World Bulletin / News Desk
The event was organized by the anti-independence group Societat Civil Catalana, which said more than a million people marched in the protest.
But in the deeply-fractured northeastern region of Spain, even counting has become politicized, and local police said around 300,000 showed up.
The pro-unity protest with the slogan “we are all Catalonia, common sense for co-existence” comes in response to the Catalan government’s dramatic declaration of independence last Friday.
However, for the first time in Spain’s democratic history, the central government in Madrid has activated an article of the constitution that gives it direct control of the rebellious region.
Political leaders have now been fired, although the region’s President Carles Puigdemont said Saturday that he does not recognize Madrid’s intervention and called on the civilian population to peacefully resist Spain’s control.
Throughout Sunday’s rally, videos show protesters chanting for Puigdemont to be sent to prison and against local Catalan media TV3, claiming it was “manipulative”.
Pro-unionist politicians also took part in Sunday’s rally, as they also gear up for regional elections, which Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called for Dec. 21.
“The silent majority of Catalans are once again taking to the streets to show that the majority of Catalans feel Catalan, Spanish and European,” Ines Arrimadas, leader of Catalonia’s official opposition and Ciudadanos party, told local media before the march.
A survey of 1,000 people published by El Mundo newspaper on Sunday suggests that support for separatism is slipping and that pro-separatist parties would lose the majority in the Catalan Parliament.
According to the survey, anti-independence parties have 43.4 percent support and pro-independence parties 42.5 percent.