The whole world will be looking at Barcelona city from February 26 to March 1 on occasion of the Mobile World Congress (MWC), an event which Catalonia’s secessionist movement intends to use as a backdrop to denounce the harsh repression against Catalans, to demand the release of the political prisoners and to showcase the nation’s democratic determination to become an independent republic. This will be made apparent by means of several actions. One of the most visible initiatives is the huge banner bearing the Free Political Prisoners slogan in English, which hangs in Plaça Catalunya, in the centre of Barcelona city, and that will welcome over one hundred thousand participants who are expected to attend the MWC. On the afternoon, the banner was removed after political pressures.

The MWC will be inaugurated on Sunday evening with a gala dinner presided by king Felipe of Spain. The monarch’s trip to the Catalan capital has sparked outrage, as this will be his first time in Barcelona since the demonstration on August 26 in response to the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. During the August march, the king was booed by members of the public as never before. In the last few hours, a number of VIPs have declined to attend Sunday’s dinner and have publicly voiced their intention to boycott of the monarch. Two of them are Barcelona city councillor Alfred Bosch and Jordi Puigneró, the Catalan government’s deputy minister for IT. At seven o’clock, before the meal, people are expected to gather outside the venue (Palau de la Música) wearing yellow or displaying yellow items to symbolise the Catalan people’s dislike for the Spanish monarch.

The king as a symbol of Spain’s crackdown on Catalonia

Jordi Puigneró, the Catalan government’s deputy minister for IT slammed the Spanish king in these terms: “With his speech on October 3, when he endorsed the Spanish police brutality in Catalonia, the king lost his legitimacy as far as we are concerned. Therefore, as the Catalan government’s deputy minister for IT, I will protest by not attending the opening event of the MWC which the king will preside over”. In the same vein, the ERC leader in the city hall, Alfred Bosch, stated that he had no desire “to dine with the person who symbolises the crackdown on the Catalan people”. At no point are the protests aimed at the Mobile World Congress, but merely at the king himself. Besides the repression against Catalan separatists, in the last few days we have witnessed a great scandal when a work of art about political prisoners was banned in Madrid’s Arco art fair, and rap singer Valtonyc received a three year prison sentence for his lyrics against King Felipe.

Why Guardiola wears a yellow ribbon
Starting next Monday and all through Wednesday, volunteers from the Catalan National Assembly —the leading pro-independence grassroots group— will hand out yellow ribbons to MWC participants in Barcelona city. They will be stationed in Plaça d’Espanya from 8 am, where the shuttle bus stops, and they will try to draw the visitors’ attention by borrowing headlines from international media about the meaning of the yellow ribbon, such as “Why Guardiola wears a yellow ribbon”, taken from the newspaper Goal.

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