2012 Catalan independence demonstration

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2012 Catalan independence demonstration
La Unión i el Fènix P1160234.JPG
View of the demonstration running through Passeig de Gràcia in front of La Unión and el Fénix Building.
Date 11 September 2012
Location Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
41°23′07″N 2°10′36″E / 41.3854°N 2.1767°E / 41.3854; 2.1767Coordinates: 41°23′07″N 2°10′36″E / 41.3854°N 2.1767°E / 41.3854; 2.1767
Causes Increase of Catalan independentism boosted by the 2008–13 Spanish financial crisis and the sense among Catalan society that Catalonia overpays the central government in taxes compared with other autonomous communities in Spain and receives very little of that money[1][2][3]
Goals Independence of Catalonia
Methods Protest march, street protest
Protesters going to the march
A big estelada (Catalan independentist flag) unfurled from the building of a radio station at Passeig de Gràcia

The 2012 Catalan independence demonstration was a protest march which occurred in central Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain, on 11 September 2012 during the National Day of Catalonia.[4][5][6] The protestors demanded the independence of Catalonia and its consolidation as a sovereign state under the slogan "Catalonia, new state in Europe" (Catalan: "Catalunya, nou estat d'Europa").[7][8][9] It was organized by the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and headed together with the Association of Municipalities for Independence as the final and the most prominent of a series of events known as "March towards Independence" (Catalan: "Marxa cap a la Independència") which began on 30 June 2012 in Lleida.[10][11]

The number of participants was estimated at about 1.5 million according to Barcelona's Municipal Police and Catalonia's Department of the Interior, about 2 million according to the organizers, and about 600,000 according to the delegation of the Spanish government in Catalonia.[12][13][14] La Directa magazine estimated at minimum 1,056,000 by counting occupied area and density.[15] An article by statistic Llorenç Badiella (University of Barcelona) published in newspaper La Vanguardia estimated at about 600,000.[16]

The city centre was crowded for hours and it was feared that the massive influx of people might bring the mobile phone network to a standstill.[17][18] Many newspapers and other news agencies described it as a "historic" demonstration and considered it to be the biggest protest march ever held in Catalonia since the restoration of democracy in Spain,[19][20][21][22][23][24] surpassing other major demonstrations, including the 2010 Catalan autonomy protest where more than one million people participated.[25][26]

Background[edit]

The 2010 Catalan autonomy protest was a demonstration held in central Barcelona on 10 July 2010 against the limits set to the autonomy of Catalonia within Spain, and particularly against a then recent decision of the Spanish Constitutional Court to annul or reinterpret several articles of the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia.[26] The number of people taking part in the demonstration was estimated at between 1.1 million (according to the local police) and 1.5 million (according to the organisers).[27][28] The Madrid-based newspaper El País estimated the number of demonstrators at 425,000.[29] A private company specialising in reporting demonstration attendance numbers, Lynce, tendenciously made an estimate of 56,000–74,400 by measuring a single street at 20h30, 15 minutes after the demonstration had finished.[30]

The mobilisation was described as "unprecedented" by the mayor of Barcelona.[31] Barcelona daily El Periódico de Catalunya described it as "without a doubt one of the biggest protest marches that have ever occurred in Catalonia, and possibly the biggest".[27]

The demonstration was led by a banner with the Catalan slogan Som una nació. Nosaltres decidim. (in English, "We are a nation. We decide.").[32]

Changes in government[edit]

Several analysts believe that the demonstration on 10 July was a turning point in relations between Catalonia and Spain.[33] An election to the Catalan Government was held on 28 November 2010 with Artur Mas (CiU) emerging as president.

A general election was held in Spain the following year in which the People's Party won an absolute majority with 187 of the 350 seats in the chamber. Party leader Mariano Rajoy was sworn in as president of the Spanish Tenth Legislature shortly afterwards.

Public response[edit]

Catalonia saw several local referenda for independence take place in hundreds of villages between 13 September 2009 and April 2011, with an overwhelming number of "yes" votes being cast. However, turnout was low at 27.41%

Several citizens' initiatives arose in 2011 and 2012 in response to perceived slights by Spain, such as the No vull pagar ("I don't want to pay") campaign, which protested against toll fees that were seen as abusive compared with those in other parts of Spain. The protest began in early April 2012 in Catalonia and had extended in a minor degree to Valencia and the Balearic Islands by the following month.[34][35]

At an institutional level, several municipalities of Catalonia came together to create the Associació de Municipis per la Independència ("Association of Municipalities for Independence"), an organisation officially established on 14 December 2011 in Vic which brings local organisations together to further the national rights of Catalonia and promote its right to self-determination.[36]

Support for independence[edit]

Institution/media Date Yes (%) No (%)
Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas 1996[37] 33.6 53.5
Institut de Ciències Polítiques i Socials 2011[38] 41.4 22.9
El Periódico de Catalunya Jan 2012[39][40] 53.6 32.0
Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió March 2012[41] 44.6 24.7
Centre d'Estudis d'Opinió June 2012[42] 51.1 21.1
Diari Ara Jul 2012[43] 50.4 23.8
Telecinco (GESOP) Sep 2012[44] 50.9 18.6

Changes in support for independence in Catalonia through time can be seen by comparing the results of a survey conducted by Spain's Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas in 1996, which asked: "Personally, would you support or reject Catalonia becoming independent?" with more recent surveys carried out in 2011 and 2012, revealing the level of support in a referendum on the independence of Catalonia.

Controversies[edit]

  • On 29 August 2012 the Government of Catalonia requested access to the Spanish fund liquidity to finance debt maturities, while warning Mariano Rajoy that it would not accept the imposition of "political conditions".[45] This led many Spanish politicians to make controversial statements, such as President of La Rioja Pedro Sanz, who said that "they have the gall to ask [for money] and then keep their television channels and embassies".[46] President of the Community of Madrid Esperanza Aguirre claimed that "Catalonia receives more money than Madrid",[47] while President of Galicia Alberto Núñez Feijoo said that "today Galicia pays and Catalunya asks".[48] However, the attacks were met by a public reaction within Catalonia that wasn't anticipated by political analysts. The recent publication of studies regarding in-depth economical analysis of the first detailed budgetary and expenditure figures ever provided by the Central Government reached the conclusion that Catalonia was both the autonomous community supporting more taxes yet receiving the smallest returns or investments, a situation that didn't even compare to any other European region. Sustainability as an independent state was shown to be more than feasible in at least one paper published by independent economy professors,[49] although it was ignored by most of the Spanish press.
  • On 30 August, EC President José Manuel Durão Barroso acknowledged that "in the hypothetical case that Catalonia secedes, a solution should be found and negotiated within the framework of international laws".[50] One day later he made clear that any region becoming independent from an EU member state would automatically leave the EU itself.[51]
  • On 2 September, citizens throughout Catalonia changed the name of several squares called Plaça d'Espanya ("Spain Square") to Plaça de la Independència ("Independence Square"). The event was held in 40 municipalities, such as Barcelona, Mataró, Torroella de Montgrí, Roda de Ter and Tàrrega.[52]
  • On 3 September, the town halls of Sant Pere de Torelló and Calldetenes passed a motion in favour of the independence of Catalonia, proclaiming themselves "Free Catalan Territory". Their aim was to urge the Government and Parliament of Catalonia to assume sovereignty over the Catalan territory.[53] A few days before, Spanish army colonel Francisco Alamán Castro said that "the basis of Catalan nationalism is a hatred of Spain" and warned "not to wake up the lion, as it has already given enough proof of its ferocity". Regarding the action by Sant Pere de Torelló, Alamán said "This is clearly an act of treason as set out in the Spanish penal code. Therefore, if the plenary approved this atrocity, we should immediately arrest both the mayor and the councillors who voted for the proposal ".[54]

Demonstration[edit]

Route followed by the march
Marquès de l'Argentera street, and the stage, next to the Estació de França

Institutional events[edit]

During the morning, like every year, wreaths were laid on the monument to Rafael Casanova in Barcelona's Ronda Sant Pere. An official ceremony was then held in Parc de la Ciutadella where, according to government spokesman Francesc Homs, "our national sentiment" and especially "the Catalan language, after the recent attacks" would be celebrated. The event was be led by playwright John Ollé and emceed by journalist Mònica Terribas. The official ceremony began with a parade by the Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra. Then, the town Capmany—symbolising the "fight against fire" after its comarca of Alt Empordà suffered a serious wildfire this summer—delivered the Catalan flag to President Artur Mas.[55]

During the ceremony, several local bands played songs and read poems by Catalan authors. Portuguese singer Maria de Medeiros performed as guest artist, singing a poem by Ausiàs March. The Government also commemorated several anniversaries, including those of Antoni Maria Alcover, Montsalvatge, Eduard Toldrà and Pere Calders. The official image of the National Day is a reproduction of the painting The Catalan Spirit (1971), by Antoni Tàpies.[56]

Route[edit]

The march officially began at the intersection of Gran Via and Passeig de Gràcia (near Plaça de Catalunya) at 6:00 pm, descending Pau Claris street to the Via Laietana, finally ending, near the Parliament of Catalonia building in the Parc de la Ciutadella, at the intersection of Marquès de l'Argentera street and Passeig de Picasso, where a stage was set up. Núria de Gispert, the President of the Catalan Parliament, received a delegation from the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), the organisers of the march, who called for the process leading to secession from Spain to be started.[57]

Organisation[edit]

A banner with the slogan "Catalonia: New European State" led the march. The banner was presented on 5 September in the central Plaça Catalunya, the same day that Carme Forcadell, in the press conference for the presentation, said "The people are prepared, and we need the government and our institutions to take a step forward, because we want a free and sovereign country, we want independence."[58]

The banner was carried by 10 representatives of the territorial regions of the ANC and by 10 representatives of the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI). Directly behind them was the president of the ANC, Carme Forcadell and the vicepresident, Carles Castellanos. They were accompanied by Joan Rigol i Roig and Ernest Benach i Pascual. The third group was formed by a group of representatives of both the ANC and the AMI.[59]

Next in the march came the political parties who confirmed that they would attend: (CDC, UDC, ICV, ERC, SI, RI) and other entities like Òmnium Cultural, Plataforma Pro Seleccions, Sobirania i Progrés, and Sobirania i justícia, among others. The Popular Unity Candidates (CUP) and the Independentist Left went ahead with their own demonstration on 11 September and did not participate in the march in an official capacity, while allowing their members to join it if they wanted to.[60]

The fifth and largest group was formed by the public.

Attendees[edit]

Organisations, municipalities and institutions from all over Catalonia booked buses to bring people to the event. The anticipation of a massive turnout led the organisers to change the route several times.[61] The mayors of Girona, Manresa and Figueres organised special Renfe trains to Barcelona. In addition, over 1000 buses from all over the country were made available to people wishing to travel to the capital to attend the march, which makes it the event with most buses in the history of the country, as confirmed by the City Council of Barcelona. On the same day, a group of bikers held a "motorcycle separatist march" that started from Vic in the morning. As a curious aside, a marathon runner attended the rally by leaving Sant Carles de la Ràpita on 9 September to reach the march running on 11 September.[62]

After the march[edit]

Green cards[edit]

A green card printed in the Time Out Barcelona supplement of the newspaper Diari Ara three days before the demonstration
Voting "yes"

At the stage set up at the end of the march, the organisers, the Catalan National Assembly, asked those present several questions. Green cards had been printed in various publications prior to the demonstration and people were asked to bring them along, and to hold them up to vote "yes" to these questions. Cards were also handed out at the event. The aim was to get a photograph with a sea of green voting papers in support of Catalan independence.

We want an image of the Catalan people's desire for freedom, and what better backdrop for this than the door of Parliament?

—Ferran Civit, coordinator of the march.[63]

Concerts[edit]

Òmnium Cultural organised the Festa per la Llibertat 2012 ("Party for Freedom 2012") at the end of the march, on a stage set up on Passeig Lluís Companys. The concert, which included the Pastora, Txarango and Brams bands, began at 7:30 pm with writer Màrius Serra as the host.[64]

Responses[edit]

The event has marked the Catalan political agenda and the debate about the right to hold a referendum on the independence of Catalonia has been re-opened,[65][66][67][68] as well as the debate about the feasibility of an independent Catalan state and its integration into the European Union. On 25 September 2012, the president of the Generalitat of Catalonia Artur Mas announced snap elections for the Parliament of Catalonia to be held on 25 November and argued, referring to the demonstration, that "the street vocal must be moved to the polls".

On 12 October 2012, during the celebration of the National Day of Spain, 6,000 people according to Barcelona's Municipal Police and 65,000 according to the delegation of the Spanish government in Catalonia, rallied at Plaça de Catalunya in central Barcelona against independence as a response to 11 September demonstration.[69][70][71]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Huge turnout for Catalan independence rally". BBC News. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Abend, Lisa (11 September 2012). "Secessionist Sentiments Grows Amid Economic Crisis". Time. TIME World. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Minder, Raphael (11 September 2012). "Protest Rally in Catalonia Adds a Worry for Spain". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  4. ^ Khazan, Olga (11 September 2012). Catalonia rallies for independence on 'Catalan National Day'. The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Catalonia 'National Day' protest in Barcelona". Euro News. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  6. ^ Goodman, Al (12 September 2012). "Throngs push Catalan independence amid Spain's economic crisis". Madrid. CNN. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  7. ^ La marxa comença a caminar sota el lema 'Catalunya, nou Estat d'Europa' (in Catalan). Barcelona: Europa Press. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  8. ^ 'Catalunya, nou estat d'Europa' és el lema de la pancarta de la manifestació, que ha arrencat poc abans de les sis de la tarda (in Catalan). Catalunya vol viure en llibertat. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "El lema de la marxa per la independència: "Catalunya, nou estat d’Europa"" (in Catalan). Barcelona: BTVnotícies.cat. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  10. ^ "L'ANC i l'AMI encapçalaran la manifestació de la Diada" (in Catalan). REUSdirecte.cat. 9 September 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "Què és?". Marxa cap a la independència (in Catalan). Catalan National Assembly. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  12. ^ Piñol, Àngels (11 September 2012). "El independentismo catalán logra una histórica exhibición de fuerza" (in Spanish). Barcelona. El País. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  13. ^ "Diada.- El Govern central xifra l'assistència en 600.000 persones" (in Catalan). Barcelona. Europa Press. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  14. ^ "La delegació del govern espanyol a Catalunya xifra en 600.000 els assistents a la manifestació de la Diada" (in Catalan). Madrid. Agència Catalana de Notícies. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  15. ^ La marxa independentista d'avui ha superat per primer cop a la història el milió de manifestants (Catalan)
  16. ^ Badiella, Llorenç (14 September 2012). "Unas 600.000 personas en la manifestación independentista" (in Spanish). Barcelona. La Vanguardia. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  17. ^ "La marcha independentista colapsa el centro de Barcelona en la celebración de la Diada" (in Spanish). Barcelona. RTVE.es. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  18. ^ Parés, Blanca (7 September 2012). "La Generalitat demana un ús racional dels dispositius mòbils en la manifestació de la Diada" (in Catalan). Barcelona. elPeriódico.com. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  19. ^ "Catalanes realizan manifestación histórica para reclamar su independencia" (in Spanish). Semana.com. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  20. ^ "La prensa internacional reconoce la histórica manifestación de la Diada" (in Spanish). La Vanguardia.com. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  21. ^ Reino, Cristian (12 September 2012). "Una manifestación histórica exige la independencia de Cataluña" (in Spanish). Barcelona. HOY.es. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  22. ^ "Cataluña acoge hoy una manifestación independentista histórica" (in Spanish). Barcelona. Ine.es. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  23. ^ "1,5 milions de persones demanen la independència de Catalunya en una manifestació rècord" (in Catalan). Barcelona. 324. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  24. ^ "Empieza la lucha por capitalizar la histórica manifestación de Barcelona" (in Spanish). GARA. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  25. ^ Rico, Jose; Julve, Rafa (12 September 2012). "Goleada independentista, la mayor manifestación en BCN" (in Spanish). elPeriódico.com. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  26. ^ a b "Catalan protesters rally for greater autonomy in Spain". BBC News. 10 July 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  27. ^ a b "La manifestació ha desbordat totes les previsions", El Periódico de Catalunya, 10 July 2010 . (Catalan)
  28. ^ "Un millón de personas inundan Barcelona en una histórica manifestación de rechazo a la sentencia contra el Estatut", La Vanguardia, 10 July 2010 
  29. ^ Cálculo de asistentes (Spanish)
  30. ^ Somos una Nación. Nosotros decidimos., 10 July 2010 
  31. ^ "Hereu: "No hi ha precedent d'una mobilització així"", El Periódico de Catalunya, 10 July 2010 . (Catalan)
  32. ^ "El TC dicta sentència per l'Estatut", 3cat24.cat (in Catalan) 
  33. ^ "El Govern espanyol adverteix que el 10J no serà un 'punt d'inflexió' en res", Directe!cat (in Catalan) 
  34. ^ "Josep Casadellà: "No sóc el Serallonga dels peatges"", Ara.cat, 14 April 2012 
  35. ^ Campanya Diem Prou
  36. ^ "El Ple Municipal aprova la proposta de crear una associació per promoure el Dret a Decidir de Catalunya", Ajuntament de Vic (in Catalan), 12 September 2011 
  37. ^ Question (in Spanish): Personalmente, ¿estaría Ud. a favor o en contra de que Cataluña fuera independiente?
  38. ^ Sondeig d'opinió Catalunya 2011 (Catalan)
  39. ^ Els partidaris de la independència arriben per primer cop al 50%
  40. ^ Els independentistes són més que mai però no confien a guanyar un referèndum, segons 'El Periódico'
  41. ^ Baròmetre d'Opinió Política (Catalan)
  42. ^ Baròmetre d'Opinió Política (Catalan)
  43. ^ Independentistes però amb 'la roja'
  44. ^ Una enquesta de Telecinco indica que un 51% de catalans diria 'sí' a la independència i només un 18,6% triaria el 'no'
  45. ^ El rescat: 5.023 milions
  46. ^ El president de La Rioja: "S'ha de tenir morro per demanar i després tenir televisió o ambaixades" 324.cat 31 August 2012
  47. ^ Esperanza Aguirre critica que Catalunya rebi més diners que la Comunitat de Madrid 324.cat, 31 August 2012
  48. ^ Ribeira Feijóo: "Avui paga Galícia i Catalunya demana" 324.cat, 29 August 2012
  49. ^ http://www.catdem.org/cat/downloads2/7.-007_informe_bosch_en.pdf
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  52. ^ "40 municipis converteixen les seves 'Plaça d'Espanya' en 'Plaça de la Independència'" (in catalan). Barcelona: La Vanguardia. 2 September 2012. 
  53. ^ "L'alcalde de Sant Pere de Torelló: "Instem el Parlament a assumir unilateralment la sobirania nacional"". Ara.cat. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  54. ^ "El coronel Alamán Castro: "La independència de Catalunya? Per sobre del meu cadàver"". Ara.cat (Barcelona). 31 August 2012. ISSN 2014-010X. 
  55. ^ "Acte institucional. Diada de 2012", Generalitat de Catalunya 
  56. ^ Tugas, Roger (5 September 2012), "La Diada institucional reivindicarà la llengua catalana arran de "les agressions viscudes"", Ara, ISSN 2014-010X 
  57. ^ BATALLER, Marc, L'ANC ja té prop de 400 autocars emparaulats, El Punt Avui 31 August 2012
  58. ^ La manifestació amb més autocars de la història Vilaweb, 5 September 2012
  59. ^ "Més d'un milió de veus pel dret a decidir", Avui (in català), 10 July 2012 
  60. ^ Diari Ara, ed. (20 August 2012). "La CUP es desmarca de la manifestació de l'ANC de la Diada" (in Catalan). 
  61. ^ La previsió d'assistència creixent a la manifestació de la Diada obliga l'ANC a modificar-ne el recorregut (Catalan)
  62. ^ La manifestació amb més autocars de la història (Catalan)
  63. ^ OPJ (6 September 2012). "Una marea verda davant del Parlament simbolitzarà els anhels d'independència" (in Catalan). El Punt Avui. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  64. ^ Pastora, Txarango, Brams i Màrius Serra: plats forts de la Festa per la Llibertat (Catalan)
  65. ^ "Los partidos catalanes valoran la manifestación independentista" (in Spanish). Barcelona. LaVanguardia.com. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  66. ^ "El independentismo marca la agenda política en un otoño crítico para el Estado español" (in Spanish). GARA. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  67. ^ "CiU, ICV-EUiA, ERC y SI negocian una resolución por la autodeterminación" (in Spanish). Barcelona. elPeriódico.com. 24 September 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  68. ^ "Un 74% dels catalans estan a favor de fer un referèndum d'autodeterminació i un 20% en contra, segons el CEO" (in Catalan). Madrid. 324. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  69. ^ "Miles de personas se concentran en Plaça Catalunya contra la independencia" (in Spanish). Barcelona. LaVanguardia.com. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  70. ^ Julve, Rafa (12 October 2012). "La manifestación antiindependentista reúne a miles de personas en la plaza de Catalunya" (in Spanish). Barcelona. elPeriódico.com. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  71. ^ Roger, Maiol; Carranco, Rebeca (12 October 2012). "El PP arropa la concentración contra la independencia en Barcelona" (in Spanish). Barcelona. El País. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 

External links[edit]

External video
Bird's eye view