ANC expects turnout for Catalonia Day event to reach six digits
Paluzie says buses will leave from over 100 municipalities
BarcelonaThe Catalan National Assembly (ANC) has been claiming for days attendance numbers at the Catalonia Day demonstration it is organising alongside Òmnium is beating the expectations. In fact, this has already led to changes in the route of the protest. Instead of ending in Ciutadella Park, it will do so at Estació de França, to avoid crowds at the entrances to the park. Until now, the entity had not made any data public; today, ANC president Elisenda Paluzie said attendance is expected to reach six digits. That is, at least 100,000 people. This would be significantly higher than last year, when the ANC said 60,000 people took part in different events spread throughout the country. Nevertheless, it would be a far cry from the 600,000 people of 2019 or the one million of 2018, according to the Guardia Urbana. One of the indicators that allow them to be optimistic this year is that buses will leave from over 100 municipalities.
Paluzie has explained that the maximum capacity allowed in the Ciutadella was under five digits and, therefore, this has been the main reason for the change. Department of Home Affairs sources explained to ARA that the decision to end the demonstration inside the park had worried the Generalitat from the beginning. Even so, the park will remain open. This was first claimed by ANC and Òmnium and, after some hesitation, was confirmed by the Catalan government.
Be that as it may, this Thursday the organising entities have provided some more details on the protest: it will be a march that will leave Urquinaona and go to Estació de França. It is only this week that the government has allowed marches; until now, protesters had to stick to one location. Not everyone, however, will start the protest from Urquinaona, since depending on where they come from the demonstrators will concentrate in different sections. Thus, the first section will set off from Pau Claris and Mallorca and the last from Urquinaona. You can consult which is the starting point for the protest depending on each geographical area on this website.
The march will be 1.3 km long and in total there will be 535 volunteers and 27 ANC and Òmnium stalls. In addition, 15 people will be located in several lilac points, spaces of support and security for the prevention of harassment and sexual, sexist and LGBTI-phobic attacks. Although the organisers are seeking a massive response from the population and present the festival as an opportunity to bring back street protests, Paluzie has also insisted on respecting health measures. She has asked that protesters keep their masks on even if it is not mandatory on the street and keep a safe distance. In fact, Paluzie has pointed out that they have chosen to hold a moving protest precisely because they believe it makes it easier to keep distances. Other recommendations are to avoid personal contact with people who are not part of the same family bubble and to avoid crowds in narrow spaces. At the end of the demonstration, they also ask protesters follow organisers' instructions to ensure a staggered exit.
"The movement remains strong"
In spite of the fact that on Wednesday Paluzie affirmed that the independence movement is not in its "best" moment, the organisers believe Catalonia Day will show it is still "strong". These are Òmnium leader Marcel Mauri's words, who admits the demonstration will be "one of the most important held in Europe during the pandemic". The president of Towns for Independence (AMI), Jordi Gaseni, expressed himself in similar terms, saying that the organisations want to "continue with everything that has been left half done". And he called for unity of action, also among organisations: "When we have been together to carry out projects, we have made it big". Asked if the fall-out between Catalan and Spanish governments over the expansion of El Prat airport may mean more people attend the protest, Paluzie has responded that the independence movement has "so many reasons to mobilise" that in any case the airport is "one more".