Protest «Volem acollir»

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"Volem acollir"
Manifestacio barcelona volem acollir.jpg
Protest 18-F 2017
Native name Volem acollir
English nameWe want to welcome you
DateFebruary 17, 2017 (2017-02-17)
Causewelcoming refugees

The protest «We want to welcome you» («Volem acollir») was celebrated the 18th of February 2017 in Barcelona. According to the Guàrdia Urbana (the Urban city police) 160.000 people assisted the march, and according to the organizers, the number of people who attended it was around 500.000.[1] It was convoked by the entity Casa nostra, casa vostra (Our home, your home) in order to ask the institutions and administrations for a more active role in terms of refugees and migrants in Europe. The intention of the entity was for it to be the most multitudinary protest in Europe and they achieved the goal. [2] The same day of the protest, 70.000 people and 900 entities were added to the Casa nostra, casa vostra manifest.[3]


Days before the protest, a concert was held in the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, with more than 50 artists and 15.000 attended it with the same objective. [4] During the concert, Jordi Évole criticized the government's inactivity, and he got replied by Lluís Llach, a former deputy of the Catalan Parliament, who told him that the government had explored all the possible ways to receive and welcome refugees. [5] Days before that a hundred of Catalan mayors had made a call for people to attend the protest.[6]

The same day, an article published by the coordinator of the organizer entity, Ruben Wagensberg; the president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, and the founder of Proactiva Open Arms, Òscar Camps, criticized that "At the end of 2016, the spanish State had only received 898 refugees, when it had agreed to welcome more than 17.000", and it stipulated that it was everyone's responsibility; that anyone could do more, encouraging people to attend the march in order for it to be a "historical referent for ourselves, and also to develop similar movements all around Europe".[7]


The protest of 18-F.

The march started at 4 pm in the Plaça Urquinaona. The route consisted on passing through Via Laietana and the  Parc de la Barceloneta to get to the Passeig Marítim, but the affluence of people provoked that, when people arrived at the end of the way, there were still people trying to move along in the plaça Urquinaona.[8]

The mobilization had three headers. The first one with the motto "Stop excuses. We welcome now!"  ("Prou excuses. Acollim ara!") was formed by refugees, immigrants and voluntary people. The second one followed the motto "No more deaths. Open the borders!" ("No més morts. Obrim fronteres!"), with the entities that worked in helping the refugees. The third one was composed by entities of the civil society and its motto was "Catalonia, land of reception" ("Catalunya, terra d'acollida").[9]

The president of the Catalan Parliament, six government counsellors, the Barcelona's mayoress and numerous deputies of the Congress and the Catalan Parliament assisted the protest. [10] Representatives of all the Catalan formations gave support to the initiative (with the exception of the Partit Popular), as well as social entities, trade unions, ONGs and the Barcelona's archbishopric. At the end of the act, the president of the Generalitat received the organizers at the Palau de la Generalitat. 

In the last speeches, the reception policies of the states were criticized and they demanded changes. Ruben Wagensbert, the spokesman of the organizing entity, demanded in the closing act that they should stop spending public money in fences and that the European Union should sanction Spain for breaching the reception compromises. He also claimed for a common front of administrations and entities so as to face the wave of fascism in Europe. The Bosnian refugee Dara Ljubojevic and the Syrian Meere M. Zaroor also spoke in the stage. In the evening, la Fura dels Baus and Proactiva Open Arms made a representation of a rescue.[11][12]

After the march, the president of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, received the organizers, Ruben Wagensberg and Lara Costafreda, who proposed to make a social pact against racism and xenophobia.[13] The same day Puigdemont had sent a letter to the European Immigration, Interior and Citizenship commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, to show Catalonia's availability to receive refugees and explain that there were many entities that were preparing to welcome up to 4.500 refugees.The same day, the vicepresident of the Spanish government, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, criticized that Catalonia was willing to take the initiative: "an autonomos community wants to be the solution to the problem, and it can not be like that".[14]

There were replicas of the concentration. Mallorca added to the campaign with a march convoked by the Moviment Escolta i Guiatge de Mallorca, where thousands of people participated in going from the Plaça Major to the Passeig del Born, where a manifest was read. Dozens of people of the Alta Ribagorça got together in front of the Romanesque church Sant Climent de Taüll to show support to the campaign.