Madrid became kilometre zero of the pro-independence movement yesterday, and the “breakwater city of all Spains”, as Antonio Machado baptised it in 1936. For a day, it was an echo box for cries demanding the freedom of the political prisoners, denouncing the brand of justice being meted out by the Supreme Court, and supporting the right to self-determination.
It was a landmark moment, on December 7th, 2017, when the Catalan movement hit the streets of Brussels, taking the fight to the heart of Europe, but yesterday brought the Catalan cries for freedom straight to the heart of the Spanish state.
As ever, the claimed attendance numbers are at opposite ends of the spectrum, with organisers saying 120,000 people participated whilst the Spanish government argue only 18,000 turned out. In any case, they filled the Paseo del Prado between Atocha and Cibeles, with estelades, catalan flags, republican banners, and even andalusian banners from the Andalusian Workers Syndicate, proclaiming “Self-Determination is not a crime, it is a right. Democracy is deciding”.
Catalan president Quim Torra riffed on the “Escolta Espanya” (Listen, Spain) verse from Joan Maragall’s Ode to Spain, saying, “Listen Spain, to this demand for freedom; Listen Spain, there is no abuse of freedom is too small to fight, and no journey is too long, to fight for the right to self-determination. Listen, Spain, and take a moment to democratise yourself, and call on justice and truth. We will continue defending our rights and liberties, our human rights, our social rights, and the right to self-determination.