Divided over talks with Spain, Catalonia’s separatists rally – The San Diego Union-Tribune


Catalan separatists held their first major mass gathering since the start of the pandemic on Saturday, trying to offer a display of unity despite the divisions in their ranks over upcoming talks with the Spanish government.

Thousands waved pro-independence flags and wore T-shirts with messages for their cause in downtown Barcelona. People used face masks for the event, which went ahead after regional authorities dropped restrictions on the number of people who could gather with COVID-19 cases dropping.

The meeting between representatives of the Catalan and central governments doesn’t have a date yet, but it is supposed to be soon. This second meeting between the two sides is supposed to advance negotiations toward the eventual finding a solution to the political crisis that has festered since the failed 2017 bid by Catalan’s secessionists to force a breakaway.

Expectations remain extremely low for a quick fix because the Catalan separatists demand an authorized referendum on independence. The central government says a vote would have to be on a proposal to improve the relationship of the northeast region with the rest of Spain.

The difference of opinion within the separatist camp on the usefulness of the negotiations marked Saturday’s rally. The leading pro-secession party backs the talks as the best way forward, but the two other main parties in the separatists camp believe that only another unilateral push will achieve their dream of carving out a new state.

Catalonia’s voters have for several years been roughly equally divided over the secession question, with half in favor and half wanting to remain in Spain.