Friday, 11 September 2015

Freedom Road

A brief update on the situation here in Catalonia, on 11 September, Catalan National Day.

Today I will be with at least 500,000 other people on the Via Lliure - a mass civic protest that will occupy 5km of Barcelona's arterial Merdiana avenue. Everyone will be carrying a coloured card arrow and, at 17:14 we'll turn the Meridiana into a sea of colours.

Some quick explanatory notes:

Why fourteen minutes past five? 

Because 1714, or 17:14, was the year in which Barcelona was defeated after a long siege, the Spanish War of Succession ended, and represents the end of Catalunya as a state. 

What does Via Lliure mean? 

The official title of the event is "Via Lliure a la República Catalana" which is translated directly as "Free Route to a Catalan Republic." But the "via" and "lliure" have double meanings - "Via Lliure" can also be translated as "having the right to a way" or "right of way" or "open road", so it is a clever slogan, implying that Catalans have the right to an open road toward independence.

What are all the colours?

Each colour represents an element in the construction of an independent Catalun state.
Yellow: democracy
Blue: land and territory
Red: solidarity/cooperation
Light Blue: global cooperation
Green: diversity
Dark green: sustainability/environment
Purple: equality
Brown: justice
Pink: innovation
Orange: culture and education


Is there a vote?

Yes, there are elections in Catalunya on 27th September. The Catalans were refused the right to a referendum, so cleverly have used the regional parliamentary election as a plebiscite, grouping two pro-independence parties under one banner (Junts Pel Si / Together for Yes). One other party, the CUP, is also pro-independence.

Who will win?

The opinion polls, just as before the Scottish Referendum, are indicating a very, very close vote. The latest appears to show a slim majority for Yes.

And if Together for Yes win?

Junts Pel Si has a manifesto pledge to move through a clearly defined 18 month process to an eventual Unilateral Declaration of Independence for Catalonia.

Project Fear, Catalan version

The tactics used by Westminster to frighten the Scots have been copied and built upon by the government in Madrid. Probably for the same reasons; their private polling is showing a majority for Yes, or at least a close draw. Just as in Scotland, the government has had other leaders, including the unpleasantly cynical David Cameron, tell the Catalans that they will be forced out of the EU (this, from Mr Cameron, was dismissed here instantly as an untruth.) Pensioners, as in Scotland, have been told that they will lose their pension. Politicians - like poor tragic Magrit Curran - have told us that their relatives down the road in Tarragona will be "foreigners." To add the the sense of fear, the Minister of Defence has said that so long as "everyone does their duty" he will not bring in the army. This is in the context that the Madrid Government is trying to demonstrate that declaring independence would be breaking the law. In other words, 'declare independence and we will bring in the army.' Project Fear on steroids.


To follow the action, check #ViaLliure11S


  1. Fairly clear, mister Chris. Thank you

  2. Very, very helpful. Thanks soo much! Have a nice Diada!!! From England.