Rallies urges Spain and Catalonia to negotiate

Michele Moreno
October 9, 2017

Madrid's central Colon Square was transformed into a sea of Spanish flags as several thousand people joined a "patriotic" march organised by activists to defend the unity of Spain.

The weekend's goal: to demand that leaders on both sides of an increasingly intense conflict, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont, begin a dialog.

Jose Manuel Garcia, a 61-year-old economist at the protest, said: 'This is producing a social rupture in Catalonia and this has to be resolved through dialogue, never via unilateralism. "It's the moment to listen to the people who are asking for the problem to be solved through an agreement, and without precipitated and unilateral decisions". One answer is repeatedly voiced, louder and clearer than any other: "The politicians should do their damn job - for us".

In a separate rally in Madrid's Colon Square, thousands clamored for the unity of Spain and against any attempt by the northeastern region to break away.

Other demonstrations - including in the Catalan city Barcelona - have also been held urging political dialogue.

Rajoy's government mobilised thousands of national police to stop Sunday's vote, leading to clashes with would-be voters as they tried to close polling stations in schools and remove ballot boxes. Instead, hundreds of voters were left in need of medical attention.

Sunday's rally comes a week after separatist leaders of the Catalan government held a referendum on secession that Spain's top court had suspended and the Spanish government said was illegal.

On Monday, the European Commission backed the Spanish government's stance that the referendum was against the law and called the police crackdown an "internal matter" for Spain.

"Although the degree of force and violence used by the Spanish authorities against the demonstrators is shocking and unprecedented, other States accept and recognize a "remedial secession" only as ultima ratio in case of grave atrocities against the population by their own government (as it was argued, for example, in the secession of Kosovo 2008)".

"Spain will be Spain and will continue to be it for a long time", the prime minister added. "I think a couple of years ago there were more people who didn't want it (independence), but after all that has happened, I think there are more people who want it".

Santi Vila, Catalonia's regional chief for business, told Cadena SER Radio late Friday that he's pushing for "a new opportunity for dialogue" with Spanish authorities.

"We have to calculate very well what the reaction in Madrid will be when in the Parliament of Catalonia, independence will be declared", Mr Mas told the ABC. "Most Catalans want to remain within Spain if Catalonia's autonomous powers are expanded and if Spain truly transform itself into a pluralist system".

Valls questions the wish of Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to pull the region from the country, saying they would be leaving the European Union if they did so.

The most recent polls taken before the referendum showed that the region's 7.5 million residents were roughly split on the issue.

Other reports by Insurance News

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