A succesful mobilization. The supporters of Catalan independence took to the streets again this Thursday morning, and they exceeded all attendance expectations. The Franco-Spanish summit that brought together the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron, at the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) was the necessary incentive to attract a crowd to the steps of Barcelona's Montjuïc mountain, just below the Catalan symbolism of Puig i Cadafalch's Four Columns. The organizers admitted a few days ago that they would be satisfied if they managed to attract 5,000 people, taking into account that the fact that it was a working day which did not help the prospects. But they themselves estimated a total of 30,000 attendees this morning. The figure from the Barcelona police was more conservative, at 6,500 - but even so, it also exceeded the movement's forecast.
Whatever the exact number, it was visibly clear that from the early hours of the morning this corner of Barcelona brought together a wide representation of the independence movement. From 8am, the first attendees began to arrive at the foot of the Venetian Towers, facing icy temperatures made worse by a strong wind. Wrapped in scarves and gloves, little by little the crowd swelled, as delegations from the CDRs, the ANC and the many other organizations that supported the protest arrived. Before 9am they were already heading up Avinguda Maria Cristina in the direction of the site of the rally. The esplanade of Barcelona's Magic Fountain filled up until it was overflowing, and a large part of the public had to settle with positions further away.
But the noise they made was equally well-heard. For more than two hours, whistling (many whistles were distributed by the organizers themselves) and chanting ("Neither France nor Spain, Catalan Lands" and "Independencia") dominated the gathering. Also dozens and dozens of estelada flags, as well as banners whose messages were mainly aimed at the Spanish and French states. The noise was relentless, and the decibel level shot up at certain times according to the instructions of the organizers, who were reporting through the PA system. "Now they tell us that Sánchez and Macron are being received. Whistle very loudly!". And the public responded with energy. From the point of the protest it was not possible to observe the movements of the representatives nor was it known whether the noise had any effect, but there is no doubt of the sentiment expressed: absolute disapproval of the event.
The independence process is not over
With the massive mobilization, the Catalan independence movement wanted to show Pedro Sánchez and the whole world that the process is not over. Despite the Spanish government's attempts to claim that "dialogue has happened" and the conflict has been diffused by what it calls "re-encounter", the protesters wanted to leave it clear that there will be no truce until independence is achieved. At 11:30am, the esplanade emptied of pro-independence supporters, but the day of protest had not ended: the Committees for Defence of the Republic groups had called a march to the French consulate near Plaça Catalunya, and hundreds of people joined in.
Before that, however, there was still time for addresses by the pro-independence groups who called the march and words from the political parties. And also the reading of the rally's manifesto, which gave a clear message: "There is no normality in the Catalan countries, but rather an unresolved political conflict". The various speakers stated that "Catalan society, historically, has demonstrated its collective strength" and they took pride in the fact that it will continue to be so "as often as necessary". "The only democratic normality in the Catalan-speaking countries is transversal and continuous mobilization", they emphasized. However, there were also some barbs for the parties, with praise for the strength of the people against "politicians who want to award themselves a medal". And in fact, although for a large part of the day the public's eyes were turned towards the MNAC and it was possible to discern a sense of the independence movement-s longed-for unity, there was also room for criticism: a group of demonstrators whistled and jeered at ERC party president Oriol Junqueras, who attended the demonstration with a delegation while another ERC representative, Catalan president Pere Aragonès, accompanied Sánchez and Macron to the summit.