Article published by Catalan News Agency, 5th September 2016
Barcelona (CNA).- The Catalan National Assembly (ANC), the grassroots organisation responsible for the massive pro-independence demonstrations on Catalonia’s National Day since 2012, has launched an initiative to explain the Catalan political situation to the world. Thus, the international branches of the ANC have organised ‘World Catalan Week’, a set of political and cultural events to take place throughout this week in seven cities: Paris, London, Zurich, Rotterdam, New York, Madrid and Bilbao. The activities will include conferences and seminars to explain the different political approaches which are for Catalonia’s independence and the need to hold a binding referendum to separate from Spain but also cultural actions, such as Castellers, the traditional human towers. The events will culminate on Sunday, with the celebration of Catalonia’s National Day around the world.
The aim of ‘World Catalan Week’ is to generate debate and reinforce the positive view of Catalonia in the world. The initiative also wants to accommodate and integrate as many Catalan organisations as possible, as well as other institutions which also work towards the internationalisation of Catalonia’s political process, so that everyone can keep their role and interests.
Events in seven cities
The first city to host events of ‘World Catalan Week’ was Paris. The French capital hosted a Castellers exhibition on Sunday. This Monday, London will host the debate ‘Sovereigntist strategies’ which will count amongst its attendees representatives from the main pro-independence parties in Catalonia, left wing pro-independence ERC and radical left CUP, as well as former liberal Convergència, now renamed as the Catalan Democratic Party, ‘Demòcrates de Catalunya’, the party which split from former CDC partners Christian Democrats ‘Unió’, and ‘Barcelona en Comú’, the alternative left and green coalition lead by Barcelona’s Mayor Ada Colau. North American writer Liz Castro, ANC’s International Committee Chair will also be amongst the panellists.
The ANC in Switzerland will organise a similar event on Tuesday in Zurich, with representatives from the Catalan sovereignism movement and Swiss experts. On Wednesday will be Bilbao’s turn with a round table conceived to compare the different approaches of Catalonia and the Basque Country towards the so-called ‘right to decide’.
The Spanish capital will also host a debate on Catalonia’s pro-independence process, on Thursday 8th of September. In this case, the conference will revolve around the juridical framework and the legal requirements for Catalonia to write its own Constitution. Rotterdam will discuss the different options to promote the vote abroad, one of the pending issues for Spanish democracy.
New York will also host an event during World Catalan Week, on Saturday the 10th of September, and finally, on Sunday, these seven cities and many more around the world will host activities to celebrate Catalonia’s National Day.
London to host a week full of activities
Besides the conference ‘Sovereigntist strategies’ to be held this Monday, the British capital will host many political and cultural events throughout the week to explain Catalonia’s political process and international role to the world. On Tuesday the 6th of September the Friends House will be hosting an English-language debate about the Catalan independence process within the context of austerity and the sovereignty crisis across Europe. The panellists will be LSE Professor and Historian Paul Preston, Researcher on Catalonia and ‘The Guardian’ blogger, Luke Stobart, Chair of SNP Friends of Catalonia and Deputy Leader of Glasgow City Council, David McDonald and University of Glasgow Professor Neil Davidson.
On Wednesday, Hackney’s Picturehouse will show the Catalan film ‘Traces of Sandalwood’, on Thursday there will be the annual reception by the Catalan Delegation to the UK and Ireland ahead of Catalonia’s National Day and on Friday, the Catalan society in London, Catalans UK, will organise a dinner with former Catalan President, Artur Mas.
On Saturday the local group ‘Castellers of London’ will offer a public display in the British capital and finally, on Sunday, London will join the international celebrations for Catalonia’s National Day.
A new massive mobilisation to be held in Catalonia
As has happened for the last five years, Catalans will hit the streets on the 11th of September to celebrate Catalonia’s National Day and reclaim Catalonia’s independence. This year the two main civil organisations behind these massive mobilisations, ANC and Òmnium Cultural, have planned to host demonstrations in five different cities all over the territory rather than centralising the action in the Catalan capital. Thus, besides Barcelona, Salt, in Girona; Berga, in Central Catalonia; Lleida; and Tarragona will host mobilisations. Under the motto ‘A punt’ (‘We are ready’), the demonstration aims to symbolise two things; that Catalonia “is ready to achieve the republic” and that the citizens have already reached “the final stage” of the pro-independence process, the presidents of both organisations explained.
The organisers plan that there will be three main marches which will arrive at the five different locations and do so by different means, including by ship, train, and hot-air balloon, amongst others modes of transport. “The aim is to show the world that we are a country in motion”, explained ANC’s head of mobilisations, Oriol Codina. In the different places in Barcelona, Berga, Salt, Lleida and Tarragona where the demonstrators are expected to gather, the same concrete action will have to be carried out at 17:14 – symbolising 1714, the year in which Catalonia was defeated by Bourbon troops and lost its institutions.