Photo: Protests in Spain (Joanjo Aguar Matoses)
Tens of thousands of people marked National Day by taking to the streets of this metropolis Saturday to call for Spanish unity.
Gathering under the platform “We Are Catalonia, We Are Spain,” the large crowd of residents of the northeastern Spanish autonomous community of Catalonia expressed their opposition to independence for that region.
Some 30,000 people, according to the city’s municipal police force, and around 160,000, according to organizers, gathered at Barcelona’s downtown Plaça de Catalunya.
The festive rally, in which demonstrators waved flags of Spain and the Catalonia region, was supported by the Popular Party of Catalonia, the Union, Progress and Democracy party and the Party of the Citizenry, or C’s.
It concluded without incident with the reading of a manifesto calling for “dialogue, coexistence and solidarity” and insisting that “we’re stronger united.”
The demonstration was held a month after hundreds of thousands of people formed a 400-kilometer (250-mile) human chain in Catalonia to call for independence for that region and demand the holding of a referendum.
Artur Mas, the Catalonia region’s president, is planning to hold a referendum on independence in 2014 despite the staunch opposition of Spain’s government, which calls the move illegal.
Catalonia, one of Spain’s wealthiest regions, has 7.5 million inhabitants and accounts for around 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.