Catalans ‘disappointed’ by another delay after ‘300 years’ of waiting for independence (VIDEO)
On Tuesday, Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont accepted “the mandate of the people for Catalonia to become an independent republic” and then promptly asked the Catalan parliament to “suspend the effects of the independence declaration to initiate dialogue [with Madrid] in the coming weeks.”
Following the announcement, many pro-independence activists who had assembled on the streets of Barcelona, expressed their bitter disappointment by the current course adopted by the local government.
Some blamed Puigdemont's inability to act for jeopardizing their dream. “He remained still; he didn’t take the step ahead as everybody wanted. We understand he appeals to dialogue, but Catalonia has spoken and we wanted independence,” pro-independence activist Carolina told RT’s Ruptly video agency.
As Catalans await the outcome of Wednesday’s emergency cabinet meeting that will be chaired by the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, they fear their dream to create an independent Catalan Republic may slip away as Rajoy has vowed to use everything in his power to prevent the secession of the region.
“He [Puigdemont] says he wants dialogue but Catalonia has asked Spanish Government like 17 times, and every time doors have been closed,” said Christina, who participated in a mass rally in Barcelona. “So I believed today he would finally declare [independence]. And I’m a bit disappointed.”
Over 2 million Catalans, about 40 percent of those eligible to vote, took to the polls on October 1, despite a heavy national police crackdown which left almost 900 people injured. All the same, hopes of establishing their own state still elude them.
“I’m very happy if we succeed. I want independence, I don’t want to know anything about Spain. All my ancestors wanted to, but we were forced to be Spanish. If I ever can say that my nationality is Catalan I’ll be very happy,” Maria Teresa, a pro-independence supporter said.
“We have confidence in our President, we have confidence in our people, and we won’t stop ourselves, we’ll keep going ahead, keep demonstrating and keep defending what we voted, that was a 'yes' to the Independence,” Carolina added.
Despite the disappointment, many other Catalans were happy to see Puigdemont officially voicing Catalan aspirations to become an independent nation.
“I’m very happy even though I missed the typical sentence of 'I proclaim the Independence of Catalonia'. But still, I’m very happy because it means soon what he said will be applied and it looks that at the end Catalonia will be independent after so much time. And it's about time, please. That’s what we need,” an activist named David has told Ruptly.
Others who gathered at the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona consoled themselves by saying the regional government is just trying to pave a way for a softer transition to self-government.
“I think it might be a way to try to find out the softest way to take this step. And also that the international community is intervening or trying to mediate in some way, it would be good news,” an activist said at the rally.
“We have been waiting for 300 years, I do not think that now we have three weeks to wait for something that it will help to do everything in a more civilized manner,” another local noted at the mass event.
Meanwhile, not all Catalans support the region’s independence bid.
“This independence will hurt both Spain and Catalonia. It took many years to make the country whole and to divide it just like that is absurd,” a local man told RT’s Anastasia Churkina in Barcelona ahead of the Catalan leader’s speech.
“If the state were intelligent it would negotiate a special agreement with Catalonia so that Catalonia remained inside Spain. But their mentality, ideology and Francoism prevents them from doing it,” another local man told RT.
Some think that negotiations with the Spanish government are necessary to “find a solution to make “Catalan people feel comfortable inside Spain.”
Just one week after the independence vote hundreds of thousands of people rallied in central Barcelona against any declaration of succession from Spain, waving banners that said “I am Spanish”, “Catalonia is Spain” and “Together we are stronger.”
Many Spanish citizens rallied to “save the unity” of the country, Spanish ambassador to Russia Ignacio Ibanez Rubio told in an RT interview.
“The general idea for all these protests [across Spain] is to save the unity of our country. There is a regime of broad autonomy in our country, much broader than in many other neighboring countries,” Ibanez told RT.
The ambassador also said that a legal referendum is possible under the constitution, but only the national parliament and the whole country can take such decision, not just a particular part of it.