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Three years ago, walking by the beautiful Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona, I met a humble and primitive graffiti on a building’s wall. Unknown street artist painted just three words: “Freedom for Catalonia”. For me who was astonished by Spain in his first visit to the country, the slogan for independence seemed rather strange.
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Sure, I respected then (and respect now) the dream of thousands or millions of Catalans to restore the autonomy’s independence. But in the same time I was (and am) sure that the hypothetic “state divorce” would be a great loss both for Spanish Kingdom and Catalonia. I know, this is not my business, but that kind of separation could look like irrational step when dozens of countries of the continent unite and wipe their borders off the map of Europe.
The last summer, being in Barcelona again, I didn’t see any pro-independence slogans in the Catalan capital. But heard a lot of grumblings that rich industrial Catalonia paid too much to the Spanish budget. In other words, they were fed up to feed poor regions of the kingdom. “Hombre, eso es la crisis”, explained my interlocutors.
Finally, this week the whispers of discontent turned into a loud 1.5 million demonstration in Barcelona under the slogan “Catalonia, a new European state”. On Tuesday my best loving city was packed with crowds which waved red and yellow striped Catalan flags.
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“A human sea flooded the city, as Catalans waved red-and-yellow striped Catalan flags and marched for the region’s national day, the Diada, many accusing Spain of dragging them into economic trouble,” reports AFP. “What do the crowds want? A new European state. What do the people want? An independent Catalonia,” they chanted, packing the northeastern region’s capital in the warm evening”.
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Reuters adds: “The central government said the crowd was 600,000 strong. Catalan police gave figures as high as 1.5 million. Marchers said the sheer size of the crowd – swollen with people from around the region who descended on its capital in bright sunshine – would at last make Madrid hear their message. “This is a blow for the government. People like me came from everywhere. I don’t think they were expecting something as big,” said 53-years-old Teresa Cabanes, who came from Santa Coloma de Gramanet, in the outskirts of Barcelona, to march.
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“We feel that the central government is fooling with us. We Catalans are giving away a lot of money to Spain.” They held up banners and signs saying “No to the Fourth Reich”, “No to Europe”, “Independence Now!” and “Catalonia: the New European State”…
The next summer I plan – as usually as well – to buy at TravelPapa.com a ticket to Barcelona and spend my vacations on the sunny beaches of Costa Dorada. Hope I won’t need to obtain a visa to a new state of Catalonia. And you?