Call for Spanish, Catalan talks
Thousands rally in Madrid, Barcelona to spur lawmakers to negotiate
BARCELONA, Spain — Thousands rallied in Madrid and Barcelona on Saturday in a last-ditch call for Spanish and Catalan leaders to stave off a national crisis amid Catalonia’s threat to secede.
The rallies in the Spanish capital and the Catalan city were held with the slogan “Shall We Talk?” in an effort to push lawmakers in both cities to end months of silence and start negotiating. Attendees respected the organizers’ call to not bring the Spanish or Catalan flag.
Catalonia’s regional President Carles Puigdemont has vowed to make good on the results of last Sunday’s disputed referendum on secession won by the Yes side. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned that the vote was illegal and has promised that Catalonia is going nowhere.
Protestors packed Barcelona’s Sant Jaume Square where the Catalan government has its presidential palace, shouting “We want to talk!” and holding signs saying “More Negotiation, Less Testosterone!” and “Talk or Resign!”
“We have to find a new way forward,” said Miquel Iceta, the leader of Spain’s Socialist party in Catalonia. “It’s the moment to listen to the people who are asking for the problem to be solved through an agreement, and without precipitated and unilateral decisions.”
The gathering around Madrid’s Cibeles fountain boasted a huge banner demanding that leaders start talking. Some people chanted “Less hate, and more understanding!”
In a separate rally in Madrid’s Colon Square, thousands clamored for the unity of Spain and against any attempt by the northeastern region to break away. The crowd bristled with Spanish flags. Pro-union forces will try to generate momentum on Sunday in a protest in Barcelona.