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The same as every year, the Sant Esteve concert this Christmas at the Palau de la Música in Barcelona was an explosion of Catalan identity, and, as has happened often in recent editions, during the performance of El Cant de la Senyera, anthem of the Orfeó Català choir, and Els Segadors, anthem of Catalonia, both stalls and circle of the famous music palace were thick with pro-independence estelada flags. This year, on the stage, a banner with the name of protest platform Tsunami Democràtic was unfurled by several members of the choir.

All of this would, as in previous years, have been part of the news of the day and little more, were it not for the fact that Spanish unionism decided to criminalize and degrade the display of estelades by comparing the event with images of Berlin during the Third Reich. And this from the ranks of parties which, suspiciously, only complain when expressions such as those of the Palau de la Música are made, not when other types of flag are waved.

To say that the Sant Esteve concert belongs to everyone and so does the Palau de la Música is just too simplistic. It is a private institution and historically a space for Catalan sentiment with all its nuances, even if for years at the head of the institution there was a thief named Félix Millet. In the same way as the Feria de Abril - the Barcelona version of Seville's traditional Easter fair - welcomes people who come with their flags and have a whole range of celebrations. Both events are nothing more than acts of free expression.

But let's not fool ourselves: none of this comes for free. Not the attacks on the Catalan school system nor those on the TV3 public broadcasters, nor the false accusations of Catalan indoctrination, nor the repeated use of expressions such as "coup d'etat" to refer to the events of October 2017, nor the false narrative of the CDR terrorists... Nothing will change until Spain alters its viewpoint and stops criminalizing the independence movement. This strategy, which has also been followed by the PSOE, now facing complex parliamentary arithmetic, is not helping it to close an agreement on forming a new government which is already delayed but may arrive before the Three Kings do, on January 6th.

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