Regional branches of the ANC (Catalan National Assembly) are finishing preparations for the "self-determination is not a crime" protest in Madrid on 16th March. The objective is to beat the total of 45,000 attendees right-wing parties attracted to the Spanish capital in opposition to dialogue with Catalonia. Currently, work appears to be on track to make it a success.
With eleven days to go, there are already hundreds of coaches ready, leaving from 50 different points around Catalonia, and a handful in Valencia. Some branches of the ANC have seen themselves overwhelmed by the numbers of people wanting to buy coach tickets and have had to significantly increase the numbers they had originally contracted. Specifically, there are some 300 already full, according to the newspaper Ara. Sabadell, for example, Catalonia's fifth largest city has already filled 12.
The numbers, then, are already beyond those of the large demonstration the independence movement held in Brussels in December 2017 after the imprisonment of pro-independence leaders and the suspension of Catalan autonomy.
Coach tickets are on sale from the different local ANC branches. Prices vary between towns (or between neighbourhoods in the case of Barcelona), depending on the company they have signed contracts with. In broad terms, they start at 30$ (£26; $34) and go up to 120$, which would include a night in a hotel afterwards.
ARA TOCA OMPLIR MADRID !! Vine el #16M amb BUS des d'#IGUALADA !!— IGD x Independència (@igdxindp) 5 de marzo de 2019
AVUI dimarts 5, continuem la VENDA TIQUETS:
dilluns 11, dimarts 5 i 12, de 19h a 21h.
Deixem clar que l'#AutodeterminacióNoEsDelicte #Makeamove pic.twitter.com/fdrq0xLtS3
Three trains full
As well as the coaches, however, there are all those making their own way to Madrid. Of the nine high-speed AVE trains scheduled for that day which will arrive in time, three are already full. When it comes to planes, there is much more choice. Some are also already very full, sending prices rising higher than normal.
There are also many expected to make the trip in their own vehicles. Many of those who went to the demonstration in Brussels organised their own transport. This number is expected to be even higher in the case of Madrid, which is about half the distance away (600km by road as opposed to 1300km; 400 miles to 800). Indeed, there are already a number of social media groups, as happened with the Brussels protest, to arrange car-sharing.
The demonstration will start at 6pm in the Atocha neighbourhood, near the AVE station, and will head to plaza de Cibeles, along paseo del Prado. At the end, speeches will be made in Cibeles square, a symbolic site within the city, with the city hall on one side. The march is being organised by ANC and Òmnium, with the support of the pro-independence parties and other civil society groups, like the one representing the families of the prisoners.