Over 1m People Rally for Unity in Spain

One million people joined a rally in favour of Spanish unity in Barcelona on Sunday, the central government’s representative in Catalonia said, while municipal police estimated turnout at 300,000.
Organisers said 1.3 million people had taken part in the demonstration, which comes two days after Catalan lawmakers voted to declare the wealthy region of 7.5 million people an independent republic.
Spaniards rallied in Catalonia’s capital Barcelona Sunday, waving national and European flags and chanting “Viva Espana!” to denounce regional lawmakers’ vote to sever the region from Spain.
Protesters swarmed, singing and clapping, through Barcelona’s streets in a sea of red-and-yellow Spanish flags, brandishing placards reading “De Todos” (It belongs to all of us).
By lunchtime, police estimated some 300,000 anti-secessionists had flocked to the city centre, while organisers put the crowd count at 1.1 million.
Spain’s biggest political crisis in decades mounted on Friday when secessionists in the Catalan parliament voted to declare the wealthy northeastern region of some 7.5 million people an independent republic.
The central government reacted by temporarily stripping the region of its autonomy, declaring the dismissal of secessionist regional president Carles Puigdemont and his executive.
“We are all Catalonia,” proclaimed a massive banner Sunday, as marchers, young and old, chanted “Prison for Puigdemont”, and “Long live Spain, long live Europe, long live the King!” “I am enraged about what they are doing to the country that my grandparents built,” said protester Marina Fernandez, a 19-year-old student from Girona, a separatist stronghold.
She said that in her hometown she cannot speak out for Spanish unity or “leave my house with the Spanish flag,” she said.
The Deputy President of the deposed Catalan government lashed out at Madrid, meanwhile, over what he called a “coup d’etat”.
“The President of the country is and will remain Carles Puigdemont,” the deposed leader’s deputy, Oriol Junqueras, wrote in Catalan newspaper.
“We cannot recognise the coup d’etat against Catalonia, nor any of the anti-democratic decisions that the PP (Rajoy’s ruling Popular Party) is adopting by remote control from Madrid,” he wrote.
On top of firing Catalonia’s regional government, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dissolved its parliament and called December 21 elections for a new one.
Flor Pena, a 59-year-old originally from the northwestern autonomous region of Galicia, described the separatists’ actions as “shameful”.
“The thing to do now is to beat them at the polls,” she said. She was part of a throng gathered near the spot where tens of thousands of people had celebrated the new “republic” with song, wine and fireworks two days earlier.
“They have made fools of us,” Miguel Angel Garcia Alcala, 70, who had travelled from the town of Rubi, 22 kilometres (14 miles) from Barcelona, said.
“It is illegal what they have done… They are dictators.”

Author: News Editor

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