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Catalan Independence Movement is About 'Common Sense, Not Nationalism'

© AP Photo / Alvaro BarrientosPro independence supporters wave "estelada" or pro independence flags during a rally in support for the secession of the Catalonia region from Spain, in Vitoria, northern Spain, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017
Pro independence supporters wave estelada or pro independence flags during a rally in support for the secession of the Catalonia region from Spain, in Vitoria, northern Spain, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 - Sputnik International
Hundreds of thousands of people rallied across Catalonia on Monday to celebrate the Spanish region’s National Day, the Diada. This comes amid the autonomous community’s adamant decision to hold a new independence referendum on October 1, despite strong opposition from the central government.

Sputnik Mundo talked with some of the estimated 400,000 people who took part in the celebrations, which this year turned into a massive rally for independence.

“The movement for independence has always been there but previously it was more nationalistic while now it brings together all those who live here, not only indigenous Catalans,” architect Oriel Amat said.

He added that the Catalans’ desire to secede from the rest of the country is more about common sense than “race or flag.”

A Catalan flag hangs on a balcony in Barcelona, Spain, September 7, 2017 - Sputnik International
Thirst for Independence: Spain May 'Use Repressive Measures' Against Catalonia
“It is about our wish to raise our children and elect a government, which has nothing to do with the corrupt one in Madrid,” Amat continued.

Interior designer Neus Molina described Catalonia as an economic powerhouse, one the country’s entire system of social benefits and infrastructure depends on.

“This is a very affluent region, which accounts for a hefty 20 percent of the country’s GDP,” she emphasized.

She described the authorities’ attempts to use pressure against  the managers of newspapers and printshops that publish ballot papers as a violation of the people’s fundamental right to freely express their opinion in a referendum and that the repressive methods used by the Spanish government were in stark contrast to Britain’s handling of a similar situation.

“The British government facilitated the whole process and, as a result, the majority of people in Scotland voted to stay in the United Kingdom. This is what democracy is all about, this is what the Catalan people want,” Molina emphasized.

Oriel Amat joined in saying that even a negative outcome in next month’s plebiscite would still let everyone know what people really think.

“However, Madrid simply refuses to talk to us. There are people who are ready to talk, but not in the government,” he complained.

According to recent polls, anywhere from 70 to 80 percent of the autonomous community’s residents support the referendum and believe that Madrid should allow the vote to happen.

National Day of Catalonia celebrated in Barcelona - Sputnik International
Catalonia Parliament Approves Law on Transition to Independence
On September 6, Catalonia's parliament voted in favor of a law on transition to independence that regulates the region's exit from Spain, the parliamentary speaker said. The legislation was backed by 71 lawmakers, with ten votes against and no abstentions.

Catalonia has been seeking independence from Spain for years. On November 9, 2014, about 80 percent of the Catalans who took part in a non-binding referendum on the region's status as part of Spain voted in favor of Catalonia becoming an independent state.

The vote was, however, ruled unconstitutional by the authorities in Madrid.

On June 9, the president of the autonomous region, Carles Puigdemont, said that Catalonia would hold a unilateral referendum on independence on October 1, 2017, prompting criticism from Madrid.

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