Catalonians Rally in Barcelona to Protest Push for Secession From Spain
BARCELONA, SPAIN — Catalonians are rallying in Barcelona to protest the Catalan government's push for secession from Spain.
Police say 350,000 demonstrators attended, while organizers say more than 900,000 people joined in.
"We have perhaps been silent too long," one protester told the French news agency on Sunday.
Last week, Catalonians voted overwhelmingly for independence. In that poll, deemed illegal by Madrid, 90 percent voted to break with Spain, but the turnout was well under half of the electorate.
Opinion polls have consistently suggested more Catalans favor remaining in Spain than declaring independence.
Organizers say the slogan for Sunday's rally is "Enough, let's recover good sense."
Protesters gathered at Barcelona's Urquinaona square are singing "Viva Espana."
Catalonian leaders, now faced with tough decisions on how to proceed, are calling for dialogue with Spain's national government.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says he will not rule out using constitutional powers to take away Catalonia's autonomous status, if the region declares independence.
Rajoy made the remark Saturday to the newspaper El Pais. He added, "I do not rule out anything that is within the law." He added, "I would like the threat of an independence referendum to be withdrawn as quickly as possible."
On Saturday, thousands of protesters gathered at rallies in Barcelona, Madrid and other Spanish cities to demand dialogue to end the dispute.
Secessionist anger in Catalonia has intensified following the violence last Sunday when Spain’s national police and Civil Guard fired rubber bullets, roughed up Catalans and raided polling stations as part of an effort to disrupt the plebiscite. Catalan authorities say almost 900 people were hurt in the crackdown.
With the crisis deepening, and no sign of an end to political instability, some Catalan businesses have announced they are relocating their headquarters to other parts of Spain to avoid the possibility of getting knocked out of the European Union common market by a Catalonian secession.