Sunday, June 11, 2017

30,000 rally in Barcelona to say that Catalonia will decide our future, even though the Spanish state doesn’t want to

Pep Guardiola, manager of Manchester City FC, today issued a powerful call to arms for Catalonia’s independence referendum, urging the international community to support the Spanish region in defying “an authoritarian state” in Madrid.

The former captain and coach of Barcelona made the unusual public appeal two days after the Catalan president announced an independence vote for October 1, a move that the Spanish government insists is illegal.

Speaking to a crowd of 30,000 from the steps of Barcelona’s National Palace, Mr Guardiola said Madrid was “persecuting political debate” in “a threat that affects all democrats”.

“We Catalans are victims of a state that is carrying out political persecution unworthy of a democracy in 21st Century Europe”, the football star insisted. Reading a referendum manifesto in Catalan, Spanish and English, he declared: “We are here to say clearly that on October 1 we will decide our future, even though the Spanish state doesn’t want us to.”

The vote was announced by Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan president, on Friday after attempts to negotiate a way out of the secession crisis fell apart in recent weeks.


The government of Mariano Rajoy has consistently rejected all attempts to hold a referendum, insisting a vote would be unconstitutional and ordering the country’s Supreme Court to focus all its efforts on the issue.
Amid an increasingly vicious war of words, Madrid has accused the Catalan government of mounting a “coup” in the Spanish autonomous region. Mr Rajoy has compared its push for secession - even if unilateral - to that of “the worst dictatorships”, and warned a independent Catalonia would be immediately thrown out of the EU. The exchanges have escalated to veiled threats of confrontation: after the Spanish government last month vowed to stop a referendum “by any means”, Mr Puigdemont challenged it to explain if the state was “willing to use force.”
Spanish state interference is a deeply sensitive issue in Catalonia, where the legacy of General Francisco Franco and his brutal attempts to crush Catalan identity still loom large in the public memory.
On Sunday, to cheers from supporters waving Catalonia’s flag, Mr Guardiola accused Madrid of trying to destroy the Catalan movement by blocking infrastructure investment, bringing politically motivated prosecutions against its leaders and undermining the region’s school system.
“We appeal to all the democrats of Europe and the world to stand up to the abuses of an authoritarian state”, he said.

Video in English

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