Catalonians are a stubborn kind. It was written back in 1938 by George Orwell in his famous book ‘Homage to Catalonia’ Faced with an overwhelming force, they stood steadfast, Orwell explained, until only a bombing could drag them out of their houses.
Spanish politicians keen on stopping the planned referendum of next week better read their classics. They are throwing whatever they can at the Catalonians to make them change their mind, but so far nothing is working.
Last week Spanish police arrested their major politicians and confiscated the ballot papers (all 5 million of them) for their planned 1 October independence referendum. Yesterday Madrid announced it was sending 5,000 extra police officers to the region to take over the tasks of local Barcelona police. Today they arrived by cruise ship.
It doesn’t make any difference to the locals in Barcelona. Today they came out again by the thousands to protest. All draped in the flag of Catalonia and shouting "We vote to be free".
The Spanish Finance Minister yesterday made a last ditch appeal to the Catalonian authority: get rid of the planned referendum and we will start talking about further autonomy of the region. The answer from Catalonia was brief. No.
A police helicopter flew over the protesters today equipped with cameras so they could see who were these ‘troublemakers’. The crowds just whistled and booed.
Nuria Gimenez, an interior designer said: “We feel occupied by the Spanish police. We’ve been protesting for 10 years, we’re not going to stop now with one week to go. We need to keep going until the end.”
The President of the Catalonian Parliament Carme Forcadell, addressed the crowd today: “They see violence in Catalonia. There has been none, nor will there be. We are a peaceful people and all we want is to exercise our rights.”
Polls suggest the vote can go either way at this point, but for the inhabitants of Spain’s richest region who were out on the squares today this is about more than that, they just want the chance to decide their own future.