On October 1st there will take place a vote where Catalonians will vote “yes” or “no” for independence from Spain. Madrid has declared the referendum illegal and has encouraged local Catalonians to abstain from voting rather than voting “no.” Government’s next move was to detain certain leaders and organisers of the Independence movement . In turn, national headlines have underlined crowds of people protesting in downtown streets and universities. If you just look at the news, tensions are high in Barcelona.
Our local neighbourhood, Porta, has a different feel. There are Catalonian flags hung on almost every building. Every night at 10 pm, a chorus strikes up. The tinkling of bells and clanking of metal pots and pans make a hodgepodge chorus. It is a welcoming and gentle way of showing your support for the upcoming referendum and also reminding your neighbours of what is coming. More than marching or shouting slogans, this gentle gesture reads as a supportive and united community.
There are also plenty of immigrants in our neighbourhood. Why should the Peruvians or Bolivians care if Catalonia gets its independence? Speakers in the nearest square yesterday delivered powerful messages.
One speaker had taken part in a genealogy study and said that if you lined up all his ancestors from day 1, he is more African than anything else. But his father and his grandfather were from Barcelona and if Catalonia is where you grow up, then that is who you are. Anyone is welcome to live here, but it’s important to recognise that this is Catalonia! The party message is successful because of its inclusivity.