The Catalan president Artur Mas has vowed to bring in an 18-month plan to separate Catalonia from Spain if his party wins in the coming elections, and on Friday September 11, more than a million Catalans filled the streets in a massive show of force for the region’s separatist campaign.
Demonstrators flooded onto the streets of Barcelona, creating a sea of red and yellow, as they waved their Catalan flags yelling ‘Independence!’
Pro-independence supporters gathered by the hundreds of thousands to hold a march that has become an annual tradition on September 11, but which takes on added meaning this year because of upcoming regional elections that could lead to Catalonia’s secession from Spain.
Artur Mas, who has previously been criticised for manipulating the election into an independence vote, was clearly pleased with the day’s show of strength for the movement at a time of high political tension between the region and Spain’s central government. He said, ‘we would have preferred a referendum like in Quebec [1980 and 1995] and Scotland [last year], but the only course left to us was to organise these elections.’
The enormous demonstration comes just two weeks ahead of regional elections on September 27, which could prove to be a make-or-break moment for Catalonia’s independence movement.
Barca player Gerard Piqué was one of many famous faces on view at the march where hordes of crowds in white t-shirts completely filled the four traffic lanes of the renowned Meridiana Avenue, and a giant yellow arrow was carried five kilometres by a group of athletes from the northernmost point of Meridiana Avenue to the Catalan parliament.