National day celebrated amid secession crisis
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.