Sunday, 15 July, 2018

Over 300000 march through Barcelona demanding release of Catalonia leaders

Pro-independence supporters attend a demonstration in Barcelona Spain Pro-independence supporters attend a demonstration in Barcelona Spain
Melinda Barton | 17 April, 2018, 11:44

Sunday's mass demonstration, which was called by the two main Catalan pro-independence groups and backed by the regional branches of Spain's two biggest unions, took place under the slogan "For rights and freedoms, for democracy and cohesion, we want you home!" Barcelona police said 315,000 people participated in the protest.

"But it is not a separatist protest".

Bank of Spain Governor Luis Maria Linde said on Monday that political tensions over a secession bid by the northern region of Catalonia could damage confidence in the Spanish economy.

The Catalan sections of CC.OO. and UGT defended their attendance to the mobilization, after considering that the serious dispute in the rich autonomous community of 7.5 million inhabitants must be resolved through dialogue and politics and not in the courts. Spanish and German prosecutors met last week at the headquarters of Eurojust in The Hague. Leaders from both groups were jailed following the referendum.

Pro-independence parties retained a slim majority in Catalonia's parliament after an election in December, but courts have blocked their attempts to elect as regional chief any lawmaker who is either behind bars or has fled the country.

"I took part in all the protests and I never saw an ounce of violence except for that by police when they repressed the referendum", said Juan Jose Cabrero, a 74-year-old pensioner at the protest.

Spain's central government imposed direct rule on Catalonia following its unilateral declaration of independence in October.

A massive march toured today the center of Barcelona demanding the release of nine imprisoned secessionist leaders, accused of rebellion by the Spanish justice system, and favoring a political solution to the conflict in Catalonia.