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Thousands of protesters on the streets of Barcelona

Hundreds of thousands of Catalans are expected to gather on the streets of Barcelona on Tuesday for the first day of historic commemoration, the first since the declaration of independence of the region that plunged Spain into a political crisis last year.

The supporters of independence have been using the national holiday of Catalonia on September 11 (the “Diada”) for a few years to promote their cause.

This holiday marks for the Catalans on the anniversary day when their regional capital fell to the Spanish troops in 1714.

The President of the Generalitat, Quim Torra, who succeeded Carles Puigdemont in exile, called for rallies in Barcelona to support the organization of a binding referendum on independence.

“Our government is committed to making the republic a reality,” Torra said in a statement broadcast on television. I wish you all a very good Diada. Long live free Catalonia. ”

The leader wore a yellow ribbon to express his support for nine political representatives of the region jailed for their role in the declaration of independence made last year and declared illegal by the Spanish government.

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, who came to power in June, took a more conciliatory approach than his conservative predecessor Mariano Rajoy on this thorny issue.

Sanchez nonetheless remains firm in his refusal to authorize a referendum on the independence of the region or on a unilateral attempt at secession.

Last year, the “Diada” was held during the preparations for the referendum held on October 1, 2017 by the local authorities despite warnings from the central government.

Additional police forces will be dispatched to the site for these celebrations. The government representative in the region has requested the reinforcement of 600 agents, which he considers a normal approach for planned gatherings.

A survey of the Center for Opinion Studies in July showed that 46.7% of Catalans surveyed wanted independence against 44.9% opposed.

The Madrid government maintains that the Catalan authorities are in violation of the 1978 Constitution, which states that Spain is indivisible.

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