A year by year guide to Catalonia's independence rallies
Every September 11 since 2012, Catalans have been taking to the streets demanding self-determination
2012: where it all began
In 2012, the pro-independence Catalan National Assembly (ANC) called the first September 11 demonstration. The motto of the rally was clear-cut in favour of Catalan independence: “Catalonia, new European state.”
A massive crowd attended the event, but figuring out the exact number of protesters proved controversial: according to organizers, it was 2 million; the Catalan government and local police said there were 1.5 million people; yet, according to the Spanish government delegation in Catalonia there were 600,000 protesters.
Shortly after the rally, former Catalan president, Artur Mas, travelled to Madrid to meet his Spanish counterpart, Mariano Rajoy, demanding a better fiscal deal for Catalonia. Rajoy said no. Mas, the leader of CiU, the moderate party which ruled Catalonia for most of the time since democracy, started advocating for Catalonia’s right to self-determination. From then on, independence has been at the centre of political debate in Catalonia.
2013: a 400 km human chain
ANC and Òmnium Cultural joined forces to organize a logistically-challenging rally inspired by the 1989 Baltic Way, in which people joined hands across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to protest against the USSR. Catalans formed a 400 km human chain that connected the Northern and Southern borders of the country.
2014: the largest rally to date
Two months before the non-binding November 9 vote on independence, a ballot box became the epicenter of the largest demonstration to date. According to the police, 1.8 million protesters attended the rally. People wore yellow and red t-shirts and aligned themselves in two of Barcelona’s major streets, Gran Via and Diagonal, forming a giant V with the colours of the Catalan flag. At 5:14 pm (17:14, symbolizing the year when Catalonia was defeated by Spain in the Succession war thus losing its political independence), a girl put a vote inside the ballot box.
2015: the values of the Catalan republic
This time, protesters carried pointed banners. There were ten different sections, each with a different colour that was, according to organizers, aimed to represent a different value of the future Catalan republic. For instance: social justice, solidarity, culture, democracy and sustainability.
2016: it’s not only Barcelona
In a decentralized demonstration, protesters travelled to five different cities across Catalonia: Berga, Barcelona, Lleida, Salt and Tarragona. Again, each city was supposed to represent a different dimension of Catalonia.