Barcelona Warns Madrid: Pay Up, or Catalonia Leaves Spain
Hundreds of thousands march for Catalan independence as economic pressure boosts secessionist sentiment
By LISA ABEND
September 11, 2012
Sept. 11 always brings Barcelonans into the streets to dance the sardana, sing for their enemies’ blood in the anthem “Els Segadors” and chant political slogans in celebration of their national holiday, the Diada de Catalunya. But this year, a new intensity colored the Catalans’ nationalist fervor. The independence movement’s flag bearing a white star against a blue triangle outnumbered the region’s official yellow-and-red-striped standard. A pro-independence march, which in the past has never drawn more than 50,000 people, pulled in a crowd estimated by city police at 1.5 million. And every newspaper in the city carried the results of a poll released this week that reveals a once unimaginable transformation: half the population of Catalonia supports secession from Spain.
“We have no other option since our will has been totally ignored” says Soledat Balaguer, a member of the secretariat of the Catalan National Assembly, organizers of the demonstration that shut down the city center. “Catalonia needs to be its own state.”