Catalans march to stay in Spain

World | 13 Oct 2017

Thousands of Catalans who want their region to remain in Spain marked the country's national day yesterday, marching through Barcelona waving both Spanish and Catalan flags and shouting "I am Spanish," as the region's threats of independence have left the country in crisis.

In the capital Madrid, troops and police paraded in front of King Felipe VI, accompanied by national and regional politicians.

Thousands of people waving Spanish flags lined the sidewalk of Madrid's Paseo de la Castellana avenue for the military parade.

Spain is waiting for a response to a government request to Catalonia's leader to clarify by Monday if he has already declared independence. If so, Spain warns it may apply Article 155 of its constitution and begin taking full or part control of the region.

In Barcelona, Catalonia's capital, thousands of people waving Spanish and Catalan flags marched to a central square. The slogan of the march was "Catalonia yes. Spain, too," supporting autonomy for Catalonia, but within Spain.

Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont has announced he is using the claimed victory in the banned referendum to proceed with a declaration of Catalan independence, but proposed freezing its implementation for a few weeks to allow dialogue and mediation with the national government.

Regional leaders are invited to attend the Madrid parade but for many years officials from the Basque and Catalan regions, where independence sentiment runs high, have boycotted it. Several town halls in Catalonia ignored the national holiday and worked as normal.

About 2.3 million Catalans - or 43 percent of the region's electorate - voted in the independence referendum. Catalonia said 90 percent favored secession.

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