ELEVENTH OF SEPTEMBER
Politics 12/09/2021

Pro-independence movement pressures Catalan Government on the streets prior to dialogue table

Paluzie asks Aragonès to abandon the path of dialogue with the State and "make independence"

4 min
01. Aerial image of the demonstration. 02. Manifestants.

BarcelonaAt 16.05 two families with ANC t-shirts and with pro-independence flags tied around their necks walk down the Sardenya street in Barcelona. On Marina street there are already several groups with the corporate maroon. And in the metro they are converging to end up in Pau Claris, above Urquinaona square. The feeling is that there are many more people than expected, and this means that the danger of a spectacular disappointment has been averted. It is not like one of the historic Catalonia Days, but it is a very well attended demonstration, which, in the end stretch of the pandemic and with the independence movement divided and bewildered, is no small thing. "It was very important to come this year, so that people don't think we've cooled down", commented Francesca. The Guardia Urbana will speak at sunset of 108,000 demonstrators. The movement is still alive on the streets.

With the demonstration covered, the president of the ANC, Elisenda Paluzie, was able to launch her message of pressure to the Catalan Government a few days before the meeting of the dialogue table. And this message from the unilateralist pro-independence movement that the ANC represents today is precisely that dialogue with the State is useless. "We demand that the government stop looking to the state for concessions, because the state interprets this as a gesture of weakness and takes advantage of it to humiliate us and, if possible, to crush us!" Here Paluzie, paraphrasing Carme Forcadell, was meridian: "President, make independence!"

"It was important to be here so that they don't think we've cooled down."

Cuixart's encouragement

Undoubtedly, however, one of the protagonists of the day was the Òmnium president, Jordi Cuixart, who four years after being imprisoned stepped on the street for the first time in a Catalonia Day. In the same way that Paluzie represents the "annoyed independence movement", Cuixart is today the exponent of the "revolt of the smiles" slogan, obsessed as he is with raising the spirits of the people by radiating optimism and happiness. The president of Òmnium, with a passionate and emotive speech that was very applauded, was very careful when entering into the debate about the dialogue table, but he did call on the pro-independence parties to reach an agreement regarding a shared strategy. His speech was ecumenical, with references to immigration and burning issues such as the price of electricity. "The Spanish state has not won", he recalled, before concluding with his now classic "We will do it again!"

Despite the constant calls for unity from the organisers, the day did not prevent the fracture that now runs through the independence movement from becoming evident. The president of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, had been whistled the night before in the Fossar de les Moreres and had to hear shouts again in the demonstration, as did the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès. In the march there was even a large banner with the slogan "Enough traitors", which shows that the movement today has become more bitter and with groups more concerned with pointing out fellow travellers than with increasing the total number of pro-independence supporters. On the other hand, the references to president Puigdemont continued to be widely applauded.

The dialogue table card

Although it could have been foreseen that the atmosphere would be clearly hostile to their strategy, all the ERC messages of the vigil, with the speech of the president and that of Marta Vilalta yesterday, were in the line of asking the independence movement to join together to negotiate with more stregth before Sánchez's government. The republicans, then, play everything on the dialogue table that today still has neither date, nor composition, nor confirmed agenda, and this made things relatively easy for the spokesmen of Junts, who took the opportunity to emphasise their skepticism on the matter. In any case, Jordi Sànchez made it clear that they will be there.

The great questioned, Pedro Sánchez, also wanted to be present on Catalonia Day with a tweet in Catalan in which he wished for a day of "concord" (the Socialist leader's fetish word when he speaks of Catalonia) and stated: "Let us move towards what unites us, let us work for a positive Catalonia, which walks decisively towards a future of progress".

Tension in Via Laietana

One of the unknowns of the day was to see if there would be incidents as the demonstration passed in front of the National Police station on Via Laietana, the epicenter of the 2019 post-sentence protests. There were, indeed, throwing of objects and moments of tension, but in the end it did not get worse and the Mossos dispersed the demonstrators who had concentrated there.

Far away, then, are the 2019 images of a Barcelona in flames. Undoubtedly the tension has dropped, and the scenario is very different. There are no longer millions of people on the streets and the majority of the pro-independence movement, more explicitly in the case of ERC and less so in that of Junts (where there is a unilateralist core led by the president of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, and the former president Quim Torra), has opted for the path of dialogue with the State. This is not, however, what was in the air at the demonstration, where there were posters with the slogan "We demand independence", as if it were an easy thing and depended solely on the will of one person, be it Puigdemont, Aragonès or Junqueras. It remains to be seen, therefore, where the ANC's independence will lead.

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