BARCELON: Catalonia’s silent supporters of Spanish unity found their voice on Sunday, thronging into the center of Barcelona as part of a huge rally that reverberated with chants in support of a united Spanish state and against agitators for independence.
They demonstrated solidarity with the vilified national police and proudly waved a red-and-yellow national flag that for decades had carried the stigma of a taboo nationalism.
“Catalonia is not all for independence,” said José Manuel Alaminos, a 64-year-old lawyer. He said that Carles Puigdemont, the regional president who has led the independence movement, “is supposed to represent all of us.”
The separatist push has brought about one of Spain’s worst constitutional crises since the end of the Franco dictatorship nearly 43 years ago.
“But we are Catalonians too! The world doesn’t know the truth,” Mr. Alaminos said, pointing to the enormous crowd. “This is the truth.”
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy echoed that sentiment in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País published late Saturday, in which he said flatly that the secession of Catalonia “won’t happen” and that he was “not ruling out anything” to maintain Spain’s integrity, including a constitutional article that allows him to disband the regional leadership and assume its powers.
“We are talking about our nation’s unity,” he said.
Mr. Puigdemont is expected to address the regional Parliament on Tuesday, when Catalan leaders could declare independence, citing the results of a referendum that the national government and the courts had said was illegal and ordered suspended.
The rally on Sunday was organized to show that the referendum, which attracted international attention for a police crackdown that left hundreds injured, did not represent all Catalans. They are, in fact, deeply split over independence.