Protesters flood streets of Barcelona urging Catalan dialogue with Madrid

World Today

Thousands rallied in Barcelona on Saturday, urging Catalan leaders to talk with federal officials in Madrid. They urged an end to the current stand-off over possible independence, as divisions in the region begin to emerge.

CGTN’s Guy Henderson reports.

Isabel Gonzales is Catalan-born and bred… and opposed to its independence. But she didn’t arrive at the regional government’s offices waving the Spanish flag, either.

“I think they [officials in Madrid] have been very, very stupid,” Gonzales said. “The Catalans have been calling for certain things for a very long time, and Madrid has always said no. And I think that is the reason for what’s happening now.”

Three generations of the Garcia family had come to raise their voices as well. They don’t want to see Catalonia break from Spain, and they fear the consequences of a continued standoff.

“We’re here as a family in favor of peace,” according to Juan Garcia. “We believe the word is more important than weapons. When word goes unused, instead, we hear the sound of arms.”

Thousands joined them on the streets of Barcelona, offering not a warning, but instead a plea to stay together. Many who turned out are opposed to independence, but say their top priority is dialogue between all sides.

On Sunday, however, there may be a very different kind of protest on the streets of Barcelona, with the Spanish flag held high as a show of support for the national police force.

Scenes like this were already on display in the capital Madrid, where tens of thousands gathered. All were pro-unity, but in different camps. Not everyone was keen on dialogue, which is something the Catalan leadership still wants. On Friday, Carles Puigdemont met with mediators pushing for meetings in Madrid.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy doesn’t see a need, however. As more companies flee the region, divisions are reportedly emerging in the pro-independence camp.

Opponents of a breakaway are now speaking up in Catalonia, with many believing Rajoy’s tactics will only make the situation worse.