A decade of protest

Ten years after a million people turned out on Barcelona’s streets to call for independence, the demonstration on September 11 will be a return to normality after two years of pandemic

Ten years ago on September 11 a million people took to the streets of Barcelona to demand the right for Catalans to decide their political destiny. A decade later the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) has once again called for a mass demonstration in Barcelona under the slogan “We’re back to win”. After editions of the protest affected by the pandemic and restrictions, the ANC is hoping to get the annual demo back on track.

The march that attracts tens of thousands of independence supporters every year has become customary since that day 10 years ago that set in motion a process that would lead to the holding of an unofficial referendum in 2017. This year, however, is marked by tension and division among the pro-independence parties and Catalan president Pere Aragonès has decided not to attend.

This year’s route has been described as “emblematic” by the organisers, as it follows Barcelona’s Avinguda Paral·lel, along Passeig de Colom to end at Avinguda Marquès de L’Argentera, in front of França station near the Catalan parliament.

feature Catalonia’s National Day

Looking ’forward’

There is not one official poster to advertise this year’s National Day, but three. They all have the same simple format: a yellow background and a message written in bright red, the colours of the Catalan national flag. The three different messages on the posters encourage people to proudly lay claim to aspects of their national identity as Catalans: “Speak clearly, the word is yours”, “Tread firmly, the place is yours” and “Breathe deeply, the air is yours”. All three phrases are taken from the poem ’Endavant’ (Forward) by Catalan writer Joana Raspall.

“Back to win”

Every year, there is a different t-shirt to wear for the pro-independence demonstration held in Barcelona on September 11, Catalonia’s National Day or Diada. For 2022, the Diada t-shirt is black for the first time, which the ANC organisers say is to mark this year out as different and which symbolises the opposite of surrender. With the pro-independence political parties divided, the ANC wants to put the impetus back into the hands of normal people. The t-shirt has the slogan “We’re back to win: independence”, as this will be the first demonstration without restrictions since the pandemic began.

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