An unprecedented one-and-a-half million Catalans turned out onto the streets of Barcelona for their annual independence day – but this year the call for autonomy from Madrid was more fervent than ever.
The economic recession has stirred up a wave of separatism, with many blaming Spain for dragging their wealthy region down.
Catalonia’s government although mired in its own austerity drive has turned local fury on to Madrid.
“Spain is cheating on us,” said one protester.“They took our language and now they want to take everything from us. Long live the independence of Catalonia!”
Another had other reasons for wanting independence: “We are different to Spain. Because we have a different culture, a different language and we love Catalonia and its freedom.”
Catalonia’s wealth represents a fifth of the Spanish economy and its leaders want prime minister Rajoy to agree to a new “fiscal pact” that would give the region its own tax authority.
Last month Catalonia demanded a five billion euro bailout from Madrid believing that is how much the government owes it in overpaid taxes.