A human tide filled the main arteries of Barcelona on Thursday, Catalonia Day, to demand the right to vote in the November 9 referendum on self-rule.
Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the Catalan capital from other parts of the region to take part in the march. Many of them arrived on the more than 1,500 buses chartered by organizers for the occasion.
Eleven kilometers of the city’s Gran Vía and Diagonal avenues became packed with pro-choice demonstrators who were called to the streets by the separatist organizations Asamblea Nacional Catalana and Òmnium Cultural, with support from sympathetic unions and political parties.
Viewed from the sky, the demonstration created a large “V” that organizers said stand for “voluntad de votar” (the will to vote) as well as “victory.”
Marchers were joined by nearly the entire Catalan government, as well as representatives from Convergencia I iUniò, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (which is calling for civil disobedience if the referendum is declared illegal by the Constitutional Court), Iniciativa per Catalunya-Verds and others. A few members of the Catalan Socialist Party were also present, although the party does not officially endorse independence.
Cries of “independence” were heard repeatedly while thousands of marchers wearing red and yellow shirts formed a mosaic representing the Catalan flag.
Carme Forcadell, president of the Asamblea Nacional Catalana, one of the event organizers, said that this will be “the largest demonstration in the history of Catalonia and Europe.”