The president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Elisenda Paluzie, has called for "the immense mass of Catalans" to mark the Diada, Catalonia's national day on September 11th, by coming out on to the balconies of their apartments and homes at the symbolic time of 17:14 hours - that is, 5.14pm. Paluzie thus confirmed that the pro-independence organization wants to mark this year's Catalan holiday in a way that is radically different from the last eight Diades, characterized by huge festive rallies of a million or more people calling for independence from Spain.
As she told Josep Cuní on radio station Ser Catalunya, this year's main format - on balconies - is determined by the current pandemic, but there will also be organized rallies involving "from 200 to 300 people in many different towns". "We call on the vast majority of people to get out onto their balconies," she said. The time of 17:14 hours is derived from the year 1714, when military defeat by Spain's Bourbon king Felipe V led to the abolition of Catalonia's national institutions.
🪧 @epaluzie, presidenta @assemblea: "A la immensa majoria de la gent la convocarem a les 17:14h als balcons. Serà una de les accions que farem".— Aquí, amb Josep Cuní (@AquiCuni) August 31, 2020
▶️ L'entrevista: https://t.co/Rm0HPQrNSd pic.twitter.com/663yp1Lkdm
Paluzie: "We call on the vast majority of people to get out on their balconies at 17:14h. That will be one of the actions we carry out."— Aquí, amb Josep Cuní
As for the multiple demonstrations in public places that have already been announced for the Diada, Paluzie clarified that they will be organized by prior registration and with strict limiting on the number of people taking part: "We are not calling on millions of people to gather, just a very small proportion." Among these rallies, which have been classified as "non-multitudinous", will be the following: a gathering for 200 people in Salt, an assembly of 225 in Figueres, a protest of 200 at the Plaça Letamendi in Barcelona along with a dozen more, of similar scale, in the Catalan capital.
The limiting of numbers will be achieved by enabling a website for registrations, and on the day, volunteers will mark positions on the asphalt where people are to stand. Another option will be sitting in chairs. The ANC leader says that everything is being coordinated with Catalonia's Civil Protection agency and that she trusts "the responsibility of the people". The goal is to ensure that public health norms are respected but also that "the right to protest" is maintained, according to Paluzie.
📢 @epaluzie, presidenta @assemblea, es defensa dels qui demanen que se suspenguin els actes presencials de la Diada:— Aquí, amb Josep Cuní (@AquiCuni) August 31, 2020
"Obrirem un període d'inscripcions online. El missatge que donarem és que només vinguin els que s'hagin inscrit" pic.twitter.com/9tiFavZ2U7
"Elisenda Paluzie defends the ANC's plans against those who say that in-person events for the Diada should be suspended: 'We will open an online registration period. The message we will give is that only those who have registered can come'."— Aquí, amb Josep Cuní
The plans for the Diada have changed greatly in just a few weeks. The president of the Barcelona Medical Association, Jaume Padrós, directly appealed to Paluzie today for "reasons of public health" asking that "absolutely everything must be reconsidered, including rallies and agglomerations". And he added: "I wouldn't say it with such forcefulness, but what could have been proposed a month ago now has to be reviewed from a medical perspective."
🔴MANIFESTACIONS 11-S I "Fa 2 mesos potser no li diria amb aquesta contundència @epaluzie. El que servia a l'@assemblea per planificar això, ara obliga a revisar-ho tot. La situació actual no fa recomanable la concentració ni les aglomeracions" ha dit @jaumepadros [@COMBarcelona] pic.twitter.com/C677lsC3mW— Aquí, amb Josep Cuní (@AquiCuni) August 31, 2020
The ANC assures that it will adapt the 11th September format to what the Catalan government determines. In fact, in a parallel interview held at about the same time with public broadcaster TV3, president Quim Torra said that he trusted the criteria of the Catalan National Assembly and that the "changing and variable" situation caused by the resurgence of Covid-19 "is a conditioning factor for any demonstration."