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In Barcelona, ​​hundreds of thousands of Catalans claim independence

Ⓒ AFP – PAU BARRENA – | Tens of thousands of Catalan separatists, Catalan
President of the Carles Puigdemont (c) in the lead, demonstrate
on October 21, 2017 in Barcelona

Hundreds of thousands of Catalan separatists, including
separatist leader Carles Puigdemont, stormed central Barcelona
on Saturday to demand independence after the central government
demanded the dismissal of the Catalan executive.

“It’s time to declare independence,” said Jordi Balta, 28, a
stationery worker, saying it was no longer time for
dialogue.

The demonstration, which gathered 450,000 people according
to the local police, was originally planned to demand the
release of two separatist leaders, Jordi Cuixart, of Omnium
Cultural, and Jordi Sánchez, of the Catalan National Assembly
(ANC), imprisoned for sedition, but it took a different turn
after the Madrid announcements.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called on the Senate to
remove the independence executive so that it can hold regional
elections within six months.

Carles Puigdemont came under the cheers of “President!
President!”, With other members of the Catalan government at
his side, also threatened with dismissal.

Ⓒ AFP – PAU BARRENA – | Protesters waving “esteladas”, the red and yellow flag
with a white star on a blue background of Catalan separatists, on
October 21, 2017 in Barcelona

“We feel Catalan, the Spanish feeling is gone, the Catalan
people are completely disconnected from the Spanish
institutions, and especially from the Spanish state,” said
Ramon Millol, a 45-year-old mechanic.

“I am totally indignant and extremely sad, because I feel
that they trample on our rights and our ideas, as Catalans,”
said Meritxell Agut, 22, a bank employee.

“They can destroy the government, they can destroy anything
they want, we will continue to fight,” says Meritxell.

– “Attack on Rights” –

Ⓒ AFP – LLUIS GENE – | Protesters waving “esteladas”, the red and yellow flag
with a white star on a blue background of Catalan separatists, on
October 21, 2017 in Barcelona

Catalan society is deeply divided on the question of
independence but the intervention of the Spanish government in
the Catalan administration could turn against it.

“Rajoy has deposed the autonomous government of Catalonia
for which so many people had fought, a serious attack on rights
and freedoms” tweeted Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona.

The crowd, dense and static, spilled over several streets in
the city center and was twice as large as Tuesday, when 200,000
people had broken the pavement to protest the arrests of the
two separatist leaders.

Above the procession floated many “esteladas”, the red and
yellow flag with a white star on a blue background of the
separatists.

Every helicopter of the national police who flew over the
procession was whistled by the crowd that was giving them the
fingers of honor.

“Let them go,” exclaimed Jordi Baltá.

The head of the Spanish government on Saturday demanded the
dismissal of the Catalan executive of Carles Puigdemont and the
convening of regional elections within six months, in order to
regain control of Catalonia, on the verge of secession.

Relying on Article 155 of the Constitution, which has never
been used before, Mariano Rajoy has also asked the Senate to
give him the power to dissolve the Catalan Parliament in order
to “call elections within a maximum period of six months”.

Puigdemont was to make an official statement at 21H00 local
(19H00 GMT). He had threatened to convene the regional
parliament to proclaim independence if the government triggered
Article 155.

“The application of Article 155 is excessive,” said José
Rodríguez, a 41-year-old official.

“The people have the right and the
law,” said Joan Cañalas Rios, a 56-year-old metalworker. “We
want more democracy, more dialogue,” he said, rejecting early
regional elections, calling Cuixart and Sánchez “political
prisoners”.

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