unió Democràtica de Catalunya (Democratic Union of Catalonia) including Josep A. Duran i Lleida at the last minute, and Solidaritat Catalana (Catalan Solidarity for Independence).
The PSC (Socialists) and PP (Rightists and spanish nationalists) did not attend, although a number of individual socialists did make an appearance, including ex-minister Marina Geli, Lleida Mayor Àngel Ros and Ernest Maragall. Also present were the ex-President of the Generalitat, Jordi Pujol and the President of Omnium Cultural, Muriel Casals.
A sea of green, with a long-distance Pep Guardiola
The ANC also asked participants in the demonstration to bring a green piece of cardboard, so that they could vote “yes” to independence in a political act at the end of the march, led by Jordi Margarit and Txe Arana, and with the projection of a short video in which Pep Guardiola showed his own green card in favor of independence.
The questions that the attendees answered in the affirmative were:
1. Do we want to exercise our right to self-determination?
2. Do we want the independence of our country?
3. Do we want a Catalan flag at the United Nations?
4. Do we want our political representatives to commit themselves to beginning a process of secession?
5. Are we committed to working together to construct a State that is free, independent, and prosperous?