Pro-in­de­pen­dence Cata­lans cel­e­brate Di­ada na­tional day ahead of vote

The Daily News Egypt - - International -

DW—Pro-se­ces­sion­ist Cata­lans took to the streets on the re­gion’s Di­ada na­tional day.The po­lit­i­cal tem­per­a­ture is ris­ing as Madrid and Barcelona head for a show­down ahead of an Oc­to­ber vote on in­de­pen­dence.

The streets of Barcelona were filled with Cat­alo­nia’s colors of yel­low and red on Mon­day as hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple cel­e­brated the re­gion’s na­tional day, known as “Di­ada.” The event was dom­i­nated by pro-in­de­pen­dence sup­port­ers,hop­ing that an Oc­to­ber 1 ref­er­en­dum will al­low the semi-au­ton­o­mous re­gion to split with Spain and be­come a sep­a­rate coun­try.

The fact that Spain’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment has de­clared the up­com­ing vote il­le­gal did not tam­per the ex­cite­ment of pro-se­ces­sion­ists, many of whom en­thu­si­as­ti­cally waved the “es­te­lada”— the red-and-yel­low striped flag adorned with a blue tri­an­gle and star that is the em­blem of an in­de­pen­dent Cat­alo­nia. T-shirts, ban­ners read­ing “Si” (yes) and signs called for in­de­pen­dence. Many shouted “In­de­pen­dence” and also sang the Cata­lan na­tional an­them.

How­ever, the is­sue re­mains di­vi­sive among the Cat­alo­nian’s 7.5 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants. Many Cata­lans want a ref­er­en­dum to set­tle the in­de­pen­dence is­sue but want it to take place through con­sti­tu­tion­ally-ap­proved pro­ceed­ings.

Dis­puted num­bers

Barcelona’s po­lice, the Guardia Ur­bana,tweeted that around a mil­lion peo­ple were on the streets of Barcelona to cel­e­brate the hol­i­day that marks the 1714 de­feat of the then-highly au­ton­o­mous re­gion by the Span­ish crown.

How­ever, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s del­e­ga­tion in Cat­alo­nia dis­puted the num­ber, in­stead plac­ing it around 350,000. Span­ish daily El Pais claimed around 500,000 took part based on its own rough cal­cu­la­tions us­ing sur­face area.

The Cata­lan po­lice,known as Mos­sos, thanked all par­tic­i­pants for their col­lab­o­ra­tion and ci­vil­ity.

De­mon­stra­tors con­cen­trated at the in­ter­sec­tion of the Paseo de Gra­cia and Aragon, filling the down­town av­enues to form a gi­ant“X” sym­bol­iz­ing a yes on the Oc­to­ber 1 bal­lot that will ask whether vot­ers whether they want Cat­alo­nia to be­come an in­de­pen­dent state.

Cata­lan President Car­les Puidge­ment tweeted a video show­ing the crowded streets and thank­ing all those who turned out to push for the ref­er­en­dum.

“What more do we have to do to make it un­der­stood that the peo­ple of Cat­alo­nia want to vote?” Puigde­mont asked.

Madrid and Barcelona face off

The day’s cel­e­bra­tion took place as ten­sion be­tween Cata­lan pro-in­de­pen­dence politi­cians and the Span­ish cen­tral gov­ern­ment un­der con­ser­va­tive Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy has reached a new high point.

Ra­joy tweeted a sim­ple mes­sage Mon­day morn­ing:“For a Di­ada of lib­erty, co­ex­is­tence and re­spect for all Cata­lans.”

Ra­joy’s gov­ern­ment con­sid­ers the planned vote to be il­le­gal, and last week Spain’s high­est court sus­pended the ref­er­en­dum law that had been passed one day ear­lier by Cat­alo­nia’s re­gional par­lia­ment in a fast-tracked mea­sure. But Puigde­mont’s pro-in­de­pen­dence re­gional gov­ern­ment has vowed to push on with the vote.

Eco­nomic and cul­tural causes

Cata­lan na­tion­al­ists want in­de­pen­dence for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. Some re­sent that the wealthy re­gion sends more money to the cen­tral gov­ern­ment than it re­ceives from it. Oth­ers feel that the dis­tinc­tive Cata­lan lan­guage and cul­tural tra­di­tions make them a na­tion en­ti­tled to their own state based on right of self­de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to July 2017 polls con­ducted by the re­gional gov­ern­ment, there is 41% sup­port for Cat­alo­nia as an in­de­pen­dent state, a slight drop from 44% in March. On the other hand, 49% op­pose a split from Spain.

Since the 2012 Di­ada—the first year it was cel­e­brated within the shadow of a se­ces­sion move­ment—Barcelona po­lice have pegged the to­tal num­ber of the day’s pro-in­de­pen­dence par­tic­i­pants above a mil­lion, save for last year when they es­ti­mated a turn out of 800,000.The cen­tral gov­ern­ment del­e­ga­tion has es­ti­mated the turnout dur­ing those years to be much lower.

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