Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Catalans mass for independence, warn of 'freedom' bid

BARCELONA, Spain — More than a million people swamped Barcelona on Tuesday demanding independence for Catalonia from the rest of crisis-struck Spain, police said.

A human sea flooded the city, as Catalans waved red-and-yellow striped Catalan flags and marched for the region's national day, the Diada, many accusing Spain of dragging them into economic trouble.

"There are 1.5 million people and everything has gone peacefully," said a police spokesman.

Closely watched by other independent-minded regions in Europe such as Scotland and Flanders, the Catalans rallied under the slogan: "Catalonia, a new European state."

"What do the crowds want? A new European state. What do the people want? An independent Catalonia," they chanted, packing the northeastern region's capital in the warm evening.

"We are being pillaged and the money from our taxes is being lost to Madrid," said 21-year-old history student Eva Garcia.

"It's now or never," agreed retired teacher Maria Antonietta Vila, a Catalan who lives in southwestern France but returned to join the march.

About 1,000 buses ferried protesters from across the northeastern Spanish region. Read More