Tens of thousands of people protesting in Barcelona backs Catalan pro-independence figures

November 13, 2016 9:30 pm
Tens of thousands of people have held a demonstration in Catalonia, ’s northeastern autonomous community, to protest a number of legal challenges Madrid has made against some pro-independence Catalan politicians and lawmakers.
About 80,000 people took to the streets of , Catalonia’s capital, on Sunday in support of top pro-independence figures, particularly Artur Mas, the former president of Catalonia’s regional government, and the head of its parliament, Carme Forcadell, who face charges of having roles in holding a symbolic independence referendum two years ago.
Mas is now to stand trial on charges of “serious disobedience” and “malfeasance,” for which he might be banned from holding office for the next ten years.
In November 2014, Catalonia held the symbolic referendum after Spain’s Constitutional Court blocked a bid to hold an official poll. Nearly 90 percent of the 2.2 million people who took part in the vote backed independence, though the turnout was slightly more than 40 percent, meaning that more than three million eligible voters did not go to the polling stations.
The mock referendum also showed that Catalonia’s 7.5 million residents were already equally divided on breaking century-old relations with the rest of the country.
“If you attack our democratically elected representatives, you attack our institutions, all our people and our sovereignty, and we will never allow that,” said Jordi Cuixart, the president of Omnium, a separatist grassroots group, adding, “Our cause is democracy and we will never let our elected representatives down.”
The wealthy region has been the scene of growing separatist sentiments in recent years. Pro-independence people complain that their region pays more taxes than it should be to Madrid.
Catalonia’s current regional President Carles Puigdemont has said he would call an independence referendum in September next year despite objections from the central government.
“These are situations that can only be solved politically,” he said at a separate rally in his home village on Sunday.
The resource-rich region has its own separate language and its independence bid has been met with the Spanish government’s resistance.
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