Hundreds of thousands demonstrated against Catalan secession from Spain, saying unity is better than secession. The massive protest was in defiance of Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who could declare independence this week.
CGTN’s Guy Henderson reports.
In the heart of the Catalan capital, demonstrators pushed up to the police lines. But this time differed from past encounters, with protesters offering up praise for the federal government’s actions this past week, while also condemning the region’s politicians who have defied it.
“I believe Catalonia belongs to Spain. We used to live together without any problems until the independence movement started,” one rallygoer said. “They should talk, but not until the Catalan government returns to legality.”
“You have to follow the rules, you cannot do it on your own,” a different demonstrator said. “That is not what democracy is. Democracy is sit and talk with the Spanish government; if you can’t make a deal, you can’t do what you want”.
Many carried Spanish and Catalonian flags, calling for unity and backing the government’s chosen means of maintaining it.
Last week at the same spot, the message was entirely different, with protesters expressed their anger at the conduct of the national police. Now, however, it’s a shot of support as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy refuses to rule out taking over the regional government.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais, however, Rajoy says he hopes it never comes to that.
“We will overcome this. We have to return to legality and the key is to do so quickly and go back to normal,” he said. “Have the absolute reassurance that the government will prevent any declaration of independence from turning into something. Spain will continue to be Spain, and it will continue being Spain for a long time.”
Horrific images show police clashing with voters outside of polling stations. People are bloodied and battered, having attempted to vote in an independence referendum that Spain says is illegal.
Marching today were citizens from all over Spain and Catalonia, expressing support for unity and dialogue.
“I think they should talk and they should improve the situation. That’s something that has been requested for a long time,” a demonstrator said. “But not this way, and not illegally. That’s why I’m here. I don’t normally demonstrate – but today was a special day.”
Another protester man said he had never owned a Spanish flag until today.
“There is a silent majority in Catalonia that don’t protest. It makes no sense what the government here is doing.”
Outside the regional parliament, local law enforcement received a less welcome reception from raliers as they protected the place where on Tuesday Catalonia may unilaterally announce its independence.
Political analyst Carlos Vilar discusses Catalonia independence referendum
CGTN’s Wang Guan spoke with political scientist and analyst Carlos Vilar about the issues surrounding Catalonia indepedence.