Catalonia: the independence movement shows its divisions at its annual demonstration

BARCELONA: On Sunday the Catalan independence movement exposed its divisions in broad daylight, during the traditional annual “Diada” meeting, characterized by criticism of the dialogue with Madrid led by the regional president, absent from the parade.

“The parties have betrayed us” or “Government: DUI (unilateral declaration of independence, ed) or resignation”, we could read some of the posters that this year shared the spotlight with the Estelada flags, symbols of the Catalan demand for independence.

“We have enough: Madrid, our politicians and everything else is enough,” said José Auladell, 65, retiree from Girona.

Disappointed by the lack of commitment it believes the Catalan parties in power are demonstrating, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), organizer of the demonstration, hoped it would give new impetus to the movement that the failure of the 2017 declaration of independence has permanently weakened. .

With 150,000 participants, according to the City Guard (700,000 according to organizers), the march certainly gathered more than last year (108,000 according to the City Guard), but far from the gatherings of over a million people at the height of the separatist escalation.

It is that the disagreements are now deep between those who do not give up the goal of achieving independence, even unilaterally, and the more pragmatic vision of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), party of the leader of the regional executive, Pere Aragonès.

“The President of the Generalitat [le gouvernement catalan, ndlr]who represents his party, is not in favor of independence, “regrets a protester, Francesc Jubany, 58, who wears a T-shirt with the march slogan” We are back to winning, independence! “

“The movement is divided, but because of the political forces,” he adds.

Feeling identified by the organizers, Pere Aragonès had decided not to go to a demonstration where, last year, he had been greeted with boos.

The ministers of the Catalan government who are ERC members were also not present on Sunday, unlike those of the other independence party of the regional coalition, Together for Catalonia (JxC, right).

Divisions at the antipodes of the independence cohesion born a decade ago and which had led to the peak of 2017.

Five years after this hectic autumn, during which the Catalan government declared a short-term independence condemned by Madrid, and which led to the imprisonment or flight of the main independence leaders, the context is very different.

The commitment of the ERC in dialogue with the Spanish government of the socialist Pedro Sanchez, which he also supports in the parliament of Madrid, remains firm, and also the revelation a few months ago that the Spanish intelligence services have spied in the past separatist elected officials has not shaken .

Pere Aragonès recalled his strategy on Saturday, during the traditional television message, on the eve of the “Diada”.

“It is important to emphasize that we are managing to bring the conflict back to the political level. We are managing to bring it back to a level that it should never have abandoned,” said the Catalan president.

“Catalonia will vote. They will do it sooner or later, depending on how strong we are, but they will,” he added.

However, the more radical separatist sectors seem to have run out of patience, saying they are disappointed by the elected officials who, according to them, do not keep their promises.

“The separatist parties have not met the expectations of the population”, deplores in the march, disillusioned, Neus Costa, 62: “the people are demoralized, because we fought a lot, for nothing”.

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