There was no million march for independence on Catalonia’s national day this year, mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers said this year’s rally attracted some 60-thousand people.
They vowed to continue protests against what they called Madrid’s repression. On Friday, an eerie sight was that of over 28-hundred empty chairs outside Catalonia’s High Court of Justice.
Organizers say each chair bears the name of one of the people who got involved with the Spanish justice system for their role in the 2017 referendum on Catalonia’s independence from Spain.
Catalonia had to scale down its national day celebrations amid a spike in COVID-19 infections and a deepening divide between the region’s two main secessionist parties over whether they should seek dialogue or confrontation with the central government in Madrid.
Catalonia is facing regional elections after President Quim Torra was banned from public office for allegedly disobeying election rules and overtly supporting jailed and exiled leaders.
Torra has appealed the ban to Spain’s Supreme Court. Back in January, the president announced early elections without setting a date. His recent government reshuffle suggests he has walked back his decision to quit. Spain’s Supreme Court is set to review his appeal next week.
A pandemic-stricken Diada, a pro-independence movement divided against itself and no relief in sight for jailed leaders. This is not quite what many in Catalonia expected as the year winds up and the region braces for new elections.