Catalonia’s independence rally in Barcelona gathers 1.5 million people
About 1.5 million people have taken part in Catalonia’s annual independence rally in Barcelona, police say.
Tens of thousands of people poured into the city waving the region’s independence flag and brandishing the colors red and yellow.
This year’s march, which aimed to be the biggest ever, was also a protest against the Spanish government’s tax laws.
Catalonia wants Madrid to review its tax agreement and provide a bailout.
The size of the turnout for the rally, which is held annually on 11 September to mark the Siege of Barcelona 300 years ago, forced organizers to change its route.
The Catalan government believes it is owed money by the central government because it says it pays a disproportionate level of taxes to Madrid in relation to the funding it receives.
The far north-east region, which has claimed independence from Spain for centuries, has demanded a bailout from Madrid of 5 billion euros.
Economists have warned that the Catalan government has barely enough money to pay its public sector workers.
As a nation, Spain’s struggling economy has declined for three consecutive quarters as it continues to suffer from the effects of its property bust caused by the financial crisis.
Catalonia is Spain’s wealthiest region and represents a fifth of the Spanish economy.
It has to take out 13 billion euros in loans this year to refinance maturing debt, on top of funding its deficit for the current year.
Other regions have appealed to the government for bailouts. The latest, Andalusia, asked for an immediate injection of 1 billion euros last week.
Valencia and Murcia have also requested bailouts in recent weeks.
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