For the last three years the pro-independence organisations Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Culturala have organised a mas rally (Via Lliure) in Barcelona on September 11, Catalonia’s National Day.
This year (2015) the rally took place along Meridiana Avenue, which stretches from the ‘Parc de la Ciutadella’ where the Catalan Parliament stands, to outside the city. TheVia Lliure cap la República Catalana (‘Gateway to the Catalan Republic’) was 5.2 km-long.
The route was divided into 135 stretches, symbolising the Catalan Parliament. Following this, the president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Jordi Sánchez outlined the importance of being registered “not because we fear that the ‘Via Lliure’ won’t be full” but to inform the participants of their position and role during the demonstration.
While last year’s V-shape’s demonstrators dressed in red and yellow, symbolising the colours of the ‘Senyera’, the Catalan flag, this year’s predominant colour was white which symbolises a blank page, a book that citizens have to fill with their wishes for the next country that will be Catalonia.
Different coloured cards in the shape of arrow pointers were located all along the avenue, one for each of the ‘10 concepts’ that have formed the core of ‘Ara és l’hora’ (‘Now is the time’), the ANC and Òmnium Cultural’s summer campaign for the Catalan elections scheduled for the 27th of September. These 10 concepts represent key values that the new independent Catalonia must guarantee. The colours will be distributed as follows: yellow for democracy, blue for regional balance, red for solidarity, sky blue for openness to the world, green for diversity, dark green for sustainability, purple for equality, brown for welfare and social justice, pink for innovation, and orange for culture and education.
The ‘Gateway to the Catalan Republic’ will be divided into 135 stretches, the same number as the total number of representatives sitting in the Catalan Parliament.
The demonstration was officially started at 17:14. 1714 was the year when Barcelona finally succumbed to Bourbon troops, after 14 months of siege. The whole demonstration is supposed to last approximately an hour and a half, including the final speeches that are normally given by the president of the ANC, Jordi Sánchez, and that of Òmnium Cultural, Quim Torra, and other outstanding representatives of civil society. At 17:14, a giant arrow pointer symbolising the way to the Catalan Republic travelled along Meridiana Avenue, starting at Roselló Porcel Street, at the entrance of Barcelona, and going all the way up to ‘Parc de la Ciutadella’, where the Catalan parliament is located.
Anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciutadans (C’s) had stated that they would try “to put all the possible obstacles” to impede the rally from happening. Ciutadans’ councillor in Barcelona’s City Hall, Carina Mejías, said that the pro-independence rally is “partisan”, only “interests a few” and creates a “split” as it divides Catalan society. “I don’t know why Barcelona has to each year be the stage for partisan harangues. Such events do not fit into the party’s model for Barcelona, she said. National Day (on 12 October) and the Spanish Constitution’s Day (on 6 December) supporting Spain’s unity in Barcelona are adequate and have nothing to do with the division created by the pro-independence demonstrations.”
Thirty people from different countries were invited by Òmnium Cultural to witness the independence movement at Meridiana Avenue in Barcelona. Scottish writer, Irvine Welsh, French-American activist, Susan George, Germany’s foreign affairs advisor, Kai Olaf Lang, and professors such as Michael Keating, Michel Seymour, Bard Fassbender, David Farell and Rogers Brubaker are among those invited by the sovereignty association.