Na­tional day cel­e­brated amid se­ces­sion cri­sis

The Washington Post - - THE WORLD -

Thou­sands of Cata­lans who want their re­gion to re­main in Spain marked the coun­try’s na­tional day Thurs­day, march­ing through Barcelona waving Spanish and Cata­lan flags and shout­ing “I am Spanish,” as the re­gion’s threats of in­de­pen­dence have left the coun­try in cri­sis.

Mean­while, in the na­tional cap­i­tal, Madrid, troops and po­lice pa­raded in front of King Felipe VI. Thou­sands of peo­ple waving Spanish flags lined the side­walk of Madrid’s Paseo de la Castel­lana av­enue to view the pa­rade.

The pi­lot of a fighter jet tak­ing part in the pa­rade died when the plane crashed while land­ing at a base in Al­bacete, au­thor­i­ties said.

In Barcelona, Cat­alo­nia’s cap­i­tal, a crowd that po­lice said num­bered 65,000 marched to a cen­tral square, some with their faces in the red and yel­low colors of both the Spanish and Cata­lan flags, and shout­ing “Viva Es­paña,” or “Long live Spain.”

The re­gional pres­i­dent of Cat­alo­nia, Car­les Puigde­mont, said Tues­day that he was pro­ceed­ing with a dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence but pro­posed freez­ing its im­ple­men­ta­tion for a few weeks to al­low for di­a­logue with the na­tional govern­ment.

On Wed­nes­day, Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy asked Puigde­mont to clar­ify whether he had ac­tu­ally de­clared in­de­pen­dence.

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