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Catalonia: the independence movement spreads its divisions at its annual rally

"The parties have betrayed us" or "Government: DUI (unilateral declaration of independence, editor's note) or resignation", could be read on some of the posters which shared the spotlight this year with the Estelada flags, symbols of the demand for Catalan independence.

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Catalonia: the independence movement spreads its divisions at its annual rally

"The parties have betrayed us" or "Government: DUI (unilateral declaration of independence, editor's note) or resignation", could be read on some of the posters which shared the spotlight this year with the Estelada flags, symbols of the demand for Catalan independence.

"We've had enough: enough of Madrid, our politicians and everything," said José Auladell, a 65-year-old retiree from Girona.

Disappointed by the lack of commitment it believes the Catalan parties in power are showing, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), organizer of the demonstration, hoped that it would give new impetus to the movement that the declaration of independence failure of 2017 has permanently weakened.

With 150,000 participants, according to the Guardia urbana (700,000 according to the organizers), the march certainly brought together more than last year (108,000 according to the Guardia urbana), but far from the gatherings of more than a million people at the height of separatist escalation.

It is that the disagreements are now deep between those who do not give up the objective of achieving independence, even unilaterally, and the more pragmatic vision of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), party of the leader of the regional executive, Pere Aragonès.

"The president of the Generalitat [the Catalan government, editor's note], who represents his party, is not in favor of independence", regrets a demonstrator Francesc Jubany, 58, who wears a T-shirt with the slogan of the march "We are back to win, independence!"

"The movement is divided, but because of political forces," he adds.

Feeling singled out by the organizers, Pere Aragonès had decided not to go to a demonstration where, last year, he had been greeted with whistles.

The ministers of the Catalan government members of the ERC were also not present on Sunday, unlike those of the other independence party of the regional coalition, Together for Catalonia (JxC, right).

Divisions at the antipodes of the independence cohesion born a decade ago and which had led to the culmination of 2017.

Five years after this frenetic autumn, during which the Catalan government declared a short-lived independence condemned by Madrid, and which led to the imprisonment or flight of the main pro-independence leaders, the context is very different.

The ERC's commitment to dialogue with the Spanish government of socialist Pedro Sanchez, which it also supports in the Madrid parliament, remains firm, and even the revelation a few months ago that the Spanish intelligence services spied separatist elected officials in the past did not shake him.

Pere Aragonès recalled his strategy on Saturday, during the traditional television message on the eve of the "Diada".

"It is important to emphasize that we are managing to bring the conflict back to the political level. We are managing to bring it back to a level that it should never have left," said the Catalan president.

"Catalonia will vote. They will sooner or later, depending on how strong we are, but they will," he added.

However, the most radical separatist sectors seem to have run out of patience, saying they are disappointed by elected officials who, according to them, do not keep their promises.

"The independence parties have not met the expectations of the population", deplores in the march, disillusioned, Neus Costa, 62 years old: "people are demoralized, because we fought a lot, for nothing".

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