Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Barcelona on October 8 in protest against the secession from Spain.
The march was organized by the Catalan Civil Society (Societat Civil Catalana), which is supported by political parties in Madrid and which called on people from all over the country to attend the march.
“Catalonia belongs to us all, and not just to the nationalists,” said Alex Ramos from the Catalan Civil Society.
The massive demonstration came as Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy threatened to take “drastic” measures to maintain the integrity of Spain, including using Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution which allows central government to take control of the governance of a region.
“The ideal situation would be that I don’t have to find drastic solutions, but for that to happen there will have to be some rectifications [by Catalan leaders],” Rajoy told El Pais newspapers.
Organisers claimed that around one million people had joined the march, a figure revised downward by Barcelona police to 350,000.
The Catalan independence referendum took place on October 1. 90% of the 2.26 million Catalans who voted chose yes. The turnout was 42.3%, which may signify the fact that those in favor of staying with Spain deemed the vote illegitimate and didn’t vote, as pre-referendum polls have shown a clear 60-40 majority of Catalans in favor of remaining part of Spain. Madrid used police violence in an attempt to prevent the vote. At least 893 people and 33 police were reported to have been hurt during the attempts to stop the vote by the police. Mariano Rajoy has denied the legitimacy of the referendum.
Catalonia’s two major banks, Sabadell and CaixaBank, have led an exodus of major companies from the region in recent days, increasing pressure on breakaway Catalan leaders to seek a negotiated settlement.