Call for Span­ish, Cata­lan talks

Thou­sands rally in Madrid, Barcelona to spur law­mak­ers to ne­go­ti­ate

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - WORLD - By Joseph Wil­son

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.

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