• The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister on Friday (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

    Madrid says 'no' and makes threats with "penal" actions after 1.8 million Catalans asked to vote

    The Spanish Government "cannot change its stance", stated Spanish Deputy PM on the day after Catalonia's independence supporters peacefully formed a colossal rally for the 3rd consecutive year. Furthermore, the Director of Spain's Public Prosecution Office – appointed by the Spanish Government – threatened the Catalan President with "penal" actions if he carries on once the vote has been formally banned. The day before, 1.8 million people formed an 11km-long Catalan flag mosaic demanding to vote on the 9th of November. "Citizens have the right to demonstrate but governments have an obligation to honour the law", stated the Deputy PM. Using a restrictive interpretation of the Constitution, Madrid has been insisting that it is "illegal" to hold such a vote. Besides, the European Commission refused to provide specific comments on the massive demonstration of European citizens, repeating it is "an internal issue".

The Catalan President, Artur Mas, in the morning's ceremony on Catalonia's National Day (by P. Mateos)

Catalonia has "everything ready" for November's self-determination vote

On Catalonia's National Day, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, stated that "everything is ready" to hold the self-determination consultation vote, scheduled for the 9th of November by a two third majority of the Catalan Parliament. In a speech at an institutional ceremony held in the morning, a few hours before the massive pro-independence rally, Mas stated that "all the efforts are focused on the 9th of November", which should be backed by the Catalan Law on Consultation Votes. However, he rejected to talk about "any other framework". Mas criticised the Spanish Government's "do –nothing attitude" and asked them not see Catalonia's demonstration "as a provocation or a challenge", but as a demand to vote.

300 cellos playing in the 300th anniversary of the 1714 defeat (by P. Mateos)

Music, poetry and flowers to commemorate the 300 years since Catalonia's loss of its self-government

In 1714, Catalonia was defeated and loss its sovereignty, its self-government, its Constitution and its freedoms to an absolute king who imposed a harsh political, economic, social and cultural repression that was prolonged until the 1970s, only interrupted during a few isolated and short periods. Barcelona was one of the last cities to fall, but it was ultimately defeated on the 11th of September 1714, after a 14-month military siege. A few days after, all of Catalonia succumbed to the authority of the new dynasty, the Bourbons, who founded a Unitarian Spain, centralist and with an implacable homogenisation plan. Catalonia's National Day pays tribute to those defending Barcelona until the last day and aims to make citizens remember the loss of sovereignty and freedom. On the 300th anniversary of the defeat, and in the middle of the current self-determination process, the institutional celebrations were particularly symbolical and unique.

The Spanish PM a few weeks ago in La Moncloa (by ACN)

Spanish PM believes that a self-determination vote could create "difficulties in the markets"

The day before the massive pro-independence demonstration in Barcelona, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, once again rejected Catalonia's right to self-determination. Furthemore, Rajoy stated that a self-determination consultation vote or a unilateral declaration of independence would generate "a political problem and difficulties in the markets". Rajoy was answering to an MP from the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Josep Sánchez-Llibre. The Catalan MP stated that "what really threatens the [economic] recovery is that, in front of Catalonia's demands, [the Spanish Government] has not even issued half of a political answer that can allow the markets to believe in an agreement and not in it being on a collision course".

Felip Puig, presenting the new plan to combat youth unemployment (by J. R. Torné)

The Catalan Government to allocate €240 million until 2020 to help 300,000 young people find jobs

The Catalan Government will invest €240 million until 2020 in a project to help 300,000 young people find work.  The aim of the programme is to provide a work placement, professional training or an internship for all young people aged between 16 and 24 who have not worked or received any training in the last 30 days, nor participated in any education program in the last 90 days. The programme will also target those under 30 who have a disability of at least 33%. The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig, has estimated that there are 110,000 young Catalans who are currently eligible for the programme, and has promised to make the fight against youth unemployment a priority within his department.  

  • The Catalan President (centre) and the Vice President (red jacket) with the organisers of the massive demonstration (by J. Pujolar)

    Catalan President asks Madrid "to sit down and talk" after the 3rd massive pro-independence rally

    "Madrid, but also Brussels" should take note that "these people want to vote", stated the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, after the massive pro-independence demonstration, which gathered 1.8 million people according to the local police. Mas met with the civil society associations organising the rally after the event and "congratulated" them. "There is barely any other country or society throughout the world that has this mobilisation level" and can send such a "powerful message" in such a peaceful and festive way. In addition, he agreed with the organisers that the "unity" among those supporting self-determination "is fundamental". "I commit myself to do whatever is possible, whatever is needed" to guarantee such a unity. "I am fully engaged in making sure people can vote", he concluded.

  • The girl, who will turn 16 on November 9, casting a symbolic vote (by L. Vilaró)

    1.8 million Catalans form an 11km-long flag mosaic supporting November's independence vote

    On Catalonia's National Day, the 11th of September, as in 2012 and 2013, pro-independence supporters have once again created a colossal demonstration, which is unique at a European level. According to Barcelona local police, 1.8 million participants of all ages and social origins formed a V-shaped mosaic displaying the Catalan flag along the city's two main avenues to show support for the 9th of November consultation vote that has been agreed upon by a two-third majority in the Catalan Parliament. In the vertex of the V-shaped rally, fully organised by civil society organisations, a stage decorated with columns of ballot boxes had been set up. At 17.14pm, commemorating the year Catalonia lost its sovereignty and freedoms, a girl who will turn 16 on the voting day has symbolically cast her vote into a ballot box. However, the Spanish Government has announced it will do whatever is necessary to stop the vote from happening. Meanwhile, the Catalan President, Artur Mas, emphasised that "everything is ready" for such a vote. Mas asked the Spanish authorities not to see the demonstration as "a provocation or a challenge", but as "a demand to vote".

  • The anti-independence demonstration in Tarragona, which gathered 7,000 according to local police (by R. Segura)

    7,000 pro-Spanish unity supporters gather in Tarragona, former capital of the Roman province

    On Catalonia's National Day, the Spanish unity association Societat Civil Catalana (Catalan Civil Society, in English), organised a demonstration to protest against the self-determination process in Tarragona. It was a demonstration organised weeks ago as an answer to the massive pro-independence rally organised on the same day in Barcelona. The Tarragona demonstration gathered 7,000 people according to the local police and 3,500 according to the Catalan Police. It was backed by the People's Party (PP) – who runs the Spanish Government, the populist and Spanish nationalist parties C's and UPyD, and by leading members of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), such as Carme Chacón. They chose this city because it used to be the capital of the Roman Empire's province of Hispania Citerior. The PP leader in Catalonia said that "the silent Catalonia is raising its voice". The leader of C's accused the parties supporting self-determination of "dividing Catalans".

Highlights

  • The Catalan President, together with the Mayor of Barcelona and the President of the Catalan Parliament, paying tribute to those who died defending Barcelona in 1713 and 1714 (by P. Francesch)

    10.09.14 - 23:54

    Catalan President asks Spain to "listen to" Catalonia's "peaceful and democratic claim"

    In the institutional speech that the President of the Catalan Government makes each year the evening before Catalonia's National Day, Artur Mas asked the Spanish authorities to "listen to the peaceful and democratic claim" represented by Thursday's massive pro-independence rally. "Silencing the voice of a people that want to speak out is a mistake; denying the vote to those who see ballot boxes as the solution and not the problem is a...

  • Josep Carreras, singing after receiving the Catalan Parliament's Golden Medal (by P. Mateos)

    10.09.14 - 10:17

    Catalan tenor Josep Carreras: "We are an adult people and we know how to make our own decisions"

    On Tuesday evening the Barcelona-born opera tenor, Josep Carreras received the Golden Medal of the Catalan Parliament for his outstanding and internationally-recognised professional career, but also for his efforts leading a foundation that fights Leukaemia. In his acceptance speech, Carreras defended Catalonia's right to self-determination and the independence vote scheduled for the 9th of November. Carreras, who became a true...

  • The ERC leader, Oriol Junqueras, on Tuesday (by A. Moldes)

    10.09.14 - 09:28

    Left-wing Catalan independence party ERC backs "civil disobedience" if self-determination vote is banned

    The President of the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, stated on Tuesday that "the greatest expression of civil disobedience is voting when they prevent you from voting", referring to the ban that the Spanish Constitutional Court is likely to issue on the self-determination consultation vote scheduled on the 9th of November. Furthermore, Junqueras also stated that he is convinced that the Catalan...

  • Francesc Homs, at the weekly press conference (by P. Mateos)

    09.09.14 - 22:07

    The Catalan Government will restore public employee's full salary in 2015 after a 3-year reduction

    In 2015 the employees of the Catalan Government and related institutions and public companies will receive their full salary once again after having suffered a 7.5% reduction over the last 3 years. The Spokesperson for the Catalan Government and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, announced the measure on Tuesday, after the weekly Cabinet meeting. Furthermore, the Executive will also stop the 15% reduction of working hours and...

  • The 2013 Catalan Way towards Independence, spanning 400km without interruption (by ACN)

    09.09.14 - 21:53

    Half a million already signed up for Catalonia's massive independence rally, more than in 2013

    Two days before the massive pro-independence demonstration will take place in Barcelona on Catalonia's National Day, more than 500,000 citizens have already signed up for participating in it. This year's pro-independence rally is likely to break all records, even though in last year's event demonstrators managed to form a 400km-long human chain spanning from north to south along all of Catalonia, attracting the world's attention. In 2013,...

  • Barça player Munir making his debut with the Spanish team (by FC Barcelona)

    09.09.14 - 15:44

    Barça player Munir makes his international debut aged 19

    FC Barcelona's young player Munir El Haddadi made his full debut with the Spanish team in Spain's 5-1 win over Macedonia in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier in Valencia on Monday night. The 19-year-old player came on for Koke on 77 minutes of the game. Sergio Busquets scored his first goal for the international team, getting the third goal in first half injury time. Pedro also scored and Jordi Alba and Marc Bartra both played. Besides,...

  • Rajoy (centre) at the PP's Executive Board (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

    08.09.14 - 22:57

    Spanish PM has "all the measures ready" to stop Catalonia's self-determination vote

    Spain's Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, told the Executive Board of the governing People's Party(PP) that he has "all the measures ready" to stop the Catalan self-determination vote from happening. However, Rajoy avoided giving details about such measures and disclosing specific plans. The Spanish PM emphasised that his stance on Catalonia's right to self-determination and the organisation of an independence vote has remained unchangeable...

  • Flats on sale in Catalonia (by ACN)

    08.09.14 - 22:53

    Housing prices in Catalonia increase by 1.6% in the second quarter

    The value of homes in Catalonia increased by 1.6% during the second quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2013, according to the House Price Index of the Spanish Institute of Statistics (INE). In relation to the first quarter of this year, prices registered a 1.8% increase between March and June, whilst cumulatively over this year there was a 1.3% increase in property value in Catalonia. However, the prices of new flats rose...

  • The Secretary General of extreme-right Manos Limpias filing a judicial complaint (by ACN)

    08.09.14 - 22:46

    Court rejects extreme-right complaint against pro-independence grassroots organisation leader

    The judge has not accepted the complaint filed by the extreme-right and Spanish nationalist trade union Manos Limpias against Carme Forcadell, President of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), the main civil society association supporting independence. Barcelona's first-circuit court number 14 does not see evidence or hints pointing towards any offence and therefore it has decided not to launch a judicial investigation and instead it...

  • Barcelona El Prat airport was Spain's busiest airport in August (by ACN)

    08.09.14 - 22:44

    Barcelona El Prat Airport overtook Madrid Barajas once again in August

    For the second consecutive year, Catalonia's main airport hosted more passengers than its Madrid competitor during the month of August, becoming the busiest airfield in Spain. 4.24 million people travelled through Barcelona El Prat last August, representing an 8.6% increase on the figure from the previous year. Meanwhile, 3.99 million travellers passed through the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (a +5% growth). In the last few...

  • An image from the conference at Sciences Po (by Diplocat)

    05.09.14 - 22:17

    The EU will be "pragmatic" and not kick out an independent Catalonia say experts in Sciences Po

    The European Union will adopt a "pragmatic approach" and employ "common sense" in the case of an independent Catalonia or Scotland and would not work to expel them, according to experts gathered at a conference on self-determination on Friday at the prestigious Sciences Po University in Paris. At the conference, which was organised with the support of the Catalan public-private soft diplomacy council Diplocat, experts highlighted the...

  • María Dolores de Cospedal (centre) arriving at Badalona's conference centre (by P. Mateos)

    05.09.14 - 22:08

    The People's Party offer to form a grand coalition against Catalonia's independence is only accepted by UPyD

    On Friday, in Badalona (Greater Barcelona), the Secretary General of the PP, María Dolores de Cospedal, launched the idea to form a wide-spectrum coalition against secession in the next Catalan elections, which should unite all of the parties opposing independence from Spain. However, it has been rejected by the main parties which were targeted, and only the Spanish nationalist UPyD, which gets marginal results in Catalonia, has...

  • Albert Sánchez Piñol posing in front of a few copies of 'Victus' in 2013 (by ACN)

    05.09.14 - 21:58

    Spanish Embassy in The Netherlands censors presentation of novel on 1714 Barcelona's siege

    The Instituto Cervantes in Utrecht was obliged to cancel the presentation of 'Victus', a novel by Catalan author Albert Sánchez Piñol on the Spanish Succession War and Barcelona's military siege of 1714, after which Catalonia lost its self-government institutions and political, social and cultural repression started. According to the author, his Dutch editorial house Signatuur and the Communication Director of the Cervantes...

  • Lee Child, the artistic name of Jim Grant (by Gordon Trice)

    05.09.14 - 21:40

    British author Lee Child receives the "prestigious" RBA Award for Crime Writing

    On Thursday evening the British author who is responsible for the Jack Reacher series of crime novels, Lee Child, received in Barcelona the VIII RBA Award for Crime Writing for his latest book in the series, 'Personal'. Child could not attend the ceremony for personal reasons so his literary agent, Mary Darby, read out a statement from the British writer instead. "Thank you for this prestigious award, I feel greatly honoured...

  • The Catalan President, Artur Mas, talking at the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce's lunch event (by P. Mateos)

    04.09.14 - 21:12

    Catalan President: self-determination vote will have to "always respect an existing legal framework"

    The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, stated once again that the self-determination consultation vote will take place on the 9th of November but he also added that "things have to be done in the right way". In front of businesspeople at an event of Barcelona's Chamber of Commerce, Mas stressed that "both things have to come together", meaning voting and doing things right. He underlined that "this means always...

  • The Barcerlona-based chef Jean Luc Figueras (by Mercer Hotel Barcelona)

    04.09.14 - 21:07

    Barcelona-based chef Jean Luc Figueras dies in Turkey

    The French chef Jean Luc Figueras died on Wednesday night in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, in a sudden cardiac arrest. The news was announced as part of a statement from the Mercer Hotel Barcelona, where the chef ran his current restaurant. Jean Luc Figueras had a long career as a chef at the best restaurants in Barcelona and he had held a Michelin star for a past project. One year ago he started work as the head chef at the 5-star Mercer...