Unity and resolve are on display as hundreds of thousands of Catalans take to the streets in support of a referendum that will determine if the region votes in favor of independence from Spain on Oct. 1.
Almost 400,000 people are officially signed up to participate in the mass rally which is currently taking place in Barcelona, according to France24. Roughly 1,800 buses have been chartered to transport people from different areas of Catalonia to its capital.
Monday's demonstration, which is planned to take the shape of a giant “X” representing “yes” for independence, runs parallel to “Diada,” a Catalan national holiday observing the fall of Barcelona during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714. The defeat signaled Catalonia's loss of independence and its institutions to the Spanish capital of Madrid.
Carlos Puigdemont, Catalan's pro-independence president, lauded this year's Diada as being even more important than previous years. "It's a day to express our will as a people, remembering the past, where we come from, but also to project ourselves into the future," he exalted viewers while speaking on television on the eve of the separatist demonstration.
He characterized Catalan's independence from Spain as being “a future that we have in our hands and that we will democratically decide really soon.”
Catalan's regional government has vowed to declare independence from Spain within 48 hours if the “yes” vote wins.
Countering Catalonia's bold steps is Spain's conservative government headed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who insists that actions taken by the autonomous community are in direct violation of the nation's constitution.
“There will not be a referendum,” he said over the weekend.
Located in the northeast of the country, Catalonia is recognized as one of Spain's most prosperous regions, not only economically but culturally. Residents have also been able to maintain their national language, Catalan. Apart from these aspects, which have historically fed into the independence movement, residents of Barcelona say they pay exorbitant taxes to Madrid and don't receive its worth back in services.