100s of Catalans rally in support of Catalonia’s secession from Spain
Story Code : 596054
The participants carried both red and blue versions of the La Estelada Catalan flag and carried banners reading "The Catalan Countries" and "One village, one fight, one future" as they marched behind musicians in a peaceful protest rally on Friday.
The protest came after Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy ruled out the possibility of any referendum on the secession of the northeastern region of Catalonia from the European country earlier on Friday.
"It is not possible to hold a referendum that will do away with national sovereignty and the equality of Spaniards," Rajoy said at a year-end press conference in Madrid.
Catalan lawmakers in Barcelona began a process for pursuing secession from Spain back in November with the aim of gaining political independence by 2017, despite strong opposition from Madrid.
During a vote in the Catalan parliament at the time, 72 legislators voted in favor of a resolution for parting from Spain, while 63 lawmakers voted against.
The Spanish premier, however, urged local leaders during his address to abandon attempts to hold a vote next year. "I ask that no more steps are taken in the opposite direction."
This is while Catalonia's president also reiterated on Friday that there would be a "legal and binding referendum" for independence from Spain next year despite opposition from the central government.
In an end-of-year televised address, Carles Puigdemont said the next year would be "crucial" for the northeastern region, adding, "We Catalans will freely decide our own future through a legal and binding referendum."
The resource-rich and wealthy region of Catalonia has been the scene of growing separatist sentiments in recent years. Pro-independence people complain that the region pays more taxes than it should to Madrid.