Catalan pro-independence movement poured Barcelona with flocks of people claiming the establishment of a new, sovereign Catalan state in Europe. According to organizer Catalan National Assembly (ANC, Catalan acronym), some 2 million people showed their will for secession from Spain. Local police put the figure at 1.5 million. Linguistic, cultural, democratic and economic grievances were the main reasons for independence that people showed on their slogans.
The figures given turn this demonstration into the largest ever in Catalonia. Only two years ago, another impressive march rallied some one million people in Barcelona. The protest was then called against a ruling by the Spanish Constitutional Court that cut basic aspects of the new Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia that had been passed in 2006.
Dissatisfaction steadily growing
Opinion polls have been showing growing dissatisfaction of Catalans with Spain. Last June, a study by the Opinion Research Centre of the Catalan Government said that 51% of Catalans were for independence, 21% against and another 21% undecided.
In November 2010 election, Catalan centre-right Convergència i Unió (CiU) won a relative majority in the Catalan Parliament. Their main proposal was to negotiate a large degree of fiscal autonomy with the Spanish Government. Almost two years later, the first meeting between Catalan president Artur Mas and Spanish president Mariano Rajoy on the issue is set for September 20th.
The official discourse by Mas is that Spain should accept the Catalan proposal. If Madrid refuses to negotiate a substantial improvement of the Catalan fiscal system, then "the road to freedom will be open".
A few hours after the demonstration, Mas has again delivered a speech in which he has admitted that the popular message was "unambiguous" in the claim for an own state. Mas has said that Catalonia must now "build the structures that normal states have".
Organizer ANC calls for two votes on independence in two years' time
On the other hand, ANC is again pushing the Catalan government to achieve independence in two years' time. ANC released last year its own road map to independence, made up of three steps: a huge demonstration in 2012 (held yesterday), a popular consultation on independence organized by municipalities (2013) and a final referendum on independence to be organized by Catalan self-government institutions (2014). If Spain blocks the referendum, the ANC proposes a unilateral declaration of independence.
ANC is an organization of the Catalan civil society established in 2011. Since then, it has created a wide structure all along the Catalan territory, and at this moment it is leading the civic, non-partisan movement towards independence.