Sunday, 11 September 2016

Five cities, one heartbeat: This is how Catalonia’s National Day rallies took place


Barcelona (CNA).- Catalonia’s 2016 National Day was unique. For the first time ever the events to celebrate this commemoration were held in five different cities. Barcelona; Salt, next to Girona; Berga, in Central Catalonia; Lleida in the West; and Tarragona in the South were the scenarios of massive mobilisations and regardless of the distance between these points, at 17.14 (5.14pm CET) all the demonstrators beat at once to demand independence. According to the organisers, this year’s motto ‘We are ready’ aimed at symbolising two things: that Catalonia “is ready to achieve the republic” and that the citizens have already reached “the final stage” of the pro-independence process, explained the presidents of both the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, the two main civil organisations behind the massive pro-independence rallies.

The bells of la Seu Vella de Lleida, a romanic cathedral in western Catalonia, announced at 17.14pm (5.14pm CET), a symbolic hour evoking the date on which Catalonia was military defeated by Bourbon troops, the beginning of the demonstrations. Just after the tolling of the bells, the Catalan writer Maria Barbal read a manifesto and a melody set the tempo of the performance, first in Lleida, and then straightaway in Berga, then Salt, then Tarragona, and finally Barcelona.

Once the event started in Lleida all the demonstrators lifted their yellow cards, moving them to emulate a heartbeat. This pattern was repeated in the other four cities and finally the 44 stretches made the movement all at once to represent a united country.  

Each of the cities where the demonstrations were held symbolised one of the values of a new Catalan Republic, explained the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, the two main civil organisations behind the massive pro-independence demonstrations which have been held since 2012.  

Lleida represented the territorial balance, the landscape and agriculture; Salt, one of the cities with the highest number of immigrants, symbolised solidarity and diversity; Berga represented culture because it is the city where ‘La Patum’, a popular festival celebrated every year during Corpus Christi, takes place; Tarragona represented the need for networking, future and economic processes, linking it to its lack of investment and its historic deficit regarding infrastructure; and finally Barcelona symbolised freedom, the historic headquarters of sovereignty and the future capital city of the Catalan Republic. 

A million demonstrators filled Catalonia’s streets in a new historic rally

Up to 900,000 people took part in the five mobilisations for Catalonia’s independence organised by the ANC and Omnium Cultural. According to local police, in Barcelona 540,000 demonstrators filled the stretches between passeig Sant Joan and passeig Companys. In Salt, the second largest demonstration, 135,200 people took to the streets for the Catalan Republic; on the Rambla Nova of Tarragona 50,000 people marched, according to the police - 110,000 according to the organisers; while in Berga there were more than 60,000 demonstrators.

Finally, between 25,000 and 30,000 people gathered at the side of the river Segre to ask for Catalonia’s independence. The rallies in Salt, Lleida, Tarragona and Berga were the biggest demonstrations these cities have ever held. 

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  • Lleida

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  • Mani_Salt

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  • Aerial shot of demonstrators and a pro-independence flag in Berga, Central Catalonia (by ACN)
  • Hundreds of thousands attended the pro-independence rally in Lleida (by ACN)
  • Pro-independence flags in Tarragona, during the rally held on Catalonia's National Day
  • Aerial shot of the pro-independence mobilisation in Salt, next to Girona (by ACN)
  • Barcelona was the city with the highest participation on Catalonia's National Day pro-independence rallies (by ACN)