Thousands in Spain gather for rallies over Catalan independence

By Daniel Uria  |  Oct. 7, 2017 at 12:49 PM
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Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Thousands gathered in cities throughout Spain on Saturday to rally for a dialogue surrounding Catalonia's move toward independence.

Demonstrators dressed in white held rallies in Barcelona, Madrid and more than 40 other cities, carrying banners and flags that read "Hablamos?" or "Can we talk?"

The phrase also became the top-trending hashtag on social media in Spain, following police violence surrounding voting on a referendum for Catalonia's independence that left 761 people injured.

The rallies throughout the country urged political leaders to meet and negotiate the terms of Catalonia's possible secession after the Spanish Constitutional Court banned the Catalan parliament from meeting and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dismissed the referendum as unconstitutional. Catalan leaders have said more than 90 percent of poll-goers voted for secession, but turnout was limited to 42 percent of eligible voters, as police occupied many polling places.

Guillermo Fernandez, an organizer for the "Hablamos" initiative, said political leaders displayed a lack of willingness to communicate.

"We don't want them to infuse us with hate, we want peace and not hate, so if they don't sit down, we will keep coming back until they sit down," he said.

Following the court's cancellation, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has requested to appear in front of regional parliament on Tuesday and has reportedly been negotiating the text of a declaration of independence.

Rojay has insisted the independence proclamation be dropped as a condition for negotiations between the two sides.

Catalan government officials have rejected the idea of dropping the proclamation. The Popular Unity Candidacy party, or CUP, has called for a more upfront and immediate declaration of independence.

"This parliament has made a lot of declarations that afterwards have come to nothing," CUP Parliamentarian Eulalia Reguant said.

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