Catalan Way (section 235) in Via Augusta street, Tarragona
|Date||11 September 2013|
|Goals||Independence of Catalonia|
|Methods||Protest march, street protest|
The Catalan Way (Catalan: Via Catalana), also known as the Catalan Way towards Independence (Catalan: Via Catalana cap a la Independència), was a 480-kilometre (300 mi) human chain in support of Catalan independence from Spain. It was organized by the Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC), and took place in Catalonia on 11 September 2013, which is the National Day of Catalonia. Catalonia's Department of the Interior estimated the number of participants at about 1.6 million. The protest was supported by 14 nongovernmental groups The human chain followed the ancient Via Augusta, from Le Perthus (France, Vallespir) up to Alcanar (Spain, Montsià). According to Carme Forcadell, president of the ANC, it was "a symbol of the unity of Catalan people to achieve national sovereignty".
Plans for the Catalan Way were presented for the first time on 19 June 2013, at the Museu d'Història de Catalunya; the inspiration for these was the 1989 Baltic Way. The presentation included Henn Karits and Ülo Laanoja, two members of the organization which staged the Baltic Way. Three weeks before the event, more than 350,000 people had registered to participate. In total, the organizers mobilized about 1,500 buses and 30,000 volunteers to help organize the event.
- 1 Historical precedents
- 2 Pre-Catalan Way activities
- 3 Chain's path
- 4 Consequences
- 5 Gallery
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
On 23 August 1989, the Baltic Way was organized by the people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This human chain linked the capitals of the three countries in favour of their independence from the Soviet Union. The three republics became independent in August 1991, after the Moscow coup d'état attempt on 21 August 1991. According to the Baltic Way's manifesto, "A common European home can only [be] set up if all European nations are granted a free right to self-determination".
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, approved in referendum by 73.9% of the voters. 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) Madrid-based newspaper El País estimated the number of demonstrators at 425,000.
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. The 2012 Catalan independence demonstration, organized by the Catalan National Assembly, argued that Catalonia should become an independent state within the European Union, under the slogan "Catalonia, new state in Europe". 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.
Pre-Catalan Way activities
|CiU/Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC)||Yes||Yes|
|CiU/Unió Democràtica de Catalunya (UDC)||Yes||No|
|Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC)||Yes||Yes|
|Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya (PSC)||No||No|
|Partit Popular de Catalunya (PP)||No||No|
|Initiative for Catalonia Greens (ICV-EUiA)||Yes||No|
|Ciutadans - Partit de la Ciutadania (C's)||No||No|
|Candidatura d'Unitat Popular (CUP)||No (supported an alternative demonstration the same day)||Yes|
Registration and previous acts
The Catalan Way was presented for the first time on 19 June 2013, at the Museu d'Història de Catalunya. The presentation included Henn Karits and Ülo Laanoja, two members of the organization which staged the Baltic Way.
On 4 July, the National Catalan Assembly (ANC) opened the registering period through its website. More than 22,000 people were registered during the first 24 hours and over 78,000 the first week. On 12 July, after nine days the registration started, more than 100,000 participants signed in for the Catalan Way. On 30 July, it reached 250,000 registrations. Three weeks before the event, more than 350,000 people had already signed in. However, the organizers admitted having problems for covering the southern areas of Catalonia. On 2 September, no section of the Catalan Way was left with low occupancy, ensuring the success of the human chain.
Response of the political parties
Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC), Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) and Candidatura d'Unitat Popular (CUP) expressed their support and participation in the Catalan Way, while Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya (PSC), Partit Popular (PP) and Ciutadans opposed. ICV asked their activists to join the human chain organized by Procés Constituent a Catalunya to surround La Caixa the same day.
Artur Mas, President of the Generalitat of Catalonia and Núria de Gispert, President of the Parliament of Catalonia, decided not to participate for "institutional reasons", although they encouraged the people to participate in the Catalan Way and announced that they would meet with the organizers of the human chain on the same 11 September.
The human chain followed the old Via Augusta, crossing the following 86 towns and municipalities (sorted from North to South): Le Perthus, la Jonquera, Pont de Molins, Figueres, Santa Llogaia d'Àlguema, Bàscara, Orriols, Sarrià de Ter, Sant Julià de Ramis, Girona, Fornells de la Selva, Riudellots de la Selva, Tordera, Pineda de Mar, Calella, Sant Pol de Mar, Canet de Mar, Arenys de Mar, Caldes d'Estrac, Sant Vicenç de Montalt, Sant Andreu de Llavaneres, Mataró, Vilassar de Mar, Premià de Mar, El Masnou, Montgat, Badalona, Sant Adrià de Besòs, Barcelona, l'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Esplugues de Llobregat, Sant Just Desvern, Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Molins de Rei, Sant Vicenç dels Horts, Cervelló, Vallirana, Ordal, Cantallops, Sant Cugat Sesgarrigues, Olèrdola, Vilafranca del Penedès, Santa Margarida i els Monjos, la Ràpita, l'Arboç, Castellet i la Gornal, Bellvei, el Vendrell, Roda de Berà, Creixell, Clarà, Torredembarra, Altafulla, Tarragona, Reus, Riudoms, Montbrió del Camp, Mont-roig del Camp, l'Hospitalet de l'Infant, l'Ametlla de Mar, El Perelló, l'Ampolla, Camarles, l'Aldea, Amposta, Sant Carles de la Ràpita and Alcanar.
Branches out of Catalonia
Two extensions of the Catalan Way, one up to Le Boulou, France, and the other one down to Vinaròs, Comunitat Valenciana, were made. The Northern Catalonia ANC territorial assembly was responsible to extend the Catalan Way from Pertús to el Voló, and several civic and political Valencian organizations, coordinated by Acció Cultural del País Valencià, prepared an extension from Vinaròs.
International Catalan Way
The Foreign Assemblies of the ANC, in collaboration with the Catalan Communities Abroad and Catalans al Món, organized more than 116 Catalan Ways carried out mainly between 1 August and 11 September 2013 in major cities around the world "to support the democratic independence process of Catalonia". More than 8,000 Catalans and supporters of Catalonia's independence participated in the International Catalan Way.
- Americas: Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal (Canada), Atlanta, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Independence, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Raleigh, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. (United States), Guadalajara, Mexico DF, Puebla and Tulum (Mexico), Managua (Nicaragua), Panama City (Panama), San José (Costa Rica), Asunción (Paraguay), Bogotá and Medellín (Colombia), Buenos Aires, Castelar, Còrdoba, Paranà and Rosario (Argentina), Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo (Brasil), Lima (Peru), Montevideo (Uruguay), Quito (Ecuador) and Santiago de Chile (Chile).
- Europe: Athens (Greece), Bergen, Oslo and Trondheim (Norway), Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Koeln, Mannheim and München (Germany), Brussels (Belgium), Budapest (Hungary), Copenhagen (Denmark), Cork and Dublin (Ireland), Den Haag (Netherlands), Dubrovnik and Zadar (Croatia), Geneve, Lausanne and Zurich (Switzerland), Gothenburg and Stockholm (Sweden), Helsinki (Finland), Lisbon (Portugal), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Edinburgh, London and Manchester (United Kingdom), Luxembourg (Luxembourg), Paris, Paris-Eurodisney, Lyon and Toulouse (France), Praha (Czech Republic), Reykjavík (Iceland), Alghero, Rome and Venice (Italy), Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Szczecin (Poland) and Vienna (Austria).
- Asia: Doha (Qatar), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Jerusalem (Israel), Bangkok (Thailand), Hong Kong, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang (China), Everest and Pokhara (Nepal), Seoul (South Korea) and Tokyo (Japan).
Initially, 12-O Moviment Cívic called for a demonstration in the Sagrada Família square to circle around this monument, show their support for the "unity of Spain" and "break the pro-independence chain". However, the Ministry of the Interior of the Government of Catalonia ruled that this demonstration could not be at the same time of the human chain, both in time and in place, for security reasons. This, together with the limited support of the unionist political parties, led the organizers to call off the event and invited unionist Catholics to go to the Temple to pray and postponed an answer to the Catalan Way on 12 October, the Fiesta Nacional de España.
Fifteen far-right people holding pre-constitutional, Falange, National Alliance flags assaulted the official ceremony of the Catalan National Day in the Catalan Government Centre in Madrid. They attacked those present, including the MP Josep Sánchez i Llibre, caused damage to furniture and threw pepper spray, shouting "No nos engañan, Cataluña es España" ("They don't deceive us, Catalonia is Spain"). Medical services treated a person with mental breakdown, another for bruising, and a third for eye irritation. Among the wounded there were elderly people and a five year old girl.
The Catalan National Assembly claimed that the day after the Catalan Way the Catalan government should set the date and the question of self-determination referendum in Catalonia, that "should be able to answer with a yes or no". The Minister of the Presidency and spokesman of the Government of Catalonia Francesc Homs said the day after the Catalan way that "before the end of the year there should be a date and a question".
The Deputy Prime Minister of Spain, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, said the day after that the executive had an obligation "to listen to all Spaniards", both "the people coming out" and the "silent majority" that "stay at home", who also "entitled" to ensure "for their freedoms and their views". For its part, the Spain's Minister of Foreign Affairs José Manuel García-Margallo, admitted that the Catalan Way was a "success of call, organization, logistics and communication", although he said that Spain would never accept a referendum agreed with Catalonia.
European Commission spokesmen showed "great respect" for the Catalan Way and said they were "aware of its importance", although they recalled that the EU executive "can not interfere" in the internal affairs of member states.
Latvia's PM Valdis Dombrovskis said it would recognize Catalonia as independent state, if declared in a legitimate process. Mr. Dombrovskis said: "If there is a clear will of the people and need for a referendum, we need to take that into account and seek means to make it real" [...] "Provided there is legitimacy of the process, I would say, theoretically, why not?". Latvia, however, considers the question an internal matter of Spain and PM's press secretary latter said that PM had tried to remain neutral instead of showing support to the Catalan cause. Spanish government reacted asking to call the Latvian ambassador in Madrid to explain the prime minister's statements.
On 14 September Lithuania's PM Algirdas Butkevicius said about Catalonia: "Each country must find its own path and has the right to self-determination. [...] I welcome all peaceful ways of expressing solidarity and self-determination". He also said he was "very pleased" that the Lithuanian example "inspire" the Catalan independence clamor.
After the pressure of Spanish diplomacy, Lithuania's Foreign Ministry posted a statement expressing "concern over the tendentious and erroneous interpretation" by the Spanish press over the Lithuanian position. The statement said, "The Soviet occupation of the Baltic nations cannot be compared with the situation in Spain. Spain is the democratic country, a member of the European Union, our close partner in the EU and NATO." It said all domestic matters in Spain "should be resolved according to democratic and legal measures that exist within the country, respecting the Constitution.".
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Catalan Way.|
- Catalan Way official web site (Catalan) (English) (French) (Spanish)
- International Catalan Way (English)
- Promotional video (Catalan), English subtitles
- Video with the best images of the Catalan Way