Catalonians set for second pro-independence event

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  By Anne-Marie O’Donnell
 
The Catalan National Assembly has released a ‘giga picture’ showing the mass mobilisation last year of more than 1.6 million people who held hands to make a chain from the north to the south of the country ahead of this year’s call to action.
 
On 5 April the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) will hold its second general convention in Tarragona and it is set to announce a fresh challenge for this year to take place on the anniversary of last year’s event on 11 September – just two months before the Catalan referendum on independence and one week before Scots go to the polls in our own referendum.

Ahead of the official announcement, the National Assembly has launched www.gigafoto.assemblea.cat, comprising 107,000 pictures, to allow users to view the 250 miles covered by the human chain at last year’s event, and a YouTube video has been created to promote it.  On the same day in 2012, 1.5 million people took to the streets to show their support for independence.

This year’s general convention will make some key decisions ahead of the referendum on 9 November.  The Association’s roadmap for the next year will be voted on by all members, while the management report of the National Secretariat will be approved during the event.

A statement from the ANC said:  “The ANC is prepared to start a momentous year, in which Catalans will vote and decide freely their political future.  Over the next months, the ANC will work towards the final goal of increasing the current pro-independence majority.”

Despite the Spanish government’s refusal to recognise the legitimacy of the referendum in Catalonia, 74 per cent of the Catalan population agree that the future of the region should be decided by a referendum, while polls show 60 per cent of the population are in favour of independence from Spain.

In his state of the union address in February, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the referendum was illegal, adding: “This referendum can’t take place.” However, Catalans have vowed to go through with the vote.

Parallels have been drawn between the Catalan vote on independence and the upcoming referendum in Scotland. In November last year, Mr Rajoy indicated that Spain would veto attempts by Scotland to join the European Union through a smooth transition, and made it clear he expects the UK to take a similar stance on such moves from the Catalan people.

However, a stream of experts have insisted that Scotland’s membership of the EU would likely be a simple process, and former Director General of the European Commission Jim Currie told the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee in February that an independent Scotland would have “the right” to be an EU member and noted that residents of Scotland are already EU citizens.

The ANC statement added: “The year 2014, during which the Scottish referendum will be held, also marks the commemoration of 300 years since Catalonia lost its freedom.”