Huge crowds rally against Catalan secession

Organizers of the rallies had asked people to not bring any flags, neither Spanish nor Catalan, and to wear white clothes.

Whilst the Madrid demonstration is the biggest pro-unity show of strength since the Catalonia crisis reached a head last week, much smaller but more numerous protests - roughly 50 - in favour of dialogue with the Catalan independentistas simultaneously took place across in cities and towns across Spain.

"Rajoy, you wuss, defend the nation!" chanted one group of young, mostly-male demonstrators as they marched into Colon Square waving Spanish flags as well as one bearing the francoist Black eagle.

"There is a great deal of worry that the government has waited to play its last card too late", said off-duty cavalry colonel Joaquin Penas, 52, a flag on his back reaching almost to his ankles.

On Monday, Europe will witness another example of political brinkmanship if the prosperous region of Catalonia unilaterally declares independence.

But I must do things at the proper time. It is not a very proactive government.

But Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's office retorted that the government "will not accept blackmail". "To be honest, he's bad".

Almost one week after Spanish police tried to violently shut down Catalonia's vote to become independent from the country, thousands of people rallied in Madrid and Barcelona on Saturday in a more peaceful show of support and opposition.

The speaker of the Catalan parliament Carme Forcadell warned such a move "would just increase support for the pro-independence side".

In Catalonia began a rally of supporters of unity of the region and Spain.

"The tension and violence have risen a lot". "It has created a lot of fear and that is very unsafe".

Further, on Friday evening, Puigdemont is expected to meet with an "independent commission for mediation and dialogue".

So far, the Spanish government has not made a statement on what course of action it might take if the Catalan government goes ahead with a declaration of independence. "We have to listen to them with respect and not with force or blood, like what happened with ETA". In our case, we shall defend the demand for such institutional dialogue where it might be needed, while in a sporting sense, we shall continue to compete in our different disciplines.

Investment projects in the northeastern region of Catalonia have been paralyzed and the sale of a stake in state-run lender Bankia put on hold because of the current political uncertainty, Spain's economy minister said on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Opponents of secession called for demonstrations around Spain on Saturday and in Barcelona on Sunday.

Íñigo Méndez de Vigo suggested that new elections in Catalonia might be a way to heal the fracture caused by the disputed referendum.

The police tried to prevent the referendum, which the Spanish constitutional court declared illegal.

Spain's government has approved a decree that would make it easier for companies in Catalonia to move the location of their official registration out of the region.

A Catalan legislator was quoted by El Mundo newspaper as saying secessionist parties in the Catalan parliament were discussing an independence declaration to be submitted to the assembly next Tuesday.

On Friday, Catalonia's police chief and two prominent separatist leaders including Cuixart avoided being remanded in custody at a court hearing over sedition accusations.

The regional government said the bid to break away won the support of 90 percent of 2.3 million voters.

  • Leroy Wright