A vast crowd of flag-waving Spanish Catalan nationalists marched through the centre of their provincial capital, Barcelona on Monday (12 September) chanting for home rule for their province.
A vast crowd of flag-waving Spanish Catalan nationalists marched through the centre of their provincial capital, Barcelona on Monday (12 September) chanting for home rule for their province. The march leaders estimated their numbers at one million, the largest gathering of any kind Spain since the Civil War. It followed, and dwarfed, an earlier separatist rally at which 5,000 leftists called for abolition of the monarchy and independence for Catalonia.
SYNOPSIS: The massed ranks of demonstrators choked the streets of the famous seaport, the second largest city in Spain. Their march was part of a Catalan National Day celebration, which all the region's political parties had supported. This was the largest demonstration of popular pressure for regional self-rule since the death of General Francisco Franco late in 1975 began the break-up of strongly centralised rule.
It appeared that the packed streets were a sea of rippling Catalan flags, with their red and white stripes and red stars. Somewhere in that press of humanity, all Catalan members of parliament were marching with linked arms at the head of the demonstration. And, at their heels, came the veterans of the Civil War. Hundreds of riot police had cordoned off the old quarter of the city to prevent any attempt to proclaim a Catalan government from a historic building where the previous one was established in 1931.
The Spanish government has agreed in principle to Catalonia setting up a provincial government -- or Generalitat -- but some Catalan leaders feel it would be merely a symbol.