The 11th of September is celebrated as La Diada in Catalonia. The day commemorates the fall of Barcelona during the Spanish War of Succession, and is a day where people celebrate the culture and identity of Catalonia. This year, with the referendum less than a month away, massive protests (thought to have been up to 800,000 people) took place, with people coming from across the region to show their support for an independent nation. Walking around the streets, the scale of the manifestations was shocking. An important ideal of the present, was the idea that Catalonia, with strong culture and language, was home to a diverse group of people. The logo used for the protest, included the word “yes” in Catalan with the word appearing in other languages such as English, French, Urdu, Arabic, Polish, and others. People could be seen participating from many other regions and countries, brandishing Basque, Scottish, and many other flags associated with independentist regions. This was a fun time for many, with music playing across the streets, as people marched and chanted Catalan language songs.
1-O Independence Referendum
Saturday night, the eve of the referendum, news had spread that police were conducting raids on schools designated as voting locations. Having heard one of the locations was only three blocks from where I was, I decided to visit. The building used, was a primary to secondary school, the Institut Poeta Maragall. Entering, there was a small crowd gathered at the entrance. They planned to sit on the floor, and act as a barricade in case the police arrived. The organizers, that is to say, those who had taken up initiative to organize, were holding a meeting where people discussed what would be the plan of action in case the police were to conduct a raid.
I decided to stay the night with the protesters, tagging along with a group of University students who translated everything into Spanish for me.
The next Tuesday, a huge strike was planned in response to violence used by the Spanish National Guard. The use of the violence by the Guardia Civil, ordered by the Spanish government, has made many people who were impartial to the situation strongly critical of the Spanish government. I’ve heard and spoke to people who were against Independence, who now did not see themselves wanting to live in a country that employs such “fascist” methods of governance.