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One year after the independence referendum, the disarray of Catalan demonstrators

Supporters of secession criticize the government of Madrid, but also regional leaders, unable to have lived the very short-lived republic after the referendum of October 1, 2017.

Protestors gesture during a demonstration on the first anniversary of Catalonia’s banned October 1, 2017 independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain, October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Enrique Calvo

At noon on Monday, October 1, hundreds of people left their offices throughout Catalonia, to celebrate the first anniversary of the illegal referendum of October 1, 2017, marked by the muscular intervention of the national police. On Via Laietana, a busy street in central Barcelona, ​​there are about 50 people who block the road for ten minutes, despite the horns of exhausted motorists. “We are here to remind ourselves that a year ago we voted and we must respect the result or hold another vote with all the guarantees,” says Christopher Mash, director of publication for an agency dependent on the Catalan government. who holds up a ballot in front of the cars and trucks that are starting to mass in front of him.

The illegal referendum of 1 October, presented by separatists as a massive exercise of civil disobedience and resistance to the authority of Madrid, is now part of Catalan mythology. While no democratic guarantee allowed to validate this vote, realized without electoral commission, without official lists, without debate and without significant participation of the partisans of the no, since the poll was forbidden, it is considered by the separatists as the victory of “democracy” against a Spanish state presented as authoritarian.

“Act of collective dignity”

A year later, the president of the Catalan Parliament, Roger Torrent, calls it an “act of collective dignity”. And some cities, like Girona, have renamed public places in “place of October 1st”. Throughout Catalonia, many events commemorated the event on Monday. In the morning, roads and railways were cut by the most radical protesters, who also ripped the Spanish flag from the Girona prefecture or occupied the headquarters .

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