In Spain on Saturday. (19 June), several thousand people staged an hour-long demonstration in support of an amnesty for all political prisoners.
In Spain on Saturday. (19 June), several thousand people staged an hour-long demonstration in support of an amnesty for all political prisoners. It was the first ever, legal non-fascist political rally, held in spain for 37 years, and passed off peacefully.
SYNOPSIS: The rally took place in the town of Mataro near Barcelona, and was organised by local left-wing political groups. A year ago, such a demonstration would have been unthinkable in Spain - then under the leadership of the late General Francisco Franco. However, it was only last month, almost a year after the General's death, that the government relaxed tight controls on political meetings. Carrying Catalonian flags, the marchers chanted slogans calling for amnesty and liberty. They also called on workers to strike in support of their demands. The region has a history of labour unrest, centred on the nearby city of Barcelona.
The government has gone some way to meeting demands on the amnesty question. But not nearly far enough - according to its critics. Reuters says that the Spanish head of state, King Juan Carlos, wants the liberalisation process speeded up. However, he faces powerful opposition form within the government and the non-elected Spanish parliament - the Cortes. They showed their strength last week, when they stalled a law legalising political parties, after the murder of a government official in the Basque country, north of Madrid. Like the Basques, some Catalonians are campaigning for home-rule. They have a long record of separatist demands. Visnews personnel in the area have reported that many of the slogans reflect that political view. Meanwhile, opposition groups are planning more demonstrations.